Team Toufuu!
  Part 1: Toufuu's Zero-th Birthday  

On the morning of May 5th 2004, in the weeny hours of the night (1:00am Japan time) Hisako checked into the hospital with a ripe belly, intermittent contractions, and high hopes of delivering her first baby within the next few hours. She was given a cute pink gown that snaps together in the front, and was tucked into a little bed next to the delivery room. The "hospital" is actually a baby delivery center, with a healthy staff of full time nurses and the very occasional doctor to answer (almost) any questions about babies and birth. The delivery room is fitted with a Star Trek bridge command style birthing chair that looks like a cross between KnightRider and a dentists seat. The room with all the new born babies is visible through a giant plexiglas window that is so well polished that virtually all the parents bump their heads when they go to find their kids. I did it twice.

Hisako worked hard, and gradually her contractions got stronger and stronger, until by the time the sun had come up her discomfort level had reached the point where she found virtually nothing funny about my jokes. About this time (10:00am) the second bed next to the birth room was filled by a woman with lovely feet just visible below the hospital curtain that divided our beds. Though Hisako had, by right of early arrival, already taken the pole position in regards to the race to the birthing room, this second time mother jumped the pregnancy starting gun and went into labor like Carl Lewis running hurdles. She gave birth less than 2 hours later at 11:54am. Hisako was dismayed to be beaten so badly, but chalked this defeat up to lack of experience on her part. This stiffened Hisako's resolve and she began to contract furiously for the next several hours.

Hisako's home is only 20 minutes away from the hospital, so Hisako's mother kept all of us well fed, bringing riceballs, prepackaged flan and encouragement from the house every 5 hours or so. I was told that during labor the fetus often becomes a bit more sedate, but Bob (his inutero name) continued to attack Hisako's abdomen like a breakdancer at a banana peel convention. While Hisako's stomach muscles cramped to evict Bob from his small living space, Bob fought back with well placed kidney punches and liver kicks every few minutes or so.

  The date, May 5th 2004 as many people may already know, is auspicious for many reasons. First, in Japan it is the official holiday "Children's Day" (more politically correct than the original "Boy's Day") when people hang up those big colorful flags shaped like carp to celebrate all the half grown humans in their home. It falls in the middle of the busiest travel season in Japan called "Golden Week" when a bunch of holidays all coincide. Additionally, it is the day of the full moon and in fact also coincides with a full lunar eclipse that peaked in Japan at about the 8 hour mark of the delivery. Because of this many people including myself and Hisako's mother were thinking that if you were a fetus, this would be a prime day to expose yourself to the world. Now I had heard (from Hisako) that if during the pregnancy you keep telling your baby when you want him to be born, that the chances of him actually being born on that date rise dramatically. I took this to heart back in November, and had begun explaining to Bob, again and again, through Hisako's stomach that May 5th was the day we were all expecting him. I even went so far as to make it a habit of tapping on Hisako's belly in five tap sets to simulate the date 5/5. All included, by delivery night Bob had had his due date explained to him literally thousands of times. Of course back in November I didn't know all that stuff about the full moon or Children's Day, I just figured that it would be an easy birthday to remember.  

By 9:00pm 20 hours had passed and Hisako was getting really anxious and was ringing the nurse every 25 minutes or so to explain that she wanted to be winding down this pregnancy soon. In fact, at one point Hisako looked at me and her mother and exclaimed in Japanese, "Mo, Dame kamoshiranai yo!" (Loose Translation: "Maybe I won't give birth after all.") The two of us had a good laugh, but Hisako couldn't figure out what was so funny.

In response the nurses began to prep the birth room and told Hisako that she was on-deck and would be batting soon. This was, I would later realize, a clever attempt to pacify delivery angst. Every piece of information no matter how small or insignificant was cunningly interpreted by the head nurse as progress. In fact, Hisako had been pronounced dilated to 7cm at about 8:30pm, then mysteriously, when measured an hour later the nurse exclaimed, "Your coming along very nicely, 6cm!" By 10:30pm this prenatal spin-doctor (?nurse?) while very kind, had been dangling the amazingly ergonomic birthing chair in front of Hisako's uterus for almost three hours, always asking her to wait just another 20 or 30 minutes. I even fell victim to this ploy and was asked to put on a white robe and wash my hands on three separate occasions. Those of you who know me will understand that the last time I washed my hands three times in a day was when I worked in a restaurant in High School and was required by law to do so.

Despite these minor setbacks, in the 22nd delivery hour at 11:00pm, the nurse finally gave the green light, and Hisako and I made the 8 meter trek to the delivery room next door, to prepare for the final stretch. The delivery-prep took about 10 minutes and included putting paper sacks on Hisako's feet, strapping her to the mysterious chair, and playing with the foot controls to elevate and tilt Hisako to the precise birth angle. Finally, at 11:10pm, with Hisako's mother in the next room waiting anxiously, Seth standing by with very clean hands, and Hisako with white bags on her feet, the birth nurse put on her plastic disposable smock announcing that "Operation Midnight Bob" was officially underway.


The nurse gave Hisako very thoughtful instructions on how to use the chair's mounted handlebars most effectively in her pushing and these two women quickly bonded in a contracting team. I was assigned a water bottle and a towel to carefully wipe off Hisako's sweat which for some reason only ever accumulated on her nose and upper lip. At one point during a lull in the action I though to ask our baby expert a few questions that had been nagging me during the pregnancy.

"Do babies defecate inside the uterus? And if so isn't that messy? Where would the excrement go? How come the baby doesn't get Hisako's body fluids in his lungs? I mean, it's wet in there right? Does the baby ever kicks the placenta too hard and hurt himself? How come babies don't poke themselves in the eyes?"

The nurse fielded my questions as best she could until Hisako interrupted and rightfully insisted that she remain the center of the attention. I still don't know the answer to these important questions but I'm hoping my father (a brilliant doctor and potter) will answer them later. I closed my mouth and let the Hisako continue with her pregnancy.

As the digital clock chimed 11:40pm our nurse was up to her antics again telling Hisako that she could see exactly as much of the head as she was able to see 20 minutes ago, but phrased as to seem like major progress. With progress like this a May 5th birthday seemed as likely as Godzilla becoming a peace activist. Miraculously however over the next 15 minutes, Webster's definition of progress an the nurses definition of progress gradually merged and at 11:55pm Bob's head became visible. The long incremental nature of the whole ordeal had conditioned me to expect delays and if I was an odds-maker at that moment I still would have paid 100:1 on a May 5th birth. Curiously enough, the family had taken a small Bob's Birth Hour pool and collected 1000 Yen (~$10) from each of us to be paid to the family member best guessing the birth time.

  Now the reason I am able to give such a minute by minute account here is because I was standing behind Hisako with the nurse facing me, looking straight at the clock sitting right above the baby scale, secretly figuring the chances of Bob actually being born before midnight. I knew that I had the family birth pool in the bag with my May 5th 11:00pm prediction, so I used that to console myself as I watched the clock tick steadily towards May 6th. At 11:58pm Bob still seemed a long ways from being born, so it was quite exciting about one minute later just about the start of 11:59pm when the nurse started really moving her hands around a lot as if she was tossing a fresh salad. Then at 11:59.20pm a little purple head suddenly emerged, followed by, about 20 seconds later (11:59.40pm) two little arms and legs. Lest there be any mistake about the date, I yelled out "11:59!!" and the nurse turned her head and confirmed the time, then turned back to cut the umbilical cord.  

The nurse handed Bob off to the assistant nurse and went back for the placenta and the rest of Bob's little survival pack. The way she pulled stuff out reminded me a little of the way you clean a trout. Then, taking everyone totally off guard, (the baby was already born after all) a huge spew of blood just shot out across the room and all over the delivery nurse (who had kept herself particularly clean up until them) totally missing her plastic smock and splattering her mostly in the arms and face. It was as if Bob had been collecting ketchup packs from McDonald's for the whole 9 months and then the nurse in a cleaning frenzy put them in a garlic press, aimed it at herself and squeezed. I was a bit surprised that the blood didn't bother my civilian sensibilities. Perhaps I was desensitized as a kid when my dad brought home a placenta from the hospital and kept it in the refrigerator for 3 days to teach us more about the human body. No one offered to let us keep Hisako's placenta, even though, as I understand it placentas are now used in expensive skin treatments across Japan. What we were given later was a crusty shriveled umbilical cord fragment that traditionally Japanese take home as a treasured keepsake. Hisako's mother told me that she still has Hisako's umbilical fragment somewhere too, but she just can't remember where.

Following the blood bath, the assistant nurse handed off to Hisako our 3,420 gram (7.5 pounds) baby who seemed not in the least bit happy to see us. The first thing that occurred to me was that the nurse was kind of obliged to say something like: "isn't he cute" but instead all she said was "congratulations," and when I got a good first look it was clear that there was very little about Bob that was cute. He was like an eggplant with tonsils, dark purple and in quite a bit of shock from the whole birth drama. His head looked huge, and his eyes were squeezed shut so tight that it made his forehead wrinkle. He had a medium head of black hair, and like both his father and mother, a huge mouth. The most notable thing about Bob was an enormous pair of testicles, impressive, but not exactly cute either. I suppose the nurse could have said "Congratulations. Oh doesn't he have huge testicles!" but the Japanese seem to have more tact than that. Of the many thoughts that raced through my head the most notable one was, "Somehow I tortured Bob inutero and turned him into a cross between Howard Cosell and a Gorilla." I was honestly thinking that we might have created an ugly kid, and that it was my test in life to learn to become more sensitive to the inner beauty of mankind.

Brief Side Note:
After spending the day before surveying all the newborns in the nursery it was a relief that Bob had a normal head of hair. One of his nursery buddies had a hairline that ended exactly at the point where the eyebrows should begin, as if he had put on a wig and then twisted it around 180 degrees. Seriously, this kid had hair like a centimeter long all over his forehead. Still, for the hair Bob lacks on his forehead, he seems to make up for in spades on his shoulders and back. I had hoped to not pass on my back hair genes to little Bob. Sorry about that Bob.
  The nurse took the official group photo of the three of us, then snatched back Bob and put him in some jammies to go play with the other newborns. I took a few more photos and then helped Hisako back to our new private room to sleep off our 24 hour ordeal. Hisako's stomach looked like an dis-inflated balloon with the belly button sticking out as the nozzle where you blow to fill it with air. I was assigned the sofa to sleep on and Hisako was given an extra blanket which she passed on to me. Soon after the nurse came back in the room to check on something, and found the extra blanket on my sofa instead of covering Hisako. The nurse explained that hospital had limited blankets and they were for actual patients only, so I spent the night blanketless in my own personal fetal position.  

That night I had a very peculiar dream.

I was lying there in a garden filled with metal sculptures of rhinoceros beetles and stag beetles. These are particularly large beetles that are often collected as pets in the summertime by Japanese children. While I was laying there I started to feel something kind of itchy inside my undershorts. I soon realized that a whole gang of these beetles were being grown inside my underwear. I actually like these insects quite a lot, so I stayed very still so they could gestate to their full size and then graduate from my underpants and head out into the garden. One particularly fierce stag beetle grew to almost 6 inches long and for some reason clamped into my leg with his pinchers. Soon after, all the other beetles were pinching me too. I have had a lot of dreams in my life, but I cannot ever remember having such an acute sense of pain from a dream. I expected to wake up with my pen sticking into my leg, but it seems like the pain was entirely simulated. I knew that eventually the bugs would leave so I toughed it out, and sure enough they eventually crawled out of my pants and left me in peace. Normally I would interpret this as some weird variation on the pregnancy theme, except that soon after all the bugs decided the best place to sleep would in the bed of Japanese Yakuza film star Beat Takeshi (Brother, Johnny Mnemonic). Even in the dream I applauded their choice and before I woke up I watched Takeshi walk into his room and get under the covers with a big grin on my face.
  In the morning, while Hisako got a check up from the nurses, I changed my underwear and went to the nursery to try and locate our brand new little Bob. However, since they face the babies away from you so you have to identify them upside down, Hisako's mother and I spent the next 15 minutes bumping our heads on the glass trying to guess which one was Bob. It turned out we were both wrong as Bob had been in the next room the whole time being pampered by the morning nurse. She tucked Bob into his plexiglas crib and rolled it to the viewing window right in front of us so we could take photos and make faces at him, but Bob (perhaps still traumatized) stared blankly past us. Graciously, Morning Bob was substantially cuter than Birth Bob. As I learned later from my father, Bob's awkward shaped head at birth was a function of his soft skull being squeezed like a peach between two bookends. A good nights rest in regular atmospheric conditions was all young Robert needed to reform himself into a more recognizably human form. The only concern that I had was some very tiny scratches on his face that resulted from Bob rubbing his face without first clipping his fingernails. Apparently Bob's fetal grooming habits are not yet on par with the other babies.  
  The Name  

Hisako and I had wrestled back and forth about what to name Bob for the whole term. I believe that one of the main the functions of a name is to distinguish you from other human beings, so originality ranks very high in my criteria. Since Bob is going to be raised in a multi-lingual multi-cultural family we were hoping to find something that might give him an identity in both Japan and America. Some of the early rejects were, Mikan (Tangerine), Melon, and Shinkansen (Bullet Train). I had hoped that with a name like Shinkansen, Bob might not only get a sponsorship from the Japan Rail Corporation to fund his college tuition, but would also become a record sprinter. The runner-up name was Go, which in Japanese means Five, and in English of course means go, especially appropriate considering his birthday.

The name Toufuu is comprised of the kanji (Japanese characters) Tou and Fuu, which mean respectively, to climb and wind. Toufuu won out not only because of the nutritional value of his soybean counterpart but also because the kanji that make up the name are exceptional. While this is a subject that I know very little about, Japanese superstition dictates that certain years combine favorably with certain names to produce certain fortunes and characteristics. Hisako carefully poured over thousands of names and internet databases searching for the just the right combination of meaning, stroke count and pronunciation before we eventual decided on the name Toufuu.

So there he is. Toufuu Sugiyama Fisher, aka Bob. Born on a lucky day, with a lucky name to two very lucky parents. Thanks to everyone for all the great stuff and letters, and a big shout-out to the nurse who walked in on me sitting on the toliet wearing nothing but my glasses.

Best Wishes, SETH.



Part 2: Toufuu In Action


Toufuu discusses a scaled down version of his Particle Field Amplification Process™ and its implications in modern String Theory. Hisako contends that while useful in theory for graphing chaotic systems, that the physical real world applications of such mass groupings are limited due to the indeterminate growth barrier present in all sub-atomic systems.


On tails of his massively successful Diapers for Africa Clothing Drive, Toufuu is already courting corporate sponsors to back him in his newest project: Nurse the World, Feed the World, a project that involves huge breasted Swedish Stewardesses stationed in low income areas across the globe.


Here Toufuu, though sound asleep, image trains in the Vengeful Tiger Claw style taught to him by his beloved Master Drooling Wu Haug whose most famous mantra was, "You needn't to be able to walk to kick ass."



Toufuu, again in deep focused concentration, trains now in the Baby Dragon style. Despite his precocious mastery of Kung Fu, Hisako and I are not allowing him to train with edged weapons until after he can eat solid foods.


Posing with his treasured umbilical nugget, Toufuu clenches his fists as sign of solidarity for his infant brethren who's foreskins have been removed without their notarized consent.





At an environmental press conference, Toufuu demonstrates his new system for tracking the movements of semi-migratory land mammals by sedating and tagging himself with an biodegradable magnetic identifying ankle clasp.





Here Toufuu is seen reacting to Bill Gates assertion that a newborn child lacks that faculties to design and implement an operating system with the stability and versatility of the Windows NT series.





This unique series, pictures Toufuu with Yassir Arafat during the CTU (Crawling Towards Unity) Middle East Peace Summit. In the first picture he is advising Arafat on the importance of personal hygiene in high level negotiation, instructing him to wipe the hummus off his beard before the afternoon meeting with the Israelis. In second photo Toufuu outlines to Binyamin Netanyahu the advantages of using a pacifier when selecting top cabinet members.







In this candid shot, Toufuu demonstrates advanced meditative breathing techniques to the Dali Lama and his brother Alvin. Here the Lama is applying pressure to the bridge of Toufuu's nose par his instruction creating a vortex just below the palette that vibrates the uvula in a soothing manner.




Part 3: Some Video Toufuu






1) If you don't have the RealPlayer installed on your computer Download it for free HERE.



2) Place your mouse over the movie you want to watch and RIGHT CLICK.



3) Select SAVE TARGET AS from the menu, then save the file to your desktop.



4) Now open the saved file from your computer to watch the clip.













Possum Boy

Ready to Eat




Love, Seth, Hisako & Toufuu


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