Saturday, December 27, 2008

Passive Aggressive Subway Notes

I've gotten hooked on and decided to post one of my own. Here it is:

Please Do It At Home

As any frequenter of the Tokyo subway system knows, the way the management tries to get people to behave is through some very PA notes. These notes normally include guilt-trip oriented cartoons... ie, adorable grannies looking sad because they can't sit in the Priority Seating.
This time they really outdid themselves and have made a whole series of "Do it at ..." posters, showing where you should be doing the inappropriate behavior. ..I'm slightly dissapointed there hasn't been one made of a couple making out (caption: "Do it at the Love Hotel".)

full set here!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Just In Case Your Mother Isn't Doing The Job

Today I got an email from my placement company's Mental Health Department. Normally they just say "Come in for counseling if you have concerns!"... but today's was a real keeper. Apparently it is flu season and they are concerned for their employees. Wouldn't want us to take any days off sick!

While I could translate this properly, it is much more amusing to run it through BabelFish and let you guys try to figure out what it says.

"Securely taking the meal and sleep well, it will do the body making which is not defeated to cold."

手洗い・うがいを心がけましょう。特に外出から戻ったときには、 必ず行いましょう。
"Aim to do toilet gargling .
Especially when returning from going out, be sure to do."

マスクは風邪をひいてからではなく、外出するときに着用することで ウイルス侵入を防ぐことができます。
After the mask catching cold, is not, when going out, it is possible to prevent virus invasion by the fact that it wears.

Let's aim to do the above and please pass vigorously.

Ahh, Babelfish. The best source for free Engrish lessons.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dear Santa

Hey guys. It's nearing the Christmas season so I thought I'd share with you my recent exchange with a jolly old saint we all know and love.

Dear Santa,
Takeshi and I have been pretty good this year. I paid off my student loans, which has to count for a few hundred "goodness" bonus points, right? ...please feel free to ignore the fact that I missed, well pretty much everyone's birthday and sent lame 'happy belated' emails, and sometimes only Facebook Wall comments, to them instead of presents.

So I am writing you, Mr Claus, to plead the case for new household appliances.

1) Refrigerator.
Our refrigerator's main compartment is on the brink and is about as warm as the rest of the house. You are probably thinking this is not a problem as Japanese apartments are, for some reason that escapes me, not insulated and therefore pretty cold. But let me assure you, the milk and eggs seem to disagree. Let's not even go into the smell of raw fish coming from a malfunctioning refrigerator.

2) (Clothes) drying machine.
Yes, we do not have one. No, it is not common to have one here. Yes, that is very strange that in a country where it rains perhaps twice a week, and sometimes nonstop for a whole two months, they have not discovered the marvelous invention that is the drying machine.
As I'm working now and can't rescue the clothes when the aforementioned rain starts to fall, we have been trying to dry our clothes in the house, by hanging it on the door frame of our bedroom. Please, Santy, we have to duck under wet clothes to get into the bedroom. Every time! And clothes take 2 days to dry in the house. Can you see my tears? Can't ya?

3) Dishwasher.
While not perhaps *strictly* neccessary, in households where there are two workers, it becomes a battle of wills as to who has to do chores. We have taken to sneakily stacking them unwashed in the sink, hoping the other person will do them. These dishes stay unwashed sometimes days at a time.
They have sometimes even been known to evolve into the dread Mountain of Dirty Dishes. This mountain's peak is yet uncharted, but jaded mountain climbers who are sick of Mount Everest are hungrily eyeing the top as a worthy opponent.

4) New mattress.
Although I blogged with pride only two years ago about our new mattress from Ikea (one of the years we were in New York, not even using it), our mattress has developed a large sinking depression in the middle. Like an annoying relative, no matter how often and creatively we try to get rid of it, it keeps returning to cause a pain in the neck.
As a very late afterthought, I checked for consumer reviews of Ikea mattresses. Damn. 10 reviews, and every review gave the SULTAN mattress 1/10!!

So as you can see, the case is dire. Please give us stuff from the list and we'll give you lots and lots of milk and cookies!
Love, Kyra and Takeshi.

Dear K&T,

While I would love to deliver the above-mentioned gifts, have you seen the size of my sled lately? There's barely enough room for a couple of my elves, let alone three large appliances and a mattress.
By the way, have you taken into consideration that I am both elderly and overweight?It would take WAAAAY more than milk and cookies to get me to haul that stuff from the North Pole.

Best of Luck,
Santa Claus

Well, I guess there's always Yamada Denki.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Turkey Day in Tokyo

The week before thanksgiving,I was definitely feeling it.

By it, I mean, the holiday spirit haunting your thoughts and making you want to celebrate the day in the traditional style, preferably by overdoing it. This is probably the same urge that makes otherwise entirely sane people cover their roofs in tacky fake santa clauses, complete with moving riendeer and blinding lights that cause sticker shock when you see the electricity bill.

Unfortunately for the Thanksgiving Holiday Spirit, This Thanksgiving was spent in a city that doesn't give Thursday off for a traditional American holiday. Or the following Friday.
In fact, the total amount of thanksgiving time off is 0 hours, unless you count the previous Monday which is off, and is called 'kandou no hi'. (Thankfulness day). But it's just not the same, because no one eats turkey, yams or mashed potatoes on Kandou no hi. Nobody does *anything* on Kandou no hi. The only thing they are thankful *for* is the fact that the japanese government has been upping the number of three day weekends to a crazy number. (there were two in November alone!).

So on Kandou no Hi I found that entirely against my will, not only was I looking up recipes for soup and dinner rolls, I was absentmindedly googling for turkey.
As in, "Where to buy turkey Tokyo". (Nothing good).
and in, "Turkey Japan" (Nada).
Or finally as an act of despiration, "Whats a giajin to do to get some damn turkey around here?!"
But alas, 0 hits. The giant bird was proving to be elusive.

Finally, thanks to Metropolis, my very favorite foreign magazine dedicated to English speaking Expats living in Tokyo, I found a lead. For all others like me, who are googling the above phrases, you can get a TURKEY in TOKYO, JAPAN for THANKSGIVING at the Kinokuniya supermarket right by Omotesando station on Aoyama-doori. (-street). You don't even have to order in advance, they have frozen butterballs, and they even have turkey stuffing and cranberry sauce! Heaven!

Standing there in front of the turkeys, I conjured up a mental image of our tiny oven, (it's so high tech it has both a microwave, and a convection oven feature! I didn't believe it until I had made some toast in the microwave. Awesome. Unfortunately, it's.. the size of a microwave oven...) I realized there would be no room for Butterballs. Sigh. But I found a tiny turkey, which turned out to be a baby turkey, so I feel a little guilty about cutting short its tiny feathered life. But it fit!

This was the first time I ever roast a turkey on my own. Luckily I didn't spoil it.
Not so luckily, Takeshi decided to go fishing that morning, and for the first time this year, caught about six huge ocean fish, which he decided needed to be descaled and cleaned right as the turkey was finished defrosting. But true to form, he cleaned them at frightening speed and soon nothing was left in my way but the odd scale. So, guests, if you found some fish scales in your turkey, please be aware that it was not some ungodly fish-bird-hybrid creature I was feeding you. (At least, it didn't say so on the label.)

Since there was no time off on Thursday or Friday, and I didn't feel like working 9 hours and then having a cooking marathon, I decided Saturday was the new Thanksgiving.
As it was only a baby turkey, after all, we only had a few guests over. I decided to subject Takeshi's family to an "American Experience", meaning they could not do many of the very Japanese things they wanted. Here are some of the things that I vetoed as definitely NOT American:

*Eating dinner at the kotatsu. (No!)
*Using chopsticks. (NO NO!)
*Drinking sake instead of wine. (NO NO NO NO!!! What, you trying to destroy thanksgiving here?!)

So, eating at the *dining room table*, using *forks knives and spoons*, and drinking *red wine*, we had: Turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, salad, cream of carrot soup, and mashed potatoes. The dishes were all traditional, following the Thanksgiving template my holiday memory craved. (Well... except for the very japanese sweet beans and rice dish my mother in law brought, so apparently I'm not a total nazi.)

And finally, finally, the holiday spirit was sated, sinking back into the earth to wait until next year to haunt again. Or.. at least until Christmas. (Please stop me if you catch me googling for "giant novelty santa claus roof ornaments Tokyo".)