Friday, February 25, 2011

Show Me Japan Vol.1 Issue 15

IMPORTANT: Please enter a link to a specific post on your blog, not a general link to your entire blog/website. Thank you!


Welcome to the 15th edition of Show Me Japan. 第15回 Show Me Japan へようこそ。

You can see previous editions here. 前回の”Show Me Japan” エントリーはここです。

FAQ page in English and Japanese is here. 英語と日本語のFAQはここにありますので、初めて参加される方は目を通して頂けると幸いです。

Below is a random selection of photos from last week’s participants. 前回の参加者中からランダムに選んだ写真を以下に紹介します。

The widget to enter your links is at the end of this post – below the photos. ”Show Me Japan”にエントリーする際のリンクを貼るウィジェットはこの記事の一番下にあります。


Click on the photo to go to Kawaii Culture.



 
Click on the photo to go to Vincent's photo site.



Click on the photo to visit Japanese Castle Explorer.



Click on the photo to visit Sixmats' Sendai Photo Blog.



Click on the photo to visit Yuri's blog.




If you participate in Show Me Japan, please be so kind and include a link back to this blog in your post. エントリーしたポスト中で “Show Me Japan”のリンクを貼り忘れてないか確かめて頂けると幸いです。バッジに “Show Me Japan”のリンクを加えて頂ければ至極幸いここ極まれりです。


Thank you for participating and have a wonderful weekend.
それでは参加者の皆さん、よい週末を。




And now it's your turn!!!


Thank you and see you next week!


Show Me Japan Participants

1. lina
2. Japan Australia
3. SofJ
4. Badboy
5. A Modern Girl
6. David LaSpina
7. Anzu, Japan
8. Yuri
9. BiggerInJapan
10. Spooning with a Schoolboy
11. YOUSUKE
12. Haikugirl
13. kyushudan
14. kyushudan
15. David @ Ogijima
16. lina
17. Muza-chan
18. Jay Dee in Japan
19. Yoshi, Japan
20. Alice Vyxle
21. bird
22. goodandbadjapan
23. bartman
24. Nobu (Tokyo snap)
25. Ichigoichielove
26. Laura (tokyololas)
27. TDP
28. cocomino

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Busy

Last week I was sick, this week I am ridiculously busy. And probably next week, too.

So, in the meantime, while I'll return from the dead on Friday for Show Me Japan, please enjoy the weather, play with your kids and pets (alternately - your or other people's private parts, if you prefer), read a book, write your own blog entries. Or, visit my mister's photoblog - Extracting Abstract. Yeah, I know, it's a stupid name. But he likes it. He can be strange like that.

OK, see you on Friday!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Show Me Japan Vol.1 Issue 14

IMPORTANT: Please enter a link to a specific post on your blog, not a general link to your entire blog/website. Thank you!


Welcome to the 14th edition of Show Me Japan. 第14回 Show Me Japan へようこそ。

You can see previous editions here. 前回の”Show Me Japan” エントリーはここです。

FAQ page in English and Japanese is here. 英語と日本語のFAQはここにありますので、初めて参加される方は目を通して頂けると幸いです。

Below is a random selection of photos from last week’s participants. 前回の参加者中からランダムに選んだ写真を以下に紹介します。

The widget to enter your links is at the end of this post – below the photos. ”Show Me Japan”にエントリーする際のリンクを貼るウィジェットはこの記事の一番下にあります。


 Cocomino is Japanese, but no worries, he blogs in English. To visit him, click on the photo above.



Bigger in Japan is very talented at capturing such moments. To visit his blog, click on the photo.



Brought to you by Haikugirl, click on the photo to visit her blog.


Nobu is another Japanese blogger who blogs in English. Click on the photo and say "hi" to him.



For more gorgeous photos and a multitude of videos from Japan, visit LifeYouTV's blog (just click on the photo and you're there!)




If you participate in Show Me Japan, please be so kind and include a link back to this blog in your post. エントリーしたポスト中で “Show Me Japan”のリンクを貼り忘れてないか確かめて頂けると幸いです。バッジに “Show Me Japan”のリンクを加えて頂ければ至極幸いここ極まれりです。


Thank you for participating and have a wonderful weekend.
それでは参加者の皆さん、よい週末を。




And now it's your turn!!!

Thank you and see you again next weekend!



Show Me Japan Participants

1. Kawaii Culture
2. Yuri
3. Jay Dee in Japan
4. lina
5. Ichigoichielove
6. Vincent Dabosville
7. David LaSpina
8. YOUSUKE
9. BiggerInJapan
10. Badboy
11. Clarissa
12. kyushudan
13. LifeyouTV
14. kirsten
15. sixmats
16. lina
17. TDP
18. Muza-chan
19. Yoshi, Japan
20. Nobu (Tokyo snap)
21. Haikugirl
22. bird
23. Spam From Japan

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sorry there was no mid-week post this week

I'm swamped with stuff. And feeling a bit under the weather.

I promise to do better next week!

See you all on Friday for Show Me Japan!



PS. In the meantime, you can admire this:



Yes, we've made the list in the New York Times. We iz oh-so-famous now! How's that for speshul, huh?

I feel better already!

Monday, February 14, 2011

iMovie, YouTube and me

When you buy a Mac, you get all sorts of nifty (and not so nifty) bits of software with it. One of those bits is iMovie. This is the stuff I use to put together the videos I upload to YouTube. I do have a fancier software too - Final Cut Express, but iMovie is faster and easier, and for my purposes - works just fine. And besides, the thick user's guide and tutorial for Final Cut Express scares me.

Inside iMovie there is a little "music" icon. When you click on it, you get an option to add additional sound and music to your video. There are two choices for you: iMovie Sound Effects and iLife Sound Effects.

I normally use iLife Sound Effects. It has all sorts of stuff: canned laughter, jungle noises, street traffic sounds, and also short instrumental pieces of music. Now, mind you, "Apple, Inc." is listed as "Artist" for all of them.



Last night, for my laundromat clip I used the bit titled "Spacey Club". The length was perfect for my video, just around 1 minute and 8 seconds.





So imagine my surprise when, after I uploaded the clip to YouTube, YouTube told me that my video "contains copyrighted third party material". This is not the first time it's happened with a sound effect from iLife. I've always successfully disputed such claims and YouTube withdrew it's "third party matched content" announcement on those clips. Normally, the process was very fast. I filled out a dispute form explaining the soundtrack came from iMovie, and poof! The claim was gone.

But now it's been over 24 hours and the claim is still there. That does not make me happy.

If some small-time music label forgot to inform YouTube that they licensed (if not outright sold) their material to Apple, that is really not my problem. It shouldn't be.
That Apple repackaged that material as part of their software bundle, that is really not my problem. It shouldn't be.
That YouTube knows (or pretends to know) nothing about it, that is really not my problem.

So, YouTube, now you do know. And I suggest you do something about it. This is not the first time it's happened. And it's getting tiring.

I plan to pursue this dispute until the claim is removed. Let's see how long it will take.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Show Me Japan Vol.1 Issue 13

IMPORTANT: Please enter a link to a specific post on your blog, not a general link to your entire blog/website. Thank you!


Welcome to the 13th edition of Show Me Japan. 第13回 Show Me Japan へようこそ。

You can see previous editions here. 前回の”Show Me Japan” エントリーはここです。

FAQ page in English and Japanese is here. 英語と日本語のFAQはここにありますので、初めて参加される方は目を通して頂けると幸いです。

Below is a random selection of photos from last week’s participants. 前回の参加者中からランダムに選んだ写真を以下に紹介します。

The widget to enter your links is at the end of this post – below the photos. ”Show Me Japan”にエントリーする際のリンクを貼るウィジェットはこの記事の一番下にあります。


To visit Yousuke, please click on the photo above.



To visit A Modern Girl, click on the photo above.


To say "hi" to Lens on Japan, click on the photo above.



Muzachan is a legendary J-blogger, click on the photo to visit her digs.


And the definitely not spammy Spam From Japan, you know the drill - click on the photo...






If you participate in Show Me Japan, please be so kind and include a link back to this blog in your post. エントリーしたポスト中で “Show Me Japan”のリンクを貼り忘れてないか確かめて頂けると幸いです。バッジに “Show Me Japan”のリンクを加えて頂ければ至極幸いここ極まれりです。


Thank you for participating and have a wonderful weekend.
それでは参加者の皆さん、よい週末を。




And now it's your turn!!!


Thank you for participating! See you again next weekend!



Show Me Japan Participants

1. lina
2. floating camera
3. BiggerInJapan
4. Badboy
5. Japan Australia
6. Ichigoichielove
7. David LaSpina
8. kirsten
9. LifeyouTV
10. kyushudan
11. Haikugirl
12. kyushudan
13. kyushudan
14. Yoshi, Japan
15. goodandbadjapan
16. YOUSUKE
17. kirsten
18. Nobu (Tokyo snap)
19. bird
20. Muza-chan
21. cocomino
22. Jay Dee in Japan
23. bartman
24. TDP
25. Spam From Japan

Thursday, February 10, 2011

More monkey business

Because this post is going to insult the intelligence of 99% of my new readers (those who came here via links from various sites in recent days), do yourself a favor and don't read any further. And if you do, well, that's your problem. But consider yourself warned, OK?

Not sure how it all started, but somehow it did. Somewhere, someone dug out my old post about Kayabukiya in Utsunomiya (the skanky place with monkey waiters) and the video (very shaky and grainy and low quality) I filmed there suddenly went viral.

The fact that "Turning Japanese" also featured Kayabukiya around the same time certainly helped as well. But I wouldn't know that. I don't watch "Turning Japanese".  
"Can Justin Lee Collins unravel Japan's cultural cliches?" the program's website asks? Ehhh... no... So why is he even trying in the first place, I don't know. But I guess that's what professional attention whores do when they are lacking original material - they come to Japan and all is good in the world again.


Anyway, where were we? Ah yes, monkey waiters. At your service.

That post has lived in utter obscurity on my blog for almost a year. And then, in the wake of "Turning Japanese", some genius figured out how to use google and the monkey shit hit the net.

First it was some sci-fi website with a "Planet of the Apes" reference. It was all downhill from there. Hell, we even made the news on FOX2 in Detroit - must have been a slow news day in Michigan, or something. The rest is history.

My inbox has been clogged with mostly not so nice messages calling me an animal abuser for filming that clip (and you, my dear correspondent, have the IQ of a stool sample, because you didn't even bother to read my original blog post).

Those in need of heavier artillery called me an effing c*nt (honey, you have NO idea! I could teach a master course in the subject!).

But most just settled for the old and tired "f*ck Japan" schtick and petty insults. And the really kind ones limited themselves to the even more boring (if that's at all possible) "WTF Japan!" bright-eyed, bushy-tailed attitude, probably thinking they were being so cool and hip and all sorts of speshul.

After the first 50 emails it started to get old and I took a nap. It was a good nap, too, because I've been feeling kinda fluey lately.

 Just a typical morning at the parking lot in Akechidaira in Nikko

That so many people in the world were stupid, I knew. But that they were even stupider than I thought, well, that kind of surprised me. I must have lowered my standards in my old age, or maybe I simply got too lazy to care. But the sheer volume of stupidity caught me by surprise.

Just like the next person, I enjoy my share of stupid. That's why I write this blog, duh! But what I don't enjoy is self-righteous horseshit from people with a moral superiority complex. Though even that can be hilarious in small doses.

 Gotta teach that wild monkey baby good eating habits while it's young

Out of curiosity, and because my flu meds finally kicked in, I divided the stupidity based on the country where the emailers' ISP were located. I'm too lazy to make a pie-chart, so here it is in written form: 87% - the U.S.A. (you go boys and girls! make your mommas proud!), 7% - the UK, 5% - Canada, 1% - all others.

What's my point here? No point really, I just like the sound my fingers make when I type, that's all. It makes me feel busy and important.

But back to whatever it was we were talking about. Ah yes, the stupid.

 Yum, your garbage is delicious!


What all those PETA lovers and Japan WTFers completely missed is this:
  1. These monkeys are pets (just like your cats and dogs).

  2. These are NOT wild animals (they were born and bred in captivity, just like your cats and dogs).

  3. People dress their pets in funny outfits all the time (just look at your neighbor's poodle; and no, the monkeys don't wear the mask all the time, it's just for the cameras, if you thought otherwise, you're even stupider than I expected).

  4. People teach their pets all sorts of idiotic tricks (playing "fetch" is just one of them - your dog fetches your smelly socks, those monkeys - towels, and at least the towels don't stink the way your socks do).

  5. Wild Japanese macaques don't have it so easy.

It really amazes me that I have to spell it out at all. Yes, some people are THAT stupid.

Hurry! The garbage truck is right around the corner!


For those who think that being a wild monkey is so grand, I'm including in this post a bunch of photos taken during my early morning drives in Nikko.

Oh, the smell of monkey freedom! How wonderful! Scavenging for food in garbage bins behind convenience stores and fast food places. Licking clean day old yakisoba containers. Eating rotten food no longer fit for human consumption. Tooth decay, disease and even cancer (yep, human food can do that to you). There was an article in local press recently about the sorry state of Japanese wild monkeys and their health problems, a very sad story indeed.

 Another day, another garbage load, what an awesome life in the wild I have!

But of course those who were so quick to scream "animal abuse" at me and Kayabuki somehow missed that bit. That's OK, they're too busy watching stuff on YouTube and sending moronic emails to pay attention to anything else, I totally get that.

Now, that we have that out of the way, let's address your additional questions, shall we?

  • Are there any Health Departments in Japan?
Of course NOT! If there were, no such abomination as that restaurant would exist. Not to mention cat cafes!



  • Are there any animal rights groups in Japan?
Of course NOT! If they were, there would be no such abominations as that restaurant. Not to mention zero whale meat for lunch.


  • Are all Japanese perverts?
Absolutely! This is the country that brought you hentai manga, did you forget that?


  • If I come to Japan, can I get a date with a masked monkey?
You? You gotta be kidding! But if you try lower on the evolutionary ladder, you might get lucky.

"Yeah, life in the wild is so awesome! I feel so sorry for those poor schmucks at Kayabukiya! They get nutritious food and the best vet care money can buy... pity them... Now... this garbage, on the other hand... delicious!"

Monday, February 7, 2011

Flying Cathay Pacific

How is it that when flying economy on a major European (or American) airline, the food resembles something scraped off the floor of Shinjuku station right before the last train leaves the city? Granted, the scrapings are heated and covered in plastic wrap, but still look, taste and smell like something that was meant to be flushed down the toilet. And to top it all off, if you are served this something on your flight, you can consider yourself lucky.

And how is it that when flying economy on a major Asian airline, the food at least tries to resemble food in shape, smell, form and quite often - even taste?

That's one of the great mysteries of the universe...

Though, my recent experiences on Cathay Pacific show that Asian airlines are doing their best to catch up with their European and American counterparts and level the playing field when it comes to in-flight meals. But even if the taste might be unappealing, they still strive to make their "chicken or fish" offerings look vaguely appealing.

And that's just how it was during my flight from Narita to Hong Kong last December. Something was served, I poked it with my fork, it didn't poke me back. I picked at a few random bits and pieces of whatever it was supposed to be and then demanded another Diet Coke. Which I didn't get. I miss the days when you could get an entire can of soda with your meal or snack on the plane. Nah, no more... Now it's a lousy two-thirds filled plastic cup with a couple of huge ice cubes - probably so you get even less of the actual beverage you ordered. I bet it saves the airline billions of dollars in the long run.



By the time we landed in Hong Kong, I was suffering from a miserable case of caffeine deficiency. I got me a bottle of Coke Light and waited for the next flight.

When it was time to board, surprise surprise, the boarding pass issued at Narita for the connecting flight was angrily spat out by the gate computer thingy. What's wrong? Nothing. I was upgraded to business class and Cathay Pacific forgot to tell me. Lucky me.


And that's how a totally uncouth country hick got to fly biz class on an international flight.
Fancy drinks were served before the takeoff. I asked the lady for Diet Coke. She gave me a dirty look and offered wine.

Since I didn't know how to use the in-flight entertainment system and was too embarrassed to ask (hey, gimmie a break, they don't have such posh gadgets in the back of the bus, OK?), I took a nap instead.

While I slept, a menu mysteriously appeared in my lap.


Someone, or something, also managed to wrap a blanket around me and stick a pillow under my head.  But still no Diet Coke.

I pressed the buzzer and a second later a flight attendant materialized by my seat. I'd like a Diet Coke, pretty please? But of course, says she.
10 seconds later she materializes again with a tiny glass cup (no plastic here in the posh section) filled two-thirds with my favorite beverage of choice. And yes, you guessed it, there were two ginormous ice cubes in it, too. I drank it in one gulp and asked her for a whole can, or a bottle. She gave me a dirty look and vanished.

I didn't see her again until it was chow time. The usual trappings of a fancy French restaurant were all very visible here, too. Big plates with miniscule amounts of pretty looking items, which may or may not be edible.


I ate the garlic bread and the green and red stuff (no shrimp though) and realized I was hungry. Very, very hungry. But not hungry enough to consume shrimp, apparently. I asked for more garlic bread and got a dirty look instead. Still no Diet Coke.

The main course was served.


This dish was OK, sweet and not spicy, but perfectly edible. I still had a blob of butter left from the previous course, but no additional bread was offered this time. But I got my glass filled with Diet Coke. Finally. All 250 ml of it.
I finished it in two big gulps and when the drink cart appeared again, I was offered 6 types of wine, 20 varieties of beer, countless booze, but when I asked for a whole can of Diet Coke, all I got was another dirty look.

The cart rolled away, I got up and pretended to go to the toilet. I stopped in the galley, and lo and behold, right there on the counter was a six pack of ice cold Diet Coke. I took one can and went back to my seat. Self-freaking-service in business class? The times have surely changed since the last time I flew first class (well, in my defense, it was about 20 years ago).

I drank my Coke and went back to sleep. And used every inch of available leg room. 

And seriously, people really pay premium prices for this? Unbelievable...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Show Me Japan Vol.1 Issue 12

IMPORTANT: Please enter a link to a specific post on your blog, not a general link to your entire blog/website. Thank you!


Welcome to the 12th edition of Show Me Japan. 第12回 Show Me Japan へようこそ。

You can see previous editions here. 前回の”Show Me Japan” エントリーはここです。

FAQ page in English and Japanese is here. 英語と日本語のFAQはここにありますので、初めて参加される方は目を通して頂けると幸いです。

Below is a random selection of photos from last week’s participants. 前回の参加者中からランダムに選んだ写真を以下に紹介します。

The widget to enter your links is at the end of this post – below the photos. ”Show Me Japan”にエントリーする際のリンクを貼るウィジェットはこの記事の一番下にあります。

From Japan Australia - to visit the blog, click on the photo above.


From JayDee - to visit the blog, click on the photos above.



From Bad Boy in Japan - if you want to live dangerously, click on the photo above.



From Good and Bad Japan - to see the good, the bad and the yummy, click on the photo above.


From Lina's blog - to say "hi" click on the image above.




If you participate in Show Me Japan, please be so kind and include a link back to this blog in your post. エントリーしたポスト中で “Show Me Japan”のリンクを貼り忘れてないか確かめて頂けると幸いです。バッジに “Show Me Japan”のリンクを加えて頂ければ至極幸いここ極まれりです。


Thank you for participating and have a wonderful weekend.
それでは参加者の皆さん、よい週末を。




And now it's your turn!!!



Show Me Japan Participants

1. Japan Australia
2. Badboyin Japan
3. BiggerInJapan
4. kirsten
5. David LaSpina
6. Yuri
7. YOUSUKE
8. Clarissa
9. Ichigoichielove
10. kirsten
11. LifeyouTV
12. Yoshi, Japan
13. lina
14. bird
15. Muza-chan
16. kyushudan
17. TDP
18. bartman
19. Jay Dee in Japan
20. Haikugirl
21. A Modern Girl
22. Spam From Japan
23. FloatingCamera
24. Lens on Japan

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Night at U-City Hotel in Narita

I have a bad case of lazy and that's a fact. My laziness has been lovingly cultivated for almost 40 years now, and I am proud to announce that it has reached epic proportions. If it doesn't need to be done - I don't do it.

But, to be fair and honest, what needs to be done, I do. And do so with frightening efficiency. That again only proves that I'm lazy - I'd rather do it once and properly, so it won't have to be done again.

My lazy habits also extend to commutes and travel. Being lazy, I hate to rush. I'd rather leave early and be wherever I need to be early than hurry later. I hate to speed, run and take the stairs. Unless, of course, I am chasing a mikoshi procession - then all bets are off.

And because I am so lazy, it is only now that I am getting off my increasingly fatter and fatter ass (hey, it's winter, it's cold and I need all the extra padding I can get!) and continuing with the "Yo! Look at me! I went to Malaysia!" report. And today I'll cover the getting to the airport bit. At this speed (told you I didn't like to rush) we'll finish blogging about the whole trip by next December. I hope.

So yes, the airport. The oh-so-lovely terminal 2 at Narita. My flight was leaving early in the morning. Well, not really, but for me 9AM is early in the morning. That, and the fact that we live quite a distance away is enough for me to cancel just about any trip. Flight at 9AM? That means I'd have to leave Utsunomiya on the first bus to Narita. And that is at what? 4:30AM? Oh bleep that. I'd rather not go.

And then there's the excitement of making it to the airport on time. I don't know about you, but I'm getting way too old for this "excitement, adventure and really wild things" crap. I haven't experienced the first bus myself, but people say it usually gets to Narita on time. But I betcha my next paycheck that with me on it, the bloody bus would get there 5 hours late and I'd miss my flight. How do I know that? It's happened. More than once. True, it wasn't the first bus of the day that time, but hey, there is nothing that stops it from getting stuck in the mother-of-all-traffic jams on the expressway at 6AM. And trust me, when I'm on it, it will.

So what I normally do is to book a hotel somewhere nearby the airport and leave a day early. And that's exactly what we did last December.

My hotel requirements are simple: it has to be cheap and provide a complimentary airport shuttle. And it has to be cheap. With a non-smoking room. And it has to be cheap.

Luckily for me, my mister is a master at finding just such places. And in December, he booked me into the U-City Hotel in Narita. For all of 3000 yen a night.

 No worries, there's an elevator if you can't handle the steps.


I've been reading the reviews this hotel got on a few random hotel search sites and can't believe just how dumb some folks can be. Seriously, those people are ridiculous. If they wanted five-star quality, they should have stayed at the Hilton. At the U-City Hotel you get exactly what 3000 yen will buy you - a room to sleep in, a clean bathroom, a free airport shuttle, free internet and plenty of feeding options nearby. And oh yeah, it's within walking distance (very short walking distance, you could crawl there on broken knees, if you had to) from both train stations: JR and Keisei Narita. And some people still complain that there were stains on the carpet in their room! That's what them shrink-wrapped slippers are for, you moron!

I liked the U-City Hotel Narita and will definitely consider it again. Unless, of course, my ever so resourceful mister find something cheaper. LOL!


Here's my room, for 3000 yen a night I didn't care if it had a dead body stashed in the closet.


The internet was of the plug-in kind, but it was fast and stable. The kettle for boiling water could have been bigger, but then again, the designers didn't expect me to stay there. The heat was on and it was working - the room was deliciously warm. My room faced the street but wasn't noisy at all. It was clearly non-smoking, there was no funny smell in the air. I checked the bed for bedbugs, there were none. So who cares if the carpet was stained? Just wear the damn slippers!

This photo was taken from the plaza by the station. The hotel is on the left. Told you it was close!

Don't believe me? Here's a train:

And that's how I beat my lazy. Get up at 6:30AM (instead of at 3:30), roll down the stairs for the 7-something shuttle, and be certain I will not miss my flight. I think 3000 yen for this peace of mind is definitely worth it. Carpet stains and all.