Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

November 1st…

Saturday, November 1st, 2003

Already?!?! What a fast year this has been. Contrary to my rants the past few days, this really has been a terrific experience and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I can’t believe the end of the year is coming so quickly. I guess this is a good time to let you all know that YES, I’ll be returning to NYC at the end of December. The date has yet to be finalized, but I’ll keep y’all posted. That said, tomorrow’s a long day, so I’m going to hit the sack. I’ll try to update this weekend with some pictures from Kyoto. I’m going to a college alumni event on Sunday (one of my students went to my college!!) so I’m going to try to get some good autumn leaves pictures. Stay tuned…

Happy Halloween (and birthday hint! It’s Nov. 23rd)

Friday, October 31st, 2003


Clarification…and rant #2.

Thursday, October 30th, 2003

No, I am not going crazy. Don’t worry, I’m still enjoying my experience here. I just wanted people to know part of the real, day-to-day experience of living here. Also, according to “Culture shock: Japan”, the second wave of culture shock occurs 10-12 MONTHS after arrival. So that’s probably it.

Rant #2: NOISE POLLUTION. There is no escaping the constant aural assault once leaving my apartment, and honestly the walls are so thin in my apartment, it isn’t a safe haven either. During the bike ride to the train station, I am blasted by trucks with giant loudspeakers mounted on top chanting political slogans and random other city information. Even if the information is valuable, having it blared at 100dB doesn’t help my brain processes. Once I arrive at the station, there’s no break.

Let me digress here for a special annoyance: the escalator. There is an automated announcement constantly playing at the bottom of the escalator which says (in Japanese, of course), “Be careful, there’s an escalator in front of you which is moving so get ready to step on the escalataor which is right here. Oh no, look out, here comes the escalator! It’s RIGHT HERE! MY GOD, GET AWAY, THIS WILL KILL YOU!” And that’s the just at the BOTTOM. This plays until you get about halfway up the escalator, at which point the NEXT announcement starts playing, to the tune of “Okay, so the escalator is going to stop soon. Get ready to get off the escalator. Okay, here it comes… GOOD LORD! THE END OF THE ECSALATOR! WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!” There is NO time on the escalator when you can just BE ON THE ESCALATOR.

So I’ve made it up and/or down the escalator into the train station…where, once again, there is a barrage of automated announcements saying helpful things like, “Be careful of the train that may come at any time. There is no smoking on the train but there is a special smoking corner on the platform. Get ready, becuase a train will come here at the train platform.” This is a female voice. Then there is a MALE voice to actually announce the ARRIVAL of the train. These two announcements play AT THE SAME TIME. No, I’m not joking.

I suck! and Questions answered, Random rant, and pix…

Wednesday, October 29th, 2003

First, I SUCK! I know I need to be updating more, so I’m sorry I’ve been lazy/busy/what-have you. I am a bad person. It’s that simple.

Second, let’s give the people what they want: ANSWERS!

A salaryman is a middle-aged Japanese male (think stereotype here) who wears the standard suit and tie and works for some nameless, faceless giant zaibatsu (giant corporation). He may or may not have a family, but he doesn’t see them that often, regardless. He gets himself stinking drunk with his co-workers nightly (or so it seems judging by the train odor and the pictures in previous posts). Basically, he is your idea of a Japanese businessman, crooning “My Way” in a horrible accent into a karaoke machine.

There are no salarywomen, although there are “Office Ladies”, or “OL’s” who are sort of the equivalent, but not as well-paid or respected, although they work harder and have shittier jobs.

The dollar value of that peach, at the latest exchange rate, is about $72! And no, not alll the fruit wear hats.

On another note, I’ve decided to start a series of rants about Japan. So far, everything here has remained more or less neutral with the exception of one or two posts. That changes NOW. Japan is driving me slightly batty. For example, I work in a very populated area in Osaka so, naturally, I have to dodge a lot of people just walking around. Today, I was SHOVED aside on my way to lunch by one of the aforementioned salarymen. This was no gentle push, but a downright heave-ho. I think normallly, it wouldn’t have bothered me a LOT, but lately, things everywhere have been pushing me a bit to the edge, and that really made me nuts. I started swearing (in English of course), but he was in such a hurry he didn’t get the full blast of my (no doubt incomprehensible) English. There’s just no rhyme or reason with this many people in a public place. Everyone just goes willy-nilly, and no one seems to go in a particular direction. This results in a free-for-all when you try to walk anywhere. Imagine the scene in “The Matrix” when Keanu Reeves walks through all the people and he’s buffeted on all sides while Laurence Fishburne walks unscathed trhough the crowd. I’m Keanu. And that sucks.

Also, before I end this post, here’s some pix from the farewell party and Scott’s visit:

Mobile fun…

Monday, October 20th, 2003

To start the picture pages, here are some mobile shots. Yes, those are three different salarymen on three different nights. They were all on the same train, Osaka’s “Loop Line,” and those three pictures were all taken on a weekend night. “CleanPoo” was on an air-conditioner. Note the 8,500Yen peach and Xylish, the “hyper cool” gum. “Feeley-Meeley” was a board game.



Tuesday, October 14th, 2003

stay tuned – lots of pix to come. I woke up really late today otherwise they’d be uploaded. Preview:


Last night…

Thursday, October 9th, 2003

…at my train station I ran into another foreigner (rare) and he’s an AEON teacher! His name is Dan and he’s from outside Chicago. What are the odds, right? So he’s like, “Let’s check out this cool bar I know!” So we go to this random bar about 5 minutes from the station which I bike past every day. We stop in, and he’s obviously been there before because he’s greeted like a king by the bartender! “Dan-san! Konbanwa! Dare desu ka?!” He’s all “who’s this other guy?” So we chat a bit in Japanese and get some beer and snacks. After about a half-hour or so, he pulls a DVD from behind the bar and hands it to us. It’s “Terminator 3,” which I think is still in the theatres, isn’t it? Anyway, he pops in the DVD and we proceed to hang out, drink beer, and watch T3. I finally stagger home around 3am or so and now it’s time for work. Ugh.

They’re heeeere!

Sunday, September 21st, 2003

Today Kyoto. Tomorrow…the world! Or at least Nara…


Hanshin Tigers Baseball!

Tuesday, September 16th, 2003

Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend the premiere baseball game in Japan: Hanshin Tigers vs. Hiroshima Carp. Of course, just from the dispiriting name “Carp”, the Tigers were destined to beat them. What was special about this game was that this victory for the Tigers clinched the #1 title in their division for the first time in EIGHTEEN YEARS. So needless to say people were mostly drunk and rowdy, but about 10 times more polite than people in, say NYC, when the Yankees win. Pix:


Long overdue.

Monday, September 8th, 2003

Ping Pong Matrix style: The quality is a little low, but worth watching.

I was thinking today about what being a “gaijin” really means. To me, the word “gaijin” can have negative connotations depending on the context, but all it really means is “outsider.” In fact, there are many “gaijin” in Japan today who were “gaijin” in their own countries as well. In fact, when I look around at the other Westerners here, which I rarely do, there is a peculiar reticence to acknowledge other Western people, be it eye contact or actually walking up and talking to someone. It’s really an interesting dynamic. Of course, I’m part of the problem, too. I don’t want to have the same conversation with yet another person, the “why did you come, how long you been here…” conversation. It’s eerily reminiscent of what I imagine prison conversation to be like, except with cooler cell phones.

Anyway, I’m still enjoying myself. Those of you I haven’t emailed in a while, I’m sorry, I’ve been totally swamped. You should all have emails now. Thanks, Pizza Hut! Oh, they have Pizza Hut in Japan. It’s good. Perfect duplication, but with more corn and salmon toppings.