Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Attack of the Translation Software

My dad arrived in Japan yesterday to teach in Tokyo for a couple of days. It didn't take him long to find a good example of why not to use translation software;

"Message from the Hotel Manager
I newly prepared the room with a massage chair. It relaxes slowly and gets.

* The visitor of reservation also does procedure, such as check-in, to an annex in the main building front."

Usually when he comes to Japan on business, his office books his return flight a few days after he's finished the course he teaches so that he can come and stay with me, near Nagoya, for a few days. Sadly, this time a different person booked his trip and didn't know about this, so he's flown all the way here and we won't get a chance to catch up face to face. It's especially dissapointing as we had planned to celebrate his 60th birthday which is next week. I believe he will be seeing my cousin though, who lives in Tokyo and has recently married a sweet Japanese woman.

Enjoy Japan dad!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Vending Machine Fashion

Personally, I have always thought there were enough vending machines in Japan. Apparently fashion designer Ms Tsukioka agrees and came up with this design as a quick disguise for while on the streets of Japan. Handy when you see and ex that you don't want to talk to... beats hiding behind a post. Mind you, it looks so realistic that I'd be concerned about people coming and pushing buttons, trying to buy a drink. I'm very ticklish!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


I'm sometimes amazed at what you can't buy over the counter in a pharmacy here.

Last year, while in the middle of a bad asthma attack, I discovered that my inhaler which I only use about twice a year, was empty. I wheezed my way over to the drug store only to find out that asthma medicine is only sold with a prescrition in Japan.

A few years ago, a dentist looked at my OTC Australian iboprofen brand of choice and was shocked at its strength, he said it was four times stronger than what he as a medical professional was allowed to prescribe.

Tonight, alas, I have a coldsore. I haven't had one in years and realised that I don't have any cream. Luckily, it's hiding behind the corner of my lip and is not too noticable, but its one of those horrible whole-cheek's-on-flame-pain-behind-the-eye ones. I went to the chemist only to be told that I would have to go to the hospital to get cream, after he exclaimed in a really projected voice "You have herpes!?!" Mmm... I won't be showing my face around town for a while now.

A bit of a bump in the road

I can quite rightly say that I feel like I've been hit by a truck. It was a small truck at least.

Wayne and I had a full weekend planned this past weekend, though it didn't go quite as expected. Strangely enough, this time last year, we had the same weekend planned, but didn't make it to any of the festivals as Wayne was diagnosed as being "diseased in the head" and was admitted (or should I say commited) to hospital. I'm thinking of boycotting the same weekend next year.....

We started off the weekend well, did a bit of work, ran a few errands and had a really yummy pasta and pizza lunch. We then headed off to Mino city, in Gifu Prefecture that is famous for its paper. There, I stocked up on yuzen washi. The lovely town with preserved old wooden buildings was in full swing preparing for its annual lantern festival that we planned to go to that night.

We then started making our way to Seki, to meet our friend Natsuki and check out the Seki Hamono Festival, or rather the Seki Cutlery Festival. Sounds exciting doesn't it! It would be more accurate to call it the Seki Things-You-Can-Cut-Stuff-With Festival, as it is mainly swords and knives, hense Wayne was very eager to go. Sitting in the car at a red light, Wayne and I were reflecting on how nice it was to actually get out of the house for once and that we should do it more often, when BANG our car was thrown forward and bodies thrust about like car crash dummies.

When my brain stopped rattling, I looked behind us at the small truck that had run into us, and just as I was thinking that I needed to pull into the side street, there was a police man in the windscreen gesturing for us to do so as soon as the light turned green. They had seen it all happen.

The little old man that had hit us was shaking and confused. I didn't want to say anything to him as a friend of mine had dug herself into a hole in a similar accident a few years ago. She had gotten very angry at the man who had hit her new car and then later apoligised for yelling at him. He tried to use that apology as evidence that the accident had been her fault.

The two young policemen were friendly and helpful. It's funny what goes through your head at the time, I was thinking "I'm glad they saw what happened, I'm really glad I have a Japanese drivers licence and I really hope they don't tell me off for not having my learner driver sticker on the car like my Japanese licence says I should even though I've been driving for 14 years, three of those in Japan."

After a quick call and a chat to one of the policemen, Natsuki came to our aid. Communicating with the old man was difficult and we needed his details for the insurance company. Natsuki struggled with him for about half an hour until we finally got his name, address and phone number.

Luckily, there was very little damage to the car or to us. The hatchback now can't be opened so that will require repairing. If we had the same accident in Australia, it would be considered to be 100% the other guys fault. Not so in Japan. We are considered 5% liable, simply for being there.

We still made it for a quick look at the blades at the Seki festival, but still feeling shaken (quite litterally) and rather achey, we decided to skip the Mino Lantern Festival. The next morning we rose early, donned our festival happi coats and spent a day participating in a local village harvest festival. Rain hampered our festival plans for Monday, but to be honest, by then we were ready for a rest and a bit of quiet.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Coming to Japan?

Sorry I haven't blogged for a while... I've had some crazy, busy days here. They are still continuing, so this is just a quick post before bed...

There are times in Japan, luckily not too often, that I feel like a criminal just for being a foreigner.

I forgot to tell you that when I came back from my trip to Japan, I was asked by police to produce my alien card. It was a first for me. Of course I had to show my "Certificate of Alien Registration" in immigration, that was expected. But later, as Wayne and I were waiting for our train, outside of the the airport, we and other foreigners waiting were asked to produce our cards again, this time to different officials. The police officer then interviewed me for about ten minutes as he took down all my details and also asked to see my passport and visa.

I believe that years ago when gaijin applied for their alien cards, they were fingerprinted. This was stopped a number of years ago, sometime before I first came here in 1999. Well it seems like it's back! Not only for foreigners planning on staying for an extended period, but anyone entering the country. Mel gave me the heads up and you can see more about it here. By the way, make sure to say "Cheese"!