Monday, July 29, 2013

What's In Store - Cookiyo-e

I don't have a store but if I did, I would sell these:


Related post: The Cone Zone

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Election All a Blur

In the aftermath of Japan's recent national elections, some disappointed supporters of musician and Green Party candidate, Yohei Miyake, have blamed the loss of the progressive campaigner on what they believe was a virtual media blackout. This week Twitter was aflutter with folks decrying the lack of media coverage on Miyake and as evidence more than one sharp-eyed observer has pointed to this photo accompanying an election story in one of Japan's three largest dailies, the Asahi Shimbun.

The front page of the paper features a photo of  Miyake giving an electioneering campaign performance to a huge crowd in front of the entrance to Tokyo's Shibuya Train Station. While the article mentions every other political party, it spares no ink on the Green Party nor its main candidate who is pictured on stage in the photo. 

Despite any obstacles he may have faced in getting his message across, Miyake didn't do too bad a job for a minor party candidate in an electoral system that is geared toward the big party machines. In fact he actually garnered more votes than a couple of his winning opponents and if that sounds a little fuzzy, take a closer look at that photo again. 

On closer inspection it would seem that the paper has digitally erased the words on the Green Party banner in the lower left hand corner. I don't know if I'd call it a news "blackout" but it does seem to have been a bit of a blur.

Related post: Fanning Flames of Hope

Monday, July 22, 2013

Learning to Relax

Craneview Junior High
Ahhh sweet summer vacation! This is the moment school kids clad in hot wool uniform pants and skirts have been literally itching for all semester long. It's hang time, nothing to do but kick back and chill out. 

That is unless your my son Jiro or one of the five hundred and twenty five some odd other young scholars who attend Temple Valley's Craneview Junior High School. Early this morning I found the lad completely decked out in his formal school regalia, including the wool pants, white button down shirt, tie, the whole works. Lunch pail in hand and out the door by 8 am, he was headed off to a full day in the world of academia,well at least a full day of art club. 

Craneview Junior High is where he and nearly all the rest of his schoolmates will be spending every day for the next two weeks and then on and off for the rest of the summer vacation. While they'll be whiling away the hours in club activities (and just about everybody belongs to a school club or sports team of some sort) they'll be learning a thing or two too. One thing you can rest assured they won't be learning though is how to relax.

Related post: A Sticky Situation

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sticks 'n' Stones

The Power of Words

Earlier this year the Associated Press (AP) was the first major US news organization to take a step forward in nixing use of the term "illegal immigrant" in all future stories. It was a forward thinking word choice by the AP, which reasoned that only actions and not people should be labelled as illegal. The decision will help put an end to the use of an expression that has shaped public perceptions for the worse. 

My local English language newspaper, The Japan Times, seems to be moving in the opposite direction. The paper recently used the word “mongrel” in reference to a Japanese person of mixed ethnic heritage. 

It’s a loaded expression and one that, as The Japan Times noted in a previous story, triggered a minor uproar when President Obama used it merely in reference to his own ethnic and genetic background. 

I may have missed some subtle nuances between the lines but standing alone there after falling in the middle of the article with a big thud, the word just hit me like a ton of stones.

Related: Regret the Slur @MediaBugs

Friday, July 12, 2013

Growing Cities

Going Green

Tokyo, like every other citiy across Japan, was once crafted entirely from wood. If architect, Michael Green, gets his way, a growing portion of it may be again.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fanning Flames of Hope

Election campaign "fan"
The heat of the sun beat down on the streets like a hammer on an anvil. If this was a taste of climate change, I needed to find some way to adapt and quick. Then there it was at the end of an outstretched hand. 

It was the campaign flyer for the Green Party's Yohei Miyake, the singer-turned-politician who is vying for a lower house diet seat in Japan's upcoming elections. Most importantly it came in the form of a little hand-held fan that maybe suggested change could be in the air. All it would take to start it all off was a feint breeze powered by one's own hand. 

I'm not eligible to vote in the election but if I were, I think I would
cast it for Miyake. I like the tone of his campaign.It's got an upbeat message that you can really dance to.

Green Party candidate Yohei Miyake 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Pain in the Neck

Interview with an Orthopedist

Stack the Bones Game
 We were hitting it off just fine, the backbone doctor and I. I liked the direction of the conversation. It pointed directly at me and my minor medical ailment.* He spoke English right from the start which gave me ample opportunity to use all the medical vocabulary I've learned while living in Japan

My sojourn here has given me a chance to catch all those missed episodes of the hit TV show ER, starring George Clooney, et al. The show was aired for a while on what I would call Japanese public television’s equivalent to Masterpiece Theatre.

I thought I really impressed the learned doctor with my mastery of medical terminology because about ten or fifteen minutes into our chat he suddenly shouted, “Let’s go!” The pop invitation filled me with wonder as I pondered continuing the discussion over a steaming cup of hot sake at some local watering hole. 

Then to my surprise the good doctor switched language tracks telling me in Japanese to “please stop at the reception desk on your way out.” The words hit me hard with the sudden realization that our conversation had reached the end of the line. The “apostrophe s” in his “let’s go” was entirely me. It was the kind of “let’s go” a baseball stadium usher might use if he found you sitting in the good seats when your tickets had “bleacher section” printed all over them (I would imagine). 

It really should have come as no shock that when it came to making polite conversation, he made minimal use of niceties. After all he was a bare bones kind of guy.

*I'm just well-rounded - Some of the best medical minds have said I have the body of a middle aged man and the neck of an octogenarian, all topped off with the mind of a child.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Meaning of Sukiyaki

Hear Kyu Sakamoto sing "Sukiyaki" here (on YouTube).