風になりたい! Kaze ni naritai! 

A look at life in Japan through big, round, gaijin eyes. Relfections on life in Japan, America, from the faceless streets of Tokyo. Let's blogging!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Tokyo Nights


As time goes by, despite my reluctance, I am starting to feel more and more attachment to this city I live in: Tokyo.

Despite the outrageous cost of living. Despite the trains that stop right when the city wakes up.

Despite the anonymous crowds of faces. Despite the despair of the salarymen.

Despite the hodgepodge archetecture. Despite the hodgepodge fashion.

Despite the absence of green. Despite the absence of compassion.

Despite the air too thick to breathe. Despite the smell of millions of people.

Despite the fact that the city poises on destruction with every tremble of the earth. Despite my better judgement.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Un-intelligent Design

Today at work, an American coworker and I were discussing Greek mythology, which in turn led to a discussion of the Theory of Evolution and the science of Intelligent Design. Intelligent design points to the fact that infinitessimal changes in the value of certain fundamental forces and important numbers in physics would lead to a universe where stuff went flying apart and nothing would work properly, which implies that only an intelligent creator could have built such a finely balanced system: a fine argument that would have Sophocles shaking his head in about 2 seconds.

Say what you will about having faith in Intelligent Design, as a scientific theory it pretty much says, "The way things are is because an intelligent creator didn't make them otherwise," which is better paraphrased as, "Things are the way they are because they aren't the way they aren't." Moreover, the theory apparently doesn not explain why if the design is so intelligent, there is war, poverty, and a serious lack of flying cars.

Again, as something to have faith in, I'm all for Intelligent Design. Just...as something to test in Kansas public schools as sound science, it leaves something to be desired (the science part). [Potential multiple choice question on a science test in Kansas: "Who created the universe? A) an intelligent, loving creator; B) a guy named Jeff; C) A flying spaghetti monster; D) a rather foolish and untrustworthy, sort of shifty creator with suspect intentions.]

I am, shockingly, not the first person to point this out. Nor am I the first person to point out the conclusive relationship between global warming and the decrease of pirates in the world since 1800. For more about that, and its implications on the debate over intelligent design, please check out the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

While you're doing that, I'll be fine tuning the stupidly-designed universe I am working on. I can't get the amount of dark matter right, and it keeps expanding infinitely, ultimately filling up with black holes and approaching thermodynamic heat death. Curses galore!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Gimme a Break


One of the things I would miss a lot if I went back to the States is all the quality sweets in Japan that aren't sold back home. No way in America that green tea or sweet bean flavored chocolate lasts very long. I have to say, I am a big fan of wagashi, or flavors such as kuromitsu (molasses...sort of) and kinako (soy flour). Even familiar stuff like KitKat bars can have a new twist. My all time favorite Japan only flavor had to have been white chocolate/Quebec maple syrup flavor. Mmm... tastes like breakfast.
Just because Todd will want to know... here are the flavors of Nestle KitKats (that I know of) available in Japan right now:
  • Regular

  • Exotic Hokkaido

  • Exotic Tokyo

  • Apple (Nagano only)

  • Fruit Parfait

  • Azuki Bean

  • Annin Dofu

  • Matcha Green Tea

  • Yogurt

  • Starry Sky (celebrating the 5th anniversary of Universal Studios Japan)

  • Ice KitKat

  • Bretagne Milk

  • Yuubari Melon (Hokkaido only)

  • Crispy monogatari (no chocolate coating)

this is not to mention an assortment of mini, big, and other special edition normal Kitkats.

Mmm... crispy. That reminds me, I'm hungry.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ainu


The Ainu are the indigenous people of Japan, and may be closely related to the first peoples to migrate to North America. Like all minority groups in Japan, they have had more than their fair share of problems caused by ethnic Japanese. Though they once lived over all of Northern Honshu and Hokkaido, their culture is now largely restricted to a few small areas of Hokkaido. Much moreso than Native Americans, they have been overrun and assimilated by mainstream majority culture, and there are very few ethnically distinct Ainu remaining. Recent movements to honor and rediscover their culture have much to do with the influence of the West.



2 Cool things about the Ainu is A) they look sort of like me, and B) apparently Ainu men stopped shaving after a certain age.

For this picture, Juri was told she had to carry a fish that I had "caught" for her, but she wanted the bow and arrow instead (note: there is no way she was gonna hit anything like that...). Still, that's my girl. Go shoot my dinner.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Pictures

When you're too lazy to write: photo blog.


Dotonbori, Osaka, May 2006


Bamboo at Kodai-ji in Kyoto, May 2006


Torii Gates at Fushimi Inari Jinja, May 2006

Friday, August 04, 2006

Happy Anniversary


As of today I've been in Japan for 4 years. To put that in perspective, I've been in Japan longer than I was at Georgetown or in high school. I've been in Japan for my entire adult life thus far. I would rather go to Yoshinoya than McDonalds, and I'd rather go to Kappa Sushi than either. I think of myself as a gaijin, or foreigner. I bow on the phone. I don't know how to introduce myself in English, or ask for a favor without adding "yoroshiku onegaishimasu." Saying my opinions in front of my coworkers makes me vaguely uncomfortable. I don't believe in productivity. I have poor command of my spoken English at time. I translate Japanese idioms directly into my speech in English. I dream in Japanese. I use the word "let's" all the time. I caveat my statements constantly so as not to seem too forceful. I have cravings for grilled fish--at breakfast time. I like J-pop. I read manga. I love karaoke. I have no furniture taller than my knee. I look right,left,right before crossing the street. I get confused when watching people drive in American movies. I refer to home, home, and back home as 3 different places. I think of MLB games as taking place in the AM. The NFL plays on any given Monday morning. I haven't seen an NCAA game in 4 years, though I've won three March Madness Pools. I read kanji faster than I read kana. I've never had a deep conversation with my girlfriend and been 100% confident that we understand exactly what each other is saying. I will never understand her world-view completely, nor will she understand mine. I forget that schools in the US are surrounded by grass. I have never met any Japanese person who has operated a lawnmower. Wide-open spaces vaguely alarm me. I can see the practical advantages of owning a small dog. I am often embarassed by the behavior of other foreigners I meet. I can't speak Spanish. I only see my family a few days a year. It surprises me to not be surrounded by Japanese people. Western faces sometimes look alike. I eat raw eggs and cold fried chicken. The beer I drink the most is Asahi, which is also the name of the TV channel I watch the most. I pray at temples and shrines every time I go, but I have only been to church once in 4 years. I don't think a train is full unless the conductor has to push people on to close the doors. I can't believe it when a train is more than a minute late. I can't imagine life without a keitai... Etc.