Sunday, March 11, 2012

Earthquake, Tsunami, & Meltdown

As quite a few sites are doing bland, unoriginal retrospectives on last year's earthquake today, I thought I might provide the much less common "foreigner living and working in Japan" perspective as well as a comparison of Eastern and Western media reports on the disaster.

On this date exactly one year ago, space and time changed.

745km (463 miles) from where I am now sitting and drinking beer, a earthquake occurred off the coast of Japan. An earthquake so strong that it actually shifted the Earth's axis and moved the entire country 8 feet. This change in the earth's axis actually shortened a day on the planet by 1.8 microseconds. You can hear it here.

As we all remember, the earthquake set off tsunami waves (some up to 128 feet high. After striking the shore, at least 15 thousand people lost their lives. Entire towns were literally wiped off the face of the earth. Thousands of buildings disappeared. I saw an interview with one old fellow on TV. He had gone to work that morning and come home to find his family - all three generations -, his house, and his job and city all gone. Though he choked back a cry, his emotional restraint was striking - I couldn't help thinking that, had this same situation occurred in North America, the victim there would be overwrought.

Of course, the most threatening damage was that to the Fukushima nuclear reactors. There was a meltdown and those local residents remaining after the tsunami devastation were forced to leave everything.

Here in Kyoto, I had no knowledge of the quake until a student mentioned it to me. He told me that there were only 10 fatalities, so I assumed it was a minor quake (which are relatively common here). Later, some students (oddly, only women - no men) told me that they had felt the quake when it occurred but their friends assured them it must have been their imagination. So, it seems only a few people were able to detect it.

Fear and stress were thick in the next few weeks. Convenience and grocery stores were instantly sold out of batteries and water, purchased to be sent to loved ones in the Kanto (north east) region. Lights in stores were off or on low for weeks following. Requests for donations were (and still are) virtually everywhere. Already energy-conscious (home of the Kyoto Protocol) Japan cut down on usage of gas, water, and electricity (even though I am told the affected area is powered by a different grid). Despite being relatively far from the affected areas, I was stressed. Radiation began entering the atmosphere, water, and earth at unhealthy levels. Fish might be affected yet be caught in a different area. I started checking the labels of spinach and other produce a bit more carefully.

Local and foreign media focussed on this spirit of group support. While it was the main theme, I was surprised to learn that many Japanese had few fond feelings for the former residents of the area around the Fukushima plants. Apparently, since the construction of the plant, they had received financial subsidies due to their living within the threat of radiation and many envied them such subsidies. One (Japanese) student of mine told me some referred to them as the "boat people" because they were able to purchase large boats with the money. Another (Japanese) friend of mine told of suspiciously elaborate spa/hotels near there, despite the rest of the town being fairly low-rent. Anyway, many of those allegedly formerly-wealthy residents were (and some remain) displaced.

This triple threat of earthquakes (aftershocks), tsunamis, and nuclear meltdowns not surprisingly scared the crap out of tourists and foreign workers in Japan, most of whom most likely had never experienced even a mild earthquake before. Flights were packed for days with panicked foreigners escaping. Some foreign wags on Twitter dubbed these folk "flyjin" (a play on the words "fly" (as in flee or flight) and "gaijin", which means "foreigner" in Japanese). Though I chose to stay in Japan because of my work responsibilities (I have several jobs) and distance from the danger, I do not scorn anyone who chose to leave. Earthquakes are as certain as death and taxes in Japan and just as welcome. Many tsunami barriers were too low and thus ineffective. Radiation - that stuff'll kill ya.

So, it is with a small measure of chagrin to read the words of Mutsuko Izawa, who states, "It's not good that they all left so suddenly,Of course this means that in the future, when a company has a choice between hiring a Japanese and a foreigner they will not hire the foreigner because they will be worried if they are going to stay.
"I think this has reinforced the impression amongst Japanese that a lot of foreigners only look at Japan as a place to work for a few years, earn a lot of money and then they go again," she said. "They're not really interested in the society or the country. This isn't their real home. These disasters have really just shown how true that is."

Given the fact that in 2009 the Japanese government actually paid foreign workers to leave the country (“I do not think that Japan should ever become a multiethnic society.” says Jiro Kawasaki, a former health minister and senior lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.) and this state continues ("the government is … actively encouraging both foreign workers and foreign graduates of its universities and professional schools to return home while protecting tiny interest groups") to this day, Mrs. Izawa's criticisms seem a trifle unfair.

Hiragana Times is a magazine geared towards foreigners interested in learning Japanese and bills itself as "Japan to the World". As it is some foreigners only view of Japan, it occasionally serves as a propaganda vehicle for essentially racist but basically annoying Nihonjinron views. They also couldn't help remarking in their June 2011 issue, "Because of the Great Eastern Japanese Earthquake, many non-Japanese left Tokyo, which hadn't suffered any radiation poising itself. Ironically, those who fled Japan were exposed to more radiation on the flights out that they took. " (From the Editorial Desk).

One month prior, in their paradoxically exclamatory May issue article "How the Japanese media Calmly reported on the Great Disaster! ", they wrote , "most of the foreign media sensationally reported on the Tohoku region's complete devastation and the risks at the Fukushima nuclear power plant as if all of Japan was at peril".

- In progress -

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In Search of Wabi-Sabi: review

I blame George Harrison.

In the mid-1960's, the Beatles guitarist was disillusioned. He seemingly had everything one could want - fame, money, and success - but something was lacking. Rather than think through the problem himself, he went looking for readymade solutions. Spiritualism / religion provides a great off-the-shelf "answer" to life's problems for many. Yet, John Lennon had made his "the Beatles are more popular than Jesus" statement, which had alienated many Christians, especially Americans. Yes, a "mystical" foreign belief system, far from uptight America and dull Britain would fit the bill nicely. Harrison became interested in Hindusim, bought a sitar, and later ('68) headed to India to study meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Though the Yogi turned out to be a fraud (he is the subject of the Beatles song Sexy Sadie: "Sexy Sadie, what have you done? You made a fool of everyone"), , this was before the internet, so the Beatles followers had no idea of the letdown - the damage was done. The flowing robes, the vague sense of the exotic and spiritual, the promotion of Transcendental Meditation (not thinking) - all this blended naturally into hippie culture and became a part of it (many of these followers tried to use psychic/spiritual energy to levitate the Pentagon. Yes, I am serious.No, they did not succeed.)

Thanks to George, rock groups started using sitars (a good thing) and the East was exoticized yet again (not a good thing). Hippies made pilgrimages to "spiritual" places such as India and Morocco. Even today, even in Canada, this mindless mindset persists. I recall meeting people in Toronto with plans to travel to Vancouver (Eastern Canada) to "find themselves". Any questions about why they needed to be in Vancouver to do so would be dismissed as "bad vibes" ("bad karma" for any old-timers out there).

This willful ignorance also applies to Japan (the Far East, like Harrison's India). To most non-Japanese, there are two Japans: modern, technological Japan with cosplay, perverts, robots, and "crazy" game shows: basically Tokyo. Japan #1 is more advanced than other countries.

There is also traditional, spiritual Japan with temples, shrines, kanji, and cherry blossoms: basically Kyoto. In Japan #2, everything has a spiritual meaning, origin, or purpose.

To be fair, these Japans are promoted not only by American websites (most promote the "isn't Japan weird?" angle), but also the Japanese themselves. These two Japans - especially/usually "traditional" Japan - are heavily promoted by the tourism industry, books about Japan, TV shows about Japan - basically all media coverage of the place. There is essentially no critical coverage, no Japanese Noam Chomsky. Instead, there's Nihonjinron, the idea that Japan is especially "unique" ("Japanese have different brains than westerners", "Japanese people hear differently than Westerners", "Japanese people have longer intestines" etc. ) I was talking with an older Japanese woman about the concept of wabi-sabi (we'll get to what it is in a bit - basically it's a Japanese concept about imperfection being a natural part of life). She told me, "every Japanese knows what it is". I asked her, what about a person who was Japanese by blood, but was born in the States, didn't speak Japanese, and had never even been to Japan - would they know about this concept? "Of course" was her answer. "It's in the blood.". That the idea of a belief system transferred genetically is racist in concept didn't seem to occur to her (and, polite people here don't talk about those things, so I certainly didn't bring it up).

The BBC have done some great documentaries, including many on Japan. Unfortunately, most seem to promote the "crazy Japan" angle (see Jonathan Ross's Japanorama series). This is understandable, as focusing on modern Japan allows them to talk about sex in Japan - guaranteed viewers! Hmm, sex in Japan or cherry blossoms in Japan…which will I watch? The Japanese themselves have a relevant expression: 花より団子 ("dumplings rather than flowers" - The practical/physical over the sublime/abstract.

Then there's Marcel Theroux's "In Search of Wabi-sabi". This was part of BBC Four's 2009 Hidden Japan series. "Hidden Japan", eh? Hmm, likely focuses on Japan #2: tradition. Well, it does, but….there were four episodes in the series, and the other three were actually pretty good. (actually, "Japan: A Story of Love and Hate" was in fact the most honest portrayal of daily life here that I've seen on film yet. ) Theroux's is the sole stinker.

Who is Marcel Theroux? Maybe he's related to Louis Theroux, who has done some great documentaries on similarly offbeat subjects for BBC. Yep, turns out he is. They're both sons of American travel writer and novelist, Paul Theroux (It's weird - after I watched this, knowing he was the brother of Louis, I wondered if he had a competition thing goin' on. Louis would definitely win, I thought. For some reason, the movie "Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother" flittered thorough my mind. Later, I saw on Wikipedia that he had written a novel titled The Confessions of Mycroft Holmes: a paper chase . Hmm, maybe I'm psychic and the Yogi is trying to tell me something. Well, I'm off to Vancouver folks…).

Wabi-sabi is by nature difficult to define. In fact, it resists definition by definition. In short, it is a recognition of the natural, an acceptance of imperfection and impermanence, and the beauty of simplicity. Though they are not related, I was reminded of Mexico's Day of the Dead, also a recognition and acceptance (indeed a celebration) of the impermanence of our existence.

So, we have a very abstract concept and a man in search of it. What is Sherlock's system? Knowing apparently not even a word of Japanese and armed with only a coffee-table book on wabi-sabi, he sets off for Japan. Speaking (heavily accented) English, his approach is to simply ask everybody he sees what wabi-sabi is. It is when we first see him ask the hotel clerk when he's checking in after arrival that we realize we might not have the best man on the case (she is understandably bemused and confused). He then ventures out into the street and asks random passersby - again in English - what wabi-sabi is. This results in further comical responses, such as some kids, having no idea what this guy is talking about, looking up the kanji on their cel phones. Dude, your brother plays at being naive in his documentaries, not stupid.

Marcel is disappointed by his results and consults his coffee-table book in his hotel room. Marcel leaves the city and heads off to Japan #2, where the elusive wabi-sabi is more likely to be found. In the end, though he has taken part in a tea ceremony, visited museums, and even stayed the night with monks, wabi-sabi still eludes him. "Waitaminit" I can almost hear you saying, "If wabi-sabi is about imperfection, wouldn't the idea that he couldn't find wabi-sabi be a great, natural ending to this doc?". Yes. Yes, it would. However, as Marcel seems doomed to be forever unclear on the concept, he again misses out. Wandering through the forest outside the monastery and, feeling that he needs an ending, Marcel suddenly declares of the forest: "this is my wabi-sabi.".

Hello people that attribute "exotic" characteristics to other (or their own) countries: please don't make a web page, write a book, or make a documentary on a subject unless you have taken some courses or done some research on the subject. It's insulting to the people/country/culture you are exoticising, promotes misinformation, and is simply a waste of everyone's time. Accepting wabi-sabi (impermanence, imperfection, etc.) is natural, but to strive for perfection is human.

Thank you for sitar, though, George.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

English in Japan

I don't know about you, but "Oops" is the last word I wanna hear when I'm getting a haircut.


お久しぶりやな!It's been a while...

Since I've taken so long to update this blog, I thought I'd give you a treat: a post about (so-called) Engrish. I have resisted doing so because:

(1) It's kind of a cliche for blogs about Japan,

(2) I am teaching English, and I want to encourage my students. Laughing at their mistakes does not encourage them. If my Japanese teachers posted my mistakes online for others to laugh at, I might lose motivation, and

(3) It gives the impression that Japanese people are poor at English.


(1) Blogs about Engrish are popular and I felt badly for taking so long to update this blog, so I thought people might enjoy it,

(2) Of course, I won't mention any students' names or locations. Also, I will include my own errors in Japanese to hopefully even things out, and

(3) The fact is that most Japanese people study English for at least 6 years and at most 10 or more. Their knowledge of grammar is likely better than yours. It's simply that, for various socio-cultural reasons, they often don't speak English, so their spoken English is weak and they lack confidence about using it.

Written English is looked upon as somewhat of an embellishment than rather to add meaning (similar to how French is used to add a "touch of class" to restaurant menus in North America). Thus, errors in written English often go unnoticed (similar to how errors in written French often went unnoticed by Canadians such as myself, despite my having studied French for years and being part-French).

Also, as I think I've mentioned in a prior post, quite a few North Americans get tattoos with Japanese/Chinese characters riddled with errors, so making mistakes in your non-native language is hardly unique to Asia.

I'll kick things off with some pics:

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's the famous "Sightseeing Restroom", spotted here taking a rare break from its sightseeing activities. Actually, the English here is actually not so bad: we have a verb turned into a gerund being used as an adjective (like "running shoes" or "shopping bag"). However, for this to be consistent, it would have to mean "restroom for the purpose of sightseeing" (as in "shoes for the purpose of running", etc.). I didn't actually go in, so - to be fair - maybe there's actually some sights worth seeing in there. We may never know.


In a similar vein to the above....everybody FUCKING RUN!!! It's the FACIAL BODY REMOVER!


In an email some guy sent to me: "I work at city hole". Somehow oddly apt, I thought.


A regular student came in one of my jobs and plopped himself down on the floor. "I failed my erection" he announced glumly to the room. I considered this for a moment. Since my job is basically correcting the English of others, I can do this with robot-like precision and speed. Let's see...he said "failed", so it was probably a test..."erection"..."election"...ah, he probably confused "examination" with "election" ("r" and "l" pronunciation is a notorious weak point here). I corrected him and explained his error. It didn't get as big a laugh as it rightfully should have.


Literally right around the corner from "Oops", we can recover from our haircut experience at "Tits". Their milkshake is better than yours.


Sometimes, mistakes are somehow charming or poetic. In a text message: "It's heavenly rain" (she meant to say "heavy").


I taught a "making stories" class at the same job as the "failed erection" guy. It basically involved talking about the method of telling a story in English, then displaying a kind of picture book from which students would choose one picture as the basis for their story. On that day, a shopping mall scene was chosen. In the picture, various people were milling about on the main floor of the mall: families, children, etc. The students basically described the scene. I walked around, checking the stories for tense, spelling, grammar, meaning, etc.I stopped at the story of one woman. She had written, "There is a woman in red. She has a baby in her vaggy." As noted above, I think it is wrong to laugh at students' work. Yet, I laughed. Heartily. I looked at the pic to see what was going on. The woman in red was pushing a stroller. A carriage. A pram. A buggy. Again, "v" and "b" confusion is a common error here ("bideo store" etc.). Again, I explained the error but failed to successfully explain just how classic this error was.


Who made that beautiful painting? Let's take a closer look...

It's a Rongo! But "Drawed"? "Drawed"? Wrong-o. Actually, as "drawn" is a past participle (and they suck), "drawed" is a good guess. It was more the "Rongo" that gave me a chuckle.


Just to even things out....
Another error, this time mine, was also not as appreciated as I thought it should be. I had several students that were hostesses. It's bad news to date students, but hostesses are really cute so I thought they might have some cute friends and, hey, it's an opportunity. There is a kind of "social mixer" here, a "joint party" of guys and girls, called a konpa or goukon. Someone, usually a girl, organizes a meeting of single guys and girls. I suggested to my friend that she set one up:

Me: Hey, I was thinking...why don't we have a goukon?


Me: You know, a goukon. Just get a bunch of your cute girlfriends together. I've always wanted to do that.

Her: What do you mean?

Me: Don't worry, just call the girls. I'll set everything up. I'll invite a bunch of guys.I think it's a good chance to have a goukon.

At that time, I couldn't remember the word "konpa", so I stuck with "goukon". However, I pronounced it "goukan". Now, "goukon" (合コン) means "joint party, mixer, combined party, etc"). Unfortunately, "goukan" (強姦) means "violation, rape, forced sex, sexual assault, etc."). So, what I had actually requested was:

Me: Hey, I was thinking...why don't we have a RAPE?


Me: You know, FORCED SEX. Just get a bunch of your cute girlfriends together. I've always wanted to do that.

Her: What do you mean?

Me: Don't worry, just call the girls. I'll set everything up. I'll invite a bunch of guys. .I think it's a good chance to have a SEXUAL ASSAULT.

-----------Writed by Rongo. I mean, Bonsai Superstar!-----------

P.S.- In a move surprising to no-one more than myself, I have quit drinking. As a result, I have been quite productive recently, so I hope to update this damn thing more often.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

English in Japan (Part 1)

[This post is just a "teaser", such as it were, for the upcoming post on English in Japan. It is English-related, but basically I just saw this ad and wanted to post about it. I left in the guy's contact details in case any readers are interested - hey, age, color, nationality no matter!]

A Fatty Woman Want...

For some reason, this sounds like the title of a reggae song... (sings)

Me woman, she no fatty but
Me a fatty want...
A fatty woman want!
Me a fatty want
Anyway, sorry Charlie: I can see how you'd be confused with all the "woman as fish" metaphors in English. Yes, she might fall for your line hook, line, and sinker and you'd be reelin' 'em in, or she might not take the bait and end up being the one that got away. But, while tuna can be fatty, people are fat. "Fatty" is used to describe something, usually food, containing a large amount of fat while "fat" is used to describe slightly-overweight, big-boned people with a thyroid condition after they have left the room.

To give this guy the benefit of the doubt, he could be using the nickname (fatty, fatties) in the same way that such guys are called "chubby chasers" in North America but, despite his claims of speaking "properly", his other grammar is want. I mean wanting. If he wanted to use it in that context, he could have just written "A fatty wanted". (A fatty is a noun, fat is an adjective). And though he's South Asian, many of my Japanese students make this same error.

Further, this error is especially noteworthy in Japan, where reticence is the order of the day. There's even a saying about this: iwanu ga hana (literally, "not saying is the flower"). However, here the speaker is not only commenting outright on someone's appearance, they are doing so in a negative way (this is debatable, but in my opinion most people would not be flattered to be called "fat"). Also, they are referring to the other person as an object.

Finally, in Japanese, a person is usually said to have become big, to have gained weight*. There is a derogatory slang term, "debu", which is translated in my 2006 Shogakukan dictionary as, wait for it, "a fatty". It's the equivalent of calling someone a pig in another language. So, get it right, damn it! There's no excuse. Let's pass some good time.

* By the way, there's a trend now in Japan to raise consciousness about weight issues. Worry about so-called "metabolic syndrome" is all the rage. This is a kind of PC-speak for being overweight. It's a bit weird to me, because everyone is already pretty thin here - you rarely see a truly overweight person. Every night I ride home after work past the local temple, there's a squadron of people jogging, stretching, doing jumping jacks, etc. there. I'm not really certain of what everyone's training for, but from the time they're kids, people here are training - not exercising, but training.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I'm Baaaaack

Like these Japanese mythical creatures, I can never die...

First, thank you all for your somewhat enigmatic yet ultimately encouraging messages.

Yeah, it's been a while. Although I am picky about having only Japanese-related stuff on here, I guess I should update you on why I've been away and what's been going on.

What was my main job suddenly stopped a few months ago (no, it wasn't Nova), so I had absolutely no money coming in. It was very rough for a while. Luckily, some good friends cheered me up and helped me get adjusted to life in Kyoto. Thank you Lisa, (another) Lisa, Hiro & Machiko, and Eiko. You can really find out who your true friends are in such times.

Following that, my hard drive broke. Again. As you may recall, I just had a faulty drive replaced at the Apple Store in Osaka last year, so it was a brand new drive! The "geniuses" there replaced my old one with a drive known to fail. Thanks Apple! I love using OS X but, especially after the three (!) motherboard failures of my iBook and problems a friend had with his iMac (Hi Scott!), I can (and will) never again recommend Mac hardware. Though I had purchased a large back up external and saved pretty much everything, all my recent stuff was lost. Including a full blog post I had just written the night before. Yes. I just didn't have the will to do it all again, you know? It also had some recent self-created teaching materials on it, so that was quite frustrating as well. I won't bother to go to Apple to get them to "fix" it again, I'll just buy a new one myself. UPDATE: done. I bought a 320 Gig and put it in (despite the crack sales team telling me it was impossible. It's somehow reassuring that electronics staff everywhere have no idea what they're talking about). It's all good.

I had a house party.I invited about 45 people and about 30-35 came. Pretty crowded, but a lot of fun. A lot of people seemed confused by the concept of just a "house party" and so brought home-cooked dishes, even though I told 'em it wasn't necessary. Also, the thing ended at 11p.m. on a Saturday night! My goal was for people to mingle like a North American party, but I'm not sure if that really happened. Folks had fun, though.

I grew a beard! I've never done that before. Although one boss (at a conversation school) told me it looked cool ("like Brad Pitt"), a businessman I was teaching business English to at a large company was told me "It is better to remove it. Such a thing is rude in Japan". So I did.

I also changed my hairstyle from George Clooney forward to James Bond slicked back.

I went on a lot of dates. I even went to a gokon (a kind of mixer for Japanese university students) in Osaka. Met a lot of cool people, some okay people, and a few outright nutters.

I studied Japanese, especially Kansai ben. I am taking a class, although it's only once a week and I often am busy.

Which reminds me...I learned two songs in Japanese. Shimanchu nu Takara by Begin and Life Goes On by Dragon Ash. I downloaded the lyrics, learned the kanji, then made sheet music. I played the songs on guitar at home, then sang them at karaoke. Next, I'd like to learn a Chinese song. UPDATE: Did it. I sang Tian Mi Mi by Teresa Teng at a karaoke party for one of my jobs.

I translated another menu into English. Last time was a yakitori (grilled chicken) shop, this time was a soba/udon shop. It's very interesting to know all these food-related kanji/words. There may be many foreigners whose Japanese is much better than mine, but they might not know negi banban or wariko soba!

Oh, I take a cooking class once a month. Traditional Japanese food, taught in Japanese and English to foreigners and Japanese. Pretty cool. A friend taught me how to make katsudon (deep-fried pork cutlet on rice with onions, egg, and broth), so I went nuts, deep-frying everything for a while there.

I met my final roommate, a guy from Fukuoka. He's the sixth, and best of all the roommates so far. The last guy from Italy, was the absolute worst - noisy (the walls here are as thin as Ally McBeal, so you can literally hear a pin drop), dirty, rude, etc., so it was a relief to meet Aki.

However, I'm moving to a single apartment. Aki wants to hang together in a new place, but he has some strange idea about opening up a third room to travelers and running some kind of hostel (?!). No thanks. UPDATE: Moved. The new place is pretty cool: tatami floors and all. However, there's no internet (not even a phone line!) and they told me to put fibre optic (which they're pushing recently here) will take a month - they might even have to put up a special telephone pole for me! I could get ADSL, but it's half the speed and costs more, so I'm goin' for the private pole (wait, that didn't sound right...).

When I was checking the place out for the first time with one boss (very cool lady - she found and paid for the agency without me asking, acted as my guarantor without me asking, and even helped me move!), I saw the balcony has a kind of corrugated metal blocking the view (though why they block views here with dirty rusty ugly metal no-one can explain). I asked if they could remove it and the real-estate guy of course sucked his teeth, "it's a little difficult..." (which means "no"). So, I joked, "Well, at least I can walk around naked and no-one can see!". My boss made this just-ate-a-lemon face and said, "Such a thing no-one wishes to see". Ah, I guess you had to be there.

From friends and sayonara sales, I got some good stuff: fridge 3000 yen (about 30 bux), microwave (1000 yen), washing machine (free - I'm four floors up and there's no elevator, so moving the washing machine was an experience), gas stove (free), cool table (3000 yen) and chair (1000), small table from the new IKEA in Osaka which was a nightmare to carry from the station to home on by bike (1500), small stylish lamp (200), tons of pots and pans (500), etc. I'm having a nameplate made for the door. It's a small thing, but it feels like home now.

I went to some interesting stores. This place sells only chopsticks, this place only umbrellas, and this place only bamboo goods.

I'm thinking of having another party, this time a beach party at Omi-Maiko (in Shiga). Swimming, BBQ, drinking, etc. If enough people are interested, it's on!

I watched a hell of a lot of movies. Actually, I've started reviewing some Japan-related / Japanese movies on IMDB. Please see the list below for most of the movies I can remember seeing.

Movies I have seen recently, arranged by quality:


Chop Shop
In Bruges
Lars and the Real Girl
The Orphanage
No Country for Old Men
The Bourne Ultimatum
In the Valley of Elah
Match Point


Cassandra's Dream
Batman - The Dark Knight
Death at a Funeral
The Onion Movie
Iron Man
San-chome No Yuhi
Layer Cake
City of God
City of Men
The Simpsons Movie
Secrets and Lies
The Last King of Scotland
August Rush
Son of Rambow


The Fourth Man
Tropic Thunder
Get Smart
Be Kind Rewind
The Brave One
Eastern Promises
The Bank Job
Vantage Point
The Bank Job
Definitely Maybe
The Incredible Hulk
Street Kings
1114The Bucket List
The Forbidden Kingdom
The Mist
3:10 to Yuma
The Machinist
Live Free or Die Hard
National Treasure Book of Secrets
American Gangster
I am Legend
Diary of the Dead
Sweeney Todd - the Demon Barber of Fleet Street
There Will Be Blood
The Spiderwick Chronicles
88 Minutes
Indina Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Gone Baby Gone
The Great Debaters
We Own the Night
Run Fat Boy Run
Dan In Real Life
30 Days of Night
Michael Clayton
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Mr Brooks
28 Weeks Later
Mr. Bean's Holiday
Hot Fuzz
Little Miss Sunshine
Monkey King
Super High Me
The Air I Breathe
Across the Universe
I'm Not There
Walk the Line
Children of Men
Inside Man
Chaos Theory
Charlie Wilson's War


Ghost Rider
Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer
An American Crime
Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
Charlie Bartlett
Death Proof / Planet of Terror
The Invasion
Big Dreams, Little Tokyo


The Savages
Into the Wild
The Happening

Next post is on English teaching - a big subject - so keep your eyes peeled.

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Well Okay Then

Well, 6 ain't 10, but I guess I'll keep posting. I was almost hopin' that no-one would leave a comment so I wouldn't have to continue. It's just that:

1. I'm working every single day now with 4 (!) jobs, so it feels like I'm giving a lot already. Even when I go out to relax after work, some sap wants to practice his English with me wherever I go, so it's difficult to relax

2. I'm taking courses (cooking and Japanese)

3. I'm posting on another site in both Japanese and English, and responding to comments in both languages takes a lot of time

4. I take a lot of time to write almost book-like posts, and was kinda disappointed that very few people leave comments. As I noted initially, this isn't a boring "what I did today" diary, it's informative and interesting info about Japan from a goddamned witty perspective. From the logs, I can see that lots of people are reading - not to mention "borrowing" my pictures - so what I guess I'm trying to say is "comments are appreciated".

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Comment challenge!

The concept behind this blog was to post everything I know / everything that might be interesting about a particular topic related to Japan. So, it takes a lot of time to write and collect pics for just one post. This site is the kind of site I'd like to read, but I'm not really sure if anyone else is reading it. So, if I have 10, count 'em, 10, comments/requests (not all from the same person) to continue this site, I will. Otherwise, hey, I'm not getting paid for it, so if no-one's reading I'm not gonna bother. Uh, click the "comments" thingy below to comment. Hope to hear from you.

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