Odd Stuff in and from Japan

Odd stuff and miscellaneous thingamyjigs encountered in Japan or related to things Japanese.

Thursday, November 27, 2008  12:03 AM

The C-word

I made a bit of a faux-pas at work yesterday.

You see, I put the C-word on a public-facing part of the company website.

Of course I blamed the marketing people - that is what we in IT traditionally do - but they did put me up to it. Being a well-travelled, worldly type I didn't think much of it at the time, but this morning I woke up to an urgent message from the US branch telling me to make it as if the C-word had never been there in the first place, preferably by yesterday.

You see, apparently in the States the C-word is a bit of a no-no. People might get upset by it. So as not to offend the sensitivities of North American readers, I shall discretely place the C-word below the fold. (If you are upset by offensive language, you might want to stop reading now and read this much nicer article about ponies and butterflies which doesn't contain the C-word at all).

OK, here it is:


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Sunday, October 12, 2008   7:39 PM

A chance for Japan?

Or at least one of its urban transport companies to snap up this unwanted sculpture to brighten up one of the drabber stations on the network.

A sculpture depicting a commuter falling into the path of a train driven by the Grim Reaper will not go on show at St Pancras station in London following complaints, it emerged today.

The section shows two images of a platform reflected in a giant pair of sunglasses.

One depicts a man falling onto the tracks in front of an underground train with a skeletal figure at its controls.

St Pancras station refuses to display train death sculpture (The Guardian)


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Saturday, September 27, 2008  10:37 AM

This is so wrong!

My mother has devoted much of her retirement to ruthlessly tracking down anyone who had the temerity to be a direct blood line ancestor of myself and my brother, and disappointingly it appears I am a pure-bred Englishpenguin for at least a couple of centuries back. Not even a smidgen of Celticness, let alone any proper foreigners.

Nevertheless, as a globalized 24/7 interculturally attuned urbane metropolitanite I am keenly aware of the various sensibilities associated with Englishness, and as such instantly cringed upon witnessing this sign last night:

English Guinness!?

Attached to the entrance of a bar in trendy, urbane and sophisticated Oimachi. (I wouldn't tell you the name even if I could remember it, because the music theme seemed to be "the cheesiest hits of the 70s, 80s and 90s" and despite a collective best effort to introduce amnesia through beer consumption, I can distinctly recall hearing - in no particular order - titles from Take That, Abba, Kylie Minogue and possibly "Lady In Red" by Chris De Burgh, though that might just have been the result of hallucinations).

(For those of you not au fait with the blocky characters on the left, adjacent to "England" is written the name of a beer which when transcribed back into Latin letters reads "ginesu").


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Thursday, September 25, 2008   1:57 PM

Divided by a common language

Despite my best attempts to become disgustingly multilingual, living and working in a globalized 24/7 interwebbed world means I still end up having to interact with people in places I've never heard of who would no doubt be more at home communicating in languages I've also never heard of, but restrictions on my cranial capacity mean we end up by default settling on the lowest common denominator, the language of Shakespeare and its bastard offspring.

I would thus like to take the opportunity to present to you, my faithful readers, an extract from an online "chat" I had the inestimable pleasure of participating in earlier today during the course of execution of my duties towards the furtherment of global capitalism, and inviting you to revel in the glory of the language which has clawed its way up from a minor northern European dialect of Old German to become the de facto inofficial lingua franca of this planet.

does it possible for us to make excel sheel if we listing

bcz i have copy in my excel sheet

but it show "reallocate tab

r u getting what i mean?

To which my response (somewhat paraphrased) was: "No i r not getting what u mean".


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Sunday, September 14, 2008   6:26 PM

Foreign Salaryperson Repatration Succesfull

In case anyone is taking notes.
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Tuesday, September 2, 2008   7:54 PM

Monkey Business

Well, the monkey is still out and about, most recently sighted near Kanda in the very centre of Japan's capital, where it's continuing to evade capture by the elite Monkey Capturing Squad of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. This map traces its course through the city:

Monkey locations

Meanwhile, the noise you failed to hear last night (Monday evening) was the sound of 120 million Japanese citizens failing to be bothered to shrug their shoulders at the news that some guy with a combover (and glasses which would make former British Prime Minister John Major cringe with shame) suddenly resigned. The hunt for a replacement is now on, and surely it is no coincidence that the aforementioned primate is now apparently circling the centre of Japanese political power (number 6 on the map is pretty close to the Parliament Building, and the green patch is the Imperial Palace).

Anything further I say should be construed only as pure speculation, but do not be surprised to hear an announcement regarding a major shift on banana taxation policy in the next few days.


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Wednesday, August 20, 2008   7:51 PM

In ur station stunnin' ur commuterz

At around 9:45 am I was passing through Shibuya Station on the Yamanote line, blissfully unaware of the commotion going on at the Tokyu line's ticket gates. Fortunately some quick-thinking soul with a video camera was present, and the event was captured for posterity e.g. in this clip hosted by the BBC:

Monkey in Shibuya Station, Tokyo

The monkey cunningly resisted all attempts at capture and was last seen heading towards Harajuku, where it presumably is blending in with the cosplay crowds which hang around outside the station.

No doubt this will have been blogged to death by tomorrow, but one interesting snippet which caught my attention was this quote by a Professor Abe of Tama University: "数年前に東京の繁華街に野生のサルが出たこともあり、渋谷に野生のサルが出ても不思議ではない。しかし、人の多い場所に現れたということであれば、ペットとして飼われていたサルの可能性が高い". "Some years ago wild monkeys were observed in Tokyo shopping streets, so it's not unthinkable that it might be a wild monkey. However seeing one in such a crowded place means there's a high probablity it is an escaped pet."

Now, I've seen all sorts of wildlife in Tokyo, including snakes and all manner of worryingly large insects (mainly buzzing around my balcony light), but primates are a new one. I'll be keeping an ear out for rumours of mysterious banana shortages from now on in the hope of discovering my own neighbourhood apes.


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Monday, August 18, 2008   8:46 PM

In ur kindergarten scarin' ur kidz

The other week I was on a mission to acquire some furnishings for the new Penguin HQ, and had been directed by some kindly souls in the direction of Nakano, where there is a branch of Shimachu. As is my wont, I got off at the previous station (Higashi-Nakano if you're taking notes) and walked, as you never know what odd stuff you might come across, and sure enough I stumbled upon this rather creepy kindergarten:

Horror Kindergarten near Nakano

I suppose it's cute, in a zombie-esque fashion. I'll have to go back one evening to take some really scary pictures.


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