Monday, August 27, 2007

Blonds Be Damned!

Strolling into work today, I noticed this poster pasted to the window. Notice anything unusual?

My first reaction was "Holy Shit! They're all blond." My second reaction was "Gee willickers! They're all white."

Ironically, I've met more non-Caucasian teachers here than I have blond ones, and needless to say the poster is not an accurate representation of the company's teachers. But, as you may remember from this post, blonds are popular here in Japan, so I suppose it benefits them to uphold the stereotype that foreigners are primarily blue-eyed blonds. Still, it's annoying.

Here is my reaction....

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wacky 100 Yen Treasures

Got Milk?

On this classic drinking glass entitled Milk, we see six streams of milk spewing forth from the swollen teats of a mother cow. Scattered beneath the abundant streams are four calves, each with equally swollen udders. Whether they are racing to feed, or attempting to escape death by drowning is anyone's guess. Is it just me or does the mother cow look like an alien spacecraft and the milk streams like incinerating death rays? Kind of like those things on War of the Worlds. Now if only there was a mini Tom Cruise....

The Chicken or the Egg?

Speaking of farm animal products, here we see the sad fate of your average egg. I'm surprised there isn't a fifth picture of an egg atop pizza, a hamburger or some other innocent food, as Japanese people seem to love putting eggs, usually raw, on top of EVERYTHING. But really, if you think about it, chicken embryos are disgusting things to eat, regardless of whether they're scrambled or eaten raw on pizza.

It's a Boob!

I think these pictures speak for themselves.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Whoooaaah! We're Halfway There!

Tuesday, August 14th marked our sixth month anniversary in Japan. Six more to go before we return to America. I'm not eager to leave, but it will be nice to return home to our cats and to native English and to Taco Bell. What can I say, it's the classy things I miss, like 89 cent bean burritos and sugar free Red Bulls.

So what, if anything, have I learned during my six month stay here in Japan? What do I see differently now? Let's take a look, shall we?

Then: "The Japanese use three different systems of characters: Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. I'm trying to learn Hiragana because apparently that is where Japanese language students are supposed to start and because many train station signs are printed in Hiragana" (January 6th, 2007)

Now: Hirgana is basically useless because the characters spell out Japanese words and my Japanese vocabulary is non-existent. Also, train station signs are printed in English as well as Hiragana. At one point I had all of the Hiragana characters memorized, but forgot them before I came to Japan.

Then: "My husband and I will spend the next year of our lives in Iruma, Japan, a smallish city on the far outskirts of Tokyo. My guess is that Tokyo is close enough for day trips, but too far to travel for dinner or bar hopping." (January 25th, 2007)

Now: I have no idea what Iruma is, even though it's part of our lengthy mailing address. Is it a district? A neighborhood? The name of our city is Miyoshi-Machi town, but when people ask where we live we always tell them the name of our home train station. Distance wise, Tokyo is close enough for both day trips and late night bar hopping, but thanks to that pesky thing known as last train, we are forced to leave Tokyo rather early.

Then: "In my opinion, Japanese people are overly concerned with germs. Many businesses have a little tray for customers to put money in so the clerk doesn't have to take it directly from the customer." (March 6th, 2007)

Now: The tray has nothing to do with a fear of germs, but rather a fear of being impolite. Apparently, it was/is considered rude to hand money directly to someone, although many cashiers directly hand me change, so I really (still) have no idea what the tray is for.

Then: "Yesterday I taught my first children's class and it was more than slightly terrifying. The eight mothers were hovered around the observation windows eager to see how their little darlings would perform. I'm sure the moms were there for moral support, but I felt as if they were judging my performance." (April 2, 2007)

Now: The above mentioned class is now one of my favorites. The children are eerily well behaved for 3-5 year-olds, although their moms still hover around the windows. I now teach a total of eight kids' classes, and despite having some of the same children since April, many still do not understand that I don't speak Japanese.

Then: "In my experience, 80-90% of English language school teachers are raving drunks. If we wanted to, my husband and I could go out drinking every night as there is always a group of teachers boozing it up somewhere." (May 29, 2007)

Now: I would like to increase that percentage to 90-95%. Also, I now believe that the bigger boozer you are, the better your chances of promotion.

Then: Psychic Prediction: There will be a big earthquake in our area of Japan in the next month or so." (June 3, 2007)

Now: I have learned that I am not psychic. Also, after experiencing five earthquakes in six months, they have begun to lose their novelty. A 5.3 woke me up last night and I wasn't motivated enough to get out of bed.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Japanese Television

Let's Play a Game!

Directions: Read descriptions of bizarre Japanese videos. Choose the video that best matches the description.

1. Dizzy drag queens race to punch each other in the face and haul themselves into a kiddy pool filled with foam.

2. Child molester in gold pants strolls through city market and sings of his love of molesting children. Power Point presentation featuring molester with children immediately follows.

3. Talking toilet begs young tiger to sit on his face. Furry parents dance and sing as tiger boy relieves himself in various manners. Confetti drops from the ceiling, drops of pee chant and sing, human child grunts his way to internal bleeding.

4. Geisha and samurai run from unknown menace. Transgendered ballerina with giant duck dong springs from traditional home.

5. Giant pear chases octopus man to a purple sea monster, the octopus man's baby's mama. Sadly, the octopus baby is catatonic and destined to be kidnapped by mysterious creatures. After a series of unexplainable events, octopus man drops his baby into the river where the infant presumably dies.

6. Foreign men wearing questionable bandanna fashions terrorize young woman in white, plastic park. A trio of pale women in unflattering spandex move their arms in unnatural ways. Chippendale with a British accent poses as cop.

Video A

Video B

Video C

Video D

Video E

Video F

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Do you believe in ghosts?

I've been fascinated by ghosts, or the idea of ghosts, ever since I was a child. In elementary school I wrote dozens of ghost stories, read countless books about hauntings and spirits and reveled in Halloween and the 'haunted houses.' Most of these interests never died, although I stopped writing ghost stories once I entered junior high. I want to believe in ghosts more than most people, but after 27 years of seeking paranormal experiences and not finding any, I must admit that I am growing more and more skeptical.

There are many out there who will say I don't have "the gift," or that "my portals" just aren't open to the spirit world. However, I think that's just something people say to feel superior. We all like to feel special, and if having a rare connection to the spirit world doesn't make one special, than what does? Others will say I haven't been to the right place at the right time. I worked at a ghost tour company for two years and met dozens of individuals who claimed that if I visited this place or that, I was bound to have a paranormal experience. Well, I visited several so-called haunted locations, many more than once, and have yet to experience anything even remotely paranormal.

So if I don't believe in ghosts, than how do I explain the thousands, if not millions, of ghost stories shared throughout human history? Well, I think that most stories stem from experiences that people can't explain, and that these individuals automatically, and quite erroneously, attribute such experiences to ghosts or spirits. I believe that other stories come from individuals who want so badly to believe in ghosts and hauntings that they convince themselves such things exist, and are quick to find reasons to support their beliefs. Still more people lie about seeing or hearing ghosts, and others dream or hallucinate that they have. I think that one can explain away most so-called paranormal experiences by these sorts of things, but there are still those stories that make me wonder, and it's these stories that keep me from scoffing at the idea of ghosts altogether.

At this point in my life, I don't think that ghosts exist. As much as I'd like to believe otherwise, I personally don't have any reason to believe in spirits or hauntings. I don't mean to imply that all people who claim to have seen ghosts are liars, I am just one of those stubborn individuals who cannot believe in something like ghosts unless he or she experiences it for themselves, or unless indisputable scientific evidence exists to support it. Unfortunately, I haven't found either. Perhaps one day this will change, but as times ticks by, my skepticism only grows.

So, dear readers, do you believe in ghosts? Have you had a paranormal experience? If so, I'd love to hear them. I am skeptical, but I still love a good (supposedly true) ghost story.