Alien (n)ation

“Hey look, a foreigner!”

Two high school girls giggling and pointing on their way home yesterday.

Were I to receive a report card, my efforts at trying to blend in and go unnoticed whilst pottering about would at best receive a ‘could do better’.

But surely that begs the question: should I really have to?

Pick up a penguin

Amid all the furore concerning Japan’s scientific whale hunting and the introduction of blubber burgers in some restaurants, the nation’s penchant for penguin might just go unnoticed.

penguin bar

Ok, I’ll admit that the restaurant/bar doesn’t actually serve penguin – at least not that I’m aware of – but it does claim to have one of the comical and flightless birds on the premises.

For what reason is anybodies guess.

Country criticism

Whilst the word countryside conjures up many images, such as fields festoon with faeces, irate farmers, and fox hunting toffs, it’s not all bad. There’s the beautiful scenery, homemade jam, and the fresh smell of faeces flowers.

In Japan however, inaka (the countryside) seems wholly bad. Certainly in Tokyo anyway. It’s generally used as a term of derision, and arguably at its mildest means backwards and unfashionable. Which in regards to the latter especially, is akin to calling someone’s partner pug ugly. Well, almost.

Yet for some reason this only really dawned on me the other day. As when out near my sister-in-law’s place in west Tokyo, I was surprised to see how close the mountains were. But despite how beautiful they looked, and before I had time to really think about what I was saying (or implying), I mischievously said that the area was very inaka.

The reaction was as swift and uncompromising as I (subconsciously) expected. And although she knew I was joking, perhaps defecating on her kitchen floor would have been only marginally less insulting.

However what was surprising was that I’d actually made the jibe in the first place. Despite the beauty of the mountains and the refreshing change it made from grey concrete, my first reaction was mockery.

Perhaps I’ve been in Japan (or Tokyo at least) for too long. I’ll be bowing whilst talking on the phone next, or extolling the virtues of unpaid overtime. Even worse, I may even feel the urge to start a Japan weblog…

Anyway, to further cement my new found disdain for mother nature and all those connected with her, here’s a gratuitous picture of a bit of country cool.

japanese farmer

Random observation #1

Why, after riding bikes for most of their lives (and on an almost daily basis), are middle-aged Japanese women the wobbliest and worst cyclists in the world?