Dokodemo Door!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Haven't made a new post in a while

That's because I've been extremely busy over the past few weeks.

New courses, new students and new classes in a new program. There are also new computer systems to learn, new procedures to follow and new co-workers that I have to get a feel for.

All of this means that I often feel under the gun.

For the sake of updating every now and then, I feel the need to put-up a useless tidbit...

Did you ever hear of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party? It's a bit of a misnomer.

First, it's conservative.

Second, it has a number of anti-democratic tendencies.

And third, it's more of a patronage-allocation system than a party.

But calling it the Conservative Anti-democratic Patronage-Allocation System wouldn't be a winning proposition, I suppose.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Let's English! #5

You need to look really closely...

And, no, I didn't try the number.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The best darn collection of O-hanami camera-phone pics in the whole, wide universe!

In springtime, the "cherry-blossom front" slowly advances over the countryside from Kyushu up to Hokkaido. And the sakura blossoms open-up for two short weeks...

Yes, without a doubt, this is the finest time of the year to be in Japan. Just on the heels of the teeth-chattering chill of the winter and just before the onset of the intolerable sauna-like heat of the summer, scads of shocking pink bursts upon all of the parks like an unexpected fever-dream. The result? The tradition of o-hanami: "honorable looking at flowers."

For about two or three idyllic weeks, the parks are packed with slack-jawed gawkers and one can savor the sudden onrush of in-your-face flora.

But there's also my favorite part of o-hanami... The inevitable weekend picnics, featuring gallons of booze!

Yeah, the picture doesn't capture it very well but, trust me, it can turn into a total Bacchanalia at times.
Relatively speaking, of course.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The humble oroblanco

The modest green fellow you see below is an oroblanco. Or, as they trademark them in Japan, a "Sweetie". It was gifted to me the other day and I must testify that I've never had one before.

According to Wikipedia, it was a hybrid fruit developed in a University of California laboratory, in an attempt to create something like a grapefruit, except not so bitter.

I have to say that the thickness of its skin made it a pain to handle and the membranes between the segments were bitter and rather a bother to separate from the pulp.

Frankly, the consumption of this thing was something of a nuisance.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Let's English! #4

Uh... what?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Journey to Osaka

This past weekend, I decided to hop on the train and ride over to Umeda in northern Osaka. I'd only been in Osaka one time before and that was on a Sunday back in 2003. The whole experience is a still a bit of a blur for me.

One of the benefits of living in the Kansai region is that it's centered on Osaka. To make a rough analogy, Tokyo is a combination of New York, Washington D.C. and Paris all in one. But Osaka, on the other hand, is a sprightly combination of Los Angeles and... did I mention Los Angeles?

Regardless, it's only about 25 minutes by train from where I'm sitting.

So I took the train and disembarked at the station. After 5 minutes of walking southward, I happened-across a Starbucks. Since it was still morning, I decided to stop-in. And after ording, I struck-up a conversation with the barista: "Near this shop, are there any interesting places?" I asked.

She sucked air through her teeth, squinted her eyes and looked at the ground for a few seconds of intense pondering. Much in the same way that Japanese often seem to act whenever they are asked any kind of question by a foreigner.

She directed me to walk southward, towards Osaka city hall. Yes, that is where one can enjoy the stodgy, old colonnaded civil buildings and banks from the 1930s and 1950s. But apart from that, there was nothing else that was really interesting to see in the area.

Right. Those are the most interesting places nearby.

What she neglected to tell me is that two blocks to the north was a 9-story shopping center with a freakin' ferris wheel sticking-out of the top...

And, in the main atrium, there were two life-sized, fiberglass pink sperm whales suspended from the ceiling...

And the rear atrium contained a stack of escalators designed by M.C. Escher...

Nothing interesting in the area, she said? Feh!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Let's English! #3

If you ever wish to consume a steady supply of claup without any interruptions, then this store has pretty much got you covered...