Hard Road Bento

I needed to get a new bento box (that’s a Japanese lunch-box). Now, I’ve been here long enough to sort of filter out, or actually understand some of the interesting English language notes on some products, but this one kind of struck me as just being a little serious:

“The road of the life will become very hard. But we must overcome it.”

That’s a pretty heavy message for reading over lunch.


Tell me the file Apple

Like a lot of people, I’ve been bitten by a problem syncing my iPod to my Mac, in that I see the following error, and the sync stops wherever it was.

For me, after a bit of tinkering I found it seemed to not like one of my photos very much, towards the end of the sync, and if I get a few more minutes to take a look at it, I’ll figure it out, but really, what kind of an error message is that? It knows what files caused it to stop, so why won’t it tell me what it is? Tsk. Insecurity and fear of loss of job seem to strike again.


Earthquake…back home

Often when I post anything about earthquakes, it’s about one here in Tokyo, or somewhere in Japan at least, but it seems today there was one a stone’s throw away from where I grew up, in Grimsby on the coast of England.

It’s kind of odd to me, having been through a lot of earthquakes, thankfully all safely, here on the Pacific rim, that a real jolter happened in Grimsby just still requires me to alter the angle of my forehead to get it in there.

Well, I know my family is OK, because I called them pretty smart-ish to make sure nothing had fallen off or down, so I hope all the other people are OK too.

Bon Jovi dummies

I was just going through some photos on my keitai, and found a couple from a few weeks ago I’d completely forgotten about: the Bon Jovi ‘Rock Star Baby’ line of baby products we found at Babies R Us.

It sickened me even more than a fair few of their songs. I rank these efforts up there with the horrific ‘Bed of Roses’ rather than the tolerable ‘Keep the Faith’.

What the hell is wrong with ‘Rock’ stars These Days??

bonjovi dummy


Sony to punish reward customers?

It’s become de rigueur recently for the upper management of Sony to make some fairly outlandish, or even completely false statements in interviews, with the goal of boosting the hype level for the Playstation 3, in the face of less than raging demand, and tougher-than-expected competition

The only problem seems to be that with each month they show more contempt for their customers. Maybe within Sony there’s some kind of arrogance crown to be won, possibly currently held by the spin guru who came up with 2005’s root kit fiasco. Yeah, that guy actually invaded people’s PCs and didn’t tell them. Woot! pwn3d! (or similar, complete with high fives in the Sony company canteen).

So how is a Playstation division person supposed to show potential customers what Sony really think of our patronage?

I’ve got an idea, and the best thing is, they can field test it at the swanky Sony Building in Ginza. To show how much they value us, the customers, Sony should beat people upon entering their showcase building commensurate with how many Sony products they own.

For my friends and I then, ‘L’ will likely just get a clip round the ear and told to do better as he’s actively shed all Sony gear in the last year. I’m probably looking at a sound kicking in the corner for owning a PS2 and a PSP, and my cries of “that was a present!’ will be ignored by the cheering Sony minions as they forcibly satisfy my alleged customer cravings.

Save your pity for ‘S’; as a bit of a Sony fanboy (though currently in remission), he’s looking at a beating which starts with a friendly knee in the happy sack and goes downhill from there. When they find out just how many games he owns he really will need serious medical attention, but damn will he know how much Sony care for their loyal customers.

Finally, for what’s worth, you can buy a PS3 in pretty much any shop in Tokyo, but getting a Wii requires mad ninja skillz or the ability to wait in line. Let’s see how our masochistic consumerism does over the next year though.

Gaijin Hanzai Informative Magazine

You’ve probably seen this on a bunch of blogs, including the always readable Arudou Debito’s blog.

It seems some folks have put together an informative book, with photos and illustrations to point out the sheer, unadulterated evil we foreigners in Japan do. There just aren’t enough superlatives to describe just how awful we are apparently. Well, I say ‘we’, but apparently no Europeans or North Americans commit crime … just the rest of them. Pages here, here and here.

Gaijin Hanzai Ura File” as the book is known, may well still be available from such hard core right wing establishments as…er…Family Mart.

All in all, it’s just an odd situation, with these fairly normal shops having to apologise and get it off their shelves to save a bit of bad publicity.

This blog is not really the place for me to go into the ‘race issue’ in Japan, or even my own experiences, and though I would say Japan has an inclination to legalised, institutional racism, I wouldn’t say it’s (personally, physically) dangerous, and I don’t think these people represent even a tiny, if vocal, percentage of the population. That said, some foreigners have committed crimes, and I’m not talking about visa overstays either. However, by far, most crime is committed by Japanese, even by percentage.

Overall summary: kind of sad this book can be published in 2007 in what is a very enjoyable place to live.

Future lifestyle – drunken shopping?

I’d often thought that if I stayed in Japan for years and years, until retirement or something, I’d while away the days sitting in Yoshinoya, chewing on gyudon/butadon and criticising how badly young people use their chopsticks. However, I realised there’s something else I could try – drunk shopping.

Now I know that’s not very original, indeed I’ve tried a version of it myself, resulting in a Jon Bon Jovi “Destination Anywhere” CD from a shop in Isehara. But that was being drunk whilst shopping. I wasn’t actually drinking at the time.

When I was in the local supermarket (sober) on Sunday, I noticed a man in his late forties and his wife seemed to be careering around the produce section, barring many other shoppers from the potatoes and carrots, and it wasn’t until he turned around I realised two things: firstly, he had a beverage in his hand, and secondly, it most certainly was not the first he’d had. I expected this to be a refreshing beer or similar to calm his nerves through the trauma of buying the right tofu, but, it turned out it was one of those Suntory ‘whisky in a can’ things. Then it occurred to me that I was really limiting myself on these jaunts to the supermarket – not only should I try it tanked up, but I should still be drinking on the way round. OK. So now I know what else I can try.

I should say in closing that I am a bit of a whisky snob in that I prefer single Scotch malts and prefer to use Suntory whisky products as a cleaning aid rather than a drink. A tip to Suntory marketing: if it was any good, you wouldn’t sell it in 2 litre plastic bottles, with a free miniature attached.

Apparitions in Singapore?

I’m in Singapore right now on a bit of business, staying in the Fullerton Hotel, but that’s not what this post is about.

I got to my room just before 1am on August 31st, and I was tired, but I ordered some coffee and just set up my laptop, and unpacked some things from my suitcase, so there were a bare minimum of lights on – just in the adjacent bathroom, and the bedside lamps.

Anyway, at about 1.30am, I am 100% sure that I saw something in the corner of the room, near the door. A form. A human form. No real detail, just dark, and standing, possibly a little shorter than me (I’m 5′ 7″), but most certainly opaque to some extent.

I was stood about 8 metres away, near the desk, and I couldn’t believe my eyes, was I looking at a ghost? I looked at it for about 5 seconds, before looking into the light from the bathroom, and then back. It was still there. I got the feeling that it was wearing chains like leg irons, it seemed very heavy, and was most certainly not shadows from the door, wardrobe etc.. At this point I don’t mind saying that the hairs on the back of my neck we standing and I had a pretty strong sense of things not being right.

I stared at the unmoving mass for another good eight seconds before rubbing my eyes in the bathroom, and coming back in, and the mass being gone.

I’m not joking, there was a dark, human shaped opaque mass in my room for possibly fifteen seconds. I felt really uncomfortable I don’t mind saying, a little freaked out.

You see, I’m a fairly open minded person, but also a bit cynical, so my first thought was that I was tired and just filling in some blanks in the shadows, but I have to say again, I really don’t think I was, there was something there, possibly in leg irons. This might fit, unfortunately, into the hotel’s history during Japanese occupation of being a jail and venue of torture.

So then, I’ll leave this post at this point. I’m pretty sure I know what I saw, and that’s a bit scary.

Tissues in Akihabara

I like to think in the time I’m been in Japan I’ve thrown myself at a fairly decent variety of oddness, and overall done a decent job of it. That said, every now and then you see something so subtle as you almost miss it.

During our lunch break we were trawling Akiba for a new analogue stick head for my PSP and were in AsoBiCity going up through the idol/bikini chick DVD section (to get to the PSP section honest!) when I saw this: a box of tissues on the shelf.

Further inspection revealed a bunch of signs suggestively telling patrons not to work themselves into a frenzy to where they would need the tissues, but hey, they were there if accidents happen. I’m not saying anyone in the shop would need them, but that really is the immortal slice of lemon wrapped around a gold brick.

tissues - how convenient

Dead Head Train

When I was coming back from Narita airport a couple of weeks ago, I was waiting for the Narita Express train for Tokyo Station when I saw another train mentioned on the information board which looked far more interesting: Dead Head Train!