First installment of pics…

           

So my internet connection has been down (really!) so I haven’t been able to update the site for a while. Sorry about that. Pictures are still to come.

And Paul and Deb arrive tonight!!! Sorry, gotta run.

By the way, if any of you see my bike around, I lost it last night. Drag.

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…

 

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.

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:
            

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.

                 

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

 

…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.

Sorry all for the lack of updates. Had another farewell/welcome party on Saturday (and all night into Sunday). As it turns out, there are other web-savvy people at the school. Witness the following: Marcell’s Class Pictures. You don’t need to read Japanese to enjoy the pix. Also, I have (yes) another friend in town, Scott Embree, (from this blog entry) who I’ll be seeing this weekend. I’m becoming quite the tour guide… Here’s a pic from the beginning on the night. I’m waiting for the camera and then I’ll most the other photos up tomorrow.

 

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