Where is everybody?

Being in Tokyo at this time of year can have its disadvantages. For starters, New Years Eve isnt the go-out-and-get-absolutely-shit-faced-drunk kind of night. Not in the slightest. Instead its common to eat noodles and watch TV. Hmm.

Also, the banks are closed for 3 or 4 days, so if you forget to draw some money out before late afternoon on the 31st, then you are in for a poor start to the New Year. Quite literally.

But there are advantages. Well, one to be exact. Usually the trains are like this:

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Yet for a few peaceful days over the New Year, they are like this:

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Look, theres even room to lie down!

Having just re-read this post, I think I’ve inadvertently managed to demonstrate how dull the New Year can be here. Ho hum.

A robotic savior?

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This cute little machine could save me a lot of problems. It’s name is PaPeRo (not very catchy I know), and from all accounts it has the ability to translate sentences from Japanese to English (or vice versa) in seconds.

No more awkward situations in restaurants or shops if I buy one of these little wonders. I could just turn to trusty PaPeRo for assistance. Likewise at work, I could place the wee fella on my desk and have my own personal interpreter. Fantastic.

Plus he has a dainty little backpack. Ideal for holding my mobile phone. What more could a man ask for?

Hmm, I wonder if he enjoys drinking beer and talking about sport…

Japanese schoolgirls in lesbian shocker!

A certain duo I saw on MTV today reminded me of this autumn’s sports day at my school. And yes, it does indeed involve Japanese schoolgirls and lesbianism. Kind of.

Whilst I don’t really have duties to perform at the annual sports day, as a teacher I’m expected to attend nonetheless. The day involves watching endless nonsensical events (I’m hard pushed to put most of them under the banner of sport), whilst at the same time doing my utmost to avoid getting involved in the teachers’ relay race. If you saw me run you’d understand why.

But anyway, I must push on in regards to schoolgirls and lesbianism. An integral part of the day is the girls dance routine. Mine is a pretty big school, so this performance involves over 300 female students dancing about in short skirts. Each year I see this extravaganza, I always feel a little bit awkward, a bit of an uncle fester. I mean, lets be honest, a fair number of people would pay a lot of money to witness such a performance. It has crossed my mind that if I were to film the proceedings, I could probably sell it for a tidy sum of money. But I hasten to say it remains merely a thought. Honest.

So anyway, that’s the Japanese schoolgirl section of the title dealt with. The lesbianism aspect was a new edition to this year’s event. As for reasons that defy explanation, one of the songs danced to this year was by the slightly infamous Russian duo TaTu. The are they or aren’t they argument is irrelevant really, as the image they portray leaves little to the imagination. So to use it in the girls dance repertoire, was, it has to be said, a surprise choice. Needless to say a film with that as a soundtrack could have significantly increased its selling price.

The thing is, the gay flavour wasn’t quite finished with TaTu. as for a stirring finale, The Pet Shop Boys Go West was blasted put of the school’s PA system. Figure that one out!

Thankfully when the boys turn came around, The Village people’s YMCA was not a part of the proceedings.

The idiot son of an asshole

This video/song is hilarious. Well worth checking out.

If the words son, asshole, and idiot, haven’t quite spelled out whom it’s about, I’ll give you a few more clues. He’s arguably not the brightest, his eyes are a way too close together, and fingers crossed he’ll be looking for a new job next year.

So go on, have a listen.

A worrying trend

“It’s not really necessary to use a condom, because I can always have an abortion.” Emiko, a 19-year-old woman who says she sleeps with three or four “friends,” but doesn’t worry about getting HIV/AIDS.

Ok, we all realize how one comment from a teenager is hardly indicative of the thought and actions of a nation, but the young lady in question sadly may not be alone.

HIV infections have steadily been rising in Japan, and attitudes such as this (plus a general lack of information) have certainly been playing their part. The facts below appear to prove that such a blasé disposition is becoming more common.

By gender men accounted for most of the infections, but restricted to the 15- to 19-year-old group females accounted for 68.8 percent of the infections. In the 20- to 24-year-old group the figure reached 57 percent.

A separate survey by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare found that the number of artificial abortions carried out by women under 20 climbed from 26,117 in 1995 to 46,511 in 2001. The number of issued condoms dropped from 1.1 million to 840,000 during the same period.

Pretty telling statistics I think you’ll agree. And whilst they don’t point towards an epidemic as such, they surely should be seen as a cause for concern for those in charge. But alas, in Japan it would appear that it’s often easier to stick your head in the sand and blame it on somebody else.

I don’t think I’m too far off the mark to say that many Japanese still see HIV as a foreign disease (apparently that’s the main reason that foreigners aren’t usually allowed in most of the entertainment establishments that abound in Japan). And so therefore it’s not something to be overly concerned about. The same thing happened to a certain extent with the SARS breakout last year. Some people were even heard to mutter that Japanese people simply couldn’t catch it. I kid you not.

But with the Japanese sex industry being such big business, and it supposedly being common practice for a client to ride bare back if he pays extra, the warnings are clearly there. Combine this with attitudes of the teenager quoted above, and the signs of a potentially big problem are there for all to see. As long as you have your eyes open that is.

Asian Flu?

My new blogging career has been unceremoniously interrupted by a mild bout of the flu. The thing is, when I was back home in Britain, we were always on guard against the dreaded Asian flu. But now I’m in Asia, what am I supposed to (albeit unsuccessfully this year) defend my self against? European flu? American flu? Or even Western flu? I need to know.