why is there a boob on our mailbox
Funny, they usually travel in pairs.Source: inkpanic
For all your skull chicken and crucifix pizza needs #osaka #japan #wtf
This is outside of a “haunted dining” restaurant in Osaka called Alucard. The name alone has always intrigued me, but that pizza has made me mad with curiosity. Only my cheapskate cowardice has kept me from going in there - “theme” restaurants like this are notoriously expensive in Japan with added fees & charges.
But someday I will have to see that pizza with mine own eyes. And eat it.Source: inkpanic
A nameless Osaka transit employee who stood up for his rights in the face of an intrusive survey was vindicated this week when a district court ruled in his favor and found the city’s tattoo survey is unconstitutional. The city tried to fire him when he refused (repeatedly) to disclose whether or not he has tattoos.
Why tattoos? Japan still has this perception that tattoo = criminal, even though Yakuza tattoos are pretty distinctive. Earlier this year there was a “scandal” (huge scare quotes) when a city employee showed his tattoo to someone in public. The resulting outcry of complaints from stupid people prompted the mayor to use a survey to find out which city employees had tattoos and whether or not they were visible.
Responding with “none of your fucking business”, a number of city employees refused to answer the survey. After being warned that silence would cost them their jobs, most of the holdouts relented - but not all. Six remained steadfast in exercising their rights, including the transit employee who ended up suing the city to protest his dismissal.
Not only did the court decide that he couldn’t be fired for refusing to answer personal questions, it also awarded him 5 million yen (over $63,000 US) in damages.
The kicker? Word is this guy doesn’t even have a tattoo. He just stood up to the system at great personal risk and he won.
I salute you, anonymous transit worker. As much as I believe in Hashimoto’s proposed reforms (seriously, Japanese bureaucracy is bloated beyond all reason) his social views are backwards and oppressive. Don’t forget, this is the guy who made it a law that teachers must sing the national anthem under penalty of dismissal. And let’s not even get into his revisionist views of history.
On August 1st, 2007, I first set foot in my apartment in Kawanishi, Hyogo, having just endured two days of useless orientation in Tokyo. August 1st was the day I signed my contract of employment and my lease. August 1st was my first day of living in Japan as an adult.
You can’t know what’s in store for you when you move to a foreign country. It doesn’t matter that I came to Japan twice before: once as a tourist, once as a student. When you come here to work, you’re on your own. No university liason, no dormitory full of peers, no safety net. And while I was older than the typical JET (30 going on 31) and had a loving fiancee eager to help me, it didn’t take long before I felt overwhelmed by my unfamiliar surroundings.
Looking back on that summer now, it occurs to me that having Mako in my life was both a fantastic aid and a difficult burden to live with. Fantastic, of course, because we love each other and she (and her family, who have been wonderfully supportive since I met them) did everything in her power to ease me into my new environment.
The difficult part was that by having Mako help me so thoroughly, it became very easy for me to settle into life in my apartment away from everyone else. I didn’t have any JET coworkers or neighbors, I only encountered them in passing on the trains occasionally. My incentive to reach out and make friends was neutralized by my relationship.
It’s not that I regret spending so much time with Mako in that first year, it’s just that once I started pushing myself to go out and meet people in public I found it changed me for the better. Life on JET is pretty solitary. Unless you miraculously break through and befriend (as in, see socially outside of work) your Japanese coworkers, you’re stuck pining for friends and family back “home” who you never see.
On that note, I cannot stress how magical the era of Facebook has been to me as an expat. None of the people close to me in the US fully embraced social networking as I have, but even the occasional message or “like” has reminded me of all the good times we had. And it’s fun to see glimpses of their new lives - couples getting married, children born, new jobs, even everyday stuff like lunch in a familiar place makes me smile.
The truth is no one ever tells you a friendship is over, unless you’re a huge dick who insults people and even then I think they just stop calling you back. It’s not that I don’t have friends “back home” anymore, it’s that “home” has moved. Five years into my new life, Japan is home now.
I still miss my friends from the US but the reality is they’ve moved on. Our frames of reference have drifted apart. We can still connect over memories and maybe the next time I’m in the States, we’ll have a party and that will be fun. But my closest friends, the ones I talk to about anything and everything, they’re the ones I’ve met in these past five years.
Here’s where things get complicated: this is the season of transition for JETs. I said goodbye to many wonderful people in the last few weeks, people with whom I had this shared Japanese experience for years, people who are now going “home” to someplace far away. I wasn’t close to all of them but it hurts to see so many of them leave.
I’ve been down this road before. Friends met in elementary school, friends met in high school, friends met over summer vacation, friends met at the movies, friends met at the post office (there were a couple!), friends met in college…all of them came and went.
After five years on JET, it’s only now that I’m really aware that my new friends I’ve met in Japan are going away too. Some will stay, of course, but most will not.
What do I do now? I suppose the only thing to do is keep pushing myself to make new friends. Keep going out to parties, keep writing, keep forcing myself to never settle for the ridiculous idea that one can have “enough” friends.
After 1827 days of living in Japan, I look forward to whatever may happen today or tomorrow, because I have no idea what’s next. I cant wait to see it.
In what sounds like a terrific Onion headline until you realize they are serious, a proposed overhaul of the Dotonbori area in Osaka would transform the canal into a gigantic swimming pool.
Again, I am not making this up.
If you’re unfamiliar with Osaka, picture a typical urban river. It’s filthy, right? Even on a sunny day the water remains a murky brown color, yes?
Now place that river in the middle of a densely populated neighborhood full of bright lights to draw tourists and bars & restaurants to keep crowds buzzing all night. Try to imagine how much garbage gets thrown into that water, how often someone pisses or pukes in that water, maybe even defecates in that water.
You expect people to swim here?
It’s not a matter of engineering or of means, which they claim is already in place and uses no tax money. I have no doubt you can dig up the whole thing and replace it with a gigantic swimming pool. That’s the easy part. My question is, how in the hell will you keep it from reverting back to its pre-pool condition after the first night?
And even if you miraculously keep the water clean enough for swimming, how will you police the 1km border to prevent people from jumping in? Again, this is a neigborhood where huge numbers of people congregate, many of whom are inebriated. There are already plenty of stories about people jumping into the canal in its current toxic state. Unauthorized divers aren’t merely a probability, they will be a stone-cold fact.
I sincerely hope the backers of this plan drop the whole swimming pool concept and just turn their attention to keeping the canal reasonably clean. The Dotonbori area has been under constant renovation since I set foot in the city in 2005 as an exchange student. In that time they’ve made remarkable improvements to the boardwalk and bridges that surround the canal. What we need now is less-disgusting water, not a fantasy sports facility that can never be properly maintained.
My solution: cover the water with plexiglass. Make the whole strip a pedestrian mall, like a bottomless boat ride minus the boat. Then you can clean the water without worrying about people or waste mucking things up.
Went to the movies for the first time in Osaka. Found out we got upgraded to the fancy theater on the 10th floor that I didn’t even know existed. It was covered in crystal and leather. It was uber swank.
Crazy addendum: The staff told us this was designed to be a high-end experience for moviegoers with a premium price tag, but when not enough customers opted to pay for it, they dropped the services and just let people watch movies here at the regular rate.
Just one more reason to love Japanese movie theaters!Source: inkpanic
Besides curry, we had a whole host of other foods in Osaka, like takoyaki and Ippudo Ramen. We also went shopping in Den Den town, the electronics section of Osaka. It’s a pretty short trip between Kyoto and Osaka, so we were able to go just for a day.
I am now one of the sights of Osaka. Very exciting.Source: wedgewu
June 8th has become a day of infamy in modern Japan, at least to those who remember their recent history. It was three years ago today that a man drove a truck into a heavily congested pedestrian area of Akihabara and then started stabbing people. The slow wheels of justice sentenced him to death only three months ago, so he’ll be with us for a few years more.
But today is also the day, the ten-year anniversary in fact, of what I consider the scariest spree killing imaginable. On June 8th, 2001, a deeply disturbed man (off his meds) entered an elementary school in Ikeda, Osaka and attacked the children with a knife. He gave no clear motive, only expressing a desire to be put to death (his wish was granted in 2004).
At the time of the murders, I was prepping for my first trip to Japan, so I was watching Japanese language news on cable a lot. While the attack certainly drew the attention of the US media, it (understandably) dominated the Japanese news cycle for at least a week. It didn’t make me rethink my plans at all, but it certainly shook my image of Japan as a crime-free nation.
What makes the school killings all the more frightening is that Mako and I have been looking into buying a house in the area, and our number one choice is right down the street from the elementary school where the attack took place. If we end up moving, our son would at the very least walk past it everyday and he might even attend (the school is public, but it requires an entrance exam).
So whether you live in Japan or not, take a moment out of your day today and honor the victims of these crimes with silence. And don’t forget about the people of Tohoku. Three months later and thousands of them are still essentially homeless. 黙祷してお願いいたします。