Japan Today

Gramie comments

Posted in: Woman's body found in cardboard box See in context

@Mariam Just to make it clearer, I think you meant to say, "they are still ignorant of the cause of death". The way you said it, it sounds like they are not paying attention to the cause.

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Posted in: Mistakes managers need to avoid when dealing with newly hired employees See in context

"they are likely to react negatively to personal criticisms unrelated to their work, such as how they prepare food or the way they grip their pens"

Is that a sign of problems with the new hires, or problems with the stupid managers who make such vapid criticisms?

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Posted in: Japan expected to ratify Hague Convention on child abduction See in context


I don't really understand your point of view. You talk about how difficult it is for a Japanese spouse whose children stay in America, but the reverse would be equally true for an American whose children stayed in Japan.

I'm also Roman Catholic, but in the process of getting a divorce (and then an annulment) from my Japanese wife. You may have faith in your spouse to do the right thing, but when your spouse has attempted to kill each of your children (and held a kitchen knife at your throat), threatened suicide multiple times in front of the children, told your children "I wish you were dead", and many other things, then for the safety and wellbeing of the children the spouse has to leave.

I find your logic so tortured and bizarre that I have trouble knowing how to answer. It sounds as if you are doing everything you can to justify taking children away from foreign parents.

No one has suggested that the American way is superior. Many have suggested that the Japanese way is terribly flawed, because it damages the children and causes them to never see their non-custodial parent.

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Posted in: Humorist Dave Barry discusses writing, his audience, drugs and animal rights See in context

I've always thought that his book "Dave Barry Does Japan" managed to capture more of the essence (ridiculous and otherwise) of Japan than many, many more serious books. And it was based on only a few weeks' vacation here with his family!

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Posted in: Sugar can make you dumb, scientists warn See in context

@Thomas Anderson

My acne breakouts seems to be caused by high consumption of sugar...

Or maybe when you are under stress (one of the true causes for acne) you tend to eat more sugar. Just because there seems to be a link between sugar and acne, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

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Posted in: Series of quakes rattle Japan, but cause no damage See in context

@Debbie, there is no way that the gravity of Jupiter and Venus could have any effect upon the earth, in any real sense. Venus is 38-261 million km from earth, and Jupiter is 628-928 million km away. Given that gravity decreases with the square of the distance, I think we're safe from them.

The "maximal perigee", when the moon is closest to the earth, was last year (a week AFTER the Fukushima quake); since then it has been moving (slightly) farther away. Also, experts say that the moon might have a slight statistical effect on the frequency of earthquakes, but has a negligible effect upon their intensity.

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Posted in: Kyoko Koizumi to release album containing 30 songs for 30th anniversary See in context

I just watched Tokyo Sonata last weekend. I wasn't all that impressed by Koizumi's performance. It must have been hard, though, because her character was supposed to be flat and unemotional (I think).

Still an excellent movie, although quite negative about Japan's economic prospects.

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Posted in: Electronic dictionary See in context

Does it have ふりがな for all those pesky kanji?

That was my issue with electronic dictionaries way back in the early '90s. I ended up with the Casio Boss, because at least you could highlight kanji and see their yomikata. Of course, most users of these devices being Japanese, furigana isn't the most important feature.

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Posted in: Speeding blamed for pileup involving 8 Ferraris, 1 Lamborghini See in context

I can believe that the road death rate is much lower in Japan than in many other countries. First of all, the number of km driven each year, per capita, is very low in comparison. So many people walk, ride bicycles, and take the train.

Second, typical speeds are far, far lower. I used to have to drive between two towns in Osaka Prefecture, and my average speed was something like 25 km/hr. So many cars, so many traffic lights. At lower speeds, fewer people will be seriously injured or killed.

Of course, to balance that, you see young children standing on the passenger seats as their mothers run red lights....

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Posted in: Filial piety -- it's back in style See in context


I think that's the point. It's NOT the bride's big day. I'm not defending the mums, because their actions sound ostentatious and self-centred, but the idea that a wedding is the merger of two families is far more historical than our nuclear family pairing.

I don't advocate going back to paying dowries or bride prices, but my wife certainly didn't get just me at our wedding.

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Posted in: Employees reveal absurd company regulations See in context

My office did not allow personal items (such as photos of spouse or children) on our desks. Along with the usual trappings of a Japanese company, such as not using vacation days, staying until the boss leaves. I was also told not to associate with co-workers from other sections of the company, because my group worked with sensitive customer information and I could inadvertently let something slip.

Oh, and when I shaved my head, I was told bluntly that if I had been a regular Japanese employee (instead of the token gaijin in a company of 600), I would have been fired for expressing individuality.

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Posted in: A Geek in Japan See in context

For me, the book that captured the feeling of being in Japan was "Dave Barry Does Japan". He's a humour columnist for an American newspaper, and only came here for a few weeks with his wife and son, but somehow it felt true to me.

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Posted in: The Tourist See in context

They truly rich don't flaunt it, that is done by the newly rich ones.

"Only the true upper class who would have tat like that!" -- Basil Fawlty

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Posted in: The Stress-Free Guide to Leaving Japan See in context

I left Japan after seven years, and definitely feel it was the right move. The sense of ennui and hopelessness, emanating from jr. high students to the elderly, was painful. Maybe it was a combination of where I was (Osaka) and what I was doing (working in a Japanese software company) and who I was with (soon-to-be-ex-wife), but I saw so little joy, and so much frustrated longing, that leaving was a great relief.

There certainly are things I miss about Japan, and one-on-one the people are wonderful, but for my children and me living in Canada is vastly superior to Japan. Also, the future for Japan has very few positives. Population aging, infrastructure crumbling, politics sclerotic, economy hollowing, environment degraded almost beyond repair.

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Posted in: Snow white See in context

I have to agree that Osaka is the ugliest city I have every been to. There is beauty in Japan, but sometimes you have to dig a bit to find it.

That said, this IS a gorgeous picture.

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Posted in: Yuka campaigns for victims of domestic violence See in context

JulianReal, I'm not sure where you live because I can also say that my Japanese soon-to-be-ex-wife was violent, not only to me but to our children. She held a carving knife to my throat, chased the elder boy around the apartment with another knife, and tried to strangle the younger boy by tying a plastic bag around his throat.

She refused all my attempts to get medical/psychiatric help for her.

Now she's back in Japan and I'm in Canada with the boys. I'm just so glad that we split up here, and she didn't challenge me for custody -- in Japan, she would have been given the kids anyway.

I'm not disputing that women are often abused, and need resources to help them. I can find several examples from among my friends. But to say that women are always the victims is plain wrong.

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Posted in: Does J-pop really suck? See in context

There was a band in the '90s who really impressed me: Love Psychedelico. Pop, but with a '60s influence (as their name would indicate). They titled their first album "Greatest Hits"!

The lyrics are a mish-mash of English and Japanese, enough that I have to read to follow along, but not the "throw a stupid English word in at the end of a line" way that most J-pop does it. Kumi's pronuniciation sounds native in both, for the most part.

Sadly, they seem to have fallen off the radar recently.

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Posted in: Rakuten's decision on English not welcomed by everyone See in context

Those of you who work in Japanese organizations, haven't you ever heard Japanese co-workers say that English is more direct than Japanese, and that communication is often easier?

Or that when they switch to English, Japanese people feel less constrained by social strictures?

Maybe one of the motivations is to streamline communications and encourage more open discussion among staff.

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Posted in: Kanji catching on all over, but frequently misunderstood See in context


Can we see that pic? ;)

Your wish is my command: http://adult.engrish.com/2000/07/02/spread-beaver/


Well, unless she's a moron I don't see a 17-year-old putting a shirt on with a lot of foreign text on it without at least TRYING to determine what it says. "Vaginal' should have raised alarms if she truly was "innocent" and caused her to investigate further. Methinks she's not as innocent as you think.

The funny thing (aside from the shirt) was that she wore it once and I took her aside and explained that it was REALLY inappropriate if there were any English speakers around. I regretted not having my camera with me to have photographic evidence.

Then she wore it again my last day there, when I was taking pictures of all my students....

Maybe she wasn't as innocent as I thought, but this was a small town (by Japanese standards) and she was putting in a lot of 18-hour days preparing for university entrance exams, and I never had a saw of any rebelliousness -- or even makeup! She came to a class with one of her friends who was equally earnest and bland.

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Posted in: Kanji catching on all over, but frequently misunderstood See in context

My tendency is to be understanding towards people who make language mistakes when they are sincerely trying to communicate, but deride those who make mistakes when trying to get attention or use it for commercial purposes.

Although I couldn't help taking a picture of my cute, innocent 17-year-old student wearing the "Spread Beaver: showing the vaginal area" T-shirt. That's one for the ages.

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Posted in: 40% of child seats in cars remain unused: police survey See in context

Penelope Pitstop: "And yet there are less traffic deaths in this country than in other countries where the seat-belt and child-seat laws are better enforced."

True, but so many people in Japan use public transit. If you compared the number of deaths per kilometre travelled by private vehicle (and adjusted for the fact that the average speed -- outside of expressways -- is about 30 km/h), Japan would probably be at or near the top.

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Posted in: The mystical world of Koyasan See in context

Koyasan was always one of my favourite places when I lived in Wakayama. A glimpse of real Buddhism, which is rare in Japan. As I recall, you can stay at a monastery with (vegetarian) meals for a reasonable sum.

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Posted in: Traditional approaches to Japanese language learning are changing See in context

nylex4, I'll second that.

I used to work at a Japanese company in Osaka. Out of 600 employees, an American and I were the only foreigners. His Japanese was basic (few kanji, only simple sentences), whereas mine was -- while not perfect -- better. His understanding of Japanese customs and manners was also relatively limited.

Many of the people in the company seemed more comfortable dealing with him than me, and I honestly believe it was because he fitted the preconception of "gaijin" whereas I was uncomfortably occupying a space in between stereotypes.

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