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Posted in: Is tipping getting out of control? Many U.S. consumers say yes See in context

One of the great pleasures of living in Japan is the absence of tipping. People simply do the job they are paid to do and the customer pays the price listed (plus the increasing consumption tax). Tipping is a remnant of colonial times, when the better-off would toss a few coins reward to a starving laborer who did a good job. It's an insulting practice at heart.

When I first lived in Japan, I liked the surprises of little "service" gifts that many mom and pop stores gave to customers, especially at stationary stores. Thinking about it, I can't remember the last time I received a "sabisu" gift. It was like a tip to the customer, and I am sure we paid for it somewhere along the line. I am glad to give a "tip" sometimes when I have had great service, but I hope that tips go by the wayside in the United States where I now live most of the year the same way "service" gifts to customers fell out of practice in Japan. Swag never is free. Tips aren't free either. Just say NO.

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Posted in: Bus in Pakistan falls into ravine, killing 40 See in context

I used to worry about similar bus incidents when I rode on the buses in the Nepali Himalayas. If I was adventurous I sat with some other people on the top of the bus and we could look over the edge of the roads down into the ravines. Sometimes the cliffs on the opposite side of the road came so close to our heads that we all ducked. Pakistan, northern India, and Bhutan are scary for transportation. This bus accident comes shortly after the airline accident in Pokhara in Nepal and reminds us of the dangers of transportation, especially on third world roads.

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Posted in: Apartments with no bath or shower rising in popularity among young Tokyoites, report says See in context

I agree with the suggestion that this is click-bait for unknowing foreigners and would like to see how many Japanese workers would want to live in a place without at least a shower. I have been to many inner-city sento, and there are/were many that were as grungy looking as the article's picture of a bath with the mold on the wall. There is a certain charm with going to a nice sento from time to time, perhaps every night for a while if it is close, but that does not diminish the need for something to wash in at home. What happens when you have diarrhea or some other illness and need to wash multiple times a day? Or when it is really cold, or when a typhoon comes? And where will you wash any larger things in your house that need washing and you can't fit in the little kitchen sink? I could understand, maybe, an article about apartments with common kitchens and indoor hallways and communal showers and toilets down the hall than no showers at all, and that still would be a big inconvenience. Real estate companies could advertise them as inner city dorms. Next we will see SoraNews 24 suggesting that people should go back to the era of non-flush toilets and talking about how much cheaper they are waterwise.

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Posted in: Coming-of-Age Day ceremonies held across Japan See in context

I remember my 成人式 almost 50 years ago now. I still have the ceremonial flower vase I received in Nagoya. How time flies! No masks back then unless you had an active cold or hay fever. And plenty of smiling faces.

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Posted in: Japan's 'Little Trains that Could' battle for survival See in context

I've ridden trains in Japan since I first visited in 1971. They are marvelous people-movers in the urban areas. They do offer beautiful views in rural areas where they are built up a bit from valley floors and give glimpses of the byegone eras of Japan. Now when I visit, I wonder how they still exist in many areas of Japan. I also think this of several bus lines that have replaced trains. As a visitor without a car, I depend on the rural trains or buses to see the countryside and get to often end-of-line hot springs. But the economics are not on the side of these relics. In December I was looking at akiya (vacant old houses) and wondering about buying one as a fall retreat for my annual trips to Japan. When I spoke to neighbours at two of the places I had my eyes on, they said that they disliked the rural areas because it took so long to drive to areas to do serious shopping. This was for groceries. When I do the math, I cannot justify living in rural areas with trains or buses only two or three times a day unless I had a vehicle. And having a vehicle for only 6 or 8 weeks a year doesn't make economic sense either. So, as a tourist I am glad for Japan Rail passes to travel from major cities to other major cities (although Peach and other discount airlines are often cheaper if I am not making multiple stops). I have to check time schedules to make sure that I know how to get to rural areas when I need to. And I maintain my Japanese Driver's License for the times when I rent a car to go to places that don't have public transportation any more. I miss the old train route that no longer exist.

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Posted in: Snow piles deep in northern Japan; 3 dead See in context

Just in time for the annual trip by car from Ishikawa to Aomori to visit my wifes family for new years. Hopefully driving will be a lot better next week.

Good luck.

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Posted in: Tokyo unwitting host to Chinese 'police station,' report says See in context

Deport them immediately as Persona non grata!!!

Arrest them and send them to deportation centers. Then deport them after a few months.

Imagine China allowing Japan to set up a police station within its boundaries? I don't think so.

quiet! Do tell China what USAID really does.

In addition to repressing dissidents, the CCP used police stations abroad to propagate propaganda and influence while also gathering intelligence there.

Any non diplomatic location these are functioning from should be immediately closed down and those working there arrested, those having committed crimes in the jurisdiction prosecuted and imprisoned, the rest deported forthwith. Any consulate involved closed and any diplomatic staff requested be removed and if not, declared persona non grata. A clear, unambiguous and very firm message needs to be sent to China, or they will just keep pushing further and further.

Well, well, well. I heard from Chinese students in Osaka in the late 1980s about the 'student monitors' in Chinese consulates and the embassy, and names of particular Chinese diplomats, who were enforcing Chinese standards on the Chinese students and on their families back in China. Many embassies have Legal Attaches assigned that work for their Ministries or Departments of Justice. ostensibly to coordinate with host country counterparts or Educational Attaches who work with host country counterparts and also with Fulbright-type scholars or JICA/USAID type foreign assistance programs. What in the world do Embassies and Consulates do abroad if they are not 'advising' their citizens and monitoring what they are doing when abroad?

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Posted in: Inflated airfares keeping Japanese nationals stuck overseas See in context

It is good to use miles, but we hope r/t ticket prices come down too.

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Posted in: Do accents disappear? See in context

There is no such thing as standard English. If nothing else, you will have an American accent.

I have lived in several countries on four continents, and ten different American states, and studied six different languages. As a result, I have a fairly bland English accent. I would expect to have an "American accent", but have had several people on different continents and different parts of the states ask where I come from. Some of them think they are good at determining a person's origin from his accent and are puzzled by my bland speech. As such, I question whether there is such a thing as an American accent. I guess the question of where I come from is significant, as I can't easily answer this question. Since retirement, I have lived in almost the geographic center of the United States, Kansas, but I don't think that has much influence on my speech.

Wow is this really a concern to write an article about?

I agree, Jennie. When I read the article, I wondered what rubes wrote it. I found it a bit shallow like the authors had cobbled together ideas from several articles, like amateur reporters. I was surprised to find that they were a professor and assistant professor of English from Kennesaw State University in Atlanta. I suppose that this is what professors of English have to do to increase the list of articles on their resumes. The article and professors don't write nearly as authoritatively or convincingly as the journalist, H. L. Menken, and the article does not hold a candle to Menken's outstanding work, The American Language, which discusses American accents.  Wikipedia says, "Mencken was an American journalist, essayist, satirist, cultural critic, and scholar of American English."

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Posted in: Foreign visitors in Japan surge after tourism reopening See in context

I am arriving on Friday for a month, and my Japanese-born and raised friend will finally be back to visit her mother, arriving on Sunday. She will be back for two weeks. We are both glad for the opened borders and are bringing money to spend.

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Posted in: Japanese town livestreams elected politicians faces to make sure they aren’t sleeping in meetings See in context

I'd like to propose this to my city council, too.

Many people shut their eyes in order to concentrate better. Closed eyes do not mean they are asleep.

It is not the eyes, it is the slack jaws and the drooling that are the give-aways.

This should be the norm everywhere after all its the taxpayer who pays their wages the need to be held accountable at all times..

I agree, broadcasting on youtube or something similar should be the norm. However, droll speeches and sleeping should not be the norm.

NHK is constantly bombarding people with stupid programmes about some gennojin going to an Onsen and sitting down to a meal which is explained to you in painstaking detail for about 20 minutes until the gennojin takes a bite and then growls "UMAI" or squeals "OISHI" depending on the gender, and then for the next 30 minutes they spend time talking about that one morsel.

Yup, and the NHK police are breathing down peoples' necks trying to make sure everyone with a television pays the NHK fee "tax" to continue to bombard stupid programs.

A brilliant idea, I dont know how much they get paid in japan but in the UK its also a BIG problem as they get paid a lot of money on a daily basis. After an initial warning they should lose their jobs, the next time that they fall a sleep.

Then again, if their drooling face photos are used by the opposition in the next political campaign, they could find their jobs gone.

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Posted in: Children troubled by parents' religion want 'exit' system, survey shows See in context

Anyone know where to find this Social Research Action Chiki Lab study? I see that Kyodo published the original article in English and JapanToday and Colors of India repeated the article in parts. I would like to read the original article.

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Posted in: Japan syphilis cases top 10,000 this year for first time since 1999 See in context

Surely a country that can control COVID transmissions by having everyone wear masks can control STD transmissions. I wonder what the age distribution is for the increased STD incidents. Is this from a lack of experience or from too much experience and disregarding safety protocols?

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Posted in: Tokyo police to issue ‘red tickets’ to cyclists violating traffic laws See in context

Great for Tokyo if this means real bicycle law enforcement. Bicycle usage is a great indicator of how well Japanese obey laws. And foreigners observe how Japanese ride bicycles and take the same liberties. When in Rome, do as the Romans and all that fodderal.

So, what about the rest of the country? Enforce bicycle laws throughout the country. The problem is as bad in other cities as it is in Tokyo. It is often difficult for pedestrians to avoid the bicyclists with umbrellas, cell phones, and cigarettes all in their hands at the same time. Pedestrian beware is my motto when I am walking. Unfortunately, when I am driving, I have to be extra aware because pedestrians and bicyclists are not aware and do not follow their laws, either.

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Posted in: U.S. commits to steady presence in Okinawa as F-15 jets retired See in context

Wowsers. I was there when there were F-4 Phantoms and the F-15 was just being introduced. This makes me feel old. If the F-15 replacements will be there on rotation, it might indicate that the units will only be in Okinawa on a temporary basis, and fewer families will be in Okinawa with the Air Force, lessening the number of off-base housing units needed and reducing the American footprint around Kadena. Would that be good, or bad, for Okinawa City and the surrounding area?

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Posted in: 2 die in vehicle collision in Hokkaido after car hits deer See in context

 Why are drivers not driving slowly and with care? A poor deer which perhaps was very young was killed. And two men were killed.

There are no indications here that either of the drivers were speeding or were careless. Deer are unpredictable and often dart out without looking both ways before crossing a road. It does not take excessive speed to hit and kill a deer. I wonder whether it was daylight or nighttime. Yesterday I saw three dead deer on the side of the road where I live in Kansas. All were in winding areas with narrow roads.

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Posted in: What advice would you give to someone who has a job with a toxic boss, but can't afford to quit and spend time looking for new job? See in context

Don't burn your bridges before you cross them. Quitting before finding a new job can lead to even more stress than working under a toxic boss. If I am looking to hire someone, I want to see that they are still working even as they are coming to find a new job. I don't want quitters; I want people who are trying to fix situations. They are the ones who will help my company succeed. I don't mind people who are seeking a better job because of a toxic boss. I do mind hiring toxic employees.

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Posted in: Yen falls back to 149 zone against U.S. dollar despite apparent intervention See in context

Wow, what a surprise. No changes in fundamentals, just a bit of jaw-jaw.

Kuroda does not even need to hike interest rates but just to hint that he may hike them. He needs to be more ambiguous about what he will do

While this may make blips in the FOREX markets, hints without actions will only make for daily fluctuations. I expect 175 yen to a dollar by next spring/summer unless there are concrete policy changes in Japan or in the United States. And Japan is the only country that can make policy changes that really affect its economic health.

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Posted in: Foreign tourists react to mask-wearing in Japan, and Japanese people react to foreign non-maskers See in context

The ones refusing to wear masks are likely from countries that killed off many of their elderly, and they really don't care. In my country I've often heard people say "oh, i'm not worried about covid, it's ONLY killing old people".

I am now one of the old people. I don't obsess about masks, and I don't want to be killed off either. I appreciate people who are concerned about COVID. While I am not concerned about others' wearing of masks as some, I am concerned about people who know they have COVID and decide not to stay home for a few days instead of risking spreading it to old and immunocompromised people. Long covid is not a fun thing to have.

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Posted in: Foreign tourists react to mask-wearing in Japan, and Japanese people react to foreign non-maskers See in context

I would wear one throughout any trip to Japan if I was there now. Why? Because when I'm abroad I avoid doing anything that might upset the locals. It's their country and I'm a guest in it. I don't want them to feel uncomfortable on their own turf or that I'm in any way a threat to them. So I turn the politeness up full and try not to break any of the local customs. I also quite enjoy turning the tourist off every now and again, masked, with a JP flip phone, skimming the wallet-housed suica card nonchalantly over the metro exit barriers before heading back to my apartment with my groceries. Fitting in, however briefly, is cool. 

I agree with you, and am getting my cloth masks out so that I can take several with me when I return to Japan for a month in November. I will follow the lead of the Japanese friends I am hanging out with. If they take off their masks, so will I. Otherwise, I will have mine on, too. It is like using keigo, I will speak courteously and at a high level with people I don't know, and with friends, until they drop to regular language levels, at which time I will do the same. Fitting in goes a long way to fitting in, and not being the ugly foreigner. It opens many doors that otherwise remain closed.

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Posted in: Slain teen parents hope U.S. gun control fight will continue, 30 years on See in context

After the boys went to the back of Peairs's house dressed in Halloween costumes, he ordered them to "Freeze!" Hattori apparently did not understand the command, moved toward him, and was shot.

I stand by my statement that Hattori and his colleague were trespassing. Do you think they would have been better off if American houses were built behind cement walls surrounding the property, with kekko boxes at the closed and locked gates? And like in some places in Okinawa, with the walls high and barbed wire on the top of the walls? Thank goodness that we don't have such walls around our houses here in Kansas.

This was a tragic incident for all. Guns lead to more tragic deaths than legitimate self-defense, and it would be great if people only owned them for hunting and for self-defense, and if cowboys, sports hunting, and martial arts were not glorified in some parts of some cultures. Why does anyone own swords, guns, or weapons of war? But to ban all weapons is a zero-sum game, like insisting on unarmed neutrality in international affairs. We all have the right to choose not to own any weapons ourselves, but banning them for all people is just naïve.

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Posted in: 5 Kansai adventures to try this sutumn in Japan See in context

Is "sutumn" a Japanese turn on English words to mean the period at the end of Summer and the beginning of Autumn? Still humid and warm, but the trees are beginning to change colors.

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Posted in: Koike looking for tourists See in context

What a way to scare off any tourists, foreign or otherwise, who might be in Ueno at the time. I would turn and get out of the way if I saw such a group coming toward me.

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Posted in: Slain teen parents hope U.S. gun control fight will continue, 30 years on See in context

I remember this well, too. A friend of mine in Toyohashi called me because his daughter had been chosen to be an exchange student in the US, to leave soon after the incident. I shared his concern; and told him that, yes, many Americans have guns, and that it was dangerous to trespass on someone else's property, however innocent it may have been. Yes, this was a tragic shooting. Yes, language seemed to have a large role in this case. In the end, his daughter enjoyed her exchange year at an American high school. We are still friends, and I will see him again when I travel to Japan in late November.

Unbelievable that the scum child killer was not locked away. Only a barbaric nation would legally permit their citizens to shoot dead unarmed children. I hope the shooter had a tortured life in the years after killing Yoshi, and suffered.

I believe the fellow who shot Yoshi did suffer much anguish after this happened. Yet, Halloween is a time when many teenagers play pranks on complete strangers. It was a terrible misunderstanding all around. Both the American and the Japanese parents and all Yoshi's friends suffered. I hope that no one had a tortured life, but this was a tragic incident.

I can't imagine losing your child because they don't understand the word "freeze."

Yes, this was a terrible thing, and hard to imagine. Even harder still to live through, for the parents, the shooter, and the others tangentially involved.

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Posted in: One way or another we’re all rats in a cage See in context

We are not rats nor in a cage. We all have a free will.

True, true. Sometimes, though, we are placed in adverse circumstances not of our choice. What we do when that happens is a matter of choice. We get to decide how we will react when acted upon.

I am amazed at the number of people who seem to prefer constant complaining rather than working to improve their circumstances. Curt likened them to the rats that just swam around before giving up and drowning. Some people drown in self-pity and sorrow and seem to choose not to exercise their free will, similar to the rats. Perhaps their "cage" is partly of their own making.

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Posted in: One way or another we’re all rats in a cage See in context

So did these people actually sit around drowning rats or did they invent that story as a metaphor?

Nohara and Hashimoto didn't do the experiment, Curt Richter did. It works well, though, as a metaphor. More on the experiment can be found on the net.

In the 1950s, Curt Richter, a professor at Johns Hopkins, did a famous drowning rats psychology experiment. This experiment, though cruel, demonstrated the power of hope and resilience in overcoming difficult situations.

Summary by The World of Work Project

12 domesticated rats were used in Curt’s first set of experiments. The first of these rats initially swam around the surface, then dove to the bottom of the bucket and explored what was there for a while. It lasted a total of two minutes before it drowned.

Two of the other domesticated rats did roughly the same thing and survived for roughly the same period of time.

The other nine domesticated rats though did something completely different. After an initial exploration, they predominantly spent their time and the surface. And they just kept swimming. They survived for literally days before eventually succumbing to exhaustion and drowning.

The second set of experiments Curt undertook involved 34 wild rats. Wild rats are excellent swimmers, and these savage and aggressive ones had only recently been caught.   Despite their ferocity, fitness and swimming ability, not one of the 34 wild rats survived more than a few minutes.

Curt reflected on what caused some of the rats to give up and decided that hope was a key factor in the willingness to struggle. Where rats have perhaps been helped in the past and have hope of being saved, they will keep fighting in the belief that all is not lost. However, when they don’t have this prior experience, they will give up quickly.

In his own words he said: “The situation of these rats scarcely seems one demanding fight or flight — it is rather one of hopelessness… the rats are in a situation against which they have no defense… they seem literally to ‘give up.’

With this in mind, Curt decided to experiment further. Curt’s hypothesis was roughly that introducing hope to rats would increase their survival times.

To test his hypothesis Curt selected a new cohort of rats who were all similar to each other. Again, he introduced them into buckets and observed them as they progressed towards drowning. This time though, he noted the moment at which they gave up then, just before they died, he rescued them. He saved them, held them for a while, and helped them recover.

He then placed them back into the buckets and started the experiments all over again. And he discovered that his hypothesis was right. When the rats were placed back into the water they swam and swam, for much longer than they had the first time they were placed in the buckets. The only thing that had changed was that they had been saved before, so they had hope this time.

Curt wrote that “the rats quickly learn that the situation is not actually hopeless” and that “after elimination of hopelessness the rats do not die.”

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Posted in: Police seek public help over unsolved murder of 7-year-old girl in 2007 See in context

Am I missing something here? Is there some part of Japanese culture that I don't understand? What is the significance of 15 years after the fact searching for information on this cold-case murder? Of course, the family wants closure. Of course, it was a heinous act. Why the push now to find out what happened, though?

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Posted in: One way or another we’re all rats in a cage See in context

Why? asks Nohara. A cage is a cage, however golden. She concedes luxury’s appeal but knows its limits. She mentions a lady of her acquaintance, in her 70s, rich now but poor as a child, whose keenest enjoyments are bathing in public sento baths on free coupons they sometimes hand out in the street, and shopping in 100-yen shops. The moral of the story: childhood sets your standards for life. Too far above them is as bad as too far below. Wealth past a certain point is not satisfying but stressful, to say nothing of the stress of acquiring it, which is another matter altogether – not unrelated, however.

Yup, my experience entirely. My first shopping stop when I get to Japan is usually one of the several brands of 100-yen shops to buy a knife, cutting board, shampoo, and things I'll use for the next thirty days. If I find a sento, that is a next stop. I look for hostels or cheap minshuku. Childhood set my standards for life. I guess if you are forced to be frugal when you are young, it can help you to accumulate wealth rather than spend every last yen/farthing/cent as soon as it comes into your hands. The question, if you raise your children without the same frugality, is how they handle adulthood and having to budget and spend within their means. A cage is a cage is a cage.

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Posted in: Japan travel scheme rollout hits snag as firms spend quota prematurely See in context

Wow. How to use it, a practical guide for tourists?  I have booked my travel back to Japan for Nov 17-Dec 16. I hope that I can find some deals on places to stay that aren't for high-rise hotels in the big cities. I am reading about closed smaller places off the main tourist paths, just the type of places I like to stay when I am not wild camping by my favorite notenburo.

That's not what this article is about! There are plenty of Japanese sites that explain it.

Yubaru, that is great. Which sites do you suggest we read?

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Posted in: Dog shows up inside commuter train headed for Tokyo See in context

If in jam-packed train dog lose his temper, could become very awkward situation...

Just like any other rider in a jam-packed train.

Hachiko, he is not here, try another train.

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