So, it turns out I embody metaphors now.

Well, I’m sure a lot of people have tried sashimi:

It’s artfully presented and delicious – and most importantly, raw. That seems to be a mental stumbling block for a lot of people, but it doesn’t actually taste as fishy as you would expect. For me, it’s more about the texture than the taste.

But I guess that’s old hat for a lot of people, so may I present bashimi:

What’s this? Why it’s raw horse, of course! Horse heart, horse fat, horse flesh.

So, do I feel like eating raw horse was a turning point in my life? Yes. Yes I do.

And not a minute too soon

If you were looking for some proof that Japan was a punctual place, may I introduce you to:

I’m sure there might be some very good rationalisation behind the times picked here, but why spoil a perfectly good enigma?

As for the rationalisation behind the whole ‘women only’ cars, that’s quite justified: there are a few unpleasant types called chikan on the subways, but I’ll let you read about that for yourself.

Food Packaging I Find Interesting – part 1 in a 2000 part series

As has been ably documented before, there’s lots of packaging in Japan that qualifies as using English words in ‘novel’ ways. I find myself buying food based not on its nutritional value or taste, but its Intrinsic Interestingness Index (III). It kicks the arse of the Atkins Diet, at least.

For example, there’s nothing wrong with the words on the bottle of ‘Miruku koohii’ below – anything but! Quaff! Now there’s a word I’d like to see used more. Quaff!

Or for food with pure sentimental value, I don’t think you can go past:

Awww. As a bonus, they’re delicious, too!

Japanese electioneering – a visual tour

I’m assuming there must be some sort of election going on at the moment here – my lack of a TV and functional Japanese illiteracy makes it difficult to determine. But, always one to put in my two political cents, I’ll judge the candidates based on purely visual terms. After all, even if they don’t want to admit it, that’s what everyone pretty much does in most elections anyway.

I firstly saw this fellow the other afternoon:

He had a lot to say to the passers-by, but no-one really seemed to be listening. The fellow beside him also reminded me a lot of Brant from The Big Lebowski, so extra points for that.

Then, this poster was foisted on me at the train station the other morning:

If I could vote, I’d vote for that guy! Now he looks like a fella you wouldn’t mess with.

He was way ahead of me

So I went out to buy an ironing board the other day – it turns out that clothes get just as crushed in this hemisphere as in my native one. You can see my new sawn-off board below:

What really impressed me was the method they used to package it. I was ready to walk out with it under my arm like a surfboard, but instead the sales assistant took it to a packing tape machine and started binding up the already well-packed board. Of course, my language skills don’t yet quite extend to “Oi fella! What the…?”.

This really seemed like overkill to me until the sales assistant deftly slipped a green plastic handle between the tape loops to make a nifty carry handle. Ah ha! Well, colour me educated. I’m going to carry everything like this from now on.

Fact: smoking is cool again.

Smoking seems to be pretty widespread and popular in Japan still – unlike Australia where smokers are increasingly made to feel like the outcast, anti-establishment reprobates they secretly long to be. Part of the appeal here may be due to advertisments like this (click to make bigger):

Glamorous westerner Henry-Fonda-alike-motorcyclists, cowboys, astronauts (maybe), all stoically grimacing out from the side of cigarette vending machines, sucking in the smooth taste of a devil-may-care attitude. I guess it’s the reciprocal appeal of westerners getting Chinese or Japanese characters tattooed on themselves – both leave you with something you may not want when you’re 60.