Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Working with Americans...

I feel mentally finished
Generally, I am pretty comfortable working with Americans. At least there's no language barrier there, but having business meetings with Americans usually leave me quite exhausted. Us from Sweden, we come from a cold and harsh country where communication is kept to a bare minimum. I did a post on it a while back (see here).

Having a meeting with Americans usually requires at least twice the time compared to a meeting with the same agenda with only Japanese people. The reason is that Americans like to hear their own voice and be active in the meeting, irrespective whether they actually have anything to contribute or not. I just came out of a meeting and it went something like this (discussing a product launch):

Mr. Salaryman: So, all things considered, I think that we should focus our promotional message on the usability of the device and also highlight the user interface that we designed especially for Japan
American 1 Mike: Yeah, I think it would make sense to focus our messaging on the usability because that's one of needs we want to address, but the user interface is important too
American 2 Jessica: I agree with what you guys just said, the user interface is really nice to show but in the end the usability is where we make or break it so that's our core focus
American 3 Ray: I think Jessica really hit an important point there, the interface is really unique so that's definitely something that we want to include in our messaging so let's position that after the usability
Mr. Salaryman: OK, that's great, sounds like we're all in agreement then, let's focus on usability first and then the user interface in our messaging
Jessica: I completely agree, usability first, then interface
Mike: Definitely usability, then interface
Ray: Sounds fantastic, let's just not forget to include the user interface
Mr. Salaryman: (Screaming inside my head: IF WE WERE ALL IN AGREEMENT FROM THE BEGINNING, WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT THIS??!!!) For sure, let's not forget that. Shall we move on to the next point?
Jessica: I really like the concept of the usability as the pillar in communication
Mike: Yeah, it's a fantastic concept!
Mr. Salaryman: (checking out and hums the A-team theme song inside my head until the heated discussion about something we all agree on finally dies out)

I find it mentally exhausting, but at least people are friendly and talkative...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What're you up to?

What's he up to?
Two months into the relentless Japanese summer, it's hard to muster up enough energy to go to the bathroom anymore, let alone update the blog. I try to tell myself that in just a little less than a month things will start to cool down a bit.

Meanwhile, while I try to gather up energy to write the post that I took this picture from. Can any of my incredibly clever readers figure out what this little fella has been up to? The picture is taken from a poster seen in some places in Tokyo.

The real post will follow later on...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The lack of good deodorant and the horrors it cause...

No, it's her pretty little...
I've lived in Japan now a little over ten years and over just these ten years life has become much more convenient. Obviously things like e-mail, Facebook, Internet news, bittorrent with easy download of tv-shows and magazines from the home country has made it much easier to stay connected to old friends and the news on what's going on in the old country. Over these ten years Internet shopping has also evolved considerably and since a few years back the Japanese Amazon online shop has plenty of reasonably priced import stuff available through themselves or any of the companies that sell through them. Stuff like Swedish books, newspapers and magazines I can also easily get digitally for the iPad. 

Smaller import shops are also getting much more common and since last year our local import shop of the "Kaldi" chain started selling some popular Swedish brands of food carrying even those pickled red beets that no one but the Swedes (and possibly the Finns and Russians) eat. Just earlier in the year they also started selling Swedish instant mashed potato. So nowadays there are very few things that I can't get my filthy hands on here in Japan. I shudder to think how those people who lived here before the advent of e-mail, Internet and fast and cheap shipments to Japan managed to survive far away from the home country and the news over there... 

However, there is one thing that the Japanese have yet to fully discover... The benefits of using deodorant during the hot summer months... It's practically impossible to get one's hands on a decent can of deodorant here, the few brands that are available through pharmacies mostly seem to be perfume with very little longer term effect against the sweating and stink. Nor has it been particularly easy to find online either and in previous years I have been hoarding up on it during overseas trips only recently found an online shop that carried the brands that I want to use. 

But the real problem isn't me and deodorant, the real problem is the lack of usage overall here in Japan. Particularly the train rides can turn into marathon sessions of armpit stink surrounding me on all fronts and being the only person actually using deodorant gives me little help or comfort... Someone needs to start a serious "armpit odour awareness" week here in Japan... Just a couple of more months I keep telling myself and soon autumn will be here... 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Condoms of Japan

As me and Mrs. Sunshine are quite happy with the two little critters we have managed to produce with no immediate wish to further expand the family we use the well proven method of birth control through condoms. As the stock was running a little low I took it upon me to order some more through Amazon.

I buy foreign brand condoms since I know that the size and quality is something I'm comfortable with. After some searching I found a brand I like, 100 condoms in one package (hey, I know I'm overreaching here as two small kids and an active sex-life doesn't really add up, but better to have too many than lacking when we get to it!) and was going to go ahead and buy it when I noticed that the review score was only one star out of five... To make sure to avoid a wrong purchase I checked out the review to see what the problem might be. It was a short, slightly bitter sounding review in Japanese saying something like "I thought this was a great deal but when I tried it I realised that it's not made in Japanese size, I'm really disappointed". That sealed the deal for me as I wanted to avoid "Japanese size".

But there are also many Japanese brand condoms that I felt very tempted to try out and thought I should give you a quick rundown on the brands that I felt were very interesting and what personality types they might be targeting in their marketing. I have earlier done some research into the condom market of Japan (see post here) but thought I should update it a little with this new information.

1. For the guy with a lot of built up aggression - Hokuto-no-ken

I think the picture speaks for itself. I can just imagine the powerful impact that a pack of these might have during a hot date when the girl asks "wait, do you have a condom?". Pulling out a package of these surely will show that you're a guy that doesn't mess around and take lovemaking very very seriously.

2. For the Player - Gokuusu 0.03

Which girl wouldn't be completely and thoroughly impressed with a guy who pulls out a pack of these? The picture on the package very clearly signals that this is a guy who knows what he wants and how to please the women! The picture is slightly censored by me as the actual picture is so hot and sexy that it's sure to make the blood get pumping in men and female alike.

3. For the Guy who doesn't really want to have sex - Rilakkuma

These condoms take it a bit safer and are probably made for the guys who actually doesn't really want to get laid, but rather sit around and play cards instead. The image confuses me a bit, either it signals a preference to playing cards or the bears and duck sit around playing cards waiting for their friends to finish making love? The expression on the white bear also makes me a bit confused, either she (?) is sad because the guy she fancies is sleeping with someone else or she already got hers but wasn't really comfortable with the experience?

4. For the Guy who is more concerned with manicure - The "Findom" Finger Condoms
I'm not sure what to say here so I'll just keep my mouth shut...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

This wasn't in the job description... (the insects...)

No, I would not do her whatever you would offer!
So far I think I've handled the family life here in Japan pretty OK if I may say so myself. I get along well with the neighbours, have toddler Sunshine play well with the swarm of children around her age roaming the streets of our little enclave.

Among the younger children in the neighbourhood, it seems like boys are in a majority and although I have gotten some minor concerns about Baby Salaryman from observing them play, it's mostly minor stuff like accepting the fact that Baby Salaryman is bound to be more excited by some form of Power Rangers, Gamen Rider and Gundam Giant Robots than Superman, Spider-man and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Although I find the prospect of this somewhat alarming I also realize that it will be a losing battle to try and fight it straight on and have come to terms that it's what happens when you raise a boy in Japan.

However, now in the hot summer months I realised another terrible thing that will be extremely hard to avoid... The insects... Japanese kids love to catch insects, trap them in containers and keep them as some form of pets. These insects are nothing like an innocent ant-farm, we're talking real beasts here like the Rhinoceros Beetle that can be of the size of almost a fully grown persons palm of the hand. Then of course an assortment of other larger sized insects with legs, antennas and nasty stuff all over the place. To my horror I heard that the kids catch these monster bugs in our local small park during the night, supported by their fathers who help them find and catch the bugs...

As you might already have figured out, I have difficulties with bugs. Granted, the fear, disgust and hatred I feel for the cockroach is special but I there is no love lost between me and bugs in general. I did not realise that being a good father here in Japan included encouraging my male offspring to hunt and play with these monster bugs. I guess I have another couple of years to figure out how to manage this, but perhaps I can outsource this part of Japanese parenthood to the father-in-law and keep our house bug-free? any case, I think I might have found out the reason why Insect Porn actually has a market here in Japan...
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