電武士

news and views from michael rollins in tokyo

Category: Life in Japan (page 1 of 8)

My socialized medicine horror story

My knee has been bothering me for weeks. I’m pretty sure I overexerted it during a tougher-than-expected boot camp-style workout class at my local gym. It was an hour of non-stop activity, with round after round of lunges and squats, high-knees running and stepping up onto things. The class itself was painful, obviously (it should be, right?), but it wasn’t until the next day that I realized how much I had overdone it. My knees berated me for weeks afterward the only way they know how, with popping, pain and inflammation. They eventually got the better of me, and I decided it was time to have the more painful of them looked at.

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50 Faces of Sports Day

If you live in Japan and have kids you’re almost certain to attend one or more undokai (運動会, or Sports Day) each year. With two young girls I get to enjoy them perhaps more often than I would like, but usually manage to have a good time, even with the criminally early Saturday start time and hours of standing around in the sun.

This year I came equipped with a DSLR and zoom lens, and filled the spaces between the various sporting events by snapping pics of the people participating in and attending the event. These fifty faces of Sports Day are what I came away with.

From Autumn Undokai – Fifty Faces

A Lament for Those Left Behind

The events of March 11th are already beginning to recede into memory, nudged along perhaps by the weighty demands of the work that piled up in the week that followed, a week now essentially a wash. Once back home, however, one need only watch the evening news  to see that the horrific reality of it all lingers still .

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Kawasaki Halloween Festival 2010

The end of October each year finds La Cittadella and much of the rest of Kawasaki surrounding the station filled with costumed Halloween revelers and a massive throng of spectators. The event gets bigger and better produced every year, and for the first time the family and I decided to join in the festivities. We chose Alice in Wonderland for our theme, with me as the Mad Hatter, R as the Red Queen, M as the White Queen and S as Alice. We bought basic costumes online and then embellished them with add-ons and other assorted touches. We thought we were looking pretty fine, until we got to the venue and had a look at how the pros do it. Here are some examples.

Looking forward to doing it again (and better) next year!

You can see the full gallery (with high-res versions) on my Picasa site.

Tokyo’s Coffee Shops, Best to Worse

1. Tully’s. Understated, cozy, jazzy BGM. 「アメリカノ、お湯少なめで。」
2. DEAN & DELUCA. Expensive and worth it.
3. Seattle’s Best Coffee. Very few Tokyo locations. Enjoy it at Beacon after lunch.
4. Sagafredo Zanetti. Stylish and tasty.
5. Starbucks. What’s to say?
6. Kohikan. Home to the shortest chairs in Tokyo and dated “Blue Mountain”-type offerings.
7. Pronto. My morning stop-in, mostly owing to a local lack of Tully’s.
8. Doutour. Widest demographic swath of them all. Taxi drivers sipping and smoking next to teenyboppers.
9. Cafe Veloce. The chain most often selected by salarymen for a quick meeting or post-meeting chat.
10. Renoir. Step back in time to Japan, 1985. Lots of deals and calls being made, stick-around-a-while furniture, refills.
11. Excelsior. So bad on so many levels.

A boy stands shouting

img_0771…some feet away from me at the bottom of Miyamasu-zaka. He’s maybe 12 years old, and bellows in short bursts agan and again as I wait for the light. The noise of the street makes it hard to hear what he is saying, so I walk over and ask him.

“What is that you’re you saying?” I ask.
He shows me the small book he holds in his hands. Seven statements are printed there in large, vertical text.
“It’s this. They say if you read them aloud again and again 喜びが湧く (you’ll be overcome with joy).”
“Does it work?,” I ask.
“It does!,” he says. “My father used to drink, and when he would get drunk he and my mother would fight. It was awful. But when I started reading this aloud he stopped, and now he and my mother are very happy.”
“You must be happy, too.”
“I am,” he says with a quick smile.
“よかったね。頑張ってください (That’s good. You keep it up, okay?),” I say.
“頑張ります (I will),” he says, and I can see that he means it.

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