Tuesday, July 27, 2010   2:59 PM

Taking the Calpis

The other day I stepped off a plane from Bangkok, which is listed in my mental guidebook as "hot and sticky, take lots of deodorant", and was instantly turned by even higher temperatures - there is evidently a freak heatwave going on here, possibly a side-effect of too many indiscriminately slaughtered dolphins - into a towering column of fetid sweat. Not helped by the fact that Japan has gotten all eco-friendly recently (except where aquatic mammals are concerned) and has lost the fine art of turning the air-conditioning all the way down to "Siberian".

Naturally I soon needed to replenish lost bodily fluids which had just been forcibily egressed into that frightening zone between skin and clothing, but as I was going directly to the office I didn't want to appear too relaxed and chilled-out from a few well-deserved days away lest it cause civil unrest. So what better way to take on board liquid without causing a positive change of mental state than with "Calpis Soda - Refresh Zero"?

Calpis - Refresh Zero

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Monday, December 28, 2009   2:05 PM

An Honourable Pawnbroker

Recently my mailbag has been overflowing with plaintive mails along the lines of "Dear Penguin, when will you start blogging again?". Well actually it isn't, though as one of my email accounts is mylastname@majoremailprovider.com I've been getting an increasing amount of emails addressed to other people who happen to share my surname, including an intriguing invitation to join the University of Iowa GraDykes Facebook group.

I digress. Work has been keeping me busy, and when I'm not busy I try to spend as little time in front of the internet as possible, as that is what occupies most of my day. And, tragically, this blog is not entirely anonymous, which means unlike more prolific work bloggers such as Foreign Salaryman or Green-Eyed Geisha I am not really at liberty to blog from the rich vein of juicy stories from the fascinating world of business life in case someone gets wind of the fact that I am lampooning them on a public website. (I may or may not have a totally other, completely anonymous blog for that purpose).

However I think I can share with you, dear reader, this slightly long-winded anecdote which might be mildly amusing if you are familiar with Japanese business etiquette, and if not please bear with me while I try to explain it as I go along. (If you are easily distracted, now might be a good time to go and follow someone on Twitter or whatever it is the young people like to do nowadays).

Saturday, October 31, 2009   1:30 AM

Blow, not suck


Dear residents of this fine archipelago,

You may have noticed that the colder season is drawing upon us, as it does every year. You may also have become aware of a certain tendency, from time to time, for your nasal passages to be occupied by a mucus-like substance, often in association with a cough and repeated sneezing events.

Fear not, Japan and the Japanese people are not alone with this affliction, particularly in these times of porcine influenza. However, we from gaikoku have an important potentially lifestyle-changing tip we'd like to share with you:


Now, we understand the barbaric practice of having a good blow into a hanky Is Just Not The Done Thing around here, and when you think about it, it is quite revolting, especially when you see someone put the sodden tissue into their sleeve for later retrieval.

On the other hand this outstanding nation is blessed by a wide range of freely available public conveniences where we would like to suggest that you can - in relative privacy - evacuate the unwanted contents of your respiratory system into e.g. some of the paper tissues distributed free of charge in copious amounts on busy streets.


The person sitting next to you trying to resist the urge to strangle you with your cheap polyester tie.

Sunday, October 25, 2009  11:56 AM

A pricele t-shirt?

I'm not sure if the lettering this t-shirt, which I saw in Hereford in the UK a few years ago and which I just rediscovered while looking for a completely different image, is meant to mean anything, but if it is the nearest word which would make any kind of sense would be プライスレス (puraisuresu), i.e. priceless. If that is the case the shirt (or sweater, or whatever it is) is missing the trailing ス (su).


(Yes, those are my hands you can see reflected in the picture).

Sunday, October 11, 2009   6:04 AM

Passing-out ceremony

It has been brought to my attention by the J-Blog Licensing Committee that although I have been blogging on things Japan-related for quite some time, I have not yet included the obligatory picture of a passed-out salaryperson sleeping in an inappropriate position on a public conveyance.

So, with no further ado, I present you with "Unconscious Guy With a Briefcase and a Tie On the Floor of the Last Yamanote Line train to Ikebukuro":

Sleeping salaryman on the floor of a Yamanote Line train in Tokyo, Japan

More amusing pictures of people sleeping on Japanese trains can be found

Sunday, September 27, 2009   7:01 PM

A load of bull?

First time I've seen this in a vending machine in Japan:

Red Bull in a vending machine in Japan

I wonder if they will offer a warm version for the cooler months?

Saturday, September 5, 2009   1:58 PM

Spot the Deliberate Mistake...

...on the cover of this map of Japan's former capital city.

Map of Kyoto  

Posted in Odd Stuff | add a comment

Friday, September 4, 2009  11:55 AM

You don't have to be mad to relieve yourself here...

... but if you are, don't worry: Sanity Soap is provided for all your mental health needs.


(Seen in the gentlemen's facilities in a rather grotty izakaya near Shinagawa)

Posted in Engrish | add a comment

Welcome to my Japan Blog

This is my Japan Blog. There are thousands of others like it, but this one is mine. Oh yes.

As to my mysterious identity: a citizen of Her Britannic Majesty Liz II, currently resident in the Far East (of Germany) in Tokyo, I maintain a certain vested interest in Japan and its multifaceted culture. Note: part of this blog's audience consists of "the folks back home" and therefore from time to time might contain descriptions and images similar to those seen on thousands of other Japan blogs.

For more factlets, check out this page: 100 things about me. And for faqlets there's also the FAQ.