Thursday, December 31, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
I've seen the above brand around for quite a long time, but earlier today by chance I happened to see their newest addition to the family...The "Mega Big Boy"! For those for whom not even the Super Big Boy is enough and if the name isn't enough they have chose to use an image of an elephant as the key visual...
But if you have been blessed with a slightly smaller and perhaps more convenient size of penis where even the standard sizes prove to be a bit too large, what do you do then? Fear not, Okamoto has thought of you too and launched the "Smart Boy" just for you and the key visual is an... ... ... eagle...?
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
With that said, I thought I could return back to a side-track of my "Getting Married in Japan" series and a little trick from the honeymoon I could share with you.
How to get two bottles of champagne on your honeymoon:
- Book a tour through a Japanese travel agency to a place often frequented by Japanese tourists (e.g. Hawaii )
- Have one or more names that are vaguely Japanese but leaves some room for ambiguity
- Make sure that the hotel gives a complimentary bottle of champagne for honeymooners
- Get one bottle with a congratulatory message in Japanese – drink bottle
- Next day, get another bottle with a congratulatory message, in English this time – drink bottle
- When bottles has been drunk, be sure to tell every hotel staff you meet that could be working with the catering that you are a Japanese-English bilingual couple and enjoy the expression when you hit someone who gets a little white in the face and laughs nervously
Sunday, December 20, 2009
The picture was an actual part of an advertisement for the new Keisei Skyliner train that will connect the Ueno station to the Narita airport within 30 minutes and some form of guided tours were offered in conjunction with this. But I'm not sure if it's only my mind that did not see this as a pleasant sightseeing tour. This is what I thought the picture showed:I also particularly like the disclaimer at the bottom stating that the actual tour will differ from the picture, but hey, you can never be too ensured against complaints!
In case the text is hard to read in the picture is hard to read; to me it looks like the Panda and his latest ho are caught by the Panda police after a gruesome rape-murder in the train and while they are kept at gun-point the Panda forensics are taking the pictures of the scene... This is what you thought too, right?
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
What it does? Well, it print labels. I type in "Don’t touch" and press print and a label saying "Don’t touch" comes out. The label size can also be changed in case you want to print out smaller or bigger labels for those special occasions, as well as a rich selection of colors.
I don't use it as often as I want, but when I do actually have a need to make a label, it's pure labeling joy! I remember the primitive device mom had at home when we were kids with only an alphabet dial and a printing trigger and I feel so grateful that humanity has advanced so far in so short time! If only they weren't so expensive I would buy one for the home too...
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Just saw this commercial for a "Pachinko" game and found it quite amusing and also quite realistic portrait on how some people react when a seat opens up in the train during the morning rush...
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
But hey, most of the time it's more amusing than anything and nothing to get excited about. One recent such popular phrase is "my boom" (マイブーム・mai buum) and that phrase is used to express some recent trend, food or basically anything that you have gotten into lately. It could be anything from Tom of Finland Art, C64 retro gaming, reading up on the life of Dennis Nielsen or any other perfectly normal interest.
My recent "My boom" is this 貝入りラー油 which is basically Chinese Chili oil, but not only the oil, it also includes plenty of chopped garlic, red peppers and stuff mixed together with the chili oil. If you like spicy stuff and garlic, this stuff is amazing. There are hardly anything that it doesn't go with and Mrs. Sunshine-Salaryman, who cannot really handle too spicy food, has now given up when I mention "you know what would go really great with this?" and just sighs as I got get my chili oil stuff. Put it on some plain rice and it'll make it sparkle. Check it out here, you can even get my favorite stuff outside of Asia, let it boom all over the place!
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
As we were walking in a subway station and taking the escalator to the surface the other day, we notice the advertisements on the walls showing the greatest and latest “Christmas cakes” that you needed to reserve at the local fancy department store to be guaranteed one in time for Christmas. It should be mentioned that what goes as “Christmas cakes” locally here in Japan usually is nothing more than regular cakes that would work just as well for a birthday. Perhaps, and only perhaps a small edible santa might be included somewhere on the cake. As we pass them Mrs. Sunshine blurts out “oh, these Christmas cakes look so nice, I home mom gets one just like that for our Christmas dinner” and for a brief moment I am ready to go to cultural war again since those cakes have nothing to do with Christmas in my Swedish eyes...
But then, in a rare moment of clarity, I realize that in terms of actual tastiness, the Christmas cakes here taste a lot better than most of the stuff that goes as “traditional Christmas food” in Sweden and I lay down my arms and reply “you know, this is really a Japanese custom and nothing that is Christmas related to me, but sure, let's have lots of cake”. Peace reigns supreme.
Let them eat cake!
Monday, December 7, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
When I listed the 3 worst image characters of Japan earlier, I suspected that there was more maliciousness to these characters than I could uncover...
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
He managed to stay on the run for a little over two years and also had extensive plastic surgery done to change his appearance. Following his arrest the media attention has still been pretty intense with news reporting on his refusal to eat or give any statements to the police regarding the murder. The whole plastic surgery deal added a layer of surrealism to the case which made it reach even regular newspapers back in Sweden. Today, in the morning, just as I had gotten out of the bed with Mrs. Sunshine-Salaryman and turned the TV on to the morning news, they reported that the police had now formally charged him with the murder and also rape of the poor victim.
As we were struggling to wake up and I was pouring myself a cup of coffee and I watched the news, not having heard anything about a rape before, I casually commented to Mrs. Sunshine-Salaryman as I was sipping my coffee "yeah, that makes sense that he raped her, good for him since he was gonna kill her anyway. If you absolutely have to kill someone it makes perfect sense that you squeeze in the crime of a rape while you're at it since it's lower on the punishment scale, I hope he stole the money in the wallet too". To my surprise this little sleepy morning comment from me on current events proved to be pretty controversial in the household until I managed to convince Mrs. Sunshine that this brought him one step closer to the gallows....
Later on in the day I discussed my logic with a friend and without missing a beat he nodded and added "for sure, if I was going to end up killing someone, I'd probably keep that person locked up in my basement for a few months and torture him or her, if you're gonna do that kinda thing you can at least make it last, make the most of it, you know?".
Disclaimer: The above is a post made in black humour regarding a highly publicized media event in Japan. In no way does Mr. Salaryman actually support violent and/or sexual assaults on any person and believes that such criminals should be punished to the full extent of the law.
The views expressed here by Mr. Salaryman does not represent the views of Mr. Salaryman as a real person.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
But this time, I thought I should discuss the role and responsibilities of the toastmaster during a Japanese wedding reception. Well, in terms of role, there is basically no big difference compared to a toastmaster at a European wedding reception; they are the ones making sure that the speeches and events fit in well in the program, and are in charge of making sure that things go somewhat according to plan.
For a Swedish wedding, this is not an extreme challenge since time does not need to be so strictly managed and there is a lot less risk of offending anyone by mispronouncing the name or having the order mixed up and making relative X hold his/hers speech before the much more important relative Y. As you can understand, it’s much stricter in Japan …
This area was probably the one where me and Mrs. Sunshine-Salaryman had the most arguments (thinking about it, this was basically the only area of friction) since she was very concerned about things going correctly according to Japanese customs so none of her more traditional and conservative relatives would be insulted, while I wanted to have it in a relaxed and personal way. The difficulties we had was in finding a middle ground in this and also how to solve the language problem since the guests would be a mixed bunch of Japanese and English speakers with quite a few not bilingual, requiring either a bilingual toastmaster or a translator to one of the languages.
Most people in Japan probably use a professional toastmaster/MC since that gives some assurance on things being managed professionally and with a minimum of mistakes. The toastmaster/MC would then be exclusively committed to that role and would not participate in the overall dinner and merriment. I was very resistant to the idea of having a professional toastmaster and especially the one bilingual American MC they had available annoyed me with that "HEY EVERYONE LET’S HAVE A GREAT WEDDING, MY NAME IS HARRY" faux-foreign style that some of you fellow foreigners who have lived in Japan might understand (it’s foreign, but packaged in a way that makes Japanese more comfortable with it, but makes the non-Japanese crowd feel awkward). Not to mention that it would cost a significant amount of money (around $2,000 USD…).
Since things were reaching the desperate stage and we needed to decide how to deal with this. After asking around among some of my bilingual friends here who I thought might be up to the task, but considering that these friends live in Japan and know how a wedding here works they also knew what kind of pressure this would mean, and as a result; they politely declined (just enjoying the party probably was a lot more appealing to them).
In the end, I turned to my good old friend Mr. Politician who was coming for the wedding, all the way from Sweden, and used to public speaking. In the normal Swedish way he accepted the task with honor, mentioning who he had been the toastmaster at some weddings in Sweden previously and was very honored to be asked and gladly accepted... I believe that he probably thought it would be a fun and relaxed task...
However, after waiting a few weeks after having him accept the task and making sure that it would be too late for him to turn back on his promise, I started to gradually reveal the extent of the task before him...
I am not sure on how he reacted to the stuff we mailed to him in advance to allow him to prepare for the task at hand; the time schedule charts in excel, down to individual minutes, and long strings of text that it was VERY IMPORTANT that he read exactly as they were at exactly the right time. To solve the issue of translator, with a non Japanese speaking toastmaster, we simply assigned that to The Boy, who I perceive as a cross between my son and an immigrant worker I can abuse. He only needed to follow the toastmasters lead, so the work was considerably lighter.
One of the first things I did after my friend arrived in Japan was to take him to the wedding planner for a detailed review of the activities and his tasks during the reception together with the wedding planner. During the two hour long meeting where all details and events were discussed, my friends face got gradually whiter and whiter as the extent and responsibility of his task sank in, with a tight time schedule to manage, Japanese names to remember and things he needed to take care in, to not risk offending any conservative Japanese family member.
With the risk of ending this post with a little anti-climax, in the end, he passed it with flying colors and managed to keep a nice balance between Japanese time keeping and Swedish informality, making both sides of the family very happy with the event. But at the end, he looked completely exhausted and mentioned to us that "this isn't like a Swedish wedding at all, now I know how it must feel to be the MC of a royal wedding in Sweden...".
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Our IT-guy, true to form of all IT people I have ever known, is a little greasy, has a vague hint of BO and laughs at all the wrong things but is, when all is said and done, a nice harmless guy who mostly manages to stay away from the insanity on the sales and marketing front. As I was walking into the men's room to ease my bladder (without farting) I see the IT guy washing his hands very carefully and thoroughly by the sink, and after drying his hands in the horribly inefficient blow-dryer he turns around and walks decisively into one of the toilet booths…
The question that comes into my mind is how dirty must you be if you feel the need to wash your hands before you go take a dump?
Monday, November 23, 2009
I do however interact a lot with most departments in the company, both as support but also sometimes in a mild steering way (i.e. I don’t boss them around aggressively, but I do have some control over the direction). This works pretty well most of the time and I have good relations with the people. However, recently I have been working more closely with the finance department, something that I find pretty uninteresting, but there is stuff that I need to make sure is done correctly. The finance manager is a nice guy, but not very decisive and since a few weeks ago I started notice how one of his peons was starting to try to attach herself to me in terms of work. She started asking me questions directly on what to do and started reporting stuff to me first, bypassing her boss.
This is the version of infidelity inside the corporation and I can't pretend that I was completely innocent myself, I did play along to some extent. Nothing too serious though, but I had her do some work for me without me asking her boss, but no large important things, just some small menial tedious work I didn't wanna do myself and she volunteered. So maybe we "fooled around a bit" in boss - subordinate way, but I'm now worried that I might have created expectations in her that I can't meet. So recently I have been trying to cool things down, always refer her to her boss and not have her do work for me, however boring it might be, but I am not sure that the signals have gone through.
Friday, November 20, 2009
No. 3 Aleph – Aum Reloaded
To have Aum Shinrikyo on the list is a no brainer I think, but this once evil and dangerous cult has now degenerated into something more pathetic. After the horrible subway sarin gas attack and the subsequent dismantling of the cult, spiced up with good 'ol guru Shoko receiving the death penalty as he's gone completely over the edge flinging his feces around him as he talks jibberish naked in his cell (yeah, he's gone from dangerously insane to outright loon-crazy) the cult has been struggling. However, the cult did not completely die after the incident, although it obviously lost members and financial assets pretty radically. What makes this amusing is how some PR genius in the cult realized that “hey guys, maybe the name “Aum” has too much negativity now, let’s change the name” and the cult officially stated that the sarine attacks had been misguided and disowned former guru Shoko Asahara (but yeah, basically only the mass murder of innocent people, otherwise they still think he’s an all right dude) and changed the name to Aleph. And yeah, for some reason this great PR coupe didn’t create the boom that they expected, but I’m sure they’ll be back in the media later on!
No 2. Life Space – Return of the (Dead) Mummy
This cult was relatively benign, at least compared to Aum/Aleph and without having studied the details of their teachings, I believe that they originated from Sai Baba's new age mumbo jumbo and the cult leader had the pseudo-India cult leader look down pefectly. They were a pretty small cult and hit the news when a member had fallen sick (to be fair, it was an elderly person if I’'m not mistaken) and the cult had refused (probably with the consent of the patient) to get her the proper modern care that could have saved her. Instead the cult chanted and was going to save her through faith and their own interesting treatments. To no surprise the patient pretty soon passed away, but it's here where things took a turn to the bizarre. Instead of accepting that the individual had passed, the cult insisted that she was just recovering in a coma and would wake up very soon if they could just continue their “care”. This “treatment” carried on for considerable time and by the time police had been alerted to strange on-goings and odors and intervened at the apartment, the "sick" cult member had reached a stage of mummification…
Still, the cult would not acknowledge that she was actually very very dead but insisted that she could wake up any second. If I remember it correctly, the guru got a light prison sentence and the cult fell back into obscurity, but they should be credited with putting mummies on the news!
No 1. Pana Wave Research Institute - Whiteout!
This was a really hard choice, but from a personal stand point I do have to admit a weakness for sci-fi cults based on pseudo/bogus-science. I mean, who doesn't have fond memories of something relating to Heaven's Gate and Scientology? Some people probably would argue that a real cult should have a real bearded guru in the top and while I can understand that sentiment I do not completely agree. A large cult like scientology and smaller more radical ones such as Heaven's gate has shown that even the guru or fervent preacher deal is not the only route a cult can take these days.
Pana Wave hit the news some years ago as they were traveling around Japan in huge convoys with their white vans, cars and trucks and randomly (to an observer, internally I'm sure they had perfectly “logical” reasons) set up camps in the country side and only ventured outside dressed in white contamination protection suits, complete with goggles and facemasks. They put up huge white sheets around the areas where they performed their “work” – exactly what they were working with is still a bit unclear, but it seems like it was connected to saving the world from certain destruction (I do that every day so I know it can be tiring).
For a while they were regulars in the news as they moved around the country and made people highly uncomfortable with their mysterious activities. But it does seem that the cult was relatively benign and they were actually out to save the world and not to bring about its destruction… To my disappointment, the cult has been very silent recent years and since the founder and leader (a woman which is nice for a change) passed away a few years ago it is possible that the cult will fall into obscurity again.
Recently there has been few cult news here in Japan, but I'm sure something really bizarre will show up sooner or later, it always does...
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Just as the meeting started and Mr. Shachou was introducing the outline of the overall company strategy for 2010 and he was launching into a passionate speech about how we need to create better teamwork, someone in the front row let out a loud fart that echoed in the meeting room, but the cramped room made it impossible to locate the culprit. Mr. Shachou looked a little confused for a quarter of a second after which he continued his speech. As I looked around the room, not able to contain my giggling I noticed that I was the only one. Everyone in the audience managed to keep faces of stone.
I’d like to think that someone made a little rebellion to some bullshit in the presentation in his own little way, but it might just have been the bowels…
(Oh yeah, and the image is great, I got it off a real site you can check out here, no need to be shy about it!)
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
A little while back I got an offer from the hair salon I use in conjunction with my birthday where they offered me a free "scalp cleansing" the next time I came in for a haircut. I was going to ignore this since I'm happy with my scalp as it is and don't particularly want it cleansed. But when Mrs. Sunshine-Salaryman saw the postcard with the offer she convinced me to use it since "You'll really like it, it's almost like a massage".
With nothing to lose, since it was for free, I told the salon that I wanted to use the offer when I booked a time last weekend...
Now, as it turns out, a "scalp cleansing" consists of looking at my hair roots through some special type of "hair camera", getting some stuff massaged into the hair for 2-3min and then sitting in one of those machines that are used for perms for 10-15min with a towel wrapped around my head. It made me feel extremely unmanly. In conclusion, I won't advice you against doing this, but know what you will be exposing yourself to before you take up on an offer like this..
Monday, November 16, 2009
However, a health problem a few months ago, forced me to see the doctor and the verdict was pretty harsh. The doctor told me that to get rid of my problem, I needed to quit the nicotine since it had a very clearly proven connection to my problem. With some active encouragement from Mrs. Sunshine-Salaryman who saw an opening to get rid of a habit she dislikes, I did decide to kick the habit. I did take my time quitting, gradually cutting down on the dose week by week until, after around 3 months, I had completely kicked the habit. Probably due to the gradual reduction in nicotine I didn't really have any big difficulties in this.
I did not expect miracles, but I had read some stuff about people stating how their everyday health had been positively affected by quitting nicotine, in terms of having more energy, sleeping better and things like that, so I did have some expectations on feeling better. The original cause for quitting did heal but other physical effects were mostly of the negative nature; I felt like I had less energy, I was more sleepy and generally things were more boring without snus in my life. Ok, the original problem did heal completely with no risk of returning, that much I need to concede and I do save considerable amounts of money since importing the stuff started to cost quite a lot of money after the Japanese authorities realized that they should tax it… But even several months after quitting, when the nicotine dependence should be well out of the system, I did not really feel any different, just more tired and dull.
So, I made my decision, I quit quitting! I’m getting right back at it where I left off. Ok, the volume I am restarting the habit at is extremely small, but still.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Aquarius: 5 - Good combination of blue and white and an arc to add some flair
Kirin Loves Sports: 5 - Good combination of blue and white and an arc to add some flair
Sports Drink: 5 - Good combination of blue and white and an arc to add some flair
Pocari Sweat: 5 - You get a decent sports drink
For some reason, I personally prefer Aquarius and purchase that when available, but that is actually not based on any rationale or real affection to the brand or anything now that I think of it. I wonder if there are any people confident that they could taste the differences in a blind test of these drinks...
Thursday, November 12, 2009
An e-mail was sent out from some logistic people regarding a special shipment of products concerning both our QA, regulatory and marketing people in addition to our logistics. The mail is addressed to me and another person at the European site and has around 4 people cc:ed that I do not know who they are. However, when replying, I need to involve our local Japan people, so in addition to doing a “reply all” I also add 4 people of my own. The cc train is now up to 8 people.
The other person who was in the "to" line and at another site also replies and he adds an additional 6 people I have no idea who they are; we are now up to 14 people in the cc train.
The person who sent the original mail sends out another mail to confirm and check that everything has been correctly understood as in the earlier communication. She does a "reply all" and then for good measure seem to add another few people giving a record ~16 people cc:ed in the mail. I reply back with "This is ok for Japan" and did consider to trim the cc field a little, but hey, someone made the judgement that they would benefit from the information so who am I to argue?
The more the merrier I guess...?
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
But this time I thought I should, completely for free, offer everyone some instructions on how you can become a master of utilizing images to reinforce the message in a corporate communications environment. In fact, the images you need to have available at your disposal are very few and if you use them correctly you can become a master of internal communications, the medium would most likely be some form of coporate intranet or newsletter. I will now show you the four images that you need to master and instruct you in the proper use.
1. The Trophy
The Trophy is a very powerful image and should be utilized in cases when a big tender has been won or a significant objective achieved. As a concrete example the trophy could be used to illustrate an article with the heading “Norwegian subsidiary breaks sales record”. The image can be used with or without hands holding it, hands are preferably included since it also gives an image of teamwork.
2. The Handshake
The handshake is also a very powerful tool and should be used when you need to illustrate something related to teamwork, it can be used for both internal situations when illustrating some work that is conducted across the company and can also be used to illustrate external teamwork with another company, research site or similar. For rare cases it can be used to illustrate large sales deal, but only if the trophy has been used very recently and is best not used.
3. The man climbing a graph
Another very useful and powerful image to be used when illustrating something in progress where the final result is not yet known (but the trophy would likely be used) but to show how hard people are working and how they are heading for success. A concrete example could be to use it in an article discussing how the Iceland subsidiary has made an ambitious plan on how to start marketing canned whale meat and how the company supports this. Please note that this picture needs to be of a man, a woman cannot be used.
4. The Computer
The final image you need to master is the computer, this is the jack-of-all-trades for you, you can use that to illustrate all the things that do not fit any of the images above. It can be used for all those "rental car provider has changed" and "please use this travel agent" or "new meeting tools available" or whatever you can imagine, just use the computer image.
These are all the images you need to master and remember that everything is progress and that there is no such things as negative trends!
Monday, November 9, 2009
He was positively beaming as he told me how he felt like he had gotten a "new lease on life". After listening to this for a while I replied back "well, that’s great you know, but if you think about it, nothing really happened and you’re actually just as miserable as you were three weeks ago" as he had been pretty miserable and fed up with work. It was like a cloud passed over his face as his beaming smile turned into a concerned frown and I walked away to get myself another cup of coffee humming a merry tune to myself.
I actually didn’t mean to ruin his joy, I was just trying to help him get things in perspective and I did feel slightly bad for pissing all over his little parade…
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
As a blogger, one thing that makes it fun is when I see someone spending a whole day reading through my blog post by post and I can just assume that the person is enjoying it since considerable time is put into reading it all.
It’s also fun when you see a new place linking the blog and/or commenting on it on their blog/homepage (like My Man in Abiko and Karen did way back in the day).
It’s fun when you can be a part of inspiring someone to start writing a blog of their own (thinking of Bizarro Salaryman in Germany who should post more and have a lot more readers, and the pleasant Californian Nikkei).
It’s fun when someone mails you a question or just a greeting (thinking of Ms. Picnic girl who was trying to set up her boyfriend for a romantic picnic in Tokyo and the guy who triggered the whole serious “looking for a job” post earlier).
It’s fun when you find out you have readers from places you wouldn’t really expect it (thinking of Ms. Aethist black woman who has a serious blog about race, religion and more lighter topics like child abuse)
It’s fun when you notice a ton of readers hitting the page hard due to japanprobe.com putting a link to a post on their front page or finding out that the site blacktokyo.com features my “getting married in Japan” series (brothers and sisters are always welcome around, regardless of skin color!)
It’s fun when you see some new people commenting on posts but also always fun to see the regulars commenting (thinking particularly of Chris and the Penguin here)
As long as any of the above is happening it’s fun to keep it up, since I’m not doing it for the money, but yeah, with almost 500 pages of text now if copied down to word maybe I should start to more seriously considering trying to have an actual book made at some point (hey, anyone who has any tips and advice, let me know!).