Global attitudes

Self-importance in the UK

The sun setting over Leyland, Lancashire, UK

As part of this blog, it is my goal to explore global thoughts, opinions, and importance. Where shall I start but the beginning for me.

The UK has many different views on many different things, some good- most bad. However one specific point of view reminded me of one of the major reasons why I left the UK.

During the rugby World Cup, the Scotland vs Japan game was postponed due to the typhoon, a decision I agree with. However, according to news reports, Scotland had threatened legal action of the game didn’t go ahead as planned yesterday. Fortunately the Scottish lost.

But the fact that this arrogance exists distrusted me. Japan has just experienced its’ worst typhoon in years, people are missing, people are dead and you are threatening legal action for a postponed game.

While this attitude is one that I was remiss in not reporting on, I can no longer allow myself to ignore it.

Therefore, I will cover a sensible brits approach to brexit, the reasons why it is failing, even with so many reminders, a perspective on Scottish independence, and wider European viewpoints on the whole perspective.

My goal of exploring viewpoints I have put off, at risk of putting of you, my readers, but understanding global cultures is an extremely important part of this blog.

I hope you will continue to explore global cultures and languages with me, but if not- thank you for have been a part of this journey.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

Global attitudes

Self-importance in the UK

As part of this blog, it is my goal to explore global thoughts, opinions, and importance. Where shall I start but the beginning for me.

The UK has many different views on many different things, some good- most bad. However one specific point of view reminded me of one of the major reasons why I left the UK.

During the rugby World Cup, the Scotland vs Japan game was postponed due to the typhoon, a decision I agree with. However, according to news reports, Scotland had threatened legal action of the game didn’t go ahead as planned yesterday. Fortunately the Scottish lost.

But the fact that this arrogance exists distrusted me. Japan has just experienced its’ worst typhoon in years, people are missing, people are dead and you are threatening legal action for a postponed game.

While this attitude is one that I was remiss in not reporting on, I can no longer allow myself to ignore it.

Therefore, I will cover a sensible brits approach to brexit, the reasons why it is failing, even with so many reminders, a perspective on Scottish independence, and wider European viewpoints on the whole perspective.

My goal of exploring viewpoints I have put off, at risk of putting of you, my readers, but understanding global cultures is an extremely important part of this blog.

I hope you will continue to explore global cultures and languages with me, but if not- thank you for have been a part of this journey.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

Typhoon 19, the aftermath

Please do as I say and not as I did!!!!

Yesterday, as I’m sure everyone is aware, Japan experienced its’ biggest typhoon in 60 years and as the counts come in- it is not as bad it could be. It is true to say that prior planning and preparation prevents poor performance.

However, there were some casualties. At time of writing, 5 people have been reported as deceased. To those families, you have my thoughts and prayers.

Looking a bit closer to home, what happened in Nabari?

The level 4 caution (which is 警戒レベル4 or keikai level 4), was cancelled by 1830 yesterday evening and since the sun had come out, I decided to go for a bit ride by the river. As a bit of advice: please NEVER do this. Nabari was still feeling the effects of the typhoon and the river was exceptionally full. In fact, the route I took led me over 2 bridges.

That’s a lot of water…

I stopped before going over the first bridge calling myself stupid (to be put politely)- but I continued. Along side the river, all emergency barriers had been raised and there was about 30cm of clearance between the water and the bottom of the bridge. Additionally, Nabari river is the outlet river for a dam, if there was an emergency release of water…well lets not go there.

A bit more than 30 at this bridge but NOT at another

In this area, there has been little in the way of structural damage- there was mostly localised flooding. On the Iga-Tetsudo line (the ninja train) several parts of the track were completely flooded and trains cancelled.

It was a bit too close…

However, train service has restarted at this time and convenience stores were open- but my gym was closed for the day- I wonder why?

Final thoughts: being prepared encase of evacuation did help- the likelihood of it was still low but possible. Please do not got out until a typhoon or other natural disaster has completely passed (unlike myself and half of Nabari it seems) and finally, be vigilant. A situation can change in a second and I have never ridden as fast or as hard trying to get back on the correct side of the river as I did yesterday.

Thank you for reading and happy (SAFE) exploring,

The calm before the storm

A strange day

The Japanese are known for having many cultural rules and procedures that they often ignore when convenient- and living in Japan I know this quite well.

One of the more known rules is the request for silence on trains “to provide a comfortable atmosphere for other passengers” according to Kintetsu that is. But today from Tsu train station to Nabari train station (which is about 60 km or around an hour by train), and including a transfer at Ise-Nakagawa it was silent. Eerily silent.

What made this slightly worse, is that all trains were packed more than usual for a Friday night- as people were travelling straight home without the customary drinking sessions. This is to say ALL trains including limited express trains.

Today, Japan is holding its’ breath. There is cancellation of train services, flights, busses etc across Japan and even lines like the Kintetsu are considering the possibility of suspending services for “safety reasons”, but what actually got me worried was the announcement of this update in English. Most information, detailed information that is, is usually kept in Japanese.

This combined with the silent eery journey on the way back- where everyone was looking worried- has caused me to double check my bug-iut bag. I’ve never felt this paranoid about a Typhoon before.

But why are so many people worried?

This typhoon- number 19 (keeping with the Japanese theme or 台風第19号) is the largest of the year so far, its is extremely strong, set to potentially land in major urban areas, and has the potential to cause country-wide problems.

Additionally, warning about it are ALL over social media, the news, TV, in stations etc. There are many companies that are suspending workdays tomorrow and are advising to only go out if needed- advice I will be following.

The cherry on top for me, was watching people taking supplies home with them. Prior preparation and planning may prevent poor performance but if all Japanese people are doing it, that just worries me- they seem to like to wing it.

Stay safe all, gather supplies and know where your evacuation areas are.

Thank you for reading and stay safe.

Review: Sports depo

The reason I have no money

So many clothes and I have little money

Sports depo is a sports shop which sells any thing and everything relating to sports. This includes sports wear for men, women and children; shoes- from trainers to football boots, caps, underwear, engraved football shorts etc.

Additionally, it has the best range of vitamins, supplements, and proteins that I have seen from any Japanese store.

The baseball and under armour sections

What is brilliant about the shops is the dedicated sections to each sport, brand and item. Want free weights? Go to the gym accessories section. Want a hiking pole? Go to hiking etc.

Additionally, the staff are always friendly and seem to be knowledgeable and simply know what their talking about.

But, you may be thinking, is the downside to such a wonderland of sporting wear and gear? Simply put, the price.

While the shop has items on sale and frequent offers online,any items are full retail price and they soon mount up. But there are very good prices on offer here, but you need to be careful- like everywhere else in Japan.

Final thoughts, would I recommend it? Definitely, I love the range of, well, everything they have. Just be careful of not buying into the ‘it’s cheap for Japan’ trap.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

It never seems to end…

Opinion: the subtle insult

The Japanese will never say it, implications are a different matter

It’s late and I’m just waiting for the train back from work and being slightly lazy, I bought a healthy bento from a convenience store.

I may have had difficulty finding my wallet so I explained in Japanese that’s hidden at the bottom (I was right) and the assistant just chuckled.

She then gave me a fork for a salad, which is normal. I know this was not intended as an insult but it got me thinking.

How do the Japanese show their displeasure at someone? How do they show their displeasure at someone who may not speak Japanese?

One way is the automatic giving of a knife or fork in lieu of chopsticks or giving you water instead of tea when going to a restaurant. These subtle actions are their way to differenciate those accepted or seen to be accepted and those who are not.

There even more subtle gestures, the standing up to get off at the next station extra early when you sit down, the automatic “English no” when you say すみません or excuse me.

There’s an overview of subtle Japanese gestures and there are many more besides.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring

Vending machines, a return

Coca Cola: is it as healthy as you don’t expect?

How does the giant of the drink World compare to smaller vending machine companies? Let’s have a look….

“there is one coin coffee” but what about your sodas?

The first thing to note is its’ size, there are only 15 drinks offered–but it does sit next to a larger model, without the one coin coffee. But what about the drinks?

On the top line, there are 3 Aquarius’- a sports drink which is reasonably healthy (and brilliant in hot weather or while doing physical activity), 2 teas and water- not a bad start.

Next, we have the line that should be forgotten: 2 Cokes (do I really need to explain?), grape Fanta, fizzy grape juice and real gold- think of a ‘healthier’ Redbull with added vitamins.

Last row: 2 black coffees, and 4 milk coffees.

Healthy total: 8 drinks. Unhealthy total (including milk coffee): 10 or 44% are unhealth- a lower total percentage than last time. Now what about the big boy?

Please note, you can pay with 1000 JPY notes

As you can quickly see, there are quite a few unhealthy drinks available. Let’s make a start

Firstly, 2 cokes and 2 real golds, Georgia black coffee- really good coffee by the way-, Georgia milk coffee, 2 more real golds, apple juice, and the newest addition to any unhealth drinks selection- coke energy (yes this does exist, no I don’t know why). The first tally is 2 out of 10 (20%) are healthy, let’s see this improve.

The healthy row is as follows: 2 green teas, 2 mineral waters, 2 flavoured mineral waters, 2 milk coffees, and finally 2 smaller green teas. This time, the healthy tally is 8 out of 10 (80%)- much better.

Finally, the coffee row. This row has different ‘mixes’ but applying the same approach i.e. with extra calories (milk or sugar) its’ classes as unhealthy. This makes the healthy total 3 (black coffees) out of 7.

Out of 30 drinks, 13 are classed as healthy. This is a final percentage of 43%.

If we look at both vending machines: out of a total of 48 drink options, 21 are healthy which is a total of 44%- it’s a bit strange how this specific number crops up in regards to coke vending machines- I may need to look into this further.

Final note, as you would expect, most drinks offered are not the healthiest available, but all can be enjoyed at times. As a personal observation, these machines are rarely used as there is a convenience store 3 minutes away in foot- with the same selections.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

Health food in Japan

The world of extreams

How long does it take to spot CC lemon?

I have talked about buying protein in Japan very recently, but what I have not yet mentioned is suppliemts, more specifically added vitamins and minerals.

If you were to go to a convience store and go to the drinks section, ignoring the sugar content, there would be quite a few healthy looking options. Admittedly one of my favourites is CC lemon which it’s selling point (on the front and highlighted) is that it contains the same amount of vitamin C as 60 lemons or 200 mg. The body cannot process this amount and a lot of it is lost via urination.

You may think that is a crazy amount, but it’s nowhere near the highest amount. Available at most stores are health tonics in small glass bottles that contain upto 2000 mg of vitamin C.

To put this into prospective, the daily recommended intake for most adults is upto 90 mg a day. If that is the case, does excess vitamin C cause any ill effects?

Yes! Regular amounts exceeding 2000 mg cause gastronomic distress i.e. Diarrhoea, vomiting, cramps etc.

However Japan doesn’t just have products with excess vitamin C, there are products with excess anything.

You may buy wafers with added calcium, wafers with added iron, wilk with added calcium, health drinks with collegen etc. It’s sometimes amazing what extras Japanese producers add to products.

It sounds a bit morbid but: health warming! Be aware of what you are consuming, an excess of a vitamin or mineral for you may have a completely unintentional side affect or may cause you harm. If in doubt either do further research (scientific papers etc), ask a doctor or dietitian or simply avoid it.

After all there’s only one you (and you read my blog, so stay safe)

Thank you for reading and happy exploring

Consumption tax: environmental consequence

The 2% increase has a knock-on effect

A set meal (with added plastic…)

 On midnight on October 1st, consumption tax in Japan increased by 2% for some products. This has mostly affected ‘luxuries’ including alcohol, tobacco and sit in meals.

The last one has had strange effects, Japan Today reports that supermarkets have removed benches as they don’t want to be seen as a sit-in eatery and thus people are required to pay an extra 2% (how this would work after checking out I don’t know).

While watching a daytime talk show at the gym (strange I know), they were reporting that many people are now getting food to go rather than sit in. Personally, this seems a bit petty. For example, if you order 牛丼 (ぎゅうどん-gyuudon) or a beef bowl with rice, it may cost 380 JPY to go or 387 JPY to sit in. That saving of seven yen has resulted in more and more people getting their food to go instead of sitting in. This has resulted in further use of single use plastics as bowls, wrappings for chopsticks, wrappings for serviettes etc.

Or simply put, a saving of seven yen may help your wallet, but it may further destroy the environment.

What can be done? There would need to be a change of customer service culture in Japan and an attitude change towards sustainability i.e. allowing the use of reusable containers. Such changes are coming extremely slowly- so don’t expect miracles.

For the moment, plastic is king in Japan- the environment is second.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring