Blog

When a Man Loves a Woman.

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 9.47.09 AM.png

And then there’s this beautiful son of a bitch.

I concluded that I would be remiss if I didn’t showcase the real reason my family is currently living in Japan. It’s because of this foxy lady right here.

Not only did she join the USAF because it was the right decision to make for all of us, but her presence in this branch of the armed services elevates the standards of everyone she interacts with on a daily basis. I’m sure she might have something contradictory to say, but we both know that my keen observation skills are infallible.

This photo was taken outside of the Cocoon Tower at the start of the workday, in the middle of the week in Shinjuku, a city outside of Tokyo, proper.

Fun fact? If you linger on the sidewalk a little too long during this time of the day, you will get trodden upon.

Boys and Girls Together.

When I started this round of bloggery, I didn’t account for the fact that being on the look out for Japan and Japanese-related pictures can be a lot harder than it seems. This is due to the fact that I have to constantly be switched on to that setting. It gets tiring after a while.

One of the things I try to employ that helps circumvent this type of burnout is to look for the easily disregarded within a given picture.

img_7814.jpg

The picture above? I didn’t take it because of the people within it. The goal was to see if Google Translate would be a pal and tell me what the sign behind the group said. Google Translate was nice enough to tell me that I took a shitty picture and that I should fuck right the hell off with it.

Slightly grumpy, I stared at the picture and shifted my focus from the sign to the couples therein. “Well, the guy in front looks like he’s making a funny face and wearing a funny hat-maybe something’ll come to me.”

That was months ago.

When I came back to said photo, the only thing that had crossed my mind is that this group, these friends, couples, whatever they are… they look like every other group of ‘couples’ I have ever seen out in the wild.

  • They look happy.
  • They look like they’re having a good time.
  • They look like they’re enjoying the fresh air that their country of origin is providing for them.

That is to say that, people, regardless of race or placement on the globe, are basically the same.

They want to be happy. They want to have a good time. And they want to go to bed at the end of a good day knowing the the next day can be just as good, if not better.

Waltzing Mathildas

IMG_6982.jpgIt is no secret that Japan is renowned for their train system and how positively congested it can be.

I am originally from Cleveland. We also have a train system colloquially known as “The Rapid”. The Rapid connects the outer rim suburbs/cities with central Cleveland, or as the locals refer to it, Downtown. And that’s as far as it goes because riding the train in the States? No one does that anymore.

It feels a bit strange to think of it now but some of my happiest memories involved the Rapid. Baseball games with my father, countless concerts (one of them being Kiss and distinctly remembering:

  1. How packed the car was. And,
  2. A “gentleman” cosplaying as a member of Kiss joking with his colleagues about how if you stuck a cherry lifesaver ins his armpit (because he was standing), it would “taste exactly like a puss”),

my wife and I taking our son who was four at the time, and obsessed with trains on his first Rapid ride…

Cleveland wouldn’t be the same without the rapid.

Be that as it may, the JR (Japanese Railway) is far superior to the Rapid, in that:

  1. It connects the entire country of Japan. And,
  2. Full cars, while a bit of a nuisance if you’re traveling long distances, ain’t no thang.

“Really? A full car of people ‘ain’t no thang’?” You’re no doubt wondering.

Japanese people are unfailingly polite. Doubly so when they are stuck together in close quarters. It also helps that no one farts in a packed car.

IMG_6980.jpgAdditionally, seating in Japanese train cars is at a premium. Older citizens have priority. As well they should. They kick the ass off of American elderly as easily as you scanning (instead of reading) what I wrote. Point of fact? There’s an automated announcement in English and Japanese, that politely reminds you to give up your seat to the aged.

And yes, I do this rather routinely.

What I don’t do routinely is wear a mask in public.

While I haven’t seen this in print, it is generally agreed upon that the Japanese people wear surgical masks because:

  1. They know that they live in an over populated country and they don’t want to fuck with pollutants or allergens.
  2. They, themselves, are sick and are therefore being courteous by not infecting  other’s with their germs.
  3. Other people around them are sick and they don’t want any of that juju.

Once upon a time, I was sick and I had the thought that I, too, should wear a mask because I had some place to be. I had a good amount of facial bracken at the time.

When I was done adjusting the mask, I took one look at the area that the mask was covering and said out loud to no one because I was alone at the time “That looks like a fresh diaper on a fat, hairy ass.”

I took the mask off, threw it in the trash, and left the house determined to infect everyone I came into contact with.

Doing Everything a Particle Can…

 

IMG_7808.jpg“… Gosh that was a lot of stairs. Bet those Tengu spirits never had to deal with stairs and inclines, and sweatiness. They probably could just think of where they wanted to be, blink, and then be there. Wonder if one of them ever tried it, got it wrong, and wound up shitting themselves? Boy it’s hot! They really ought to install an elevator on this mountain. I like cats. Ha Ha would never let me have one because she secretly hated me. But she’s gone now and I’m a man. I’m getting a kitty as soon as I get down off of this damn mountain.

Sound of Da Police?

Once upon a time, I was a green, American male, still getting used to living in Japan.

Then one day, my wife said, “You’re taking me to the Strawberry Festival”. After details and logistics were squared away, I learned that the festival was to be held in the warehouse district of central Yokohama.

SPOILER: it wasn’t really a ‘festival’ like most American’s think of festivals ala Lollapalooza, every Medieval Fair, etc. It’s was a big ass tent that had food vendors (who were selling strawberry themed confections) and almost the entire population of central Japan. It was my first experience with the phenomena of Japanese crowds.  Pretty terrifying. Strawberries were good though.

Never having gone to a ‘city’ in Japan yet, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. After embarking on a long ass train ride that was filled with what felt like an insane number of transfers, we had finally gotten to our destinations.

I couldn’t have given less of a fuck about the strawberries. I had finally gotten to see what a Japanese city was like. Pretty. Fucking. Dope.

Crazy architecture!

The Bay of Yokohama (The first time I had seen a significant body of water since we had left Florida)!

People sleeping on benches in the train stations because it’s easier/more affordable than turning on the heat during the day in the abode!

A man out of his vehicle, yelling at the cops (who were in their vehicle, behind him) who had pulled him over for some reason.

Wait: what?

screen-shot-2018-01-31-at-9-19-16-am.png

That’s right, what you’re looking at is a quick photo I managed of a Japanese man tearing the cops a new asshole and not being put in a choke hold for it.

In case you were wondering, yes: I completely felt like I was in a foreign country when I experienced this guy going after the cops as hard and as loud as he was (we heard him from a block away, before we saw him).

 

SIGNS! SIGNS! EVERYWHERE THERE ARE SIGNS!

Signs.

They’re all around you.

They tell you what to do, and in some instances, what you cannot do.

In America, from what I remember, the signs spell everything out for you. For instance, speed limit signs actually say “speed limit”. In Japan, the speed limit is a number in a red circle, displayed on a field of white.

Crosswalk signs in America aren’t standardized but they generally have some sort of unisex figure combined with the word crosswalk somewhere on the sign. In Japan, it’s a blue, upside down home plate shape with a decidedly male figure that is either Amish, or in a ska band.

IMG_8238.jpg

Out with your pet in America? As far as I can tell, there’s no standardized sign reminding citizens that they need to pick up what their pets needs to expel. It’s considered common knowledge as well as common decency.

In Japan, that’s not taken for granted. How could it be? Especially in the more populated parts of the country…

The sign for that in Japan seems to vary. However, as you can see it’s a dog, in a state of expulsion, apparently dropping  new evolution of Pokemon Balls or announcing that it’s owner is really The Riddler.

img_8237.jpg

Big Ten Inch Record.

I have never been a fan of zoos. 

Prior to living in Japan, I hadn’t given it that much thought. There could be any number of reasons.

Maybe I’m one of those bleeding hearts who believes that all animals should be free? Not likely. Aside from dealing with assholes such as myself, I’d have to say that those animals have it pretty good considering that their life expectancy is generally double in captivity.

Maybe I’m (subconsciously) ethically opposed to forking over cash for essentially going for a walk in the park? Closer, but not relevant.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m the only one who can see that, anytime you go to a zoo during peak business hours, the animals aren’t the ones who are on display.

The below pic was taken at Ueno Zoo. I only had to spend 6 USD (for myself), cheaper than any other zoo I could’ve gone to back in the states. The price of admission paid for itself when I pointed out (to at least two of my kids) that elephants only have four legs, not five. My kids and I got a good chuckle out of that.

IMG_8047.jpg

For the record, there were three female elephants on the other side of the pen trying to stay way from poor old Babar.