Archive for April, 2009

NYT on Jackie Chan

The New York Times is also getting around to covering Jackie Chan’s latest gaffe. I read about this in the China blog sphere and I was rather surprised Jackie Chan would say that Chinese people need control. Yes, Taiwan and Hong Kong may be “chaotic,” but they are thriving and vibrant societies.

He owes his whole career and fortune to the fact that Hong Kong is a free society in which he could create films and produce films***.  Had he grown up in the PRC during the same time, it is doubtful he’d be an international film start.  The only thing I can make of this is that Jackie Chan might be looking for a government post in Hong Kong in the near future…maybe?

Although he was reared in Hong Kong by parents who fled mainland China, Mr. Chan, 55, has been an unalloyed Chinese patriot. He sang during the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, and he angrily denounced protesters who sought to interrupt the torch relay. During an earlier swat at electoral politics, he called the 2004 presidential elections in Taiwan “the biggest joke in the world.”

Seems like he really has a bone to pick with Taiwan.  Anyway, I almost died laughing when I read the following:

Apple Daily, one of Hong Kong’s biggest newspapers, used its front page to anoint him “a knave.”

A knave?  I haven’t seen that word since secondary school Shakespeare reading, but I hope it makes a come back.  Good on you, Apple Daily.

***(Speaking of Hong Kong film though, definitely check out the film-noir 2046 with the Tony Leung–Hong Kong film isn’t all Kung Fu)

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NYT: Nikkei Repatriation

The New York times is reporting on the Nikkei repatriation program finally.  I never thought I’d see the story in mainstream US media as the US is no shining star in the realm of immigration.

Largely removed from the PR-friendly city of Tokyo, in the prefectures surrounding Tokyo, such as Shizuoka and Gunma, there are large populations of citizens from Latin American countries with ancestry tied to Japan.  In better economic timers there were always puff pieces in the Japan Times regarding the multicultural spirit of the cities that these Nikkei immigrants share with their Japanese neighbors.  Of course in the Japanese language media the immigrants were never doing enough to fit in and causing too much crime.  Yet Japanese business owners and local government officials were happy to bring Nikkei immigrants to their city to work manual labor jobs in manufacturing and agriculture.  Some cities would have gone bankrupt without the influx of foreign laborers.

Alas, in bad economic times it does not look good to the public if the workers that government brought to Japan to fill the demand for manual labor are now collecting unemployment benefits. To get rid of this problem as quickly at possible–before elections perhaps–the government came up with a repatriation program that will pay a “severnce package” to the Nikkei immigrants and send them back to their home countries.  There is a major string attached, however, and it  is that the Nikkei immigrants must not seek employment in Japan again. Never again.

Let’s tune into Mr. Kawasaki from the ruling LDP party:

“Naturally, we don’t want those same people back in Japan after a couple of months,” Mr. Kawasaki said. “Japanese taxpayers would ask, ‘What kind of ridiculous policy is this?’ ”

Ah, Mr. Kawasaki, I agree with you somewhat–it does seem like a silly way to spend money.  However, I think you mean Japanese voters, not taxpayers.  After all, these Nikkei immigrants were also having payroll taxes deducted from their paychecks to help support the government and social welfare programs.   We could stop and accept Mr. Kawasaki’s answer as I suspect his loyal supporters probably do.  But we can also read that statement a little more subtley.  It would seem to me that when the economy gets moving again, the Ministry of Justice will once again issue new visas.  Perhaps next time they’ll follow the UAE model to prepure for the next bust?

Obviously this is a hard situation to be in for the Nikkei immigrants.  Some probably have children born in Japan, learning in Japanese schools, and probably know very little of their parent’s homeland.  Perhaps when the next economic boom comes along and Japan goes searching for ethnically compatible laborers overseas, the Nikkei are going to turn their backs.  For the Brazilian Nikkei, perhaps they are better off going back too–Brazil’s future looks quite bright in the 21st century.

“They put up with us as long as they needed the labor,” said Wellington Shibuya, who came six years ago and lost his job at a stove factory in October. “But now that the economy is bad, they throw us a bit of cash and say goodbye.”

He recently applied for the government repatriation aid and is set to leave in June.

“We worked hard; we tried to fit in. Yet they’re so quick to kick us out,” he said. “I’m happy to leave a country like this.”


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Hanging up my waraji

There really isn’t much better than a warm cup of tea, the window cracked open letting in the brisk wind of a spring night, and the gentle sound of rain falling on the leaves of trees and plants.  Who needs music with such a setting?


Japanese traditional waraji - straw shoes

Waraji - traditional straw shoes


The News

It is safe to say now that I’m making up a big life change in less than six weeks–I’m hanging up my “waraji” and going back to North America.  It has been a difficult decision for my wife and I because we’ve had to take so much into consideration, and along the way the global economy imploded.  In some ways it is quite scary.  When I came to Japan I arrived at Narita Airport with just a suitcase and the clothes on my back.  If I failed I could have  boarded a plane and gone back with no responsibilities.  I’ll be leaving Japan, however, with my wife and our four-month-old son, and the pressure to succeed and the risks are much greater this time.  We cannot just turn around and go back to Japan so easily.


I came to Japan with the goals of experiencing living abroad for an extended time, learning a second language at a fluent level, and gaining some professional work experience.  I can safely say that I have accomplished all of these goals.  I have come to realize and appreciate both the good and the ugly sides of Japan and the US.  There is a lot that the US can learn from Japan, particularly in the area of health care, and at the same time I think there is a lot Japan can learn from the US.  I don’t think I could have seen that if I hadn’t lived abroad and looked at the US from the outside.  For myself at least, I also feel that my Japanese has reached a satisfactory level.  Of course there is still a lot of room for improvement, but I’m comfortable with my level and I’d rather focus that energy in another area for now.  

At the same time though I also feel some disappointment.  Perhaps I had set my aims too high, but I had hoped to be in a better position in terms of a career.  I had imagined myself working in a global company and working on global projects by this point in my life.  Instead I spent all of my time chained to a desk in a building in a city too far away to take advantage of the things Tokyo offers professionals, but just close enough to tease one with dreams.  Regarding career, the only thing I am sure of at this point is what I do not want to do.  On the language side, I really wish I would have had the chance to get some private lessons at a Japanese school regarding the composition of essays and business reports.  It just wasn’t possible to get to a school due to the location of my workplaces, and even worse, the never-ending work load and long hours at the job.  Composition in Japanese is the one area where I feel like I haven’t improved upon much since arriving in Japan.

Moving Forward

The goal for the next few years is to gain experience working in the US and learn Americans software engineering and business culture.  Believe it or not, I’ve never had a professional job in the US.  I only know the Japanese system, and I reckon I’m in for some culture shock too.  At the absolute least, I want to have experience in the US so that if we return to Japan, I just might have better chances at joining and international firm rather than very small Japanese companies.  I hope that I’ll be able to accomplish more than just this, however.

I really need to find my place in a career, and I also know deep down that I have to specialize in something if I’m going to remain competitive in this world.  I have a few options that wouldn’t require a complete restart.  One option would be to do a financial engineering course and apply my software background to financial technology.  Another option is to do a digital signal processing course and specialize in communication systems or image processing.  There is also patent law, and of course there is always the tried and trusted MBA option too.

Of course such programs all cost a lot of money so they’re just ideas and options to consider.  Most important for now is building and growing my current skills so that there are more opportunities in the future that will help me provide a better life for me and my family.  

Uncertainties abound

Most uncomforting at this point is that I don’t know where the three of us will end up.  We’ll be staying with my parents until I find a job.  So I’ll be crashing on my dad’s sofa, drinking all of his beer, eating his tortilla chips and salsa dip, and reading his books–just like when I got out of the university.  But eventually we must move beyond that, no?  I hope I can find something in New York City, Boston or Washington DC.  I’d love to try living on the west coast in a city like Seattle or San Francisco, but with the recession in full swing and my operating base in the mid-atlantic, I am not keeping my hopes up.

This won’t be an easy relocation by any means. The timing is not in our favor, but we started the process before the recession and the window for opportunity is extremely limited by the draconian immigration policy in the US toward foreign spouses.  I also know it will be hard on my wife trying to raise a baby while I’m away at the office in a new land with which she’s not accustomed.  I’m sure she’ll have a lot to rant about regarding the US and American people, just as I have about Japan and the Japanese.  In the end though, we’ve agreed that now is the time to try this–putting it off only prolongs the waiting.  The only thing that I understand about mankind is that in times of great stress and pressure, we often rise to the challenge and even surprise ourselves.  I hope that will be the case this time too.

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Economic stimulus has arrived

It’s getting quite hot these days, it feels like mid-May and I wonder what happened to Spring.  In direct sunlight the heat is intense, though I do admit that in the shade the weather is just right.  Speaking of heat, the hotly debated economic stimulus package is being implemented all around Japan now.  It should be interesting to see how this turns out in a few months from now.

Rather than adopting a voucher system like in Taiwan and China where retailers and merchants accept the voucher as legal tender, Japan has decided to use regular currency via direct-deposit to savings accounts.  Each adult gets 12000 yen, roughly US $120 at current rates, and each child or senior citizen is eligible for 20000 yen, roughly US $200.  Critics of the plan quickly recognized that most people in Japan will keep the direct-deposited money in their bank accounts and not spend it.  Television interviews feature retirees expressing their concern over the rising cost of health care and uncertainty over the future of the economy.  They sit on hundreds of thousands of yen in savings and the uncertainly causes them to sit on their cash rather than spending it more freely in the economy.

I received the application form for my 12000 yen payment yesterday.  If I had received a voucher, I might be tempted to use it along with some of my savings to purchase a new suit or a new gadget.  However, when I withdraw it from my savings account via the ATM, it comes out as regular cash, and psychologically it is hard to view it as an economic stimulus.  It looks and feels like that hard-earned money I receive for working at my day job.  I do actually plan to use my stimulus money to buy a new suit, but if I didn’t need a new suit I wouldn’t be spending it on anything else.  I suspect this is the attitude is not uncommon.

Last year I received an “ecnomic stimulus” from the US government in the form of a tax rebate.  They mailed me a check for US $200, and I deposited in my bank account and it sits there today.  Even if I had been in the US, I would have probably saved it.  I cannot understand why governments like that of the US and Japan think that paying with currency is a good way to get consumers to spend money.  Vouchers force spending, whereas currency leaves the option for saving on the table.  I suppose one could argue that it costs money to print up and distribute vouchers rather than simply depositing curency into an account.  To that I would say that the government is directly stimulating industries:  printing, distribution, logistics and transport.  Perhaps even more.

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Akasaka Night

I had to take the family to the US Embassy for an 08:30 appointment this morning, and based on our experiences riding Tokyo’s transportation network with an infant and stroller, my wife and I decided to fork over the money for a hotel downtown the night before rather than fighting the suits in the morning.

My wife found a hotel in Akasaka, just five minutes from the embassy, that looked like it would be perfect.  For the same price as the major hotel chains, we had a room about three times the size of a typical business hotel with a roof-top balcony, super shower (more on that below), and a mini-kitchen.  It was perfect for us as we could eat dinner on the balcony as well as mix formula and wash bottles in the kitchen sink.  For small families this is definitely the way to go.


No ordinary shower…

Perhaps I give away my background as a Hachioji peasant from the outer rims of Tokyo, but I was quite impressed with the shower.  It had a bench extruding from the wall and six nozzles that sprayed water on your back acting as a light massage.  Overhead was a large shower nozzle that dumped warm water down in all directions.  All you have to do to wash the shampoo and rinse out of your hair is simply move your head around–it is a morning-slug’s dream come true.  The funky blue thing in the middle is…well, this:


The panel controls the fan speed based on user input and the temperature of the shower chamber, and one can also adjust the brightness of the lights.  From what I can tell you can also take phone calls and even listen to the FM radio (bottom right).  One no longer has to risk electrocution while listening to music in the shower/bath.


The view from the balcony wasn’t anything too special as it is only the fifth floor (or 4th if you count from ground floor), but we could still see many of the tall buildings and the breeze was not blocked by the other buildings.


We walked a few blocks over to the “Akasaka Sakasu” area to find some take-out to bring back to our hotel balcony.  This area is home to TBS television, HSBC (匯豐銀行) and a myriad of large national and global corporations.  Most of the embassies are just a five-minute walk away as well.  All around there were many foreign restaurants, both Western-style and Singaporean/Chinese, that cater to the expatriate professionals that work in the area.  There were already plenty of drunk expat “professionals” in the expensive-looking bars at 19:30, downing cocktails and talking loudly with American and British accents or even in German.  In the basement floor of the Akasaka Biz Tower we picked up a Singapore chicken rice meal-in-a-box from Hainan Chi-Fan and retreated back to our hotel room.  It is probably a very fun place for singles and young couples looking to enjoy the good weather.  Definitely check it out if that is your scene.


Akasaka Biz Tower

I particularly enjoyed drinking “the good water” while taking in the cool night air and the city night scape from the balcony.  The chicken rice was quite good too, and I imagine it must be better in the restaurant when it is fresh out of the kitchen.  One of these days I have to get to Singapore and try the real deal.


It’s good to be king

Alas, all good things must come to end.  Before we knew it was midnight and time to go to bed so that we could wake up by six and get ready for the trip to the embassy.  How time flies!


Damn it feels good to be a gangsta…

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Spring in Yokohama and Kawagoe

Liam has hit three months at the end of March and is becoming quite active.  He’s also packing on the pudge and we’re not so worried about him getting cold either.  As such we have been taking advantage of the nice weather on the weekends to take him out and get fresh air.  

The weekend before last,  my small family headed out to Yokohama, and the cherry trees were in full bloom everywhere–at last the grey winter seemed to be over.  The forecast called for rain around 6 PM, but we still wanted to go out and then rest on Sunday.  Despite some stressful episodes on the train, it turned out to be a lovely day.

Our first stop for the day was the Akarenga (red brick) warehouses.  The buildings used to be warehouses by the docks, but they were converted into shopping and dining area, with bars on the top floors at night. Before looking around, it was about time for Liam’s lunch so we found a quiet place and let him get to work.  Looking back on the day, one thing I have yet to fully take into consideration in my time estimates is the amount of time that is required for nursing and for changing nappies.  Finding a changing table has proven to be quite difficult in urban areas, believe it or not.  

Afterwards, we looked around at the shops, didn’t buy anything though, and finally decided to stop for lunch as it was nearly 3 PM.  Though quite expensive, I did enjoy the avocado burger at the Kua’aina Hawaiian burger joint.   As we finished lunch and prepared to go for a walk along the harbor,  we looked out of the glass doors and saw people fighting the wind with their umbrellas drawn.  The rain began to fall, and along with it, our moods.  We covered Liam’s stroller and decided to try walking while the rain was still light.

With a streak of luck, the rain yielded and we were able to enjoy a walk along the harbor and through Yamashita park.  I probably say it too much, but I love walking by the harbors or the sea.  It reminds me of my hometown area, Norfolk, which is also a port town close to the sea, and as a student I used to watch the freighters come and go at the docks and railyards right next to my university.


The Hikawa Maru at anchor — this ship has quite a history!

The river cruise boats were busy taking visitors for a cruise around Yokohama Bay, and even the Coast Guard and Immigration were out patrolling the waters.  We stopped to take some pictures near the Hikawa Maru and were encircled by a group of Chinese tourists.  Though it didn’t shock me as I’d learned of this cultural trait before, it was still interesting to observe it in action.  Elderly Chinese–well, let’s face it, “grandma” types–have no reservations about walking up, sticking their head in your business and checking out what you are doing.  I know they mean no harm either as they look on with curiosity smile and then move along with their tour group.  Nevertheless, everyone seemed to be enjoying their time at the bay: Chinese tourists, regular Japanese families, and various old men with their fishing poles.

The sun was starting to go down so we then headed for Chinatown just a few blocks away.  We stopped by the Ten Ren tea shop in Yokohama to pick up some of my favorite tea.  In Taiwan, Ten Ren is a chain shop and you can find them all over the island, even at Sun Moon Lake.  But this sole shop in Yokohama was very much a family owned business.  As soon as we stepped in the shop, the smell of old cigarette smoke seeped from the walls and overpowered any delightful fragrances coming from the tea on the kettle.  Luckily my tea is imported and sealed in its package!

Because we were still full from lunch, we stopped in a cafe to rest our feet.  If anyone wants a good business idea, open up a cafe in Chinatown.  There are so few, and the current ones charge the same price for coffee and beer!  I imagine the profits are quite good.  A warning to future fathers, it is always a challenge trying to explain that along with your coffee order that you’d also like a cup of both hot and cold water so you can mix up some formula.  It really baffles the young baristas, but luckily there is usually a middle-aged man or woman on staff who understands what we are trying to do.

Before we knew it the time was 8 o’clock!  We still were not very hungry still so we decided to pass on a course dinner and instead ate at an order-to-eat style restaurant.  The service was bad, the clientele were noisy, and the facilities were small and crowded, but the food was affordable, very tasty and we were able to try quite a few of our favorites.  In other words, success! We’ll have to come back to Chinatown for dinner again some day, perhaps when Liam is bigger and doesn’t need a stroller.


Little big man slept like a rock after his long day at Yokohama Bay

On Saturday this past weekend we decided to take Liam to the park.  Among the many nice things in Kawagoe like “Little Edo” and various old buildings, there is also an “exercise park” (運動公園) that the city has put together that resembles a North American community center, only much larger and nicer.  The park itself is a huge plot of land with a huge gymnasium as well as some smaller indoor basketball courts and exercise rooms.  Outdoors there are tennis courts and a large paved road that is closed to cars and is for jogging, walking or even roller skating.  There is also a full track-and-field style stadium that is used by the city high schools for track-and-field events.  For families there is also a huge grass area with slots of different types of trees that bloom in layers over the warm months.  After wearing yourself out with exercise you can fall asleep under a tree or have a picnic with friends and family.  It is just a nice place to spend time!

We didn’t go to exercise this time (we used to do inline skating, and I used to play basketball too with my former employer’s team), rather we just laid out a mat on the ground near some cherry trees and had a simple picnic.  I packed some pita-bread sandwiches, we picked up some tea, and then we enjoyed lunch while watching the wind remove the cherry blossoms from the trees. Liam seemed to enjoy being outdoors too.  Next year I guess I’ll be chasing after little man and getting some exercise as well.


Life is good sitting under a tree and looking at the huge blue skies

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Animals on the Train

On Saturday my small family had a day out in Yokohama, and I’ll write up the good parts in a follow-up post.  It was a very nice day and I really enjoyed it.  However, I feel the need to rant right now…

To get to Yokohama without making it an overnight trip, we had to go through Tokyo, which is always a challenge when you have a baby stroller.  The first issue is the lack of elevators in the central hub stations like Ikebukuro and Yokohama,and most of the Tokyo metro actually (I’m looking at you, Tamaike-san-o). I suppose that this can be forgiven as most of these stations were built before long ago and there really isn’t much room to tear up and rebuild.  I really feel bad for the handicapped as it must be challenging to try to get around Tokyo.  I could pick up the stroller and march up and down the stairs, but someone in a wheelchair has no options.  I hope that the local ward offices issue transport vouchers to the handicapped for the use taxis and buses.

The next challenge was the Green Car in the Shonan Shinjuku line.  Eastern Japan Railways has a few special Green cars on some trains that, for extra fare, offer regular seats rather than the benches found in regular commuter cars.  These seats are great for people the elderly, pregnant women, and also families with a baby stroller because you can buy two seats and put the stroller between the seats in the leg space and not cause trouble for everyone else on the train.  However, one issue is that the seats are not reserved.  You might purchase the ticket for an extra 400 yen only to find out that you have to stand after all as the seats are completely occupied.  Hopefully Eastern JR will become more savvy with computers and remedy this easy-to-fix problem in due time.

The more annoying problem is that people in Tokyo have no concept of sharing public space when their personal name or their company’s name is not on the line.  It drives me nuts when business travelers talk about how polite everyone is in Tokyo.  It is not true!  Live here for more than a few weeks and see for yourself if you are naive enough to believe that.  Tokyo residents are just as rude as every other major city. Look at all of the pushing in the train stations, stepping on feet without an “excuse me”,  slamming into people while walking on the sidewalks, et cetera et cetera.

Back to the Green car though, there were plenty of seats, but the problem is that there were no two seats side-by-side.  Each set of seats had at least one seat occupied.  The whole reason we wanted to get in the Green Car was so that our baby stroller was not in the way of anyone else.  The best part of this adventure is that the people (all by their lonesome) in the seats see you and your small family looking for a set of seats, but instead of offering to move to another open seat, they look sheepishly at you, meet your eyes, and quickly look away and pretend to be asleep all of the sudden.  Yet it would be rude if I asked someone to trade seats so I could seat my family together with our stroller.  I would actually prefer it if they didn’t pretend to sleep–it is just shameful.  If you don’t want to move then don’t feel guitly about it and don’t try to deflect attention.

In the end my wife sat with Liam in an aisle seat, and I sat in the opposite aisle seat beside some mid-aged man pretending to sleep with the stroller between our seats.  I bet he wish he had moved his seat and sat by the young “sleeping” girl whom was sitting beside my wife and Liam.  Luckily at Shinjuku, the young women in the seat behind us left the car and we were able to move our seats.  I do appreciate that with the the Green cars you can change seats.  It is entirely electronic, you just touch your Suica (IC-card rail pass) to the sensor above the seat and it moves you from your pervious seat to the new seat.

The ride on the train back to Saitama was also a trying experience.  The express train from Chinatown to Shibuya was very comfortable and much to my surprise it was not crowded.  There were two young, off-duty US military guys dressed up in grey suits with pink and white shirts, no ties and silly looking sunglasses.  Not MP or FBI style, not regular sunglasses, no, the ones with oddly shaped frames made of thick white plastic.  I guess they were heading off “to the club.”  Any way, from Shibuya we caught the loop line back to Takadanobaba, and surprisingly it was not crowded either.  This part of the trip was actually pleasant.

At Takadanobaba we bought ticks on the Red Arrow express train, which like the JR Green Cars,  has sets of seats which are easier for us with the stroller.  Unfortunately all of the window seats were sold out and we were stick with aisle seats again.  We walked down the platform to our car, #6,  and as we entered the car we were met by a stream of people trying to move in the opposite direction to get to car #3.  Use the goddamn platform you idiots! At the same time people were lining up behind us and pushing us to go forward, so we ended up in a rugby scrum trying to push past the car #3 rednecks as well as the impatient car #6 passengers who wanted to sit down as quickly as possible.  When we got to our seats, 4B and 4C, we found in seat 4D an old man just staring at us.  4A was yet to be occupied, so my wife sat down in 4B and I set the stroller in front of my seat in 4C and was preparing to sit down when…

All of the sudden,  Mr. 4A Seat arrives.  Instead of waiting for me to move the stroller, he wedges himself between the stroller and starts jerking his body back and forth trying to wiggle between the stroller and the seat.  He wiggled and wiggled until he finally fell into his seat, where I promptly gave him the evil stare for a good minute.  [Note that staring is very rude to in Japan, but then again I’m dealing with a 20-something animal] He looked away a bit embarrassed, and I squeezed into my seat with the stroller in front of my legs.  Mr. 4A seat proceeded to get out his mobile phone, load up some game, and then dug for gold in his nostrils.  Here we are at 11 PM at night, there are plenty of seats still available, but this guy just has to sit in seat 4A and he just has to get into his seat immediately.  He cannot wait for me to move the stroller, he just makes a mad dash for his seat.

If he wanted to sit by the window I would have understood, but the animal just picked his nose and played mobile phone games!  To make matters worse he kept shifting in his seat every minute, sighing, picking his nose, and kicking the seat in front or the stroller jammed against my knees.  I really hope that he has a social disorder as I have never seen such behavior in public transit before. Between these two experiences on the  JR Green car and the Seibu Red Arrow, I now know why people with babies don’t go out in the cities of Japan unless they have a car.   I’d like to think that this is just an example of city dwellers being city dwellers, but I doubt it.  In Nagoya, which is a decently sized, but not global, city, I often saw people practicing social manners and politeness.  But Tokyo seems like zoo!  Do people behave this way on the railways in UK or France?  Do Londoners, who get so frustrated with Americans talking loudly on the tube, push and shove and act like children on the rail links to other cities?

I’m constantly amazed at some people on the trains around Tokyo.  They don’t get up for pregnant women in the trains or the buses.  People don’t offer to move seats either; I can’t count the number of times when I’ve seen a young man who could have just slided over one seat, but instead forced a mother to stand while she seats her toddler on the bench.  And people don’t move when old men with canes get on the train.  The old man is holding onto his cane and the railing  for dear life as the train twists and turns, and the young or middle-aged person simply pretends to be asleep or absorbed in some stupid mobile phone game.  “Salary men” are particularly bad about this.  They are so important, what with their monotonous job of typing up reports in Microsoft Office all day, so it is best not to disturb them and let them.  I guess the attitude in Tokyo that the city residents have adopted is that the city is over-crowded, and social etiquette that the Showa generation practiced can be damned, it is now everyone person for himself.

I really never want to ever hear a Tokyo resident complain about China again. Japanese businessmen in Tokyo love to compare themselves with residents in Shanghai or other large Chinese cities.  They love to look down and mock the way people in Shanghai swarm the subway or the stairwells.  But these Tokyo businessmen ought to look a little more closely at themselves.  Yes, Tokyo businessmen do actually queue up to enter the train, but they swarm the escalators, the staircases and the ticket gates, along with the pushing and shoulder slamming and so on.  It would be wonderful to film such a scene and juxtapose it with some of the same people complaining about Shanghai manners over dinner with their coworkers.

Rant over.  Tomorrow I shall post about Yokohama and why I think it is probably a great place to live!

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