Monday, September 27, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
The above comparison should provide all the information you need to understand the differences between K-pop and J-pop!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Having found the perfect place for the Salaryman family and sitting down in the office of the real estate agent to start getting the purchase in motion, there was the slight issue of the loan we needed to take...
Basically we sat down and needed to fill out about hundreds of pages of forms to declare our intent to buy the house. Also, we needed to, within a few days, make a cash down payment of about a million Japanese yen (roughly $10,000 USD) which would not be returned in case we changed our minds our wanted to cancel the purchase. "Fair enough" we thought since our intent would withdraw the house from the market and make sure that it wouldn't be snatched up form under our noses.
Now, the only issue we faced was to secure the finances we needed to actually buy the house (generally, you need to cough up between $300,000-500,000 USD for a decent new house in the Tokyo area). Since we, the Salaryman family lacked the means to buy the house with cash, taking a loan was the only feasible option, and this is where all the hilarity started...
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
So far she has managed to scare of the baby-loving and always pleasant Mother-in-Law, from babysitting her, after a one-to-one 4 hour bout of savage crankiness, especially since the mere sight of a nipple made of artificial material (not attached to a boob at one end) seem to be one trigger of the transformation. She has agreed to babysit her as long as one of her handlers (i.e. me or Mrs. Sunshine-Salaryman) is around to control her, which, mind you, kinda defeats the purpose of "babysitting"...
Thursday, September 16, 2010
But at the heart of it all, Japanese are people like any other once you get through the cultural barriers. This might be easier said than done since it is difficult without strong knowledge of the Japanese language. Something that I do find extremely annoying though is when people, either knowingly or due to ignorance, throws gasoline onto the fire to reinforce how alien and different the Japanese are from everyone else in the world... Of course, in the world of business and corporate stupidity, due to trying to compress everything into an executive summary that ends up saying nothing at all, this can take pretty interesting forms.
Like most things like this, the text takes a basis from reality, although an outdated one (not taking into account that Japan, Japanese people and the culture has changed in the last ~15 years), a misunderstanding of the word "sensei" (very common and it's not as fantastic to be called a "sensei" as some people might think, you could be the expert in building Gundam models and be sure to find someone that is impressed enough that they label you a sensei) and simplifies thing into pure stupidity.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I believe that my action was fair and didn't constitute a breach of the commuting code since it wasn't really completely clear who was standing in front of the man and therefore would have first dibs on the seat. Also considering that we both (at least, I assume as much) healthy adults and that the general "women first" protocol does not apply to the commute. But as I sat down and briefly looked up, I was met with a very hostile killer glare from my female commuting friend...
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
After several months of scanning the Internet and going to check out houses, we finally managed to find a house that looked basically perfect. One of our biggest requirements, and also hurdle, was our wish to have a decent sized living room where we could fit in a nice big corner sofa and also have some room for the baby to play in. Most of the houses we saw were of decent size in terms of sqm, but usually had a quite small living room (~15-20sqm or so perhaps).
Before we went to see the place we had quite high hopes since we had seen the layout, knew the location, price and all of it seemed to meet our initial requirements, so the deal breaker would be if the distance to the train station would be misleading in the papers or that the designer had been drunk when choosing the color schemes etc. in the house.
As we met up with the in-laws, who joined in for support, and discussed our strategy, we decided to use English as much as possible when expressing our opinions on stuff to not give away too much to the sales rep (who we correctly assumed wouldn't be able to understand English). This was probably good in theory, but practically completely unnecessary since even a deaf sales rep would be able to read our reactions as we enthusiastically checked out the place and found it to be basically perfect and what we had been looking for since several months back and almost given up on.
After seeing the house and sat down with the rep, we quite quickly made it clear that we wanted the house (note to self; next time buying a house, trying to negotiate price before saying "it's great, we want it!" might give a stronger position for negotiations). For obvious reasons, the rep was more than happy to sell us the house, but also needed to get things put in motion for the huge loan that we needed to take, as well as a down payment of 1 million Yen (~$10K USD) in cash within a few days... The down payment we could scavenge up without too much effort.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
- Hello Kitty
Common for all of the above is that they are all more than just a merchandising decoration even if their origin differs (e.g. Doraemon was a comic from the start, Hello Kitty was invented as a "cute" mascot, Pokemon started in the video game series). But you can find everything from toys, cartoons, comics and video games featuring these popular mascots these days.
Although you could likely segment most of the above according to popularity in age, boys vs. girls, tweens, "grown" people etc. there is one of these who have a unique position in the Japanese market. Of course I'm talking about the one and only Anpanman. Anpanman and his stooges completely dominate the character market for the younger ages (say 2~5 year old toddlers). I find the character disturbing in many ways and for a grown person it is hard to see the appeal this surreal character and his buddies hold for the toddler, but his grip is extremely strong. In fact, on of our neighbors have a daughter around a year old, who has yet started to speak except for one word; "Anpanman!", which came before "mommy" or "daddy".
I fear for the time when Anpanman will casts his spell on Baby Sunshine...
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Outside of Japan, thinking of Europe and the US, it is not extremely unusual to have full blown certified medical doctors leaving the patient treating setting of hospitals and clinics, going into corporate jobs full time, putting their skills to use in the field of sales and marketing. Just in my company I know quite a few working in central functions (and a few working locally in their country subsidiary). It is usually seen as somewhat impressive and these M.D.s are not perceived as failures or "traitors" for leaving the call of healing for the call of selling and making money.
However, in Japan, it is extremely unusual to have a certified M.D. taking a job as a corporate man, working extra as some form of consultant is perfectly ok, but not going full time Salaryman.
The other day I talked to a Japanese friend and former colleague from the consultancy. His father is a quite respectable hospital manager and certified M.D. of a quite large hospital in south Japan and apparently he often gives his opinion of corporate M.D.'s; "An M.D. who doesn't work in a hospital or university is mentally unstable, has some form of complex or did something really wrong so he couldn't work as a doctor any more. Never trust such a person!".
The view is similar to that of an "actress" going into porn, taking a step from a revered and perceived classy profession down to something somewhat similar but dirty and only about the money. In Japan, M.D.s are treated with such respect that it's hard to imagine why anyone would leave that position to go down to the dirty squabbling and bargaining of a corporate Salaryman.
So, if you have any M.D. friends gone corporate outside of Japan, please feel free to retell this little anecdote and make sure that they are aware how they would be perceived if it had been in Japan!