Jetting around Japan

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Out-Japanese-ing

Haha! I did it! I out-Japanesed a Japanese person! Wow, this feels so good, let me just bask in this glory. Ahhh feels good.

My supervisor just came back, and he's wearing a short-sleeved work-shirt. Oh, and what's this? Cool-biz ended yesterday. He totally got asked "Aren't you cold today in that short-sleeve shirt?"

You don't understand, this is the equivalent of "Tomorrow, wear long-sleeves." The actual temperature (currently perfect, maybe high 60's) has no bearing on the comment. It's how Japanese culture works, nice and indirect.

And, who is wearing a long-sleeve shirt and tie, on this first day of non-cool biz. Why, that would be moi ;).

Actually just had a 5 minute conversation with my supervisor. He was worried that I would be getting paid for helping out at the Takko Beef and Garlic Festival this weekend. It turns out that it looks bad if civil servants are paid for helping out. Or, we are only supposed to have one job, and having another would look back upon the system. Or, something to that effect.

Either way, it doesn't matter, as I'm not getting paid, except maybe in delicious food.

Well, I have to be up for my 5:30am pickup tomorrow morning to help out. Oh, the things we do for beef and garlic.

またね。

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Quick Thoughts

Here are some quick thoughts- like lightning!

-I hiked Nakuidake last weekend with Matt and Andy. It was great fun. It took us 4.5 hours and we saw EVERYTHING. I'm really glad we ignored the guide who said it's 50 minutes to the top and then we're done.

-I read some reviews for False Priest, the new Of Montreal album. I disagree with the reviews that said, and I quote: "Barnes' lyrics remain a stumbling block," and "...mainly because the lyrics are simply too dense and abstract to enjoy in this setting." No. No, no, no. Intelligent, dense lyrics are no reason to dislike music. In fact, it makes music MORE enjoyable. I thoroughly enjoyed the nods to Greek and Nordic mythology in Of Montreal's previous albums. It raises the level of music to give a line or two to sing about Tristan and Isolde to describe one's sadness without actually saying "I'm sad." Intelligent music is a way to fight against the bevy of sugar-pop and gangster-rap lyrics that saturate the airwaves. You should be giving them points, reviewers, not taking points away.

-Politics. Ugh. I read sections of "A Pledge to America" earlier today. Distorted facts, ignoring evidence, and quoting things from a year ago that have changed- these are things I've come to expect, which, in itself, is quite terrifying. If this system were to act as it should, this shouldn't be popping up, much less be expected by a citizen. But, I expect it, and learn to ignore it. Both sides are going to ignore facts (or make them up out of thin air- going to factcheck.org is quite fun). But what really angered me was that there were NO concrete plans. Just vague ambiguities, like:

"• Cut Congress’ Budget: This year, Congress increased its own budget by 5.8 percent at a time when families and small businesses across the country are cutting back. We will make Congress do more with less by significantly reducing its budget. "

That's it. That is what sickens me. Putting up a series of vague promises on what you will do. Maybe I'm too concrete, or too details-oriented. I need to know how and what the plan is.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

2nd Year, Done

Hey guys,

I officially have been here for 2 years. Woohoo! *Balloons and confetti fly down from the ceiling above my desk* It's official, I got my paper today, a contract for the renewal of my position. Man, in a year, it'll be 3 years here. It's hard to believe, but it's true. Well, thanks for reading this. Now, I don't want to waste any more time- between studying, looking at options for my future, and reading up on Starcraft 2, I've quite busy, even though it's all office days here.

See you!
Greg

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lol is for Lolita

The automatic text predictor on my computer is helpful when typing Japanese. But when it comes to English...I get some weird things. The first suggestion it gives with typing "lol-" is "LOLITA." There's already a stereotype that asian men are perverted. This doesn't help.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Like an Album's Filler Song

Hey guys,

I'm moving apartments! Ever since my explode-y shower has been unreliable, starting in January, I have been going to the gym shower and the onsen. Because of this, I am moving to the apartment building across from me. It is exactly the same as the place I'm in now, plus or minus some interesting developments. Plus: The view is nicer. Minus: I haven't found a place I can hook up my washing machine. Plus: I just cleaned it with my friends, so it's probably a lot cleaner than my current apartment. Minus: There's someone next door, who's living room and bedroom are flush against mine. I've got to finish packing up my old stuff and moving it. I have until next Monday. Oy vey. ね。

Not much else to write about. It's getting warmer and warmer. I'm looking forward to Cool Biz soon. Then I can stop wearing these long-sleeved shirts.

I wanted to write something clever for you. It's just not meant to be. I'll let you know when it omes ;).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Backstreet's back, all right!

Now, to interrupt the long delay between posts with this important update:

I was at school yesterday, going to the lunchroom. I got in line with the other students. I took my milk, my soup bowl, and I was reaching for a bowl of rice- one of the ones filled to the brim with rice-y goodness, but before I could grab it, the lunch-lady said
"Here, take this one, it's for you," and proceeded to hand me a bowl less than half-filled. I looked down in wonder, and my stomach growled in confused hatred for this tragic turn of events.
I don't know if I looked confused, or if the lunch-lady was just so darned proud of herself, because she went on to say:
"I gave you less than the boys," and smiled.
"Wh-wh-why?" I stammered.
"It was said that you don't eat much."


WHAT?! ME?! Is that the punchline to a joke or something? Or maybe one of the teachers thinks I'm fat and I should try and watch my weight? What is this cruel joke? I couldn't believe it, just couldn't believe it.

As you might imagine, my voice, which I am convinced came straight from my stomach (and hence the bad Japanese that followed)
immediately said something to the effect of "No, wait, no, I like to eat. I am able to eat a lot. I always eat."
"Oh, next time I will you extra"
"Yes, yes, please, thank you."

Crisis, possibly ended.

Yes, I came back to my blog to write about that.

Let's see, what else would you probably like to know? I sent in my taxes. Woot? I don't really mind paying taxes (well, easy to say when I get foreign residence exclusion). But really, when it goes towards things like police, who keep me safe, fire departments, who keep my burnable objects from destroying me, and education, which attempts to make me smarter, I'm ok with it. Yeah, the agencies themselves aren't perfect, there is waste, squalor, and corruption- but until we live in a world where psychology meta-analyses (fyi, I just had to add "analyses" to this computer's dictionary) can strongly govern the way in which we do things, we'll just have inefficient agencies running things, and people yelling that they are inefficient while they are proposing their own inefficient version of how things should be done. Wow, sounding a little pessimistic there, ね.

Umm, guess I'll stop there. I've got some studying to do, as always. Looking forward to this new word list I compiled. 行くぞ!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pasta!

I was walking during lunch with a co-worker, and we had a great conversation about how Japan is changing its textbooks to lessen (or edit-out) the truth of what happened when Japan invaded China and Korea. Here's a wiki article that's interesting.

Oh, I suppose I can't just point the finger at Japan without turning around and taking a good hard look at America. Or, should I say Texas? Yeah, editing our textbooks too. Though, I'm not sure why that first link about Texas doesn't include the part about them cutting out Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions. The truth isn't that god put us here, it isn't that we evolved after this Big Bang thing; it's actually that the Flying Spaghetti Monster designed us. Be touched...by his noodly appendage.

Is this post sort of short? Yes. Did I try to artificially lengthen it by including links for you to read? Yes, and no. I also think they are important links to keeping you informed. Informed about things you may not care about...meh. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to do more research on the correlation between the number of pirates decreasing and the global temperature increasing.

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About Me

Hi, I'm Greg, but you can call me by my Japanese name, Gureggu, if you'd like. I'm writing this blog to explain effective ways to do business with Japan and Japanese companies. Why? Japanese companies are notoriously difficult to understand, and doing business in Japan has a unique set of hurdles.

Why I'm qualified to write about Japan: I have worked in Japan for a total of 8 years. I worked sales at a Japanese import/export company (subsidiary of a much larger corporation) as the only foreigner in the company. Before that, I taught for 2 years at High Schools and 3 years teaching elementary and middle school in Aomori Prefecture. I have lived the life of a salaryman and experienced firsthand the institutions that shape Japanese people in their most formative years.
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