philly1 comments

Posted in: Japan enacts law to introduce flexible working hours for teachers See in context

...add five more days off to August.

Unless they plan to lock the schools during the holidays, adding overtime in April in order to gain 5 days in August is ridiculous as people don't take the overtime they're allowed because of peer/cultural pressure.

How about these measures?

Make it illegal for principals to require teachers to stay until they are dismissed each day instead of allowing them to go home when their tasks are done. Often they sit there "looking busy" because they must wait to be officially dismissed.

Make it illegal for teachers not to take the allotted time--all the allotted time to which they entitled.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Posted in: Forcing children to sit 'seiza' style to be recognized as punishment under new law See in context

Is it really necessary to have a law to tell people what is acceptable punishment? 

Sometimes, yes. When I went to school corporal punishment was permitted. Usually, if given the strap at school students were also spanked at home. By the time I became a teacher the practice was illegal and parents spanking children is not legally permitted now either.

I can do it pretty much indefinitely myself. It hurts when I stand up, because I'm old and my knees tighten up if I've been sitting in seiza for a long time.

My kids are not feeling pain when they do it - they are kids who don't do anything painful willingly. They just do it because that's what they do - they've grown up seeing others doing it, and they do it naturally without thought.

In yoga seiza is called virasana or hero's pose and is touted as relief for tired legs. However, if one is not accustomed to the position, it can be painful. In the early days when I first began to travel to Japan, I worked up to it by increasing the amount of time I held the position.

It can be quite comfortable once conditioned to it and stretches the quads nicely. That said, levels of discomfort in the position can vary as it depends a good deal on a person's natural flexibility, the muscular structure of the body, and weight. A light, flexible person likely will not have the same difficulty holding the position that a tight heavy person might.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Japanese company officially bans employees from licking fingers when handling papers or money See in context

Teachers lick fingers to hand out papers, too. Also gross. It's easy to wear a little rubber cap on the index or middle finger. Then handling money or papers without 'spitting' on them is easy. Cashless transactions are looking better all the time... .

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Posted in: Famed Tokyo sushi restaurant Jiro dropped from Michelin gourmet guide See in context

The restaurant is run by sushi maestro Jiro Ono, well into his 90s, helped by his eldest son Yoshikazu.

The restaurant is run by Yoshikazu and has been for years. Jiro Ono helps by presiding over the service, a role he had already assumed in his mid-80s. Thus he continued to give the restaurant his name and its cache. Once he passes, it's not even guaranteed that Yoshikazu who will inherit won't lose his clientele because "it isn't Jiro anymore." It hasn't been Jiro for a long time as anyone who has seen Jiro Dreams of Sushi can attest.

17 ( +18 / -1 )

Posted in: Tradition and technique meet in new match style incense sticks See in context

Lovely for travel when you want to enjoy the cleansing and relaxing effect of incense in a hotel room. Also a great way to time a soak in the tub or a meditation. Great idea.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Poor hand hygiene may be biggest transmitter of superbug E.coli See in context

Handwashing and the hygiene etiquette consciousness is seriously lacking in Japan. It mystifies me because so much attention is given to washlets or face masks or removing shoes but almost none to coughing and sneezing into the air or into one's hands and touching all sorts of surfaces touched by others with impunity.

I've witnessed those who do "wash" their hands dampen and flink their fingers before drying them in a towel carried in a purse or pocket. Brilliant. Doing so gives the offending bacteria a breeding ground. And the "good news" is that there are more of those under the fingernails than on toilet seats.

Though soap and water are the better anti-bacterial measure, I carry individually wrapped, sanitizing hand wipes and scrub hard with them when other options do not exist. The key is scrubbing as that's what dislodges and kills the bacteria.

It only takes one person to infect hundreds when handling mass-produced food or spread contagion. Or when helping themselves from the cases of deli-foods at the supermarket, or the cutlery, chopsticks or toothpicks commonly found in restaurants. That, for me, is a much greater "ew" factor than removing my shoes.

Zichi is correct. We also need to properly clean our phones and computer keyboards.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: 71-year-old woman arrested for killing husband, parents-in-law See in context

There is NO WAY anyone of that age should be forced into taking care of 3 other elderly people!

husband is ill and can't walk, in laws are too old to move, a 70 yo takes care of 3 elderly. Prison is better.

Yokoso Japan. This happens all the time.

Just another dog's body daughter-in-law who suffers all her life. She was likely relegated to this role from the moment the marriage was sealed. A colleague was already in this situation in her 30s with a husband who did not love her and a mother-in-law who was a mean bully.

When asked, my colleague expressed her gratitude that she didn't have the additional burden of children and that her teaching job required her to work long hours. She didn't have to sit in the house all day under these circumstances. Just another of millions of shoganai moments in Japan.

In prison she will receive food, a bed, a circumscribed routine and because of the attempted suicide, perhaps some psychiatric care that will allow her to tell her story to someone. That doesn't mean anyone will necessarily care, but she's already accustomed to that.

I have nothing but compassion for this poor woman and a great deal of disquiet over a society which perpetuates the mindsets which allow it to happen.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Posted in: Hyatt will remove small bottles from hotel bathrooms by 2021 See in context

There's no reason to place such toiletries in every room in hotels. If upscale places don't want to install the large, wall-mounted options (which is easily done with luxury brands as well), they could offer the customer a toiletries package at check-in for a low fee.

I don't know about other people, but I always carry my own preferred brands in the 100ml size allowed by airlines. Those easily last 2 to 3 weeks which covers most travel itineraries.

If guests have forgotten toiletries, Japan which has a combini within a short distance and sometimes within the hotel complex itself; therefore this perk isn't strictly necessary. Recognizing that it is not environmentally friendly and working to change the disposable culture which has been allowed for decades is a good thing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Top of Tokyo: Observation decks offer panoramic city views See in context

You got that right, JonathanJo. Though I've done a number of the other main views once, I go back every time I'm in Tokyo for that one. Bonus, a great indoor city view is included with admission to the Mori Art Museum--well worth seeing. Another 500 yen gets you to the roof. Gorgeous as the sun begins its descent behind the mountains in late fall and winter.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Simple can be gorgeous when setting a holiday table See in context

Throw away paper and plastic are falling out of favour, Zichi. It is easy, but perhaps a strategy that is obsolete. I know plenty of families who choose to go out for dinner and let the restaurant deal with the prep and clean up instead. They can concentrate on each other. Bonus, for the most part people behave better in a public place. Fewer chances of family tantrums that way.

I think people should do what they like. I know those who feel intimidated the moment something is "fancy." Or worse, they consider the host pretentious for "showing off" when all they may have wanted to do is to add a little glamour--even rustic glamour--to an occasion that is a notch above day-to-day ordinary.

Personally, I'm a huge fan of Christmas. I savour and indulge in the whole season from Advent through Epiphany. For that reason I adore creating a unique centerpiece for the dining table every year simply because it's something I enjoy doing. I do it even during those Christmas seasons I have celebrated alone. I'm quite happy to do it up just for me. As a friend once said to me, an occasion doesn't feel festive without the festivities.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Symbolic night with 'goddess' to wrap up emperor's accession rites See in context

Under force after the loss of a war a past emperor "gave up" his divinity. However, what he held in his mind or what his descendants or the people still choose to believe is anyone's guess. Maybe he made some secret "fancy fingers" or carried a talisman in his pocket which negated what he said or signed and made it meaningless. All that mattered was that his behaviour satisfied the optics for the occupying forces.

Just as it did when Admiral Perry "opened" up Japan by setting his guns on the nation, Japan has continued to maintain a closed shop. Try getting in--even if you are born here or have lived here for decades there are always new "insider" rules you discover. Even if you have Japanese ancestry, you're shut out if it's mixed (tainted) with something else. Sure, Japan is grudgingly happy if millions of you drop your tourist dollars here and keep kitty pawing for more, but after you've spent them they're happiest when you go home.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Posted in: 7 taken to hospital after mini-truck plows into group of children in Tokyo See in context

Don't tell me - a venerable elder who mistook the accelerator for the brake ?

The article cites that the driver dropped something and bent to pick it up instead of keeping his attention on the road. That's distracted driving. That has nothing to do with age.

Systemic ageism which has been entrenched and widely reinforced in societies world wide and with impunity since the 1880s has not yet been called out the way sexism and racism have. Frankly, that's long overdue especially since the science contradicts what continues to be held as fact regarding how people age.

Read the research, folks. Learn the facts. Remember it when you reach your 60s and are just fine to drive. We elect people that age to preside over countries and influence global affairs, but we aren't going to allow them to drive based on utterly erroneous beliefs and prejudices?

Better driver education, consistent reinforcement of the law, and severe penalties for infractions are required. People run amber and red lights or choose to focus on a distraction because they are not properly educated and receive no punishment for their life-threatening actions. If it works for driving under the influence, it would work for other infractions as well.

Do you know that people will crash a $50,000 car because of an insect inside instead of pulling over to get rid of it? Or because they drop their phone or are putting on makeup or they're making eye contact with passengers in the car? Put that way it makes no logical sense to risk personal safety, the safety of others or serious damage to an expensive vehicle. People do not think.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: 'Wearable kotatsu' lets you walk around in Japan’s favorite heating furniture See in context

The heat in the bag is probably more even than with a kotatsu. In those the shins tend to bake and flake while the back remains chilly (unless you aim another heater at it or lie down under the kotatsu). The bag probably eliminates the risk of burns for those who fall asleep under the kotatsu as well. Though I suspect that temperatures over 35 aren't ideal for the body's functioning while asleep.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Passengers, restaurants struggle with water cut-off at Haneda airport Terminal 2 See in context

A good reason to travel with individually packaged sanitizing wipes. You never know when you might need them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: 72-year-old man backs car into granddaughter, killing her See in context

I know his carelessness is responsible

In the absence of all the facts (and an incomplete summary of the facts in the article above) we do not know any such thing. Such tragic accidents happen too frequently, but to immediately pinpoint the cause as the driver's carelessness or his age is irresponsible.

That said, there are strategies that drivers transporting children can take to minimize the potential for a tragic accident. Two that would help significantly include the habit of keeping all passengers belted in their seats until the vehicle is safely stopped and keys removed from the ignition. Another is keeping the passenger doors locked so that young children who might be eager to bolt can't do so.

There are more things that can be done to mitigate the risk of accidents, but these two would be a fine start.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: Workaholic Japan has a Buddhist ceremony to mourn your unused holidays See in context

Good grief.....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Microsoft Japan’s experiment with 3-day weekend boosts worker productivity by 40% See in context

So 7.9 percent of employees prefer not to have the extra day off? This may be due to them being on their PC all the time anyway as since 1981 commented.

That might also be to have a non-existent or supremely challenging home life. Having to work long hours and obligatory drinking parties afterwards is a handy reason not to be at home for those can't tolerate their family members. Or without interests and activities of any kind, three consecutive days in a 30 square meter apartment may be unbearable. These may be the same ones who never take their allowed vacations.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: Propose to your loved one with these onigiri ring sets See in context

Add an element of fish to anything and everything somehow. Welcome to Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Japanese retailers to be required to charge for plastic bags from summer 2020 See in context

Just in time for the Olympics. Cynics R Us suspects optics minus real change.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: Waitress explains a baffling, annoying part of kimono dress codes at many Japanese restaurants See in context

Oh japan...

Nearly impossible to comprehend. It's always something. Even after 35 years I encounter a new quirky, inexplicably ridiculous rule...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Police say body may be hiker who fell on Mt Fuji while live-streaming See in context

Being stupid does not equal a death sentence. How can they not find him considering that there are fixed trails up Mt. Fuji?

Alas, sometimes it does. As he slipped and fell off a narrow trail while climbing alone without proper equipment, much less a satellite-inked signaling device, the question seems odd.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Tokyo 2020 marathon move decision 'final', says IOC's Coates See in context

"There are voices among Tokyo residents who want explanations as to why this situation is occurring, and if a word from on high simply decides everything," she said.

Here's why: Welcome to culture clash, Tokyo. You're simply witnessing a foreign management style. That's how many organizations decide things. Someone with the authority to do so changes course midstream without consultation of any kind and the team gets on with making it happen. Of course, that method of decision making is foreign to Japan which relies on meetings and pre-meeting meetings before any question can be settled.

The IOC is a body which works in that manner and they make all the final decisions concerning the Olympics whatever country they are in. It's part of the agreement between the host country and the IOC. No input is necessary. Call it arrogance if you like, but that's how it is.

That does not satisfy the question of why the IOC gave the games to Tokyo at the height of summer in the first place. That quite mystifies me. However, now that they have, they're in charge and no number of locals who want explanations will make any difference.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Posted in: Typhoon highlights need for multilingual disaster alerts in Japan See in context

So many good points being made here. Would that a task force were collecting them and putting them into practice.

For an average tourist who gets caught in a disaster, good luck. For non-Japanese who have lived here a long time, it's possible to have support systems, apps and all you need in place. A card listing iphone and android options for emergency apps, weather trackers and the like in multiple languages should be given to everyone stepping off a plane or ship.

For someone like me who has lived in Japan for short term intervals of several months at a time with long intervals in between, it's not that easy to be or stay up to speed.

That vulnerability increases for anyone who is not super tech savvy. Many of the SIM cards visitors can obtain won't permit the use of such apps and links. If they were required to provide such options by law, that would help somewhat.

However, if power is out and your charge is drained, it's not much help in trying to determine what to do. I would find it helpful and reassuring for hotels and short term rental properties to be required by law to provide an earthquake/emergency bag along with a map to the nearest evacuation center in each suite. Secure it with a damage deposit if need be, but make it available.

None of this would be that difficult to do. Though it might not save every life, it would save some.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Sarcastic Koike says: Let's hold Olympic marathon on Russian-held islands See in context

"It came out of the blue," Koike is also quoted by the official as saying at the gathering of the Tokyo branch of the nation's largest labor organization, in an apparent expression of displeasure over the IOC's plan.

That explains it. There wasn't a pre-meeting (never mind multiple pre-meetings). The cultural difference between opting to change on the fly and thwarting change that does not proceed through established channels.

The quip was funny.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Posted in: High on ease, low on nutrition: Instant-noodle diet harms Asian kids See in context

The noodles, which cost as little as 23 U.S. cents a packet in Manila, are low on essential nutrients and micronutrients like iron and are also protein-deficient while having high fat and salt content, Mutunga added.

Also important is that any flavour in the packets is chemical. Also unhealthy. Great money maker for the noodle manufacturer though.

Another factor to consider is this: About 20 years ago I learned of a case in Canada where a university student who was unable to cook for himself subsited on instant noodles for all his meals. He became one of only two cases of scurvy as a result.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Typhoon victims felt worst was over; then floods came See in context

Preventing floods is impossible. However, it is possible to rebuild on stilts above previously known water marks.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: Naomi Osaka picks Japanese citizenship with eye on Olympics: NHK See in context

 ...would she really be happy in Japan for the rest of her life?

She doesn't have to stay in Japan for the rest of her life in order to be a Japanese citizen. Numerous Japanese live elsewhere without giving up their citizenship.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Canadian father sues Japanese firm for paternity leave harassment See in context

... he's referred to as Canadian despite being a resident of Japan for three decades

Authorization to live in Japan and three decades residence in Japan doesn't mean he has Japanese citizenship. If that's the case he remains Canadian.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: JAL reprimanded for 2nd time over pilots' drinking See in context

At this point, government mandated, every pilot every time, independent, stringent pre-flight testing ought to be mandatory. First infraction of an individual should result in a hefty fine to JAL (or any other airline) as well as automatic grounding for a year with treatment for the person. Second infraction, a heftier fine to the company and dismissal of the individual.

How can a company play Russian roulette with passengers' lives this way and get a free pass?

In addition, passengers need to send the message on this issue and boycott JAL flights. Knowing what you know, don't assume that "Japan is safe," ergo so is JAL. Take another airline. Internally, take the train.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Foreign tourists in Kyoto reminded of etiquette via smartphones See in context

This should really come as no surprise. As most of you ought to know, Japan has a massive gaijin hangup and needs its regular fixes of news that show how badly foreigners are screwing up their country and corrupting their incredibly unique heritage. This will help them keep that needed feeling of superiority and put things right again. You should also know that no Japanese has ever done any of the things listed in the article because, well, they just don't do things like that or make mistakes.

Indeed. I'd love to see a study of national "news." I suspect we would see an average of several such worn out "news items" per week when tallied. Yawn.

That said, I once witnessed numerous tourists swarming and invading the personal space (less than a meter) of a pair of children (likely 3 and 5) dressed in kimono to snap their picture. The parents were some distance away and did nothing to intervene, but at times the children looked quite nervous.

I thought both the tourists' and the parents' action/inaction inappropriate, even reprehensible.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

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