つまらないこと

I live in Japan. I have lived here a long time. I do not think Japan is mysterious, strange, weird, inscrutable, or anything like that. I think those who think it is, are.

5 Dec 2013, Citizens of Japanese get angry →

amane507:

Help us,dear friends in the world.
Today,the Government party of Japan established “National Secret Law(特定秘密保護法)”.
Those in power aim to take away our freedom of speech.Truth of FUKUSHIMA will be also hidden.

Many citizens are never agree the law,and doing opposition movement.But the Liberal…

Alas, one of the most potentially dangerous laws in decades has passed under the leadership of Shintaro Abe and his fellow travelers of the far right. Unfortunately, it is not likely to be repealed. And we cannot expect the US/Obama administration to protest as they would should it have been China or another non-ally that was doing this. 

Public protests have also grown, with thousands rallying near parliament. Critics’ anger was fanned last week when theNo.2 executive in Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Shigeru Ishiba, wrote on his blog that the demonstrations were "not so different from an act of terrorism".  

— 7 months ago with 2 notes
#Shintaro Abe  #Japan  #Japan LDP  #democracy  #free speech  #FSA  #tokyo  #free press  #far right  #censorship  #state secrets  #suppression 
Tokyo Bus Ride and the Munchkin
I had spent Saturday morning and afternoon on a slow wandering walk from my home in Yakumo to Meguro. After lunch there, I decided I’d take the bus back so I could stop off at the Ozeki supermarket about a kilometer from my home. I like Ozeki, ‘cause unlike “The Garden” (a 7-11 super with all the advantages of a 7-11 except convenience and service) and the nearby Queen’s Isetan, Ozeki has a selection of food without the 20% or more surcharge most stores on Meguro Dori seem to have.
I went to the back seat of the bus, and sure enough the first old man on came back to join me. He took out his bottle of water, and with several loud sighs took a swig. After another loud sigh as if it were an extreme effort, he put it back in his man bag. This, of course, brought yet another sigh.
Oh goody, I thought.
Then, at the first stop, a mother and her young 2-year old(?) or so daughter got on and sat in the seat front of us. As soon as she sat down, the little munchkin started chattering. She noticed there cars parked in the road weren’t moving. Neither could we, so she started counting the cars. “Mommy, there are four.” Then, as we started to move, she must have wanted to make sure the illegally parked cars didn’t interfere, so she shouted, “You can’t go!” Ma, on her smartphone, said nothing.
She soon began to complain that she was hungry, and when that brought no results from her mother, she said she was thirsty too. 
Ma took a bottle of flavored soda from her purse, and handed it to munchkin, who protested quite angrily when she could not get it open and handed back to her mother, slapping the bottle for emphasis as ma was opening it for her.
After she had a few sips, she closed it and handed it back, but before her mother could put it away, she grabbed it again and loosened the top. “Don’t do that, it’ll leak all over the inside of my purse,” ma said. Munchkin did not seem to be impressed and began to ask how long before she got home, as she was hungry.
Then she decided that she wanted to play with her mother’s smartphone and tried to grab it. Her mother jerked it out of her grasp just in time, but in doing so, smacked the back of her head on the pole behind her seat. “Ouch,” she said quietly. “You made mommy hit her head,” she said as she covered her mouth in a sign the the little girl had done something naughty. Munchkin leaned against the back of the seat ahead of her looking at her mother a bit fearfully, until she decided that ma was not really angry. A few seconds later, “But I love mommy!” she said with a big smile.
Then she went back to asking how long before we get home. “I am hungry.”
I did not get to watch much more as the bus arrived at my stop. As I got up to get off, I noticed the the sighing old man had apparently gotten off earlier and I hadn’t even noticed.

Tokyo Bus Ride and the Munchkin

I had spent Saturday morning and afternoon on a slow wandering walk from my home in Yakumo to Meguro. After lunch there, I decided I’d take the bus back so I could stop off at the Ozeki supermarket about a kilometer from my home. I like Ozeki, ‘cause unlike “The Garden” (a 7-11 super with all the advantages of a 7-11 except convenience and service) and the nearby Queen’s Isetan, Ozeki has a selection of food without the 20% or more surcharge most stores on Meguro Dori seem to have.

I went to the back seat of the bus, and sure enough the first old man on came back to join me. He took out his bottle of water, and with several loud sighs took a swig. After another loud sigh as if it were an extreme effort, he put it back in his man bag. This, of course, brought yet another sigh.

Oh goody, I thought.

Then, at the first stop, a mother and her young 2-year old(?) or so daughter got on and sat in the seat front of us. As soon as she sat down, the little munchkin started chattering. She noticed there cars parked in the road weren’t moving. Neither could we, so she started counting the cars. “Mommy, there are four.” Then, as we started to move, she must have wanted to make sure the illegally parked cars didn’t interfere, so she shouted, “You can’t go!” Ma, on her smartphone, said nothing.

She soon began to complain that she was hungry, and when that brought no results from her mother, she said she was thirsty too. 

Ma took a bottle of flavored soda from her purse, and handed it to munchkin, who protested quite angrily when she could not get it open and handed back to her mother, slapping the bottle for emphasis as ma was opening it for her.

After she had a few sips, she closed it and handed it back, but before her mother could put it away, she grabbed it again and loosened the top. “Don’t do that, it’ll leak all over the inside of my purse,” ma said. Munchkin did not seem to be impressed and began to ask how long before she got home, as she was hungry.

Then she decided that she wanted to play with her mother’s smartphone and tried to grab it. Her mother jerked it out of her grasp just in time, but in doing so, smacked the back of her head on the pole behind her seat. “Ouch,” she said quietly. “You made mommy hit her head,” she said as she covered her mouth in a sign the the little girl had done something naughty. Munchkin leaned against the back of the seat ahead of her looking at her mother a bit fearfully, until she decided that ma was not really angry. A few seconds later, “But I love mommy!” she said with a big smile.

Then she went back to asking how long before we get home. “I am hungry.”

I did not get to watch much more as the bus arrived at my stop. As I got up to get off, I noticed the the sighing old man had apparently gotten off earlier and I hadn’t even noticed.

— 9 months ago
#japan  #Tokyo life  #japanese kids  #color photography  #tokyo  #everyday life  #people  #東京  #日本  #子供  #生活  #japanese stories  #life in Japan 
Japan’s English Fear:
It seems that every time an international event is to occur in Japan, the western media rediscovers the overall poor English language skills of the average Japanese and analyzes the reasons for Japan’s “fear of English.” Not that it makes any difference what the western media thinks…
I stopped by MosBurger to have a quick lunch of junk food. T’was a simple thing to do which I have done many times in the past.
But today as I walked up to the register to place my order, the woman there moved to the next register which was, oddly, closed and said “welcome.” Well, this was a bit confusing as to why she moved over to the closed register, so I started to move to it but she backed away and repeated “irrashaimase” without looking at me. Getting a bit more lost now, I started to ask her which register I should  use, when another employee who had been cleaning the smoking room came out, walked to the open register and took my order. All I could figure about the first woman was that she must have panicked when she saw me because she was afraid she would have to take an order in English.
I must say that I understand the fear of English many Japanese have, for I have developed a fear of English myself. You see, nothing frightens me more than to have to use English with someone who cannot speak English but insists on doing so in spite of the fact that I am speaking to them in Japanese.
Last month an old high school friend came to visit Japan for the first time and I showed her around a bit. We decided to drop into a pizza shop for a quick lunch.
As we looked over the menu, a young waitress came to us and started speaking in English. Immediately I felt a surge of concern. 
We began to order. Or at least tried to. I was speaking Japanese. She was speaking English. OK. Just a simple order in English would be fine, so I switched to English to order two set menus which included pizza, a drink and a small salad. Then things went horribly wrong.
My friend, perhaps thinking “American,” decided she did not want a drink, but instead just water. (Oh, shyt!) The waitress didn’t seem to clearly understand her, so in increasing panic I explained in Japanese. She responded in English, “This is a set menu…” but couldn’t get any further. Now I had my friend insisting in English that she wanted water and not the set drink while I tried to tell her just get the drink and a glass of water and just give me the drink. At the same time I was trying to figure out whether to talk to the waitress in English or Japanese, neither of which she appeared capable of fully understanding as her brain was stuck in Berlitz English mode.
After several minutes of this, I finally convinced my high school friend just to order the set including the drink and get a glass of water on the side. The price would be the same either way. The waitress seemed to be relieved.
Five or so minutes later our order arrived. My friend received no drink. 

Japan’s English Fear:

It seems that every time an international event is to occur in Japan, the western media rediscovers the overall poor English language skills of the average Japanese and analyzes the reasons for Japan’s “fear of English.” Not that it makes any difference what the western media thinks…


I stopped by MosBurger to have a quick lunch of junk food. T’was a simple thing to do which I have done many times in the past.

But today as I walked up to the register to place my order, the woman there moved to the next register which was, oddly, closed and said “welcome.” Well, this was a bit confusing as to why she moved over to the closed register, so I started to move to it but she backed away and repeated “irrashaimase” without looking at me. Getting a bit more lost now, I started to ask her which register I should  use, when another employee who had been cleaning the smoking room came out, walked to the open register and took my order. All I could figure about the first woman was that she must have panicked when she saw me because she was afraid she would have to take an order in English.

I must say that I understand the fear of English many Japanese have, for I have developed a fear of English myself. You see, nothing frightens me more than to have to use English with someone who cannot speak English but insists on doing so in spite of the fact that I am speaking to them in Japanese.

Last month an old high school friend came to visit Japan for the first time and I showed her around a bit. We decided to drop into a pizza shop for a quick lunch.

As we looked over the menu, a young waitress came to us and started speaking in English. Immediately I felt a surge of concern. 

We began to order. Or at least tried to. I was speaking Japanese. She was speaking English. OK. Just a simple order in English would be fine, so I switched to English to order two set menus which included pizza, a drink and a small salad. Then things went horribly wrong.

My friend, perhaps thinking “American,” decided she did not want a drink, but instead just water. (Oh, shyt!) The waitress didn’t seem to clearly understand her, so in increasing panic I explained in Japanese. She responded in English, “This is a set menu…” but couldn’t get any further. Now I had my friend insisting in English that she wanted water and not the set drink while I tried to tell her just get the drink and a glass of water and just give me the drink. At the same time I was trying to figure out whether to talk to the waitress in English or Japanese, neither of which she appeared capable of fully understanding as her brain was stuck in Berlitz English mode.

After several minutes of this, I finally convinced my high school friend just to order the set including the drink and get a glass of water on the side. The price would be the same either way. The waitress seemed to be relieved.

Five or so minutes later our order arrived. My friend received no drink. 

— 10 months ago with 4 notes
#life in Japan  #japan  #Tokyo  #tokyo life  #color photography  #japanese  #english 
The Hard Sell

It was a nice quiet Friday evening in Ol’ Edo. The fan was humming along, blowing the hot humid air around in an attempt to keep me cool. There was no need, as I, being naturally cool, was just fine.

I had the kitchen door open to provide a bit of cross ventilation, something the brilliant architect who designed my mansion had never thought of. I heard a cough outside. I ignored it. Then I heard a “Gomen kudasai.” Who could this be I wondered, not having enough sense to figure out that since I did not know the owner of that voice, it was probably bad news. Like the NHK guy, or a salesman.

"Yes?" I said, as I went to the door.

Outside was young longhaired fellow holding a bunch of plastic bags for recycling the Yomiuru newspaper. He was only slightly surprised at seeing me, and recovered very quickly once he figured out I could speak Japanese. He was the type though, who even if I could not speak Japanese, would probably have not been deterred from his sales pitch. 

"I have some vinyl bags for recycling newspapers," he said handing me one. "Do you take a newspaper."

"No, I don’t now," I replied, hoping to get him on his way as soon as possible.

"How long have you been in Japan?"

"About 14 years," I said, falling for first stage of his sales tactics.

"Can you read newspapers…kanji" he asked while drawing something in the air with his left hand.

Catching on slowly, I tried to start extricating myself. “Well, some,” I said.

This made him very happy but not as happy as when he pointed at 読売新聞 written on the vinyl bag he handed me, and asked “Do you know this?” and I mindlessly read the name. He became so happy with oowws and aahs , that I worried he may start dancing. He gave me another vinyl bag. He started asking about my job. He asked if I had ever taken a newspaper before. He asked all kinds of questions, seemingly getting more excited with each one.

"Do you like beer?" "Do you like music?" The fight or flee reflex began to set in, for I was beginning to fear that he was a bit off and was going to ask me to go drinking with him.

But then he went to stage 2 of his sales pitch. “I am 3rd year music student. This is my part time job.” “You like beer, don’t you.”

I tried to deflect that question by putting on a “Nah, not especially” face, but the empty Asahi Dry Black can on the kitchen sink sorta foiled that plan.

"Just a minute, I have some beer. Just a minute." He handed me the rest of the Yomiuri vinyl  bags with a laugh and ran for his…whatever vehicle he came on.

I was stuck. Seemed like a nice young kid, or at least a good enough actor that I didn’t wanna be rude and lock the door before he came back.

I waited. He came running back with stage 3 of his sales plan: An overpriced gift box of standard nothing special Japanese beer that we can find in department store during gift giving seasons. 

"Here, please take it," he said as I waved it off. "Thanks, but…."

"Please, as a favor to me, please take it." I did not accept it, so he put it on the floor in the entrance. He began to tighten the screws.

"This is my part-time job. If you could take the Yomiuri, for how long would you like it." I did not recall saying anything about taking the Yomiuri, but I replied, "One week." He looked at me a bit confused, but quickly recovered, and said, "If you decide to take it, could you take it for 3 months?" "I’m a student and this is just my part-time job, but could you think about taking it?"

"I’ll think about it," I said, and before I could realize my mistake in saying that he jumped.

"When could you start? Since this is my part time job, I’ll probably be leaving it within this year, so could you think about at least starting from October."

Shit. How did I get into this. “Well, maybe, but I can’t decide now.”

"Please, could you take it? Please?" Lots of salesmanship in Japan includes "please" and repeated bowing I have noticed.

Then I made a lucky mistake. I meant to say that my circumstances right now wouldn’t let me make such a commitment, but he either misunderstood me or I misspoke, and he thought I meant my physical condition wouldn’t let me decide. Either way, it was BS and he knew it, but that sorta BS often works in Japan. Better than just saying no.

"OK, could I come back in September and see if you have decided."

"Sure," I said, pleased that I would get rid of him before work starts on Monday. 

"Thank you! I will bring this beer back then," he said as he picked up the gift-box he had placed on the floor of the entrance to my mansion.

With a few bows to me, and me reflexively back to him, he left….leaving me with a bunch of Yomiuri bags with which I will line my trash boxes. Sorta like I’d use the far right Yomiuri newspaper itself to line a birdcage with if I had a bird or if I ever subscribed to the Yomiuri.

The moral of the story could be to never answer the door in Japanese, but then I wouldn’t have had what has to pass for fun and entertainment on a Friday night alone in Tokyo.

— 11 months ago with 2 notes
#Japan  #life in japan  #tokyo  #sales  #writer  #essays  #everyday life 
The Notorious Station Dingleberries of Tokyo

Everyone knows of the wonderfulness of public transportation in Tokyo. The trains generally arrive on time—-unless there’s been a jumper or other “human incident” or maybe a rainstorm occurs while you are on a line such as the Denentoshi which seems to be delayed by cloudy skies. If one should be late you’ll be entertained by endless heartfelt apologies “Please wait a while” followed by vague explanations for the delay over the speaker system. If you are so lucky as to be trapped between stations or anywhere you cannot take another form of transportation, you may get to hear these sincere heartfelt apologies repeated about every friggin minute until you become borderline insane. How wonderful! “Only in Japan!” as the cognoscenti say, whether it is accurate or not.

But occasionally, interrupting your daily fun time on a often packed to near 200% capacity train with people—-including at least some who seem to have not discovered deodorant, or bathing, or some balding, pot-bellied salarymen with a hangovers who had a nice garlic feast the previous night—-you might observe what is known as a station dingleberry.

Dingleberries can be recognized by their tendency to hang about in the back side of folks. Often they cause confusion because you cannot tell if they are in line or just hanging around causing a mess for everyone else.

There are at least 3 types of station dingleberries in the nirvana that is the Tokyo subway/rail system:

The first type is rather harmless. You may come across this dingleberry waiting some distance behind the white line on the platform. You may need to ask if they are in line as you would like to get on the f**ing train. Often these dingleberries are simply waiting for the next train, perhaps the local or the express. They have a valid reason for hanging out back.

The second type of station dingleberry is not nearly as harmless as it is not only hanging out back, but tends to stink up the whole process of boarding or getting off a train. These type are generally benign and just lost on their smart* device or old school newspaper. As soon as what is left of their consciousness returns, they’ll de-ass and move to get on the train, though perhaps in a panic that someone may get an open seat so they’ll try to rush in Three Stooges-like while those in front are entering.

The third type of dingleberry is the most putrid of dingleberries. These pieces of doo-doo intentionally hang out behind the asses of those who do impatiently wait in line. He, almost always a he, will be far back between lines of people waiting so he can quickly check for open seats as the train slows to a stop so that he may rest his own possibly dingleberry encrusted ass upon one. Upon spotting an empty seat, he will rush to try to get to the front of the nearest line so that he may push his way onto the train before everyone else—-perhaps even pushing through those who are trying to exit. This dingleberry is the only one of the station dingleberries that are pure shyt. You will most often spot them during the morning rush hour.

But don’t let these folks dissuade anyone from thinking that riding a commuter train in Tokyo or Kanagawa is anything but bliss and wonderfulness. Why yes, it’s Japan, so you might even say it’s Zen**.

* “Smart” in “smart” phone or other “smart” device is smart only relative to the user. People who think that those who work at Apple stores are “Geniuses” tend fit in this category.

**WTF has Zen got to do with it? Best sung to the Tina Turner tune,  “What’s Love Got to do with it.”

— 11 months ago
#japan  #tokyo  #trains  #tokyo subways  #dingleberry  #rude  #rude bastards  #disneyland