Japan Today

Ex-Expat comments

Posted in: Why do Japanese cleaning crews bow at trains? See in context

I don't know how it looks in other regions, but the bowing done in my city conveyed to me another possible meaning. I grew up in the aviation world, so maybe my eyes are biased, but I've suspected the bowing is also a signal to the conductor.

Since the workers are often working on the very edge of the platforms, it seems logical to me that the workers give a visual acknowledgement, an "all clear", as the train approaches and departs. I've also seen them use hand signals while bowing and backing away from the edges.

Plus, it looks nice to the paying customers. :-P

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Mini-skirt turbulence at Skymark Airlines See in context

Here I was, preparing to vent my frustrations and echo most of the previous posters' comments. What wrong-headed person seriously things micros are a viable option for crew to wear, anymore? I mean, heck, most folks in aviation know that nylons practically should be banned for safety reasons, much less heels, blah, blah, blah...

Then I looked at the photo. Oh...dear. It's as though they commissioned Wal-Mart to make children's knock-offs of the 5th Element flight attendant costumes.

How unfortunate.

sad trombone

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Posted in: Seven Japanese drugstore beauty products loved by women abroad See in context

Fake eyelashes can be bought anywhere. However, they are simply not considered appropriate in many parts of the world. Meaning, if you can "spot" them, they're excessive for that situation. I've never noticed anyone wear them, besides Halloween, outside of Japan.

I'm currently using Japanese mascara, and it's ...OK. I really wish I'd known that "waterproof" is likely to be the default setting for it, though. Now I know why there's such a large market for cleaning oil. Alena and Maria are right; cosmetic cleaning oils are a scam. Either buy a proper makeup remover, or go cheap and gentle and buy extra virgin olive oil. I didn't believe it myself until I tried it, but THAT stuff really works! Holy cow.

Tsubaki smells nice, but fried my hair. My stylist told me that foreigners should be cautious with Asian hair products, as they can be rough on the hair and scalp. The hair strands of many east Asians are thicker, and can take more of a beating than my wimpy- wispies can.

I used to hate the idea of skin bleach, but as age and spots bear down on me, I wonder....maybe....Nah. Maybe.

The thing I miss from Japan: Cheap pore strips! For whatever reason, they're pricier in my home country. Feh! :-)

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Posted in: Police officers forced to eat 15 burgers at a time to toughen them up See in context

I've seen teachers do this to elementary students at lunch, back in my teaching days. It was done as a disciplinary measure. Forcing someone to eat until they cry is still considered a classic punishment in some regions, I take it.

At least this character got "busted". There's no telling what other things are happening that the public will never hear of.

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Posted in: Education ministry proposes radical English education reform See in context

ALT are not supposed to be creating curriculum or teaching classes by themselves.

It happens all the time, though. Many, many of the Japanese teachers hand over the classes to the ALTs, often with no advance notice what topics are to be covered. For some of them, "ALT in the room" = "smoke break".

I've not heard much about the JET experience, but dispatch companies demand that their ALTs tolerate that, even though it's quite illegal. Considering the unprofessional management and dismal wages, it's no wonder qualified employees rarely remain ALTs for long.

I find it strange that a government so "concerned" about education doesn't have set standards (training, pay, hours, etc.) for all of the teaching staff, ALTs included.

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Posted in: Beauty queen tells of harassment by talent agency See in context

This is the greatest consensus I've ever seen from this site's commenters. The talent agencies seem to have found a way to bring folks together!

Nail 'em to the wall, Ms. Yoshimatsu.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Japanese college students struggle to answer basic astronomy questions See in context

In USA, Sun shows in Calif. first. While Calif people go to swim, Eastern people are still sleeping. So, this kind of questions do not work in some places.

...This is news to me. Please explain how you came to think this; I'm genuinely curious.

I suspect you may have some confusion about U.S. time zones. (By the way, there are six of them covering the states.) If anything, the zones make it EASIER for Americans to imagine the east-west "movement" of the sun. The TV schedules reflect it! :-D

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Posted in: Japanese college students struggle to answer basic astronomy questions See in context

I marvel at folks who don't know some basic facts discussed here. I see several people even saying they're irrelevant largely irrelevant, that they wouldn't remember them even if they were taught. For example, I honestly can not fathom going through life without using the knowledge of which direction the sun "moves". That piece of info has saved me grief a few times while exploring new cities. Handy tool, and it's free!

Seriously? This is your argument? Give me the chemical composition of the air you breathe off the top of your head. How can you POSSIBLY not know that?????!! I mean you breathe it ALL the time.

That's....actually pretty basic info, too. Everyone should be able to swing some good guesses at that.

The land of the rising sun

I just had a mental image of the flag, with "(east!)" scribbled on it with a Sharpie. :-P

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Attacks in Kobe, Osaka spark concerns over 'Knockout Game' See in context

I honestly believe violence from overseas (not just the States) has heavily influenced Japan.

Ask people from other parts of the eastern hemisphere just how peaceful the Japanese can be.Then, ask the Japanese, themselves. They need no instruction from anyone on Earth on how to commit violence.

It's horrible that these attacks occurred, and they should be fully prosecuted. As others have said, there appear to be no parallels between these attacks and the overhyped "knockouts" in the U.S. Editorials such as this are not helping the situation.

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Posted in: Father arrested after boy brings handgun to school See in context

To those saying that guns are so tightly controlled in Japan, let me say that has NOT been my experience. Anecdote time: I have seen enough handguns in Japan, in the possession of people who are completely untrained in their use, to actually make me nervous. The only Desert Eagle I've ever seen in person was being carried by a Japanese bartender in Shizuoka, who couldn't wait to show it off to an American girl. (My family reported that particular shady character to the police, and the gun was confiscated.)

I'm going to hazard a guess that this kid was also showing off his new "toy".

From what I'm told, there's a lively black market for firearms in Japan. It may be a regional thing. Think about it, though: how often have you heard of police raiding homes or cars for guns? What have they actively done to confiscate them from those who might have them? Legally purchased firearms are quite restricted, but I've not heard of much being done to collect the, erm, others...

That being said, guns don't "just go off". That teacher totally had it out for the chair!

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Posted in: Tokyo Motor Show opens with eco-friendly theme; U.S. makers stay away See in context

including parts suppliers from a dozen countries.

"Parts suppliers" AND "exhibitors"? Boy, that seems like a real big show! As other posters have said, there are bigger fish for some companies to fry. They'll show where the money is.

Volvo is no longer Swedish owned. Chinese. And Nissan is Renault. French.

Mazda's flagship R&D/ factory complex is in Mississippi.

It's disingenuous to paint these companies with national colors. This industry has overgrown the border fence lines, and the tariffs may eventually reflect that. It'll be interesting to see what happens then.

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Posted in: Rightwing activist rams sound truck into Aum facility See in context

It's like the time Kanye West roughed up a paparazzi: I...I just don't know who to root for, here.

Ok, I'm supporting "meteor impact at the Iriya facility".

In all seriousness, though, I recommend reading up on the history of these cults. Their activities and place in Japanese society are interesting (and maybe important) to learn about, especially to those from other countries.

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Posted in: Anti-whaling activist Watson tells U.S. court: 'We're not pirates' See in context

It's only tangentially related, but I've thought the name of the group is somewhat curious. You know what shepherds do?

They manage livestock.

Think about it for more than two seconds... :-P

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Posted in: Anti-whaling activist Watson tells U.S. court: 'We're not pirates' See in context

He IS a pirate, an attention whore, a very well-documented fraudster, and a poor sailor who frequently put his own crews (who often weren't trained sailors, at all) at physical risk. Greenpeace, of all groups, tossed his self-promoting keister out years ago.

He has been the single biggest detriment to the anti-whaling movement in the modern era. Toss him to the whales.

4 ( +16 / -12 )

Posted in: 1st shipment of Beaujolais Nouveau arrives in Japan See in context

As others have said, it's not supposed to be "good" as it has had no time to cellar at all.

I've heard it called "French rot-gut".

I'm with the folks who say it's a "marketing thing". I have mixed feelings about the phenomenon. One the one hand, it usually is bad, overpriced wine. On the other, the Japanese seem to have turned acquiring and drinking it into a near-sporty excuse to party...and well, I just can't stay mad at that. :-D

From what I've seen, if you just wait past the purchasing rush, the bottles remain abundant and are discounted to a reasonable price.

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Posted in: Looking good See in context

Wait, is this it?! Is it starting? Are the '90s finally back?!


-tears through old boxes of chokers, Docs, Mary Janes, and leather jackets-

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Posted in: Japanese cuisine submitted for UNESCO 'intangible cultural heritage' status See in context

I understand that tempura is a food that is loved in Japan. And when people of the world think of Japanese food, it's probably thought of right behind sushi & miso soup. But why is Japan claiming it? It was introduced to Japan by the Portuguese. Portugal should be getting it listed before Japan.

Also, sashimi/sushi dishes didn't originate in Japan, either, but the locals sure like to take credit for it. :-P

And, actually, I have not found a restaurant in the US that serves natto. Does natto need preserving? :-)

Some restaurants around here, far from the coasts, actually serve it. There's no shortage of soybeans in the U.S., although, there may be a shortage of natto demand. I've never seen anyone, even Japanese folks, order it.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: Architect says 2020 Tokyo Olympic stadium too big See in context

Well, they say it was designed with all sorts of purposes in mind. I can't imagine working on the acoustics in a place like that. :-P

It looks like a lot of the "space" may be the walkways. If they're really to be open 24 hours, they might end up being meet-up, date, or jogging areas. I guess we'll find out.

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Posted in: Architect says 2020 Tokyo Olympic stadium too big See in context

Its capacity will be similar to a mid-sized U.S. college football stadium. I don't know how that compares to other stadiums in that region of Japan. Is there good reason to think that it'll be filled up on a regular basis after the Games?

Honest question! I'm just curious.

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Posted in: 'Fukuppy' firm rethinking mascot after Internet ridicule See in context


I echo that sentiment! I figured it was inevitable, but darn it, what a shame. I'm sure many people were ridiculing the mascot, but most of the reactions I witnessed were positive. Folks in the west were begging for plushies and car decals of him; there's quite a market. He was superimposed over politician's faces in some news articles. We love the guy!

End the end, the company wants to sell industrial supplies to Japanese, rather than toys to foreigners. The market wins, again. kicks a rock

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan votes on the musical act they most want to see in Olympic opening ceremony See in context

Yoshida Brothers

Good call! Talented artists with traditional instruments, on which they can play just about any genre of music. I've seen them live a few times (in the U.S., no less; they get around), and they seem to have the chops.

I wouldn't be surprised at all to see them there, even if they're cast as accompanists.

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Posted in: 11 unique experiences for tourists to Japan See in context

It's only an opinion, but this house's opinion is that some of these are creeeeepy. I realize it may be culturally biased, but if someone returned from a Japanese vacation and told stories of having engaged in some these activities, their coworkers might not ask them to sit at their table at lunch anymore. IfyaknowwhatImean.

these are for tourists? unless you speak japanese, most of these arent gonna work out. i doubt the lolita, maid, cosplay girl, mimi kaki girl, ect. speak a foreign language.

And there's that.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Posted in: American casting for 'Hana Yori Dango' (Boys Over Flowers) TV series receives harsh Japanese criticism See in context

I looked up info on this project (I've never even seen the anime), and it turns out to be a small, basically amateur production.

...the creators plan on putting together a new Kickstarter project to raise the last $10,000 needed to properly complete the series. After the crippling failure of their previous Kickstarter attempt, it seems like a bit of a long-shot...

The Kickstarter page now lists "$150,000" as the goal, due by the 21st. This project ain't happening.

Maybe they can get a YouTube series; that'd be more realistic and accessible to the Asian fans.

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Posted in: American casting for 'Hana Yori Dango' (Boys Over Flowers) TV series receives harsh Japanese criticism See in context

There are also a raft of labor laws that make it problematic to cast children in entertainment with the same flexibility of an adult. Finally, if it's based on one of those anime/mangas that deals in underage nookie, there are no doubt regulations or at least industry standards that seek to avoid the glamorization of teen sex.

Yup, that's what I was logging in to say. Youth labor laws are much stricter in the U.S., so it's difficult to cast a full-time series with real teenagers. And,

...all this is is a story about a rich kid who stalks and bullies (leading to an almost rape) a poor depnendent student to make her fall in love with him. It works out for him and it's portrayed as romantic and idealistic... mmmh.

Yeeah, that's not going to happen on U.S. TV, especially if real youth were cast. Plus, The FCC (the media regulatory agency) has recently levied massive fines against networks portraying teens in sexual situations. They're in violation of "indecency laws". Most networks are not going to touch "high school romances" that star actual high schoolers.

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Posted in: Dominatrix arrested for practicing medicine without a license See in context

. In all medical facilities blood whether spilled, dripping, etc HAS to be in a sterilized environment.

That's an assumption that many people make, but is in fact, false. I've worked in clinical environments in both hospital and research settings. I was also a clinical safety trainer for 4 years. Blood is NOT considered a major biohazard, as it's a very inefficient vector for disease.

This is how you can get your ears pierced in a shopping mall by an unlicensed teenager. As long as the instruments have been adequately cleaned, the risk is minimal.

Of course, I've no idea if this particular entrepreneur was using rubbing alcohol or an autoclave. :-P

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Posted in: The importance of 'aisatsu' in Japan See in context

I have mixed feelings on this. I grew up in a region in the U.S. where such trivial-seeming greetings are absolutely mandatory, including the acknowledgement of elders/superiors in passing. Once someone finally told me the rules in Japan, life got smoother there.

I think I'm just bitter that it took that long for someone to tell me. I was out of the loop for a while, and my first Japanese workplace was not populated with "classy" people. I couldn't pick it up naturally. However, later, I saw that in SOME places, it really does help take the edge off the morning.

To me, it really all depends on the authenticity of the delivery. If someone, even if cranky and un-caffeinated, genuinely greeted me at work ("Yo!"), I really did feel better. I felt less alienated after that. The obligatory, grumpy "...AHS." often left me feeling cold. Ah, well.

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Posted in: Flipping classrooms: Is Japan embracing new educational paradigm? See in context

Many PRIVATE schools in the U.S. ALREADY have their entire curriculum, worksheets, etc. on iPads. No textbooks required.

Most public schools in my region went in that direction a few years ago. The students take the pads with them when they graduate, too; they're not returned to the schools. Once a few districts were able to prove that it's a money-saver, the movement snowballed.

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Posted in: 1 in 3 Japanese women want to be housewives: poll See in context

"Once again we have people getting their knickers in a twist over other folks' lifestyle choices."

That's just it, isn't it? Personally, I respect others' choices to be housewives, full-time employees, or both (alternating). However, there IS no choice in this country. The entire system is stacked against females who attempt a career.

Hard facts aside, we have our anecdotes. Mine involve Japanese female professionals working in the west. I know quite a few professors, scientists, and artists who became permanent residents of other nations to advance their careers. There's even one in my family; she creates TV special effects.

Sure, they could have JOBS in Japan, but would never be able to advance in their chosen fields (or be paid a decent wage an any field). These women make huge sacrifices in order to follow their passions, raise their children well, and make serious money. The fact that they must say goodbye to their friends, family, and country in order to do that is sad. I can't see this situation remaining like this forever, though. Things are going to change.

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