August 2000 Archives

Gaze Aversion

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How to Make People Avert Their Gaze in Tokyo


  • Sit on a park bench, read a book and laugh aloud at the funny parts.
  • Walk carefully balanced along the edge of a fountain.
  • Strike poses while perched on a rock or ledge.
  • In the middle of an open plaza, stretch out your arms and spin.

If you do any of the above, people will pretend you are invisible. Guaranteed.

Mt. Oyama

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Yikes! Mt. Oyama's erupted (again).

Miyakejima, one of the Izu islands stretching south from Tokyo, has been experiencing earthquakes and eruptions for months. This morning's paper shows sulfurous clouds billowing over the landscape while residents look on.

After a series of minor eruptions over the last two weeks, the volcanic soothsayers are saying the volcano is due for a major erruption and people are being put on "full alert" as if waking up in the middle of the night to no electricity and 8 cm of volcanic ash doesn't alert you to danger!

Schoolchildren have been moved into dormitories in western Tokyo; the elderly and infirm have been removed from the island by helicopter. But plenty of residents remain in their villages at the base of the volcano. What are they waiting for?

House found

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We've been househunting for two and a half months, since the fateful day in June when our landlord told us he had to sell the house we live in now. I've looked at scores of floorplans and visited about two dozen house in person.

We've finally found one to move to. The funny thing is, neither Tod nor I really likes it. It's brand new. It's smaller than our current place. It has no garden, no deck, no outdoor space. Not much character. We'll no longer have a shared office room. Networking this house is going to be a challenge. There aren't many electrical outlets.

But it has a two advantages. It's about three blocks from where we live now, around the corner from the sento, so we'll be in the same neighborhood. And the bigger advantage: taking this place means that I don't have to keep looking, which is a gigantic relief.

So why do I feel slightly sick about this decision?

Ahead

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In many respects, Japan is far ahead of the US. Of course Japan gets all its own, best technology first. New game machines, computer models, audio innvations, are released months ahead of the US market.

But Japan's ahead in other ways, too. It is the only country I know where you can buy and consume alcohol on the street. Vending machines sell beer in sizes ranging from petite 250 ml cans to whopping huge two liter, aluminum jugs that sport handles for pouring. Some vending machines offer sake, whiskey & even wine (albeit rather awful wine).

And in Japan, should you find yourself blotto from overconsumption of liquor, which for the Japanese can mean just a couple of beers since there's a genetic intolerance for alcohol here, friends will make sure you head safely in the direction of home. If you've been on a lonely binge, a friendly policeman will help you off the curb and into a cab home. He doesn't write a citation, deliver a homily on temperance, or behave angrily. He just scoops and delivers.

"To serve and protect" takes on a whole new meaning here...

Bento

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Bento, Japanese box lunches, come in a hundred varieties. Every convenience store competes on the quality and variety of its bento. And it works, I always get my bento lunch at the Family Mart; the 7-11's bento aren't nearly as good.

But conbini bento, even the best of them are prepared in advance, trucked around the city and heated while -you-wait in a microwave. They are handy and even tasty but they lack a certain freshness. Fortunately, convenience stores are not the only places that stock bento. A higher grade of bento can be found in department stores and in tiny, local bento shops.

Last night, Tod selected some bento from a hole in the wall shop, literally a window on the street near Sendagi Station. They were made to order while Tod waited. And what a feast for the eye and the stomach...

Inside each container was a rectangle of rice topped with a red pickled plum, as is common to most bento. Two circles of deep-fried chicken perched atop a bed of spaghetti. Nimono, simmered foods, held court in one section of the box, with a speckled slice of sesame tofu, a fancy twist of gummy dragon's tooth starch and a cut of gobu reigning. Two slices of breaded, deep-fried fish, a spoonful of creamy potato salad and a foil cup of akajiso pickles rounded out the meal.

Webgrrl

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Being Webgrrl of the Week is probably more about whether you fill in the interview form at all, than how well you complete it. Still, I managed to be given the honor this week.

If they knew back at the New York HQ how much time I've given over to Japan Webgrrls this week, I might say they'd selected wisely. In addition to teaching an HTML for Webgrrls seminar on Web Publishing, I'm organizing the Japan chapter's 4th anniverary event, e-Lifestyles. Lucky for me, it's lots of fun.

But I wonder why my book proposal doesn't get finished...

Mom-cycle

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The Mom-cycle. Practical transportation or inhuman child torture?

Tokyo is a city full of bikes. People operate them with varying levels of skill, but most cyclists are either daredevils whizzing between people and cars, or roadhogs taking over as much sidewalk as possible. Always a hazard to pedestrians, bicycles are sometimes a hazard to their riders in a more subtle way.

The Mom-cycle is a bike outfitted with a shopping-cart style seat over the back wheel. For larger families, the front basket is replaced with a seat, too. Mom pedals; white-knuckled kids grip the seat while she mounts up and swerves around the street. She can't see the terror in the eyes of the child behind her.

I give Mom-cycles a wide berth. Daredevil Moms zip through traffic; but most Moms are less steady. I've never seen one fall over, but judging from the fear in kids' eyes, I suspect they occasionally do.

Honestly, I think this must cause some serious mental stress to everyone involved. It certainly makes me tense!

Kanji studies

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Monbusho, the Japan's Ministry of Education, maintains a list of kanji that must be learned in each grade from 1st through 12th. By the time you graduate from high school, you have over 1800 under your belt.

Kanji are tricky. Some like tree or dog mean something when standing alone on a page. Others have no strong meaning--they must be combined with other kanji to form words. Even those which stand on their own take on new shades of meaning in combination with others.

Kanji usually have multiple "readings" or ways to pronounce them, so the kanji that stands for 'left' can be pronounced |hidari| or |sa| and combined with other kanji to form words like hidarigawa (left side) or sasetsu (left turn).

Which recently lead to Tod & I heatedly discussing whether the Monbusho's kanji lists are spelling or vocabulary. I argued for vocabulary since kanji carries meaning even when it's not in combination. Tod stood for the other side--saying that the lists are only for learning how to read and write the kanji, not for their meaning.

Of course we realise that the proper answer is "These are neither spelling nor vocabulary" because Japanese doesn't work the same way as English.

But two different sources have confirmed that Tod is more correct with his defense of spelling. Children are not drilled in the meaning of the kanji they are learning--they are expected to be able to write them. Meaning comes later on, especially with the more complicated kanji learned in the upper grades.

Which might explain why I'm having such a tough time memorizing kanji.

Who's there?

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Knock, Knock.

Who's there?

Our next-door neighbor.

Our next-door neighbor who?

Alan. He's Canadian.

I kid you not. The man who lives on the 2nd floor of the house next door is from Canada. This comes as a bit of a shock, I will say. In six months here, we've never seen him even once.

He came to see us last night while we were sitting out on the deck. He had just read my name on a post to a local mailing list, put two and two together, and even read these web pages. When he saw the page for the Marble House, he knew who we were. So he came down to say hello.

So we have a new neighbor--or rather an old one. Alan's lived here for 13 years! Very, very quietly...

Travel plans

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Making travel plans is always a bit of a pain, but using the Internet for research and contact makes it a little bit less difficult.

I have managed to get our trip to Italy sorted out almost completely online. Flights from my favorite travel agent here in Japan were booked via e-mail. I've got the train information I need for land transfers; hotels are sending me information and confirmations. I even found a fascinating walking tour in Rome.

Sure I could have gone to a travel agent directly and had them book all my accomodations and things, but using the Internet allowed me to choose among very interesting small hotels. And since I contact the hotels I've selected directly, I have a personal contact when I arrive in Italy, not just a confirmation slip.

Tidbits

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Tidbits from today's paper:

  • Mitsubishi Motor kept secret records of customer complaints so they would not have to recall their products. About half of the problems reported by customers were marked as "H" for the Japanese word himitsu which means secret, and shielded from Transport Ministry inspections.
  • 30% of Japanese men suffer from "erectile dysfunction" (according to a survey of 5,500 men). No wonder the population of Japan is dwindling.
  • Tax money will be used for expressway projects. Previously loans, paid back via ridiculously high tolls, were used to finance expressway repairs and expansions.
It's a slow news day.

Summer fireworks

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Summer fireworks festivals in Japan are spectacular. Last night, we watched Tamagawa challenge its rival, Kawasaki City, to a duel on the inky black battlefield of the sky.

Nine of us lined up on Elizabeth Andoh's narrow balcony to watch and keep score. Tamagawa's show was to our right; Kawasaki was across town to our left. We watched like spectators at a fiery tennis match. For an hour, both fired off rocket after rocket with hardly a break; the variety of patterns was astonishing.

"Oooh, look at that--it's a smiley face!" Tammy exclaimed.

"I thought it was a sombrero..." her husband admitted. "There's another one. OK, it's a smiley face."

"Over there, look! That's sakura," Atsunori pointed to Kawasaki's riot of tight, brilliant white and pale pink bursts.

After a half an hour, we were all ready for the big finale. Kawasaki let loose an amazing volley of bright colored spheres, overlapping to form an exotic mountainscape. Surely that was the end for them. Then another rocket burst high in the sky on their side and the show continued. Not yet...

Tamagawa tricked us the same way. What would have been taken as the grand ending in any American fireworks display was simply a crescendo for Tamagawa.

Sixty minutes after the first beautiful explosion, the finales really arrived. Too amazing to describe, they lit the entire river valley. We turned and filed back into the house and just as I was slipping off my slippers, Kawasaki let out a final battle cry.

Who won? We did.

Mizuhiki

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When I was a little girl, I learned a craft called "paper quilling" that involved curling long thin strips of colored paper around a pin to form spirals then joining them to make patterns and pictures.

The Japanese have one-upped paper quilling. The art of paper knotwork, called mizuhiki, is extraordinary. These paper cords were originally used to decorate gifts for the Emperor; later they became integral to a samurai's hairdo. Today we're back to using decorative mizuhiki on gift envelopes and new year gifts.

The knots, always in two or more colors, range from simple but perfect bows to swooping double butterflies and woven cranes.

Even the least expensive gift envelope has mizuhiki drawn on because the colors and patterns form a code. Red and white cords are for happy occasions; blue and black cords are for sorrowful ones. The sort of knot, the direction of the ends and the combination of colors tell the recipient exactly how much gift money is in the envelope!

Stationery stores stock a wide range of gift envelopes, each mizuhiki outdoing the last for beauty and elegance. When I recently asked a clerk which envelope would be appropriate for a wedding, she pointed to a section that contained about 300! Spoiled for choice, indeed...

Earthquake

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Well, I was right about those earthquakes. The two on Tuesday & Wednesday paved the way for one whose epicenter was in Tokyo proper.

8-18, 4:53
Magnitude: 4.0
Location: Tokyo 23 Wards

Oddly enough, nobody outside Tokyo felt it, according to Tenki's map. Usually the effects of a quake spread a little further out. Maybe all of Tokyo's buildings absorbed it.

It wasn't a big earthquake, just enough to wake Tod up a bit. I wake up for all sorts of things Tod sleeps right through, so if I wake up it's not a good indication of severity. If Tod rolls over, then the earthquake was worth waking up for.

Japanese e-mail

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It's taken two years, but I've finally found a way to send e-mail in Japanese.

This is a minor triumph in my life as I belong to some groups that have a mixed membership of English and Japanese speakers. Now I can send messages that everyone can understand (if they can parse my bad Japanese grammar, that is).

"Why don't you get an account at Yahoo Japan?" my friend suggested. Of course! Why didn't I think of that? Twenty minutes later, I was all signed up on Yahoo Japan and it works like a charm.

If you'd like some e-mail in Japanese, just let me know...

Obon

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Ah, quiet. It's Obon! During this mid-August week most small businesses close and many larger companies take a holiday, too. Over the weekend, 50% of Tokyo residents evacuated. Traffic jams on every highway leading out kept people stuck on the roads for hours longer than usual. Every Sinkansen was full to capacity and non-reserved express trains were even fuller.

But now that everyone's left, I've been able to get a seat on the train every day. Yesterday during the evening commute, a man was practicing his golf swing in the aisle.

Obon is the time when people head back to their hometowns. Visit with the parents, gorge on Mom's cooking, dance at the bon odori festival to entertain and appease the ancestral spirits, then it's back on the train (or into the car) rushing back to the city to work.

Two earthquakes

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Two earthquakes in 12 hours.

Yesterday afternoon everything in my office trembled then lept up as if frightened. Things quickly settled back down except for me. I logged into the Tenki quake page to see what I'd just experienced.

8-14, 16:33

Magnitude: 4.3

Location: Northwestern Chiba Prefecture

So not a big earthquake, but nearby. Chiba is Tokyo's eastern neighbor.

At 3:55 this moring, I was shaken awake. In my groggy state, it felt like another vertical movement of about the same intensity as the afternoon quake. Since it stopped quickly, I went back to sleep and checked Tenki in the morning.

8-15, 3:55
Magnitude: 4.3
Location: Southern Ibaraki Prefecture

Once again, pretty small but close. Ibaraki is Tokyo's northern neighbor.

Perhaps there will be one to the west today. There have been earthquakes to our south for weeks; the Izu islands have an active volcano at the moment.

Earthquakes all around Tokyo are good, I have to remind myself. If the pressure is released in small bits, there's less chance for the "Big One" which is so long overdue. Still, it makes me think this would be a good time to take a holiday from the city...

Press holidays

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Press holidays in Tokyo mean no newspapers.

I begrudgingly admire the Japanese newspaper union. They negotiated an interesting contract. On the second Sunday of every other month, everyone in the newspaper industry takes a holiday. That means there are no newspapers whatsoever on the second Monday of every other month.

For me, it simply means that I read something else at lunchtime and that I get my news online. But what about the thousands of newspaper vendors who hawk papers and snacks at train stations? I hope they do a brisk business in gum and breath mints today.

Another population that feels a serious impact from the lack of newspapers is the TV show hosts. Most mornings they spend hours dissecting the headlines. They even clip articles and tape them to posterboard, highlighting key passages. The cameramen gleefully zoom in to extreme close-ups to let the audience read along as the host talks and the (invariably) young, beautiful, female assistant chimes in with "So desu ne..." for effect.

It's a shame the TV-hosts-and mint-seller's union hasn't negotiated as well as the newspaper union. The second Monday of every other month should be a holiday for them.

The Kanda River

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The Kanda River is not a big river nor is it terribly important as rivers go. But it is the closest river to home and last night when I wanted to see some water (other than in the bathtub), that's where I headed.

Tokyo, being on a bay as it is, has an astounding number of waterways wending their way towards the ocean. Over the years as the city grew, many of them were redirected, diverted or otherwise tamed with human intervention. Today Tokyo is crisscrossed with a network of walled-in streams, creeks and rivers. The Kanda River is one of these. At Koraku, the expressway is way, way up above the river and the riverbanks are lined with shady walkways. I was surprised, peering over the railing at the water, to see some fish. I assumed that the river would be too polluted for fish. But apparently not.

Where the expressway turns south toward the city, the river continues east. A tributary, so completely subdued that it looks like the exit of a parking garage, empties into the river.

I wonder if Tokyo uncovered all its rivers whether people would start taking boats to work, like in Bangkok and Venice?

Long distance communication doesn't

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Long distance communication doesn't always use the Trans-Atlantic cable.

I often dream at night. Vivid technicolor visions with sounds and lght. Sometimes good, sometimes scary. Sometimes just bizarre. Last night's dream featured my friend, Mike, who is getting married soon. I dreamed that were were standing in my kitchen here in Tokyo, talking about the wedding.

When the sun shone in my window and I woke up, I brewed some coffee and downloaded my e-mail. Voila, a long missive from Mike, talking about the wedding. Same topics covered in dream and mail.

This isn't the first time this has happened. Perhaps my brain is polling my inbox through the night and getting topics for dreams out of the things people write to me.

Jung would love this.

ne, ne, ne

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I don't know who dreamed up the idea that Japanese needs to be softened when spoken, but I'd like to box his ears.

It's fine to write "Atsui desu," it's hot. But if you're saying that, or almost anything else that expresses an opinon, you must add "ne" at the end. "Atsui desu, ne...." Draw out the "ne" for added squishy fun.

Heaven forbid you ever express your desires without adding the bells and whistles. "Atarashiku kutsu kaitai desu," I want to buy new shoes, becomes the spoken "Atarashiku kutsu kaitai-n desu ga..."

I forget. In my excited rush to communicate, I form a sentence and blurt it out. I coo "The kitten is very cute" without the "ne." People look at me askance. Apparently, leaving off "ne" is the verbal equivalent of TYPING WITH THE CAPS LOCK ON, ne...

Plums

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I can understand why plums are often included in still life paintings. They are very beautiful.

For the next few weeks, plums will grace the tables of our local fruit store and our dining table. These plums are not the shiny, tight-skinned, full-to-bursting black globes I used to eat in the US.

These are yellow-green with blushes of pink, coated in a layer of fine white dust. Others are the color of a bruise, spreading purple with flesh tones underneath and the same layer of white powder that vanishes under your fingertips.

These are the plums of 17th century Dutch painters who paid such particular attention to detail--the fly on the pear, the lizard on the wall, the frost on the plum.

They are the plums of my dinner.

Conbini run

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"I wonder if they recognise us?" Tod wondered about the clerks at our local 7-11.

Of course they do, we go in there every night and buy the same thing. Two cups of Kudamono Daisuki. We call it Frozen Fruits.

Kudamono Daisuki means "I love fruit" and it is a wonderful dessert made of slices of apple and orange plus whole strawberries. Each bit of frozen fruit is coated in a millimeter of fruit ice. It's just the thing for a hot summer evening.

So this season, when we ask one another "do you want dessert?" it invariably means Frozen Fruits and a trip to the 7-11. Of course the clerks recognise us!

Gang shoot-out?

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HEADLINE: 2 killed in Tokyo gang shoot-out

Are?!? Shoot-out? Guns are illegal in this country! What shocking news. I read on to discover that the shoot-out was one way. The other combatants were armed with swords.

A dozen sword-wielding yakuza went to settle the score over a business issue with the crazy people who drive the loudspeaker trucks. I always knew those creepy black trucks were bad news.

Converted buses, painted top-to-toe in black with rightist slogans painted on in white and flags flying, roam around Tokyo. The people inside shout epithets through the loudspeakers.

"Return the Kuril Islands!"
"Foreigners, Go Home!"
"America is the Evil Empire!"

And now it turns out they have guns in addition to their wacky rightist sentiments. Yikes! Oddly enough, I am not at all bothered by the yakuza with swords and knives.

Redelivery

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Another form in the mailbox.

I never seem to be home when packages arrive, so I often see the mailman's special slip telling me he'll be back. This one was a little different, though. It was from the Kuroneko takuhaibin (courier) service.

Essentially, these forms are the same. They tell what time they tried to deliver and give instruction on how to arrange redelivery. But the courier services, who offer speedy delivery, allow you to phone the courier's cellphone to arrange a convenient time directly.

Printed in very careful handwriting underneath the courier's phone number, was "I don't speak English."

The courier made a follow up call and left a message on my machine. In addition to giving the basic information about my package in Japanese, he added " I dontu speeku Engrish. I'm sorri."

So this morning I must call the terrified courier and persuade him, in Japanese, to deliver my box. I hope I manage to be an acceptable ambassador for my English-speaking clan.

Over 6 feet

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They towered head and shoulders above the crowd. Half a dozen of them loped across a crowded intersection as I watched. They looked like off-the-scale plots on a scatter graph.

Who were these Goliaths?

I ran into them again at the train station. Six men, each well over 6 feet tall, not one under 200 lbs of beefy muscle. They were huge men by any standards but simply astonishing in this land of the 5'6" male.

But who were they?

I realised I was staring when one of them caught my eye. Damn, busted! But as I smiled and turned away, I saw the clue that put it all together for me. On a t-shirt the size of a pup tent, I read "Atlanta Falcons Training Camp."

They were American pro football players. The American Bowl game, between the Falcons & the Dallas Cowboys is this morning (scheduled for convenient prime time, live broadcast to the US).

I'm not the only one who noticed the difference in size. Jamal Anderson, running back for the Falcons, quipped to a Japanese TV reporter, "In Japan, I'm bigger than Godzilla." You've got to wonder whether he was talking about size or popularity?

Chibikko, baby hotelier

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"Our next guest is only 3 years old," the bubbly woman TV announcer cooed.

[cut to TV crew approaching door of resort hotel]

"Irrashaimase!" two women in komono bow to their guests in greeting.

"Irrashaimase!" a tiny voice joins in, a half a beat too late.

[camera tilts down to see Chibikko-chan, dressed in a bright yellow kimono, bowing to the arriving guests just like her mother and gransmother]

Chibikko is astonishingly well trained. She helps out all over her family's hotel--cheerfully greeting guests, which she says is her favorite task, turning slippers towards the door in the onsen's lobby and pressing the elevator buttons. She knows all the right polite phrases to say, even bowing and saysing "Go-yukuri kudasai" (Please enjoy yourself) as the elevator doors close.

In the dining room, she carefully carries trays of green tea and hot hand towels to diners. Her step is sure and she places the tray on the table exactly the right way, setting it down on the table, then sliding it into position in front of the customer.

For the benefit of the TV audience, she was sent on an errand. She took a nine minute walk alone (except for the camera crew who followed her) to the local farmer's stand. She bought two onions and asked for a receipt. The farmer tried to slip a little gift--a cucumber--into her bag, but she plucked it out and saying "No, thank you." Then she walked home, trailed by the camera crew, to give her grandmother the onions. Reward? A pat on the head. Good girl.

al fresco dinner

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"Let's have dinner al fresco. We can sit outside at T.Y. Harbor," I suggested.

So as the sun cast a fuschia lining on a grey cloud, we sat at the intersection of the Tennozu & Takahama Canals, sipping freshly brewed microbeer and nibbling California cuisine.

We watched the sun set; the sky shaded into deep indigo and an orange crescent moon rose over the bridge. On the canals, low barges lit with paper lanterns cruised past with cargoes of revellers.

Starlings circled a nearby apartment complex, tight whorls of lightning fast flight, before settling in a tree and raising a din. We were far enough removed to enjoy the chirping, but the tenants of the apartments were turning up their TVs.

When dark became profound, we found our way to a nearby train station. The route was new to us, but a steady stream of people, like ants following their trail home, flowed over bridges, through intersections, into office buildings, up escalators and finally through a long, covered walkway that passed over construction sites and around buildings to end at the station.

Critics wanted

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Critics wanted.

My book of essays about life in Japan is nearly completed. The first draft is finished and I'm rewriting and editing it into somehting I think is in top form. But I've been looking at it too closely for too long. I need some feedback from you.

Would you like to read an essay or two (about 1500 words each) and send me your comments? Be brutal, nitpick, tell me what doesn't make sense, point out my grammatical errors and inconsistencies! Is the writing interesting or is this ideal bedtime reading?

I'll send you an essay by e-mail if you e-mail me at kristen@lm.com.

Business cards

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Above and beyond the simple task of providing names and addresses, the business card is an invaluable resource in Japan.

For business transactions the card, called a meishi in Japanese, lets you know exactly who you are dealing with. A junior associate, the section leader, the big boss? This is an important clue to your relative worth as a client.

Business cards are used in personal transactions, too. I have dozens of cards from friends and acquaintances. The best cards are those with people's personal e-mail and phone numbers handwritten on them. That is a good clue that the owner of the card welcomes you to contact him or her.

Meishi also help remind me where I've shopped and eaten. The little Italian bistro in Nakameguro, the Greek restaurant in Shibuya. The pigment store near Nezu station.

When I'm researching an article about an area of Tokyo or any aspect of Japan, I end up with a pile of meishi related to my research.

The cards you collect are your network. A good group of cards can help you to find a solution to anything in a hurry. But you'll only find the cards you need if they are neatly organized.

I used to have all my cards in a pile in my desk drawer. But the pile grew into an unwieldy mess. Fortunately, it was easily tidied. The stationery industry has an entire class of business card holders--binders of various sizes & shapes with pockets to slide the cards into. Personally, I prefer a card file to a card binder because it's easier to move things around in a card file. Re-alphabetising my binder is a pain in the patoot! But I do have a binder and I will need another one soon; my collection of cards never stops growing.

Commuting in Tokyo

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Commuting in Tokyo can be a major part of a person's day.

From door to desk, the commute to Tod's office is about 25 minutes. 6 minutes to the subway + 5 minutes to wait for the train + a 9 minute ride + 4 minutes to the office. We think this is a reasonable commute, but we pay the price in high rent.

Others prefer a lower rent with a longer commute. If we were to live 60 minutes away, we could rent a comparable house for around 60,000 yen ($600) less than what we pay now. Is the shorter commute worth 2,000 yen a day? I think so.

Yesterday I met a woman whose objective isn't time or rent, but living outside Tokyo. She lives in Fujisawa, about 50 kilometers southwest of the city. It's pretty in Fujisawa--lots of trees and greenery. But it is a long, expensive trip in to work--from Fujisawa to Otemachi is no less than 70 minutes on the train. One-way train fare is 1,100 yen.

People generally do not drive themselves to work. Perhaps for a special event--leaving for holiday right after work, or bringing something heavy or bulky into the office--but commuters take trains here. If you're riding in a car to work, you are probably being chauffered. There are plenty of big black sedans toting around the chairmen and presidents of large corporations.

Recent Comments

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