Life in Japan, food, music, whatever…

… again? 10 January, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnraff @ 1:13 am
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Watching our usual news programme on the box today just before opening up the shop, and as usual there was a promotion where some company offers a free sample of their latest product for the first so many viewers to send in a postcard. I suppose it’s good market research or something, and occasionally I might have got a case of beer if I’d been quick enough to read the address off the screen. I keep meaning to get a postcard ready for such times…

Today the “present” was 20 packs of Toyota Museum Curry.

Er, … what?  As you know, Toyota is a huge car manufacturer based at Toyota City, just down the road, and they’ve got a museum just outside Nagoya, with cars, I suppose. “Oh yes”, says T, “the Toyota Museum cafeteria’s curry is famous.”  (!)

So, having gone into the red for the first time since the war on their car sales, I suppose Toyota have decided to diversify a bit.


Happy New Year! 9 January, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnraff @ 2:37 pm
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Still blooming on Christmas Day, hibiscuses just need plenty of sun.

Still blooming on Christmas Day, hibiscuses just need plenty of sun.

The hibiscus flower is a sort of Okinawan emblem, but will do well here in Nagoya  – they just need a sunny spot, and a couple I had in pots in front of Raffles just kept blooming right through the summer. The recent cold weather was starting to get to them though, so after getting this shot of a Christmas Hibiscus I moved them indoors for the rest of the winter. They’re looking happier now.

Anyway, a belated Happy New Year to everyone, and all the best in 2009!


Bah! Humbug! 12 November, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnraff @ 2:11 am
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I mean, really, surely this is a bit soon? I feel more like Scrooge every year, but it’s still early November, Christmas is a month and a half away and already we have to listen to Xmas tunes in the supermarket, be wished “merry Christmas” in commercials on the telly and see illuminations and Xmas trees going up everywhere. Times are hard and I suppose the shops want to sqeeze out every yen they can, but I’m not looking forward to six weeks of this. The final insult is that when 25th December finally arrives there won’t be a trace of any of this Christmas stuff to be seen! “Christmas Ib” as it’s known here is the climax on the 24th, Christmas day doesn’t exist and the countdown to New Year will be underway.


Che lives 8 November, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnraff @ 2:19 pm
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Nagoya Grampus (football) supporters on TV today were waving posters with a picture of Che Guevara and the slogan “Pride of Nagoya”.

Thought you’d like to know.


Incident at the airport 6 November, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnraff @ 2:07 am
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There was a little spot of bother at Chubu Airport this morning. Someone forgot to plug in one of the 7 metal detectors people have to walk theough on their way to the departure lounge so, for the 5 minutes it took to notice it, some 20 people got through unchecked. Once they were in the departure area there was no way of telling which passengers were the ones who had slipped through so everyone had to be checked again. Some people had already boarded their plane which was starting to taxi out for takeoff, so they had to be brought back for a metal-check too. Some flights were delayed by 2 1/2 hours, but in the interests of anti-terrorism…

Just a minute – what actually would be the probability of a terrorist being among those 20 people, given that they would have been expecting to be metal-checked? Pretty close to zero,I’d have thought. On the other hand, maybe the person who left the plug out was in league with the evil-doers and told them about their window of opportunity. In that case, once they were in the departure lounge they could have hidden the knife, or whatever, under a seat or somewhere. The same goes for the people on the plane. Once a weapon has got past the check barrier it’s going to be pretty much impossible to find, so all that re-checking was quite meaningless.

Don’t think this is another of those “Japanese are brainless automatons” postings. I’m sure nonsense like this goes on all over the globe.



Guerilla Rain 4 September, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnraff @ 2:57 pm
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Guerilla Rain is what they call those sudden fierce downpours that seem to be getting more and more common. What we’d call flash floods I suppose. In July they had an attack in Kobe, where four people were swept away, then in Tokyo five sewer workers.

Last Thursday night we had a taste here in Nagoya. It suddenly started pouring, water came in under out garage shutter, and while we were nervously watching the TV news we noticed a pool forming under out living room window. I ran out and pulled off the dead leaves that were blocking the drain hole of our veranda (got soaked in the 3~4 seconds that it took) and the 15cm of water that had built up soon went down… They were saying later that in Nagoya about 100mm of water fell in that hour. Down the road in Okazaki they got 140mm, many houses were flooded, and again two people were drowned. One old lady was found washed up on the coast 40 Km away. More recently, some places in the area have had 400~odd mm of rain in 24 hours.

These are serious quantities of rain when you think about it. 500mm is half a metre of water spread over many square kilometres. No wonder little streams turn into raging torrents, and mountains crumble. While Japan certainly gets plenty of rain, this is unusual for August, or any time for that matter. The cause seems to be that the Pacific high pressure area that usually brings the hot but clear Summer weather has given up, swathes of hot moist air are coming up from the South and colliding with cold air from the Asian continent – right here.

Still, there have been no typhoons up this way so far (touch wood) so we’re luckier than people in the Caribbean who seem to be getting hit by one cyclone after another, not to mention India, where a river has changed course. Back in the day, everything used to be blamed on The Bomb, now it’s Global Warming, though that seems more credible.



Cloudy Tanabata 8 July, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnraff @ 1:43 am
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Today is Tanabata – a day full of associations with the Summer stars and the Milky Way. Unfortunately, on the 7th of July your chance of being able to see any stars is pretty low, as it’s the middle of the rainy season! In fact, “the 7th day of the 7th month” should really be by the lunar calendar, which would put it about a month later, in early August, when you’ve got a much better chance of a star-filled Summer sky. Some places in Japan have Tanabata festivals in August, but the official date is the 7th of July, i.e. the lunar date has just been switched to the Western calendar with no adjustment for the (about) 1-month difference. The same happened to the “first day of Spring” and most other events on the Japanese calendar since it was changed to the Western Gregorian system in 1873.. Apparently the current Meiji government saved a month’s worth of civil servants’ salaries that way, but we’re still living with the consequences…


The Rainy Season starts here… 3 June, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnraff @ 2:46 pm
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OK it’s official, yesterday most of Japan entered the Rainy Season. Everything has a season here (“…turn, turn, turn…”) but this is not one of my favourites really. The new green leaves are beautiful and lushness abounds, but you can have too much lushness and everything’s so damp and mouldy… As we get into July the humidity and temperature will go up and up until it’ll be impossible to use the computer without worrying that the keyboard will get shorted out by the sweat dripping into it. However, I once heard someone say that living through the tsuysu was the basis of Japanese culture (“梅雨のすごしかたは日本文化の原点”) so I’ve obviously got some work to do…

Summer is even hotter, but at least it’s a bit less sticky and anyway we North Europeans like it hot. Asians seem to associate heat with work, sweat, tired… but if they had our cold damp winters they might understand why we enjoy a bit of warmth. Actually, here in Nagoya the weather’s not really that bad. Winters are dry and often sunny, with maybe just a couple of snowfalls and some chill winds, Spring is beautiful and starts in March, Autumn can be gorgeous too and from late July to early September it’s as if the whole place had been transported to Southeast Asia ( the heat here can be quite similar to Bangkok, for example ) – like going on summer holiday without moving!

Except you have to work of course…


琴欧洲やったあ! 25 May, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnraff @ 3:14 am
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Hey, Kotooshu (promounced something like koto-oh-shu if you’re an English speaker) finally won a tournament! As a fellow-European I’ve supported Kotooshu, whose Japanese name contains the character for “Europe”, since he started some 5 years ago and rose up to the ozeki rank in record time. Since then, however, some injuries held him back so it’s great to see him beat off the two Mongolians Asashoryu and Hakuho this time.

Sumo, that quintessentially Japanese sport, has long had foreign wrestlers; when I first got here Takamiyama from Hawaii was in the news, to be followed by Konishiki and Akebono. More recently, the two current Grand Champions are both from Mongolia, which seems to have something similar to sumo. Of course Bulgaria, where Kotooshu comes from also has a strong wrestling tradition. I remember an Argentinian called Hoshitango and an American Sentoryuu too…

I just wonder what the more conservative sectors of the sumo world think of all this – it might be nice to have a Japanese Yokozuna (grand champion) too.


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