Japan from the inside out

Ichigen koji (268)

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, December 23, 2012

– A person who has something to say about everything

Women in their 20s always make a particularly bad choice when selecting from among the young men who approach them and give them attention. They’ve refined their eye for selecting men by the time they’re in their 30s, and they will approach good men themselves. But those men are already with another woman, so it’s very difficult for the new women to supplant them. Actually, I think it should be the other way around, but…

– Fujisawa Kazuki

67 Responses to “Ichigen koji (268)”

  1. toadold said

    Men aren’t much better at picking women and they seem to be even slower to learn.

  2. Tony said

    Hi everyone. I don’t how much longer Bill’s preprogrammed entries will continue but I have sad news to report. Bill Sakovich, the author of this blog passed away on December 21 from cancer. He had been having stomach problems for the past two months and thought it was an ulcer. He went in the hospital to have the ulcer taken care of and during surgery they found he had cancer and that it had spred throughout his stomach and intestines. I’m sorry to say that my days are now a little less bright without the opportunity to meet up with Bill for some yakitori and political discussion.


  3. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    Tony: I don’t have words to express this great loss. The moment I started to read and got to the part “passed away”, I could not believe it and thought it was your joke but as I reach to the end, I had to take it.

    Bill: You will be missed. Though we have never met, I felt like I met you in person a few times. Thank you for everything you have done to convey our image as it is and to defend us in appreciation of us and our culture. By the way, I still believe I will see you sometime soon. I hope we have a lot to talk, particularly about music.

  4. yankdownunder said

    Sad news indeed. Very sad news.

    It is a great loss for his family and for his blog family and for Japan.

  5. Tony said

    Yes, I was shocked too. We had met up just days before he went to the hospital and we were going to make plans too meet again as soon as he got out after New Year. I suspect we will get a few more days of postings because he expected to be home for New Years.


  6. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    Tony: Thank you for your message. Just like yankdownunder says, it is a great loss for many people but especially for his family. If you have that chance, please convey our deepest condolences.

    I feel that his spirit to maintain this blog this far will be with me for the rest of my life.

  7. toadold said

    Just dang, my condolences to family and friends.

  8. Mac said

    An great loss for Japan … Bill’s contribution to the Anglophone world’s understanding of Japan was always deeply undervalued.

    I hope steps can be taken to ensure the survival of this website.

    Thank you for all that you gave Bill.

  9. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    I just have searched for Bill’s name on internet for the first time and easily found this. So I for the first time could look at this picture. Here…. I think Bill would allow me to link this way since he linked there to here….

    Anything I do comes with a danger to stir up my deep sadness.

  10. Tony said

    The picture 21st CSM posted doesn’t show Bill’s height. In case you don’t know or had never seen Bill, he was a very tall man, 197 cm (6′ 6″).

    Koga dojo will be having a memorial for him next month or possibly the beginning of February. When I find out the exact date I’ll let all know here, so long as the site is still up.

  11. Robert said

    I would like to add my respectful condolences. Ampontan, though I have often disagreed with your politics, I have learned to admire your sustained revelation of Japanese culture. Pretty impressive! Your musings and insights will be sorely missed. R.I.P.

  12. […] that William Sakovich, the blogger behind the Ampontan blog, has passed away. According to a comment from a friend, he died of cancer on December […]

  13. Travelbug said

    Bill, I’ve enjoyed your resourceful postings and am saddened to read about your passing. You will be truly missed.

  14. Ed_BR said


  15. Paul Burns said

    My friend since 1984 when I first went to study martial arts in Saga, Japan. We exchanged emails on a daily basis. Only recently I again created some sound effects for him. I am utterly devastated.

    He wrote a glowing testimony of my abilities.

    I am a teacher/director for a class of Japanese teenagers who presented a 20-minute parody of Cinderella for an English-language drama festival sponsored by their English school here in Japan.
    I asked for Paul’s help for sound effects and background music.
    Our interaction consisted of the exchange of e-mails, text files, and mp3 files over the Internet. His contribution included the following.
    1. The creation of different sound effects for different situations and characters. He created several possibilities for each situation.
    2. During the scene when Cinderella had to return home from the ball at midnight, we used for humorous effect a recording of Big Ben striking 12 condensed into 15 seconds. Paul manipulated an original recording to produce an effect that had everyone laughing.
    3. As the background music for one scene, we used music from a recurring scene in a famous Japanese television program that has been broadcast for more than 30 years. All the existing recordings of this incidental music have dialogue over the top, rendering them unusable. Paul used his performing talent and technical skills to duplicate the music precisely with electronic instruments. The audience instantly recognized it.
    For #3 in particular, Paul demonstrated a rigorous attention to detail and precision by producing several versions until he nailed it.
    He did all of this work promptly after I asked him. That allowed plenty of time to for the students to use the material in rehearsal, which added to their incentive.
    From this interaction, I discovered that if Paul says he can do something, he can—and he will. He certainly helped make a small part of Japan happy.
    – Bill Sakovich, Saga City, Japan
    P.S.: The students’ drama won first prize in the competition.

    R.I.P. Bill. I will miss the banter and our putting the world to rights very much.

    Paul Burns

  16. James A said

    I am really shocked by the news of Bill’s death. He really changed my perspective on life in Japan and inspired me to think for myself when interpreting how the media portrays this country. Thank you Bill for your well-informed and sharp insights, you will be missed. R.I.P.

  17. TB said

    What a huge loss, one of the very few websites with a rational view about Japan and its people, a defense against all the ignorance and bigotry espoused by the mainstream world media.

    I wonder how many Japanese citizens were aware of Bill’s contributions in portraying their country in a very fair light.

    I hope someone will carry on his legacy and work with this website.

  18. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    Indeed, as William Sakovich is taken away, Japan is the less.

  19. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    Bill, upon knowing that I live in Brazil now, you said you had some good Brazilian music and would upload some for me. Here is my upload for you. The video is with Portuguese and Spanish subtitles of words.

    Eu sei que vou te amar/Vinicius de Moraes, Maria Creuza e Toquinho

    The title means “I know that I am going to love you”.

    I thank you for your existence and I will carry on with you in mind for a bit more. When we meet up sometime in future, we have some precious things to chat together. Until then, tchau!

  20. Mac said


    I know it is probably not the time to bring this up with his family … but please keep in mind the future of this blog.

    No one is going to take his place so it might be a good idea to add a note of who we think Bill was, on obituary, and at some point shut down ‘commenting’ so that in the future it is not drown with spam.

    Please let us know when or if there is going to be a memorial.

  21. YY said

    I do hope someone archives the blog. I appreciate most, discovering the voice of Rimi Natsukawa, through one of his links. He had a very good ability to judge quality of culture.

  22. Nigelboy said



    Thanks for the great posts.

  23. Tony,

    I know it may be too late already, but do you know of any services being held? Place? Time?


  24. Tony said

    I agree, that would be a good thing to do. I’m not sure if Bill’s wife knows his sign in password nor do I know if he wrote it down anywhere. If not I am not sure what can be done, perhaps Aceface knows? However, I will talk to another friend of Bill’s who knew him quite well and we will contact his wife to find out.

    On a related topic, over the past couple of years both Bill and I noticed that sometimes western journalists writing about Japan, Korea, or China had lifted several sentences or a paragraph from Bill’s blog, almost always without accrediting Bill as the source. Depending on how much was plagiarized and what the author was trying to say, Bill would sometimes send a note to the journal’s or newspaper’s editor to let them know where the text was taken from. If any of you have read my comments that I’ve made over the past couple of years, you will probably note that I do not believe in conspiracy theories but after seeing for myself that some journalists would shamelessly pass of portions of Bill’s writing as their own, I would not be surprised to see more and more of Bill’s observations and opinions being lifted without acknowledgement. Especially once the “so called journos” Bill so despised realize he has passed away and there is nobody around to notify their editors where the material is being taken from. I’d hate to see some of the lazy FCC types making a profit off of Bill’s research, opinions and way of turning a phrase.


  25. Other than the February memorial?

  26. Mac said


    if you/we are lucky, his passwords will be kept in his browser/keychain on his computer. If not, she will have access to his email account, and so one could request a password reminder or change to there. Good luck.

    Yah, at least the FCCJ should run an obituary of thanks for him.

  27. Paul Burns said

    If you run into trouble I have accessed Bill’s PC before to fix things for him from a distance, I can do so again. (I am a computer engineer ). I can find passwords in both English/Japanese.

  28. Tony said

    Hi Paul,
    I assume the computer would have to be on for you to access it. Do you know how to contact Bill’s wife. I’ve met her just once, several years ago.


  29. Paul Burns said

    hi Tony yes , as long as it is on , Bill installed logmein, and I sorted various problems out for him. With regards Bill’s wife , I am not in contact although I have their address,however the last time we all met was in 1990. I was planning to visit for their silver wedding this coming year. He was friends with Yama-chan of キサックBANKO, I never had Bill’s home phone number and he was averse to mobile phones. Yama-chan may know more. Then of course there is 古賀英語道場


  30. Paul Burns said

    Even if there is a password right at the start, it can be cracked, though not easily from a distance. It would require the insertion of a cd and then starting up , but I have email correspondance from Bill about passwords, so i will check

  31. Doug said

    I enjoyed his work immensely. What a shame. I hope this thread will remain open for a while (month or 2) as some of his readers check in infrequently and would like to add condolences. Rest in peace Bill

  32. Tokyo Joe said

    RIP Friend.

  33. Ken said

    I left my home on Dec.20 and have now opened internet the first time since then to say, “A little long time, no see.”. However, …! Where were you gone, Bill? When I introduced Mr.Marano known as Texas Daddy, you criticized that 敵刺 was too far. You were a such balanced man. Japan related blogs are usually named Japan-something but always shallow analysis. On the contrary, yours is not using such naming but has reported from the bottom maybe because you have mastered Karate as pursuit of Japanese spirit. Can you see so many readers missing you as above from heaven, Bill? Your soul shall sojourn here with your great masterpieces such as Festival series.

    P.S. Tony; I am in Kyushu, Japan for a couple of months and so please let me know where you post the detail of memorial?

  34. Trapped in Brazil said

    Really sad news for everyone, Bill will truly be missed, as he was one of the few who stood above petty questions, like race, philosophy, nationality or other silly methods society created to sow discord among humanity. Truly a great loss for this World.

    My older brother was really shocked when he read the news. The first thing he said was that he lost a friend, although they never spoke with each other, but that was the feeling. After all those years of reading Bill’s brilliant insights about Japan and the World, most of us would fell he was a kindred soul (A close friend).

    As my nickname implies, we (me and my brother) are living in Brazil, having grown up in a place where it is taboo to speak well of Japan or try to defend it from the biased Japan bashers. The majority of the nisei and sansei here became Japan bashers themselves, being ashamed of their ancestry. Than one day my brother found this blog and told me that we were not alone. Bill’s words assured us that we were right about Japan. Like in a Roberto Carlos song called “amigo” (friend):

    “…In certain difficult moments of life
    We look for someone who may help us find our way out
    And that word of strength and faith you gave me
    Gives me the certitude you were always beside me…
    …You tell me such deep truths in clear sentences
    You are really the most certain in uncertain times
    I don’t need say all that which I’m telling you
    But it’s good to feel you are my great friend
    I don’t need say all that which I’m telling you
    But it’s good to feel I have a great friend…”

    We humbly offer our condolences to his family and friends and may his soul be blessed.

  35. Yuge said

    Rest in Peace Bill. I really loved your writting style and your critical views on geopolitics. Also, the matsuri videos were the best.

    Trapped in Brazil, I am also a Brazilian nikkei, and share some of your feelings.

  36. American Kim said

    I found out about William Sakovich’s passing while reading another blog.

    Will and I started out nicely. I had been a long-time lurker, and when I finally began to participate, it was mostly on topics not related to Korea. I found his coverage of the violent anti-Japan protests in China very thorough and informative, and I also enjoyed his posts about Japan’s side of the Senkaku/Diaoyutai islands issue.

    Some of you will remember that Will and I did not speak on such a friendly tone in subsequent posts.

    I am not going to speak ill of the dead and most certainly not on a place (albeit a virtual one) which he created, populated, and devoted so much time and energy to improve.

    I do not remember precisely why he and I began to get along less well. We had disagreements on one issue or another, and from my memory (I haven’t bothered to go back to previous threads), he didn’t accept a few sources I gave to support my points. I found that strange given he was a learned man and that he liked to read and to research. In that area, he and I stood on common ground.

    I was surprised when he became a bit rough towards me and when some of his last posts about Korea and Koreans took tones which contained either mockery or harsh criticism. I thought it ironic given that one of the sub-categories on this blog is “Japanese-Korean amity,” with stories about how there are sea-diving women cultures in both countries, and in other posts concerning food and/or beverage (such as one where Will spoke of the tradition of eating whale meat in both Korea and in Japan – I’ll admit I never even KNEW either Koreans or Japanese ate whale meat until I read that post – “Whale Lightning in Northeast Asia, May 3, 2011).

    Other lines I liked:
    – “Did somebody give you the impression Koreans and Japanese can’t get along? Don’t believe it.” from his March 26, 2010 “Seoul food” entry.
    – “THE COMMON MISCONCEPTION that Koreans and Japanese have difficulty being civil to each other, much less associating on amicable terms, continues to be eroded by the facts, as I often point out here. There’s no better proof that ties are growing than that regional businessmen believe it and are putting up the cash to back up their beliefs.” from his “Flying the Friendly Skies” entry from December 4, 2009.

    And why did I like them? Because the misconception that he mentioned exists on both sides – amongst Koreans and Japanese. A gap comprised by distrust, misunderstanding, and lack of communication keep peoples together. During the time I quietly lurked and read these posts, I saw a side of Japan and Japanese people I didn’t know, and failed to experience through my interactions with Japanese people or even when I visited Japan. Posts like those, with the knowledge of someone on the inside (of the Japanese side) helped bridge that gap.

    Sure, Will was human, and perhaps at moments he let his emotions get the best of him. I would speculate, given the recent mean-spirited posts by a poster whose nick carries a word that indicates he may be Korean, that he received hateful emails from people, possibly Koreans, who did not like his viewpoints. If that’s the case, Will could not have been blamed for at times letting his feelings affect some of his writings. Of course, I never met the man; I never spoke to him by phone and only had the written medium of the Internet to communicate with him. So this is an assumption I’m making.

    And, in honesty, I will admit I was sometimes less than diplomatic too, so it’s possible some of the things I wrote offended him. I’ll never know, though.

    Are there Koreans who have not helped bridge the gap I mentioned above? Sure, such as the unpleasant individual who hurtfully wrote “rest in pieces.” As there are on the Japanese side.

    When it comes to East Asian relations, both between the governments of these nation-states and the individuals from these societies (whether they are very deeply dug-in concerning their beliefs or not), there will perhaps always be an element of discord. One Japanese here told me (I’m paraphrasing from memory) that he felt he was part of the problem, not the solution, and that he knew it. At least he was honest. (“problem” being enmity and disharmony between Koreans and Japanese; “solution” being the elimination of those things and both peoples being brought together.).

    In summary, I regret Will’s passing. He didn’t agree with certain things I wrote (and didn’t hesitate to make his disagreement known, and neither did he do so diplomatically at all times), and I don’t agree with certain things he wrote. But even if within both the Korean and Japanese sides, the majorities are composed of people who want to be part of the “problem” and not the “solution,” I thank Will for this blog, because whether he knew it or not – indeed, whether he CARED or not – Will helped me understand and know the people of Japan at least a bit better. Understanding isn’t agreement, of course – but understanding is always useful in reducing hatred and stereotypes.

    May his bereaved family find comfort as they move on from his passing.

  37. American Kim said

    CORRECTION: Above, I meant to say, “A gap comprised by distrust, misunderstanding, and lack of communication keep peoples apart.”

  38. Bruce Smith said

    Vale Ampontan. You will be missed.

  39. Mac said

    @Paul, Tony etc.

    I know it is not the right time to push but I am still hoping something can be save/maintain this site.

    I am also concerned for his wife and family as we have not heard from them.

    It must have been a terrible, terrible shock and blow for his wife.

    Is there any news?

  40. Paul Burns said

    @Mac, Hi , I am afraid I know nothing as my primary means of communication was through email to Bill – he had no mobile phone and although his wife had dabbled with Skype he had given up on it. I will ask friends in Saga what they know. All I can offer is my services as a computer engineer/hacker when the time is right. I too wish to convey my condolences so am witing to Bill’s wife in Japanese – I have her address.


  41. Marellus said


    You left this world too soon.

    Requiescat in Pace



  42. dershaggy said

    i started reading him less than half a year ago. i regret i wont be able to read his opinion on current matters anymore.
    may he RIP.

  43. Paul Burns said

    The irony,
    One of the last emails I received from Bill, with his heading “Yeah!” was this.

    Now to keep ourselves alive and well long enough to perhaps benefit from it.


    Paul Burns

  44. patfla said

    I noticed that the writing had stopped a week or so ago but only today discovered this topic and the reason for the silence. Horrible news.

    I discovered the blog only recently but it immediately transported me back to Japan where I’d live from 1989-1995 and where I had a very different and fascinating life.

    John Donne – we should change Europe to the the world but the rest holds very well.

    “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

  45. whit drain said

    What a shock – Bill’s death… After a month away, I logged in to AMPONTAN to see if Bill had laid the flail onto Paul Krugman’s backside, punishment for Krugman’s current NYT column on Japan’s changing economic policy. Personally, I like Paul Krugman, but as we all know, Bill has a way with words… Finding his RIP instead was devastating; two days later I can still scarcely believe it.
    For me, Bill was one of that small handfull of close friends one has in one’s lifetime. We met as undergraduates at Johns Hopkins University (‘68 – ‘72) in Baltimore, MD. Bill was great company, very funny, most always in good spirits; a loyal friend, who in his personal life invariably tried to do the right thing by other people. He was a voracious reader, and during those years of intellectual and creative discovery he turned me on to such writers as Phillip K. Dick, J. G. Ballard, and Ivan Goncharov. I in turn hepped him to Joseph Mitchell and Evelyn Waugh. He loved music of all kinds: he introduced me to lesser-known British rock bands, such as Tony McPhee and the Groundhogs, and the Henry Lowther Band; and, a bit later, to Reggae and Afro-Beat. My return gift was Magic Sam, Captain Beefheart and post-Bop jazz. After graduation, for the next twelve years, until he moved to Japan, we stayed very much in touch; we shared an apartment for a year; he was the Best Man at my wedding.
    I post all of this, here, now, because Bill was the personification of a man-in-full, passionate and compassionate, possessed of a strong and tireless intellect. Bill’s AMPONTAN persona doesn’t fully reveal the person Bill Sakovich, and, knowing Bill, I don’t think it was meant to. I discovered Bill’s AMPONTAN blog about four years ago, and saw that, politically, he had moved to the Right, citing Hayek and Burke, etc., (uh-oh), and then – horror of horrors – Jonah Goldberg! (Bill! What happened to you, man?). Bill’s politics had certainly evolved from our Left-leaning/apolitical youth, and this did bother me some. However, AMPONTAN entries could also reveal Bill’s compassionate side: gratitude for his happy domestic life with his loving and loved wife, Keiko, empathy for the tsunami victims, respect for Japan’s deep sense of family.
    AND–as I continued over time to follow his entries I saw that, incontrovertibly, he – as a previous poster to this thread has pointed out – Knew His Shit. If his intellect directed him to take a Right turn, so be it; he certainly came by it honestly. As for that Jonah Goldberg business – anyone can make a mistake.
    And all of that was clearly secondary to his deep and abiding love for his adopted country, and respect for its culture and traditions. What might seem like patriotic tub-thumping to some was in essence the manifestation of his passion for and loyalty to Japan. Bill was completely enthralled by Japan, in all its facets, long before actually going to live there. To prepare, and while working full-time as a housing inspector in Hayward, CA, he studied the Japanese language and society at the university level for several years.
    It was harder for us to keep regular contact after Bill moved to Saga, and life intervened- cultural immersion for Bill, three children for me.. We did see each other one more time, about 15 years ago when he and his wife came back to the US to visit friends and family. I know Bill had many, many friends in Japan, and I hope that, like Paul Burns (above) they will add here their memories of this extraordinary man.
    A final story – a happy one. One weekend evening in 1971 an agitated Bill dropped by my apartment; he was hot to meet a pretty young woman that he had seen around Hopkins, and also entering her off-campus apartment. He knew where she lived, but didn’t even know her name. He thought that maybe she had flirted with him, but wasn’t sure. Should he go drop by? Would she think that that was creepy? Wasn’t it almost scertain to be humiliating? I stoked the fire: Yes, ABSOLUTELY you should go! What’s the worst that could happen – that she’d politely say she was busy? I put on the frenetic “Faces and Places” from Ornette Coleman’s Live in Stockholm Vol. 1, got Bill literally jazzed, and zippp out the door he went. About a half an hour later there’s a knock. I open my door and it’s Bill with a wry smile on his face.
    “She wasn’t home”.
    We both laughed quite a bit at that – the perpetually recurring Zen lesson of No Lesson – smoked a couple of bowls and went out for a beer and some pinball.
    Vale, Bill

  46. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button!
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  47. Paul Burns said

    @Whit Drain
    i found the man to be as exactly as you have recorded here so succinctly. Even though there was a 15 year age gap between us, something clicked. He switched me on to The Fan Man by Bill Kutzwinkle , and I in turn made him read such as The Skinhead Shakespeare, which he found hilarious. Both of our musical tastes were eclectic , and we bounced world events/reading material and music off each other daily via email until the time when he just went quiet. I had envisaged sitting in a bar with him in Saga in our dotage, mulling over life’s events, sadly now not to be so. Way too soon my friend.
    Paul Burns

  48. mac said

    Please note the first spam messages above. This is a sign that we really must do something to protect the site.

    Unfortunately, I am powerless in this aspect and it is up to you guys to work out a way.

    To be honest, although I am capable of ‘giving as good as I get’, I am equally unhappy at some of the recent discussion and how it might go in the future. To me, it feels like arguing at someone’s funeral and just not something that is done.


  49. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    Mac, I fully agree. Stop that.

    White Drain, thank you so much for your accounts. I found that Bill liked Phillip K. Dick and J. G. Ballard and I am very happy about it. And if you introduced Magic Sam and Captain Beefheart to Bill, you would share a lot with me about music. And I agree that what Bill said and asserted things here so passionately was from his deep love for Japan and its people. That is exactly why I loved Bill. What he told me was that I should be very proud of being one of Japanese. Nobody ever told me that like he did. The fact that I am anti-nuclear power has nothing on my gratitude to him. That difference is a tiny thing before his immense feeling for my country and my people.

  50. whit drain said

    Yes! The Fan Man! Bill also had me read that book; we even tried an abbreviated Dorky Day once…I’ll keep an eye out for the Skinhead’s Shakespeare. Joseph Mitchell’s novella: Old Mr. Flood was a favorite of Bill’s; he also thought that it might have a particular appeal for the Japanese reader, and used it as a text, and for translation exercises in his English class a number of years ago. As a story it has the same spirit (tho completely different plot, of course) as Kurosawa’s Dodes’ Ka-Den (sp?): Trolley Madness. I believe that Bill gave some thought to translating it himself. The novella, originally published in the 1940’s, was, I think, anthologized in Mitchell’s collection: Up at the Old Hotel, now about 10 years old.
    Mac and Paul- while I don’t have a consuming interest in things Japanese, and know even less, it is clear even to me that the AMPONTAN blog is a unique and valuable resource, the archives of which should be preserved. If I can help in any way, please let me know ( I’m sure that the library of Bill’s alma mater, Johns Hopkins, would be grateful for a copy; perhaps other libraries as well…
    21st C.: If you like Magic Sam and Beefheart, here’s another favorite of mine that Bill also liked: “Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley – Two Great Guitars”. If you can find it, save it to play on the first warm Spring day.
    Best to all- Whit

  51. mac said

    Bill, if you can read this is heaven, you’re a bastard for leaving us and leaving us without any warning.

    (I used to share info and emails with him too, and I know he would not be offended).

    I never knew Bill liked William Kotzwinkle and had a radical or Leftie past though. Kotzwinkle’s ‘Doctor Rat’ was a seminal book in my misspent youth and I remember Horse Badorties.

    What a small world.

  52. Paul Burns said

    @Mac I could not agree more, just so very unexpected.
    I have actually seen Captain Beefheart live at Canterbury , University of Kent, UK.
    I made a mistake , google Skinhead Hamlet , (not Shakespeare) and you will find the document. Very short, bad language abounds.
    I am researching various methodologies to archive off this blog. We shall of course then have to find another method to keep in touch after it is locked for posterity.It can and will be done, I am on the case.
    Bill also liked P.G. Wodehouse, Sax Rohmer’s Morris Klaw, … I too liked Phillip K. Dick prior to meeting Bill, a shared interest.
    I am also achiving off all my emails , as I would hate to lose those. There are facets of Bill in those that people would not believe were the same persona as Ampontan. God ,we had a lot of laughs….

    Paul Burns

  53. whit drain said

    Just read the Skinhead Hamlet – loved it!

  54. Paul Burns said

    @ Whit Drain
    It still raises a smile here, and especially thinking of Bill and how he always brought it up ….
    this below was one of the last emails from him, regarding a news/music link I had sent…. you wouldn’t be that guy ???


    What’s the bleedin’ point, as Basil Fawlty would say?

    Guy I used to know was really scathing about Page (despite his talent). Thought he was a sloppy drunk who couldn’t keep his guitar in tune.



    Paul Burns

  55. whit drain said

    Not me- I always liked Jimmy Page, and wouldn’t know enough to pick out a chronically out-of-tune guitar… Is the Basil Fawlty reference yours or Bill’s? My whole family knows just about the entire dialogue of all 12 shows. Favorite lines:
    “Harold RobbINS! Harold RobbINS! I thought you said Harlold.. Robinson!… AWful! PAINful!
    and, of course, the always useful: “This smack on head!’

  56. Paul Burns said

    The reference is Bill’s – he liked it too…

  57. Aoumigamera said

    Until yesterday I didn’t know he had passed away. I am saddened. Though I commented only a couple of times, I have been reading his blog in the last three years. Thank you, AMPONTAN. Rest in peace.

  58. Paul Burns said

    H , I contacted wordpress re archiving this site : they said
    Here is what we’d need in order to turn over the site to you:

    1. A copy of your friend’s death certificate, and;

    2. Either: A power of attorney; a legal document stating your authority to act on behalf of the deceased; or a signed, notarized statement including:

    – Your first and last name
    – Your current contact information
    – Your email address
    – Your relationship to the deceased user
    – Action requested – e.g. please turn over the account to Paul Burns/ username paulbakeneko

    If you have any questions, please let me know.


    Kathryn P.
    Happiness Engineer | | Automattic

  59. whit drain said

    It looks like the death certificate copy plus the notarized statement is the most straightforward approach. The death certificate copy would undoubtedly be in Japanese, which might pose a difficulty; Bill’s wife would, I think, be the one provide it, and the overriding question of course would be her sensitivity to such a request so soon after Bill’s passing. Perhaps one of Bill’s and Keiko’s Saga friends, who also has an interest in preserving the site, could judge when might be the best time to ask. Another possible concern is that WordPress might unilaterally take down the site due to some unpaid fee. If there is any need of payment in order to keep the site intact and protected, I’d be glad to pay it. Regards,

  60. Paul Burns said

    I have already asked the question and they are looking into the death certificate.
    If anyone would care to talk about this off this site I am at paul at fitvideo dot co dot uk. I am also on Skype , with the tag “friend of Bill Sakovich”
    I feel awkward using Bill’s blog to discuss this situation, also pryng eyes re hacking.

  61. Paul Burns said

    re skype look for Fitvideo

  62. mac said

    There are no worries about the site being pulled due to non-payment of fees, Bill and I corresponded about this. At the time he was thinking about registering his own domain … which we could still do. It’s a free WordPress blog.

    I’d be more worried about it being swamped by spam merchants.

    The blog can be archived either by archiving it in simple HTML, or by exporting and re-importing it into another WordPress website, or this one can just have comments turned off.

    The question then would be, do we wish to carry on the discussion or defense of the point of view he represented.

    Can some of the regular commentators, particularly those with equivalent language skills or native Japanese speakers, take over where he ended?

  63. mac said

    I suggest a last “Just one more thing …” biographical post as a formal announcement of his death and in memory of him.

    That’s a nice photo of him smiling taken from the school. There’s probably a crazy Badorties quote to with it.

  64. whit drain said

    The In Memoriam post is an excellent idea, but it would also be necessary to be able to block, or edit out, spammer entries, which, sadly, might follow. Maybe a vetted and edited collection added to AMPONTAN just before archiving?

  65. Ken said


    Thank you for disclosing the memory of Bill’s youth. A politician who died yesterday of 48 years ago, Sir Churchill, said, “Those who are not influenced by a leftist ideology have no enthusiasm. Those who are still influenced by a leftist ideology have no intellect.” Anyway, I think Bill was enlightened by traditionalism, which is different from libertarian in Japan, through Karate.
    Concerning the preservation of this blog, someone who know Bill’s thought the best should maintain this blog. On this point, I suppose Bill memorial which will be held in February would be good opportunity to discuss. I am waiting above Tony’s notice.

  66. said

    The last email I got from Bill is dated December 1, 2012 in my gmail files.
    When I wrote to him over the past two months, December and January, and got no replies, I
    was worried. I had no idea until TODAY that he had died. Rest in peace, Biil….

    NOTE: We last discussed this story I was writing about him:

    A friend of mine who has lived in Japan for many years, William
    Sakovich, told me in a recent email the Land of the Rising Sun that
    he, as a big deli fan from Baltimore, always wanted to go to the Stage
    Deli in New York, but it never quite happened.

    “The last time I was in New
    York, in 2000, a friend told me to go to the
    Carnegie instead, which I did, bypassing the Stage,” Sakovich told me.
    “The Carnegie was okay, but they made
    sandwiches that were so huge, it was impossible to get your hands or
    mouth around them. Didn’t understand that. My wife, [who is Japanese],
    got a shrimp salad sandwich that was so big she ate half and ate the
    other half for dinner on the train back home.”

    Then Mr. Sakovich told me a good story about a very good deli in Baltimore.

    “In the unlikely event you or any of your SDJW readers are ever in
    Baltimore, go to Attman’s,” Sakovich-san said. “My father grew up in
    the neighborhood, and my uncle was best friends in grade school with
    the son of the owner, who became the owner himself. My father found
    every excuse possible to drive by that neighborhood for lunch, and I
    was often with him when it happened. In those days, there were shops
    in the neighborhood with plucked chickens hanging upside down in the
    shop window from their legs. As a result, when I was an adult living
    there, I found
    every excuse to go by that neighborhood for lunch at Attman’s myself.”

  67. […] A spontaneous tribute of sorts, sprung up in the comment section of one of his final posts: […]

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