died in the wool ______

To have no set purpose in one's life is the harlotry of the will -Stephen Mackenna-

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

office observations 5/31

People often give you bland compliments about your language ability.

Yeah, sure, I can text my friends on my cell phone. Sure, I can go to city hall and register. I can even go to the hospitol and do fine. I can even watch the news and read a newspaper, and translate reasonable well into English.

The test of anyone's language, though, is perhaps using it correctly in a business letter/email

Which I continually fail at, and always hesitate to hit that send button (or should I say 送信 button)


All of my coworkers in there emails, instead of writing there name or using a pronoun to specify themselves, they always use 下名 which means 'the name below'.

I assumed that this was common, widely used business Japanese so I started using it.

But we just had a release with NTT, in which through an email exchange I used 下名 to refer to myself. My supervisor was like 'well you certainly are picking up on office terms, but only Mitsubishi Electric uses that word; other companies don't use it very often'


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Monday, May 30, 2005

Dale Chihuly ad Kew Gardens


Dale Chihuly's great glass blowing structures with, according to his biography ' ' highly baroque, writhing elements' are being displayed at the Kew Royal Gardens (click here to view the BBC's picture log of them.

Dale, who grew up outside of Seattle in Tacoma, has an interesting educational history; He studied at University of Wisconsin (madison, I'm assuming) in the nations first glass blowing sculpture program. He then went to RISD's ceramics program where he in turn created its glass department. He is responsible for establishing blown glass as an art form in the US.

We have his glass 'sunburst' (clever use of orange glass on the inside) in the lobby ofthe MIA in Minneapolis. The picture at the top up there is actually not from the Kew site, but from the Sheraton Walker Hill hotel in Seoul(here's a larger image. I stayed at this hotel, and I was giddy, beyond there amazing spa area, wine bar, two storied lobby with a harpist and flutist, to see this great piece hanging in nestled among the huge plants in the lobby. It really is true that these pieces look great with plants (hence so many pieces in conservatories and gardens, etc.) I just wanted to put it in here.

The minimalist in me doesn't want to like these, but these are a total exception (besides the one at the Walker-Hill is all shades of white; the one at Kew isn't as 'pure') Some of the pieces at Kew, frankly, do detract from the garden itself, as some of the passer by's commented, so they aren't a total success. Chihuly does better in abstraction; his plant personification stuff just falls flat into theme parkish-ness.

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Friday, May 27, 2005

who will be my child's surrogate

Something I never talk about but is squarely in the back of my mind, is that I would like to have my own children someday. This won't be happening soon of course; the other half is still a twinkle in my eye, and graduate school hasn't even started yet, let alone been paid off.

Still, I do think about the logistics quite often, and surrogacy has always been the option I've thought about. The NYT ran this article about it, and I read it with great interest because I know that I will be in that situation sometime later in my life (touch wood).

Now I need to find the ivy league educated athletically and artistically inclined donor egg who also might be willing to bond with these potenital kids. I've always thought it would be fair to have one child from each of us, and, if possible, have them be fraternal twins. For some reason that seems like the best way to do it.

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

i h8 loan words

Japanese people love making there own english words in Japanese. I've had the 'luck of working with some of them recently. They are probably the hardest thing to translate. With kanji, the meaning is all right in front of you, but with loan words, you're not sure what they're pointing at. examples:

メーカー: read as it's written, it's 'maker'. For example an 'electronics....maker'? doesn't sound right does it. You're right, because it isn't!

メカトロニクス: read as it's written it's 'mechatronics'. This is also not correct!

ランドリー: read as it's written, it's 'laundry'. But what is the 'laundry industry'? Is that like recent immigrants sweating it out pressing shirts and washing hotel linen? It certainly isn't!

ショ-ケース: read as it's written it's 'showcase'. But what is the 'showcase industry'?

The worst part is, sometimes there is no formal translation of these words, and they leave me to figure out a proper way to say it (well that's kind of a lie, someone in the company will eventually come through for me if the question mark over my head is beaming a little too brightly)

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

EU Film days 5/24 Gun-Shy

The final film in the EU film days festival was a German Film called Gun-Shy (Schussangst) A freakish tale of a lonely civil woker, Lukas, delivering meals to elderly and handicapped when a girl throws herself in his lap (metaphorically) for very unapparent reasons. We find out later that her step father is having sex with her after her Kendo classes, but it's very unclear whether she has a problem with it or not. Lukas quietly goes bonkers and buys a sniper rifle in order to kill the stepfather. One day the stepfather dies at one of his motivational speaches, eliminating the need to kill the step father. I'll leave the rest for you to see on your own.

I was somewhat disappointed with this movie. The fact that the girl throws a letter in his lap on the bus saying 'help me', and Lukas being a social worker would probably instinctivly want to help her, seems like a trap to me. Lukas is then kind of painted as a lunatic (actually I don't feel like there is a lot of depth to most of the characters in this film). The fact that he buys a huge SNIPER rifle and the last half of the film centers around it really seemed to knock this movie off any kind of interesting course, and made me uncomfortable throughout the film, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing if it has a cinematic impact I suppose.

There is a bunch of zany side characters in the film that are pretty funny, my favorite being the neighbor upstairs who blares North Korean Festival music. When Lukas goes upstairs to complain, the man apologizes and invites him in, giving him North Korean snake shochu (liquor), giving him a Kim Jong Il statue, and demonstrating a North Korean worker dance (all of this is certainly something an American director would have the neither desire to do, nor could get away with).

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

EU FIilm Days 5/23 Nobody Knows Anybody

nobody knows anybody
The Institut Franco-Japonais de Tokyo showed Nobody Knows Anybody (Nadie Conoce A Nadie) on Monday.

A member of the Spanish Embassy introduced this film with a (long) speech about the history of Spanish cinema. What was more interesting was the great spanish lisp he had and the fact it took him about 5 times to pronounce Spain 'Espain' in Japanese.

Written by Mateo Gil (who also wrote one of if not my absolute favorite film, Abre Los Ojos ), and a musical score by Abre Los Ojos's director Alejandro Amenabar, this film is about a frustrated novelist who is doing crossword puzzles for a local paper to earn a living. It takes place during holy week and the La Ferria de Sevilla in Seville, there are many mysterious attacks, which the protagonist, Simone, gets wrapped up in.

What a fantastic film. When I left the theater after seeing Abre Los Ojos, it ripped my mind apart and left me all wobbly like, like a good thriller should. 'Nobody' wasn't that good, but it was certainly close. The movie starts with a steady cam aerial shot(the first of several in the film) of beautiful Seville, panning into a colloseum with a Christian worshiper dressed in KKK like clothing is dead in the center with huge cross stabbed through his heart.I really like the aerial shots because, as you find out later, they have relavance to the story. It even integrates the old world expo building site from Seville and one Santiago Calatrava's wonderful bridges. It's clear that Mateo Gil and Amenebar worked on this film; Amenebar composed the score for the film, and the use of sound adds incredible tensity to the film. Gil is a master at creating gripping thoughtful thrillers.
seville bridge
One thing this film had that Abre Los Ojos didn't, was the great location. It really utilized and integrated it into the plot. Abre Los Ojos could have taken place anywhere (which Cameron Crowe, unfortunately, thought as well) I will be buying the DVD of this soon.

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Monday, May 23, 2005

EU Film Days 5/22: The Wolf Teeth Necklace


A film directed by Algimantas Puipa from Lithuania's premier studio, Lithuanian Film Studios, this is a film about a boy whose father is sent to Siberia. Upon the father's return he gives his son a necklace made of wolf tooth.

And that's about all I could get from this film (and that's with the help of the blurb about the film in the pamphlet) Obviously, I am open minded about film. I thorougly enjoy attending these kind of film festivals. Maybe I was in a bad mood or lacking in attention span that day, but I wonder how this bizzare piece of garbage made it to the festival. This is less a film than just a bizzare bunch of images running across the screen. A frumby haired little boy protecting his mother from being sexually assaulted by the soviet landlord, then the same little boy getting it on in an abandoned bus with a woman 10 of 15 years older in appaerance, tangoing stalinists. The closing scene consists of dancing stalinists going through a verdant country side with random things of fire (a tree, a sewing bench someone is working on, a cyclist, a house; the credits showed not one, but two pyrotechnicians hired for this scene alone). Someone started snoring about 40 minutes into it, and I kept looking at my watching begging for it to be over. In contrast to orbis pictus the low of this film festival

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EU Film Days 5/21 Four Shades of Brown

four shades of brown
To call this a film would be misleading as its an almost four hour exploration into 4 smaller, unrelated stories. It's kind of a...well, I'll let those at the Chicago Film Festival explain it.

For me it was an ambling, unrelated, and crushing 4 hours. I left the theater almost in tears and very frustrated about the nature of life. But, as this was made by a Monty Python-esque, it's hard to tell if I missed the dark humour. The scene where a slacker son accidentally gives his father first degree burns while showing him the ropes of his job as a animal cremator seems over the top and funny on paper, but on screen, and especially the events that ensue, are difficult to be seen as humour.

Don't get me wrong, it was a very positive experience. It's just difficult to know what this film was trying to be (perhaps that's exactly what the producers had in mind)

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EU Film days 5/29: Komm, süßer Tod

Friday, the Swedish embassy showed the Austrian film, Come Sweet Death (Komm, süßer Tod). Directed by Wolfgang Murnberger and based on a novel by Wolf Haas, It's a dark comedy about a ex-detective, Brenner, who starts working on an ambulance crew. A nurse on the crew is murdered, and Brenner plays the detective for the force while finding foul play with the help of a childhood crush.
This film is apparently the big thing to come out of Austria in recent years. It was a fun film and I had no problem getting though it. The wife of the Austrian embassy's cultural attache (she looked 25) was at the viewing, and she explained some of the techiniques they used to translate the film, interesting.

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Friday, May 20, 2005

konbini: teas to oden

Boss is in Kyoto, no press release today (although possibilities of sending solar panels to Amchi doctor communities in Tibet have come to light. wow!) And it's tea time.

One of the best things about Japan is the relative quality of the convenience stores (or as they say here 'konbini'. Maybe it's not quality really. All I know is that the first 7-11 I ever went to was in Japan, and when I check out the food at the gas stations (which have become the convienence stores thanks to the US car culture, well, maybe not in New York, but that's the exception) I usually leave with nothing; it's inundated with overly sweet overly salty overly fizzy downright untasty garbage.

Especially the drinks here are very drinkable. There's:

Black tea: which is usually sweetned (don't think lipton here; it's totally different)and comes with lemon or...

Royal Milk tea: The above with milk added to it. I thought it would be revolting. Now I laugh at myself for saying that because I drink it fairly regularly.

Jasmine tea: nuff said

A bazillion kinds of green tea (natch), which I'm only just starting to be able to distinguish.

Then there's juices. In the states I used to have a box of Vruit (or one of knudsen's great juices with my lunch everyday in high school long before V8 started making crap mix juices. Well they sell in the convenience store here , and pretty cheap too.

The conveniece stores also have maki rolls like negi toro (cubed raw tuna and onion) natto (fermented soybeans, definately an acquired taste (which I love!)) and the typical onigiri (rice balls, which I don't eat anymore really, but I digress)

Almost every convenience store in Japan also has oden. I blamed oden for making Japan smell for my first couple years here, but I have finally developed a taste for a few things from the oden trough. It started out with just daikon and the eggs, but now I like atsuage and even those pouches with the mochi in them. It has a lot of vegetarian options!

Sure, Japanese convenience stores have the same American garbage like potato chips, really bad fried meats/fried foods, carbonated drinks etc. but they aren't exclusively so. It's no wonder that Americans are so fat.

One intersting thing about convenience stores in Japan is that they also work as the only garbage cans in Japan. Whether its fear of another gas attack of the subway, or trying to save on municipality budgets, convenience stores are the only place you can find trash. If you look the picture, you'll notice that there 3 garbage cans. One is for burnable garbage, one is for non-burnable (these are often amusingly written as 'combustible'), and one is for recyclables.

You can also purchase concert tickets, pay your utilities/phone bill, and in recent years have become the only source of 24 hour ATM's in Japan (most ATMs close early evening).

All in all, compared to the US, it's interesting how integral the convenice store is to life in Japan.

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Tokyo pictures 2

Wow, I forgot about these other ones in my cellphone

Here's a (very blurry) picture of my apartment taken from the 'living room'. The black smudge on the right is the piano, The black rectangle under the left lens flair is the kitchen, and the white rectangle under the right lens flair is the door from the entry way.


This is a picture of Mizumoto Koen. My host family used to live near it, and during golden week, I wanted to escape the city and walk around this gigantic park; it has a small pine forest, a marsh, a little river, a huge pitch, a bird sanctuary, and a lake. On children's day they fly these carp from (ideally) bamboo poles, and it all looked so idyllic that I snapped a picture.


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Images of Tokyo

I got trigger happy with my cell phone camera yesterday, but for good reason I think.

I think the idea of shark fin being a delicacy is disgusting, and I shudder at the idea of a shark having its fin being hacked off, and dropped back in the ocean to bleed to death. Apparently they think differently here; This is a shark fin is a glass case outside of a resturant in Tokyo station (I was trying to find the travel agent to buy tickets to the Aichi World Expo happening outside of Nagoya)


This I saw at the swedish embassy. It's one of honda's Asimo robots hugging a dala horse. awwwww.


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EU Film days 5/19


The Swedish Embassy showed a film from Luxembourg called Globi and the Stolen Shadows.

Globi, known as the Swiss Mickey Mouse, was apparently a character used in advertising for a Swiss department store, Globus. As often happens, he became a recurring character and is now very famous.

The film seemed like an ok rehash, and had a Disney afternoon mid-quality far-fatchedness quality to it (the story consists of untalented brass band member who tries to take revenge on the world by overtaking an opera hall and stealing the shadows of talented musicians....?)

The audience, unlike the simpsons or the family guy etc, was clearly tageted towards children, but there were a lot of references, the shadow of jimi hendrix playing guitar, that little kids wouldn't get and adults wouldn't be interested in. It also was a strange mixture of western animation with little bits of Japanese animation elements thrown in (the credits showed that a lot of the animation producers had japanese names)

A wierd jumble of cultures,and overall kind of unsatisfying. Still, I'm always intersted in being exposed to new and foreign cultures, and I don't regret seeing it.

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backblog: EU Film days Orbis Pictus

orbis pictus

The Institut Franco-Japonais de Tokyo (with its awful Le Corbusian inspired (and only that) architecture) hosted the Slovakian film Orbis Pictus.

It's the story of a young girl, Terezka, who takes off on both a physical and psychological adventure to find her mother. To follow suit, just before she leaves her boarding school she rips a page out of the Orbis Pictus to guide her way to her family.

She has all kinds of fantastical and real adventures, and it's sometimes hard to tell if they are simply figments of her imagination. But it is this exact quality which gives the movie a very surreal atmosphere, and, with the backdrop of the gorgeous Slovakian countryside, that made this a great film to watch.

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

frumpy nikkei

My japanese roommate with flawless (spoken anyway) English and I were talking last night, and I brought up the topic of what it's like to meet Americans (etc.) of Japanese decent, especially second generation ones.

He kind of shrugged his shoulders, made like he was going to say it was nothing special, but then he said 'they all wear L.L Bean, I feel sorry for them (kawaii sou).

Can't say that he's right, but it was a typical off beat comment from him.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

EU film days 5/17: Greenfingers


Today's film in the EU film days series was a British Film called Greenfingers. A film about a group of prison inmates who are being reviewed for parole and allowed to live in a low security area while the prison tries to teach them skills. They bumble on to gardening. Madness ensues.

The film has a very 'Brassed off' meets'waiting for guffman/best in show' feel to it. Certainly not an arthouse film, but very worth seeing. Those of you with a particular interest in England's gardening obsession would probably find this particularly intersting.

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Minneapolis findings/ blu dot

Minneapolis is filled with a lot of great things. The lakes and parks make Minneapolis beautiful in almost every season (yes, even winter).

Minneapolitans also have a kind of innate concern for the environment, and, even though it was founded by non-native Horst Rechelbacher, Aveda is a very Minneapolis kind of company (although it was a much more Minneapolis company before Estee Lauder made it a subsidiary company).

Also being a city loaded with ethnic Swedes and norsks, I guess Ikea-ish design is also important to us. Another company (again made by non-natives) is blu dot

According to their website:

'Blu Dot has begun to realize their vision with a collection of over 40 pieces that are both elegantly abstract and unambiguously functional. Blu Dot pieces are in the permanent collections of several museums, have been seen on the sets of well-known television shows such as Friends and ER, and have won numerous national and international awards.'

They talk about 'affordable design', which sounds as dubious as Frank Gehry originally talking about 'affordable architecture'. mmm hmm. Still, it's cool to see consciencous companies coming out of my city.

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Monday, May 16, 2005

dirty foreigners

I met the Dirty Foreigner this weekend

I was at one of my favorite Yakitori resturants yesterday with a good friend of mine from Minneapolis. They told us it would be a 30 minute wait for a table. So we said fine, and stood by the entryway.

Then a large group of baby-boomer age americans trumble in, since I'm standing between the waitstaff, I unvoluntarily became the translator for this couple.

First, they thought the resturant was closed because they couldn't open the door. It was a sliding door, not a push open door (and it was totally obvious too), so I opened it for them.

First they said 'what is this place?' I said it was a Yakitori resturant, to which they said 'what's that?' clearly, at this point it was obvious to me this group shouldn't eat at this resturant.

'do they serve shrimp?'. SHRIMP. at a yakitori resturant? No, they do not have shrimp. Just go to the sushi resturant down the street. That (and green tea) is what you came to Japan for anyway. You can't impress your friends at home with eating yakitori.

'do they have an american (not english, but american) menu?' I don't even want to know what this means (maybe some buffalo wings with blue cheese dressing)

'well, we'll just put our name in and come back'. This is a yakitori resturant, there is no hostess to take your name. Only waitstaff. you wait 30 minutes for a table. either or.

they finally left (saying that 'it didn't have what they wanted')

Being around people like this makes me understand why japanese are so patronizing to most foreigners, because a lot of them are so clueless.

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EU film days

During my stint in D.C. I was a poor college student.Much to my suprise, I found that the National Gallery had monthly film festivals (film noir, iranian film, Japanese new wave) every month on the weekends. I saw so many interesting and also good films during that time.

Ever since then I've always kind of missed taking the Metro to smithsonian station grabbing some wonderful albeit gringoized tapas at Jaleo and spending the afternoon with some great films.

Finally I have found a great alternative. The Swedish, German, and French Embassies in Tokyo are hosting EU film days, a month long event were they will be showing films from Europe at differnt embassies around Tokyo (look at them link to find the PDF with more details) It's all free too.

Now if I could just find some good, not overly priced Tapas in Tokyo.

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Friday, May 13, 2005


My college roommate's wife was noticing videos for dogs on her blog. Basically leave the TV on, and your dog can more or less live vicariously through the cute dogs jumping in puddles, eating wood flooring or whatever while you're out running errands.

Japan, on the other hand, is producing a different product. This one is not for the dogs, but for the potential owners of dogs who want so much to have a dog, but there 6 tatami mat apartment and the sticker shock of those cute adorable little tea cup size balls of love prevents them from every having one.

Nintento has recently released nintendogs (awww) for it's new hand held game system. Roughly translating: " You can start a new life by choosing from among 15 breeds of dogs that may interest you. Call them affectionaely, and they will cheerfully come to you. You can have them play with doggie toys, take them on walks, you can even use the microphone and teach them tricks."

This new nintendo comes with a touch pen apaprently, and you can interact with the dog that way too. The clips I've seen in the tsutaya near my place, you can wash them, scratch there bellies, and throw a frisbee to them with the touchpen.

My favorite part is the tatami room setting.There are three different nintendogs packets; a dachsund, a chihuahua, and a akita ken(even Helen Keller had one Now only if you could choose a springer spaniel instead of the worthless itty bitty dog types, I might be sold on it.

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Office Observations 5/13/2005

Michael made a comment in my last post about coffee machines in my last post.

And it made me realize that we don't have a coffee machine. We have what you might call a 'drink center'. It dispenses hot or cold green and oolong tea as well as hot or cold coffee. You can also have just cold or hot water.

It was interesting when a US rep was visiting earlier this week. We had a board meeting, and we were ordering drinks from downstairs. All the Japanese guys had coffee. She had water, like a true American.

At my office in Miyazaki, apparently the person who had my position two years before me was American, and she would bring an, according to them, 'huge' bottle of water to work every morning. They just couldn't believe she would drink just water.

And I bet that all of the Japanese men at the meeting chose coffee because they assumed that, she being American, she would of course choose coffee. Old stereotypes die hard, and the stereotype of the 21st century American , namely the increasing amount of vegetarians and the like but also the idea of what 'American Food' is. If you ask some or most Americans, the idea of contemporary American Food would be californian cuisine. Like Wolfgang Puck and other fusion food using fresh food in odd combinations.

Oh, and at the meeting with the US rep, I ordered a Yuzu drink as always. it has whole pieces of yuzu rind in it, and it's so good, I could probably drink a 'huge bottle' of it everyday.

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Office Observations 5/12/2005


I'll never forget mornings at Japanese camp in junior high. Showers were so packed in the morning that with my group of friends I would head down to the lakeside, and we would all hop in the sauna together. Then we would bathe in the lake (with biodegredable soap of course)

Then we would rush back to our uchi (cabin, mine was called Fukuoka) to make in time before rajio taisou (radio excercises) before breakfast everyday.

A tape would play with an authorative sounding Japanese guy saying a bunch of stuff, of which the only thing I could catch were numbers. We would do jumping jacks, toe touches, etc.

I guess I never relaized at the time that what we were doing was a Japanese custom; I just figured they wanted the seito (campers) to get their muscles moving before the day started.

In my office in Miyazaki, we always had rajio taiso over the PA, and it made me laugh to see people actually doing it in the office. We also had rajio taisou at 3:00 every afternoon.

Now that I'm back in Tokyo, it's funny to see how even here old customs die hard. My office now plays rajio taisou every monring (the exact same one from Japanese camp acutally (dai ichi)). I had yet to see a single person do it though.

Until Yesterday that is. One of the non-OL women in the department stood up when the music started, and just started doing rajio taiso all by herself. People always talk about fading customs, but I bet this is one that very few people now about. It brought back a lot of memories from my summers at Mori No Ike.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Office observation5/11/2005

Working for a gigantic company, you are obviously going to have offices in other countries.

We have offices in Europe, South America, etc, but the one office we have the most contact with is our US office.

Yesterday we had the director of the media relations department over there come over here for her annual visit.

After our meeting, we went out for lunch at the West Park Cafe in the maru biru, which is kiddie corner from my office. I chose the building because a)Maru Biru is owned by Mitsubishi Estate and is the best example of the buildings in the Mitsubishi Village around the Marunouchi side of Tokyo station, and b) because it had a good view of our new office. And the west park cafe has a great Ceasar Salad that I wanted to have (a whole wedge of parmasean!)

As we talked over lunch, she made the too often made observation of the 'delicacy' and 'subtlety' and 'dichotomy' blah blah blah of Japan. As we went up to the observation deck of the Maru Biru, we looked out over the imperial palace, the national diet, and Hibiya Park, and she said what a beautiful city Tokyo is.

Maybe I've been here too long, but I just don't see anything 'subtle' or 'delicate' about Japan. Why yesterday, I saw one of my coworkers whose having an affair with one of our OL's, summon her over to the desk by snapping at her like a dog.

And if you're talking about how wonderfully polite the service is here, most attendant staff in resturants and stores don't know anything (which is the true meaning of service if you ask me; saying 'irassyaimase' is social custom and I don't find it particularly polite). On my way back from the airport on sunday, I left a box of omiyage (taiwan 'sun cakes' for my office) underneath the seat on the train. When I went to go see if they were in the lost and found, the attendant at the gate to Tokyo station made me go all the way down to the basement platform to ask the attendant down there. When I finally got to the right place after wasting 15 minutes of my 45 minute lunch break, the attendant down there talked to me impatiently, like I was some worthless English teacher/tourist that of course cannot read or write Japanese who has the nerve to ask him a question. After I finally proved my ability he called the office that is at the end of that train line (Zushi). It was there, but he told me I would have to go all.the.way.to *zushi* to get my crumby (literally, sun cakes are very crumbly it turns out)siuvenier. If you look at the JR map, you will see that Zushi, in the lower left of the map, is about 60 minutes away Tokyo station, and the Tokaido line is packed from evening until last train heading out of the city. Luckily a friend of mine who lives in Kawasaki joined me for the ride, but how hard is it to put a box of suncakes on a train bound for Tokyo station? I sent a pair of snowboarding pants back to the rental store this way when i was in Niigata.

Japan also has many beautiful places.Tokyo as well has great, awe-inspiringly beautiful places. But it would be a mistake to say that either of them are beautiful. they're not. Interesting, yes. Fascinating, yes. mind boggling, yes. Beautiful, no.

The finger snapping subtlety and foot dragging service of Japan. As my father used to quote Winston Churchill, what an 'enigma surrounded by a cloud'.psssh

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Monday, May 09, 2005


I spent the last half of my Golden Week in Taiwan. Here's a rundown.

Good Things about Taiwan:
1) Yushan National Park
2)Taipei's enviable, MRT subway system
3)Taroko Gorge formed from limestone that changed to Marble, causing sheer cliffs with beautiful streams and scenery

4) Food and the vendors that sell it. Apparently in Hong Kong as well, they have a vendor where you pick all the fresh vegetables, many varieties of tofu, other nasty meat stuff (intestine, animal feet), and even rice noodles, put it in a basket, and they cook it up for you.

5) Fresh and incredibly cheap fruit.

6) Easy to understand written language if you know Japanese

Bad Things about Taiwan:

1) Taipei

2)Dogs that sit on the road, unperturbed by moving cars (yours) that run AT (not after you)

3) Hitchhiking Falun Gong priests that proselytize a wealthy Taiwan that buys more long distance weapons from the US

4)Long distance trains and their vestibule doors that don't close.

5) fake pearl milk tea ('bubble tea', for you Americans)

Interesting Things about Taiwan:

1) Aborigines

2) Ikea


4)Different uses of Kanji

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