Thursday, March 31, 2011

The cutest!

"Happy Doll" sundae from Baskin Robbins, with "Easter Party" flavor ice cream.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Checking in

As I write this, my mom is cooking a sweet potato at my apartment while I'm at work. On Monday she cleaned the kitchen unexpectedly while I was gone. I like having someone to come home to and hang out with, and I'll be pretty bummed when she leaves tomorrow. We did a lot of traveling and there are a lot of photos to back up this claim, which I will show you soon. I've been better, but I've been a WHOLE lot worse in these past few weeks. Perhaps the onset of spring is making life easier, or perhaps it's that I have decided to quit dieting and start living. Realizing that if something doesn't change I will be both huge and looking at a full-blown binge eating disorder helps, of course. You can only start from where you are, and your friends will still love you even if you weigh a thousand pounds. I suppose this is my public declaration that I am going to be nice to me. It's about time.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Admiring the Japanese spirit

By now you've followed the heck out of Kyodo and BBC and Al-Jazeera. As fits the "charmed life" model perfectly, Fukuoka is almost entirely unaffected by the disaster at large. Unlike Kanto and Tohoku areas, we have electricity 24 hours a day, no earthquakes/aftershocks shaking us several times daily, our grocery stores have food on the shelves, and gas stations are operating normally. It is incredibly surreal, and if I believed in survivor guilt I would be feeling it. I don't, though. Instead, I intend to celebrate my own life doubly in thanks that it has been spared.

Today I gave blood. Tomorrow, payday, I will put forward a sizeable chunk of my paycheck toward the relief donation campaign my school is running. I won't waste electricity and I won't stockpile or hoard bottled water or batteries. Life marches on.

That's what I like about the Japanese. Unlike my countrymen who dwell lingeringly on tragedy in a very masturbatory and selfish way, the Japanese accept what befalls them and work together to move beyond it. Their powerful stoicism and strength has reappeared, easily forgotten in a sea of effeminate man-babies, a frustrating educational system and suicide-inducing workaholic corporate culture. Some people misinterpret the "perseverance" attitude as disrespect, but I understand it more as a refusal to break under pressure. In this perseverance I see unmeasurable bravery and pride. No one is running away.

Except the French of course. What's with that?!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tiny Dancing Man

This motherfucker is seriously about eighty years old. He hangs out all day long on clear weekend days in the park behind Solaria Stage in Tenjin, Fukuoka, with a boom box and creepy props like this clown mask and a variety of brightly colored gloves. He owns those shiny pants in more than just hot pink I'm told, and he is actually a really bad dancer with little to no sense of rhythm. I'm so glad you don't need a license to street perform in Fukuoka.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Cafe" music and パリ syndrome

In Japan, "café" is its own music genre, and it is 99% either chilled-out bossa nova or some sort of quaint take on a French chanson. Essentially, all that is domestic and adorable is equated to France here. There are not enough fingers and toes on all the polydactyl cats in Asia to count the number of twee trinkets, clothing shops, kitchen accessory shops, notebooks, stickers, etc etc etc ad nauseum that boast meaningless French. I don't know what you would call it...with English it's Engrish. Furansuçais?

Either way, it doesn't take a genius to work out that Japan has a boner for France - ah, excusez-moi, "boner" is rather inaccurate - perhaps a giddy wetting of the vaginal walls in preparation for getting boned on tour packages to the French capital. I have done a little traveling in France - been groped and offered cocaine in alleys by its nationals, sipped wine in spectacular vineyards on a beautiful summer day, smoked Gauloises and downed strong coffee, taken that tedious day trip to Monaco - all those things you do in France should you find yourself there. There is romance everywhere and it is a magical place - the Japanese got that right. But it hits a lot of Feudal Nipponese tourists a bit hard when they actually put themselves on a plane to CDG.

パリ/Pari/Paris is every Japanese woman's fantastic candyland of love, and you can't go anywhere in the city without running into gaggles of J-ladies carrying hazardously wide open shopping bags draped over one arm. With so many beautiful buildings, quaint cafés, and incredible shopping and style, the appeal is a no-brainer. About a million Japanese visit Paris in a given year. Unfortunately, as with any enormous city built on tourism and political unrest, there are obstacles that get in the way of Japan's vision of perfect bossa-nova France - sexual harassment, a sizable crime rate, racial and ethnic tension between immigrant groups, bums upchucking on Le Métro, graffiti (heavens, no), etc.

I know this was all over the news five years ago, but as I see it, no modifications in the Japanese attitude toward "café" lifestyle and tacking French onto everything have been made. So I'll leave you with a link to an article describing "Paris syndrome," which basically amounts to "Japanese people going insane from culture shock because their dream visions of Paris have been shattered." It doesn't take a whole lot to make people go crazy here judging by the country's suicide rate, and Paris syndrome doesn't surprise me at all.

(...This all came up because I'm thinking I'd like to go to France again soon. Japan has infected me. I just downloaded half a GB of Putumayo world music albums.)