How2: Japanese Halloween

Japanese vocabulary for Halloween

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Halloween is a very commercial time for the Japanese, especially those with children or those who work with children. Here’s a handy list of some spooky vocabulary for you.

Firstly, picture the scene you are at a ハロウェインパルティ(Halloween party) and you are really enjoying seeing all the 怖い飾り(spooky decorations) hanging all around you.

The problem with these 怖い飾り is that they are sub-dollar store quality. You look around and see a giant hairy くも(spider), in it’s 蜘蛛の巣(spider web)along with black コウモリ (bat- animal) small orange かぼちゃ (pumpkins). There are かぼちゃ everywhere! They are next to the キャンディー/ 菓子 (sweets or candy), and next to a TV where a ホラー映画 (horror film) is playing.

You’re actually a bit bored and you decide to mingle a bit, you have- like many others decided to 仮装する (wear a costume) and there are some good ones tonight! There is a ミイラ (mummy), ゾンビ (zombie), 魔女 (witch), an old fashioned おばけ (ghost) – is that a bed sheet?- not too original then; a 吸血鬼 [or the more updated  ヴァンパイア] (vampire), and finally is that several 骸骨 (skeletons) doing the 骸骨の踊り (skeleton dance) from the 1929 Disney short?!

What sort of party in what sort of 御化け屋敷 (haunted house) did you go to?

Opinion: Warning hell inbound

Advertising for frozen 2 has started… dear God

Its comming and I don’t mean the C word

After a long day at work, I go to the conbini to find a small treat and this…item jumped out on a bottle of green tea.

For those that cannot read Japanese, it says “Anne and the Snow Queen 2” aka FROZEN.

When I was last in Japan, “ありのままの自分になるの” was everywhere- shops, arcades, TV, all over campus ( I was a student) etc and now as a teacher of all ages….dear God not again.

To the parents who will buy items for their little ones, please keep it out of the classroom I don’t want to be a bit more insane thank you.

It’s coming…..

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

Review: Nitori, homestore

The homestore that seems to have everything

The kitchen isle, soo many nice things

Nitori seems to be a more upmarket home store when compared to Nafco as it just sells furniture, crockery, ornaments etc when Nafco also sells cleaning supplies, building supplies etc. For my British readers, Nafco is the range/ B&Q while Nitori is Laura Ashley/ Dunhelm mill.

When going into the store, you first come across the seasonal isle (which features the C word- see previous post), followed by bedding and soft furnishings- at quite good prices.

If you are in the market for a western style bed or even a mattress, thus store has you covered- they offer a good range of products at a reasonable price (the author cannot give his personal opinion on mattresses here as he sleeps on a futon) and for those of you who are worried, there are the same sizes as you would find in Europe, the UK, or the USA.

Additionally, they have entire isles of smaller items from candles and scents- which collectively smells fantastic, to mirrors and frames (which were extremely cheap), to knickknacks and jewellery holders.

For those that need to furnish a house or an apartment, they do offer delivery services (which are dependant on items bought, current offers, distance from store etc).

Overall, Nitori is a store I would definitely check out and the best ones I have been to so far are Nabari and in Ise.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

It’s coming…

It’s the c word… Christmas

The selection at Nitori (review to come)

When I was last in Japan 5 years ago as a 留学生 (ryuugakusei or foreign exchange student) in Nagoya, Christmas seemed more like a passing interest- it was something un-Japanese and not really important. Only Daiso had anything christmas related; not anymore.

The Christmas industry in Japan has exploded. Every shop from convenience stores offering food to order, clothes stores with Christmas related items to furniture stores offering decorations.

Some of the products at Nafco

You cannot even escape it in Aeon. Although they have no current visible christmas products, they are self advertising products to order with Christmas music playing, which is a bit too soon.

Never mind 七五三 (shichigosan, a festival where children go to shrines, post to come) on the 15th, I imagine that Christmas fever will just intensify starting November 1st.

For the moment, Bah humbug.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

OPINION: The ninja train, a change of decoration

A nice relaxing atmosphere while travelling

Smells like lavander, I wonder why

Occasionally the Iga-tetsudo will allow an advertiser to decorate its’ trains as long as it is in keeping with what they themselves do.

The latest offering is from Aoyama resort which has been advertising the surrounding scenery to encourage visitors.

But, what I have found is the smell of lavander to be especially relaxing after a long day at work, and a change is always welcome.


I would like to apologise for the length of time from my previous post. About a month ago, I posted “the call that no-one wants” and within a month of that I received another.

Therefore this post, short as it may be, is dedicated to my now late Grandma, Maureen Topping neé Webster who passed on 25/10/2019 at 0900 BST.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

The small thanks

Convenience store raffle

A win is a win

Occasionally while buying extreamly unhealthy food and coffee, it was treat day (come one next Tuesday), you’ll be told by the attendant to take a ticket.

At first you are likely to be confused. But as the attendant holds this card box, you see that there are ticket inside. You take one, after struggling to open it while holding your lovely bento, and see a Barcode, you have won.

What a Nice dramatic story for winning a pack of sugar free chewing-gum but the spend X to get a free Y is extreamly common in Japan. The change of winning has enticed me in the past, even with winning being highly unlikely.

With this post, today’s Japanese phrase is はずれ which is simply better luck next time.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

Opinion: a festive update

Even the ninja train gets a spooky update.

Spooooooky

While coming home from work, the train pulls up and out of the torrential rain (or 大雨 oame) a spooky site appeared when I boarded it. I say spooky it’s more cute I feel.

However like many companies in Japan, western holidays are a chance to do something a bit different by wearing costumes, offering special limited-time products or by decorating the work space. And this spooky offering did cheer me up after a long day.

However, what you see was exactly what you got, no spooky music, no comductor in costume. Just a little bit of cheese around Halloween.

What spooky things, if any, will I discover this week?

Thank you for reading and happy exploring

Post in Japan

Where to post a letter

So you have a stamp and a letter, now what?

Postbox outside Nabari train station

Like many things in Japan, they are designed to be as simple as possible, but this does not work.

In brief, you have local and non-local mail in red and blue respectively, simple right? Now look closer at the picture.

The red section is for local letters and postcards, yes they are still a thing. The pager has only just become obsolete here. Anyways, if you wanted to send a local non-standard sized letter, firstly it wouldn’t fit in this specific box and secondly it’ll be in the blue section along with international mail.

Post boxes are handy things but just go to a post office, it’ll make life much simpler.

I hope you enjoyed reading and are well (unlike myself this past week),and as always happy exploring!

UK attitude: an overview

Why is the UK so self-obsessed?

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In September, Jacob Rees-Mogg was photographed almost lying down in parliament and it became a symbol of the embodiment of British arrogance (or a nicer way to put it is: Inbegriff von der Überheblichkeit der Großbritannien) and it is this topic that I will cover today.

DISCLAIMER: This article is based upon my own opinions. Additionally, I am British and I can quote and use examples I have seen, hear, experienced etc from my life there. I will try and cover some of  the MANY reasons for this, but doing all and in detail would take too long.

The easiest way to start is by understanding UK history and out of the many many (ad nauseum) examples I can use; I’ll start with the easiest: the British empire. I know the following quote was concerning other things by the following quote fits too perfectly:

The important thing is not what they think of me, but what I think of them.
Queen Victoria

There have been many reasons given for the UK forming an empire, but at its core, the main idea was to improve the homeland. The UK has committed many heinous acts through its’ history (1), some committed before and after the Victorian era and the ones who committed them have always been celebrated back in the UK. Such examples are soldiers who fought the Zulu- the Victoria cross (a very prostitutions award was created to commemorate the fallen), the designers of the bouncing bomb were also celebrated. These and further examples highlighted the importance of the UK both to citizens and internationally, showing its’ worth, which is reason 1: ‘proven’ past importance.

Additionally, to add to historical traditions we travel quickly back to 1066 and the battle of Hastings. At the end of this battle (spoilers?!?) William slain Harrold and the old royal bloodline was ended. William became king of a divided country and established a monarchy- which was the bases of following systems that still can be seen today. This system created the upper-, middle-, and working classes which created a tier system to allow anyone to know where they stand. As a quick breakdown:

  • Upper: Royalty and those who are ennobled (have a title)
  • Middle: Skilled and well educated (teachers, doctors etc)
  • Working: the grafters and anyone else

While my description is extremely general- it gives a good oversite into a tradition what should have ended in the 1950’s. This is where reason 2 comes into its’ own: especially concerning the honourable gentleman’s actions in parliament: expectation. The UK expects to remain important, because it has been so for so very long. People expect the EU to graciously allow a perfect Brexit to occur because are we not but too important for anything else?

At time of writing on the 18th of October, the EU has agreed upon a potential Brexit deal but one of the main right-winged politicians (whom has campaigned for Brexit for the best part of 20 years) has stated that they would rather further delay it, than get it on “unjust” terms.

This self-importance has been a trait going back to Tudor Britain- not even the Scottish have been innocent of this. Any internal conflict in the UK has always used the argument of a “God-given right” to rule, wage war etc. It is an unfortunate trait the Americans also picked up (sorry about that).

So we have: expectation, proven importance and expectation- not a nice combination. But is there anything else to add?

At the end of the day, the main concern for the UK government is not just the UK but their own perceived position, and more often than not, self-gain at all levels. Shall I mention that politicians vote on their own pay rises, or campaigns (like the anti-fracking) which are defeated by a local government and at a local government level have been overturned by the government for the promise of economic growth, or shall I mention UK politicians expenses scandals, banker bonuses in failing banks, Thomas cook executives getting major bonuses even though the company has gone into administration etc etc etc.

While there are many who are tying to do good in the UK, there are many more working for an agenda and being part of a system that has some control over the UK government was never going to last. This is the last and final reason: a cultural reason- a selfish culture. If you would like a good example of this, read Harry Potter. There are many Mrs Dursley’s in the UK afterall.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article. What do you think- love it or hate it?

Thank you for reading and as always, happy exploring,

Next: BACK TO JAPAN!!!!!

No, you may not change your mind

British attitudes’: Brexit

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Who would have thought that even after moving thousands of miles away from the UK, I cannot escape Brexit news, it’s still on TV here as well.

One of the major problems I have found is with a person’s ability to change their mind.

The Brexit referendum results showed that 17.4 million people voted to leave (51.89%), 16.1 million people voted to stay (48.11%), but only 72.21% of eligible voters voted. Notice the first problem? The victory was marginal at best.

Additionally, in British media there are many reports about undermining the will of the people and being labelled as a traitor. This is where I draw the line.

Firstly, no-one is calling the politicians liars or fraudsters when the campaign they led to get people to leave was based on lies, stories, wishful thinking, and fantasy. There is no mountain of money that is coming to the UK, no fairy tale ending of the ‘good old days’ returning–that thinking is a fallacy for the gullible- and it worked.

Next, this was the snapshot of opinion in 2016, before the public knew they had been lied to by politicians. If the results of a referendum are based upon a lie does it become invalid. According to the UK, nope; you pay a small fine (when looking at overall expenditure for the leave campaign) and continue on your way.

So you now have gained an understanding of what Brexit means, you know you’ve been lied to, there as a marginal victory, and 27% of the population didn’t vote for this. Will Brexit be stopped? No.

I and millions of others have signed petitions after petitions and campaigned for change and it has always been ignored. The UK government is determined to follow the results of a referendum which was based upon a lie, without care of the consequences for the country or internationally.

What I find amusing is the mythic ‘Brexit deal’. The EU and the UK have the equivalent of over 700 ratified treaties andv the UK is unable to complete 1 on its own.

That, more than anything else, should highlight international opinion on the UK.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

Next time: is UK arrogance a thing?