Six month milestone extravaganza!

This week is a milestone for me…. six whole months in Japan. So how’s all that going, then? Very well, and so quickly! Things can get on top of you sometimes – an immense language barrier, a workaholic culture, a seeming average of two square meters of personal space, an irrational longing to see some actual grass or some trees, and a generally chaotic existence – but I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and there’s still so much to see and do. But there’ll be plenty more on all that in the future!

To help me commemorate the occasion, please join me for a flimsily-premised montage: Fire Flowers 2: the Revenge of the Fire Flowers, taken at the Edogawa fireworks festival in August. Oh, and if you could also hum “That’s What Friends Are For” as you view it to help with the whole montage vibe, that would be great.

Plenty more at the fireworks gallery too!

No, E. Honda wasn’t there

Last weekend let me cross another big ticket item off my list of things to do: sumo!

A sumo tournament is something I can whole-heartedly recommend attending if you come to Japan. It’s a chance to see the locals let their hair down – barracking for the top-tier matches is passionate, with spectators yelling out the names of the favourite wrestlers. Reportedly, if one of the top-ranked yokozuna is defeated by a lower ranked wrestler, the audience all throw their seat cushions at the wrestlers in the ring, but sadly, the yokozuna won his bout the day I was there.

When it comes to watching man-mountains hurl each other around, it certainly doesn’t disappoint on that front:

Lots more photos and stories of sumo after the jump!

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Every syllable is sacred

This happened to me tonight at dinner while eating shabu-shabu.

One of my co-workers brought his new baby.  To make small talk, I wanted to ask how old his new arrival was.  Instead of saying “ikutsu” (how old), I said “ikura” (how much).

How much?

How much for the baby?

Takeaway point: offering to buy someone’s baby in Japan is absolutely p*ss funny, apparently.

Mt Fuji – an adventure in volcanic ash

Here is the famous silhouette of Mt Fuji from two hours drive away, in Shinjuku, Tokyo:

And here it is from rather a lot closer:

Yes, it was Fuji-climbing time. Other than “because it’s there” and “because everyone cool is doing it”, there is a very good reason to climb it:

Lots of pictures and details about climbing Mt Fuji after the fold! Continue reading

Why I hate the Navitime guy (the collected essays, 1998-2030)

Navitime is a navigational aid that Tokyo-ites can use to find their way around using their blinged up mobile phones. But that’s not important. What’s important is this:

Seriously, who is this guy, and how did he land this gig? He features in a number of Navitime ads which you can find all around the Tokyo subway system. In almost all of them, he wears his helmet and jumpsuit, pointing at stuff and looking suitably foreign and intense.

Hey – I can look suitably foreign and intense too! I have never tried wearing a helmet professionally, but I’d like to think I’d be a quick study. Also, my pointing skills have been previously described as “eerily poignant”.

Of course, I bet he doesn’t have to navigate anywhere other than out of the palatial mansion bought with his ill-gotten billboard loot.  I imagine him roaring with laughter as the royalty trucks back up to his money chute, the avalanche of coins clattering together and bouncing chaotically off his ermine helmet and throne made out of precious gems and shimmering technology.

I hate you, Navitime guy.

Bastard.