I recently posted about the noted economic exploitation of a demand for companionship in Japan. In my post, I referred to a New York Times article about a subculture of men who choose to "build relationships" with 2-D women as opposed to the real variety. Adamu, of Mutantfrog's Travelogue, also commented on the article, questioning some of the facts presented in said article. Apparently the author has refused to comment, so we shall see how the NY Times handles the accusation.
No matter what country you decide to visit, you should do your best to familiarize yourself with the native laws and customs. It seems obvious enough, but many people (myself probably included) are guilty of slacking when it comes to this important travel safety tip. Granted, though - laziness aside, it can be a difficult thing to prepare for. What are you going to do, seek out a legal codex for said country and search for laws you might violate? No, but it's also not unreasonable to consider certain objects and substances. I'd be careful about anything weapon-related -- guns, knives, bats, battle axes; chemicals; drugs -- be they medicinal or otherwise; etc. Chances are an old Columbian gentleman ignorantly bringing his "medicinal" marijuana into the US is not going to get through customs.
You may recall a certain post a couple of weeks ago about a certain invitation that was too early for my tastes. Well, it was an interesting day. My friends and I wound up making udon noodles. Well, we helped. Well, mostly Rachel helped while Joe and I alternated between watching supportively and sitting on the couch. We did stomp on some dough, though. Oh yeah, we stomped it good.
So apparently it's big sporting news that Phelps lost out in the swimming world championships this week. Japan's Junya Koga took the gold for the men's 100 m. backstroke, as reported here.
When there's a servicable market in which demand exceeds supply, supply will increase to meet demand - it's basic economics. Where there's money to be made, someone will be there. Now I'm trying not to be too critical here - every society has its problems, America being far from the exception - but it seems that in Japan there is a great amount of loneliness, which is driving a demand for companionship. Some fill this void with anime idols or what-have-you, but many choose to attend host or hostess bars. These are establishments of varying degress of quality where one may go to pay for the company of (ideally young and attractive) young men or women.
For those of you who don't know, an otaku is someone with a deep interest, often in something like manga, anime, video games, or the like (I have heard of sports otaku, too, so it can be virtually anything). I've known foreigners to label themselves freely with this term - a Japanese badge of pride, in their minds. Hey - it's just like a nerd or a dork, right? No, not quite. I think it's important to clarify this for as many people as possible. Try coming over here or encountering a Japanese person in your respective country and telling them "Hey, I love anime. I'm a real otaku - har har!" They will not laugh. If you're lucky they will chuckle or smile uncomfortably. Otaku has a different connotation in Japan - an extra strong anti-social element and the likelihood of unhealthy obsession. This guy is a good example of an otaku.
I just got back from playing pool in the city with an American friend and two Japanese teachers. Almost a year ago we tried to ask them if Japanese people trash talk in competitions or sports (we wanted to learn some choice phrases) and they seemed unsure what we meant. After tonight I can tell you, Japanese people do trash talk in their native language, too.
The last two days I helped out at another high school school (since classes are already over at mine). Throughout each day I cycled through about six small groups of students, leading discussions and playing a few games. Their English was better than that of the kids at my base school, but still - talking and playing games with people who are learning English (especially teenagers) can provide a, um...unique source of fulfillment.
So Burger King is launching a new product in Japan, apparently: the Angry Whopper. I was surprised because I wasn't aware of the existence of Burger King in Japan. Not big news to all of you, perhaps, but it was somewhat exciting for me.
It's good to see that Japan has been taking a hard line with North Korea, just like the U.S. and the U.N. The Japanese government recently lodged a formal complaint with the North Korean government for firing yet another missile into the Sea of Japan. Take that, Kim Jung Il - Japan is displeased with you!
Of course by "only in Japan" I mostly mean "not in America." Maybe many other countries exhibit similar behavior, but I don't have the luxury of such knowledge to draw comparison.
Well, Danny Boy, anyway. I just saw the new Harry Potter movie last night (don't worry, I won't talk about it at this venue) and so the mood struck me to post this interesting bit: Daniel Radcliffe visiting a Japanese girls high school. His reactions are funny but quite polite.
Most of the times I've spotted ninja(s?) in Japan, they've been too agile to photograph. I caught this one, though - a ninja hanging out at Himeji castle. Not his lucky day. Careful, though, kids - he's still a ninja, and they're dangerous. Look - I think he's about to do something lethal.
Ah, fermentation - the process by which we have so many wonderful alcoholic beverages. For many of us, I think I am safe in assuming, the alcohol in these potent potables is often the ingredient that makes them more appealing than, say, a soft drink. I mean, sure, taste matters - don't get me wrong. Sometimes on a hot day or after eating something really salty, like an entire pallet of squid jerky or a bag of potato chips, a nice, cold beer just hits the spot - am I right?
Here is Episode 8 of my vlog series. It was a little rushed as I haven't put out any episodes in months, but I hope it's interesting nonetheless.
Hello hello. Welcome to JADJ. Hm...that's not quite as catchy as I'd hoped.