Monday, 2 August 2004

Do not forget!

But of course I did, I mean, it's not the sort of thing you remeber on a friday night as you're charging out of the office in search of that first, friday evening, start of the weekend, ice cold asahi superdry beer. Japanese do the friday evening beer very well. Most of the time their beer seems a little lightweight for western (ok, my) tastes. But that first friday beer, the refreshing one that is gone in three gulps and hardly touches the sides, the one that mocks the heat and humidity as it slips down your throat, released from the pint glass that has been in the freezer, meaning the beer is even colder and even crisper. That beer the Japanese do really well. Better than any other beer I've come across. And, in my view, asahi superdry is the king. All hail the king.

Slightly off the point.

Do not forget to bring the webcamera home. These were instructions given to me by a parental a few weeks ago. I used to webcam every couple of weekends but now they have a behemoth that they use to clog up the roads of southern england at weekends to 'get away from it all'. No one is quite sure what it is they are getting away from, their children and their webcams perhaps, who knows. Anyway, do not forget it last weekend as it is a grandparentals birthday on friday so send a card and then we can all webcam chat on sunday when the family comes around etc. No worries. I remembered the card, even remembered to send it, but forgot the webcam.

Now what, you may ask, am I doing bringing a webcam home from work? Well once, in these hallowed pages, I wrote about going to Akihabara to buy a webcam and the awfulness of having to do it (and then install the bleeding thing on the laptop after. I still have flashbacks). I did swear that I would go back and buy my own, but taking the one from the office at the weekend was a good stop gap that never got filled. Until, that is, about 8pm on friday when, halfway home and in no mood to return to the office, I realise that the bag is somewhat light in the webcam department. Oops. I was even talking to the guru at the time, mentioning that I was off to seijoishii to buy smelly cheese and salad dressing - strange how things jog your memory...

So we decided to bite the bullet, return to Akihabara and buy our own webcam so I could forget the whole office nonsense. And with a due sense of foreboding and dread, we set off on Saturday for the heart of nerd-dom in Japan, nay, in the world.

It's actually quite convenient to get there, straight down the old keihin-tohoku line, so in the flash of an eye we were there. But on the way we were witness to a very strange thing. Now I've been in Japan a while now and am used to seeing strange things on the trains. This one had to do with a young lady and her appearance. Japanese young ladies are most fastidious about their appearance, you will rarely see one out without her face plastered in makeup, hair just so etc and trains are, it would seem, a jolly good place to adjust oneself. I once watched in awed fascination a couple of school girls transform themselves from very prim and proper A-grade looking students into the... searching for the best phrase... school girl bimbos on their way to Shinjuku, all in 25 minutes on the subway line.

Anyway this girl on saturday was, thought the guru, on her way to hot date city. She was forever checking her hair, checking her makeup, checking her phone for messages, checking her hair again etc etc etc. For a good 20 minutes with abolutely no let up at all. Not that odd, you may think, but one thing was. Asian people, women especially, have for a long time had a thing about their eyes and eyelids. It became very fashionable, if you could afford it, to have cosmetic surgery to give yourself western style double eyelids rather than the more common single variety you get in Japan and, more commonly, in continental asia. Now this girl on the train looked a little young to be seriously considering cosmetic surgery on her eyelids, so she would do what I guess is the next best thing. She would get her bicycle lock key, which was about a inch long, flat and quite narrow, hold it near her eyelid and then push it in, trying to fold back the skin between her eyeball and its socket. Sound horrible?

Trust me it was ten times worse to watch. And she kept doing it. I don't know if she expected it to stay there, but I have a strong suspicion that someone in Japan has invented eyelid glue, to give you the western look without potentially blinding you with an operation. I don't know, but it made me feel queasy watching her do it, I wanted to look away but it was just horrible fascination that meant I couldn't. Anyway she got off at Ueno, hope she had a good date.

Akihabara was easy this time, as perfect as a shopping trip there could be. Into the first shop, 'sir, vend me a webcam, pronto, chop chop' even got the same make and model, just in case. In and out in 15 minutes - minimum nerd exposure time, and then off to the Maru building near Tokyo station for lunch (yes, just like roppongi hills, shiodome, odaiba, yokohama etc, but good place to get a bite to eat).

Anyway, got home, set up the camera, all worked like a charm. Waited around at 6pm on sunday for the call.

Did it come...?

I'll leave you to guess the answer to that one.

but on a more positive note...

Power to the people!

Very popular in Japan, John Lennon, and he would have been proud of this one.

Amalgamating towns to make cities is big business in Japan. It would appear that if you can get two or three towns together to make an urban area big enough to be called a city, then you can get loads of tax kickbacks from the central govt, new amenities, maybe even lower taxes, who knows. Anyway there must be something in it as lots of places seem to be giving it a go and making themselves into new cities and changing their names and confusing local people. So recently the good burghers of Kawaguchi (where we live), Warabi and Hatogaya decided that it would be a jolly wheeze to all join together and make a big, bright and shiny new city that everyone would lurve, and they'd get loads of cash, pocket the slush fund, live like kings for a few years, patting each other on the backs, then get discovered and thrown in the clink for misappropriation of funds (cynical, moi?). And these chaps decided that the new city should have a new name and in a very Japanese way, decided it would be Bunan, but in a very un-Japanese show of democracy, thought they'd ask the people what they thought.

So apparently the good people of Warabi and Hatogaya said 'Bunan, sounds ok to me' but the people of Kawaguchi said 'oh no, the new city should be called Kawaguchi'. So the committee chaps decided that Kawaguchi was just being selfish and they said 'no, you must be quiet and not be selfish, we will call ourselves Bunan from now on'. And this caused such a furore that the whole plan has been shelved, just because of the people of Kawaguchi!

And too right I say. I live in Kawaguchi, not Bunan. What is Bunan anyway? Some made up artificial piece of nonsense. No, long live Kawaguchi!

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