Halloween

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As a measure to improve internal communications between various departments, I have proposed to organize a Halloween party at my office. Pitched my idea to the board and got warm approval. Quite excited about being able to put the proposal into action Ive just managed to buy some decorations, food and drinks. I designed posters and put them up on different floors. Was not exactly sure how many people would come up as everybody was invited (around 250 ppl), but few would finish work by the time party was about to start.

Fortunately, the reception was better than expected. With best-costume contest (I got third prize as seen below) as well ‘bloody’ make-up corner, everyone seemed to have a good time. Mission accomplished. Now I move onto planning something special for Christmas.

Ads made in Japan

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Some ads would not make it anywhere else except for Japan.
These are just a couple I have spotted recently. All of them taken on a train or train station platform.

 

This one is for a website where you can search for jobs. It encourages you to become a HOT nurse. Why would you want to become a mere nurse when you can be a HOT one. Obviously!

P.S. It is a serious ad with no cynism intended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one is a part of ‘manners on a train’ campaign.

It reads ‘Please be careful not to lean against a person sitting next to you should you fall asleep.’ As much as this ad appears to have wide applicability since the Japanese tend to sleep on the trains and indeed lean against a stranger next to them, I do not exactly understand the need to translate it into English – never seen a foreigner dozing off on a train and carelessly invading someone else’s space.

 

 

 

 

This ad present you with a modern option for your grave. You can rest in peace with your ashes being kept inside a diamond-looking Buddha statue and placed in a line with thousands of other same-looking Buddhas.

Funeral costs in Japan are at the world highest; Lack of space availability for the graveyards being one of the reasons. I have written my graduate thesis on the subject. You can look up my video here  (in Japanese)

 

 

 

 

Pug, who has just drunk a lemony sour drink. Ok, this ad is an exception here. It would make it everywhere. It is just so cute. I adore pugs!



March 11, 2011

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On 11 March, 2011 I was in Poland. It was 9 a.m. I was still lying in my bed, but I was already awake. I think I was trying to get through another chapter of Totem and Taboo by Freud when I heard my mom screaming “Asia! Come downstairs! Asia! Hurry up!”. Immediately I got really scared as I had a recollection of a similar scene from the previous year, when she screamed in exactly the same way; 11th April 2010, Tupolev with Polish president Lech Kaczynski crashed in heavy fog nearby Katyn forests.

I run downstairs. Reuters news on TV. Reuters news are usually not good news. Earthquake, tsunami, Japan. I get paralyzed. As I watch water progressing further into the land I call my boyfriend. The news mentions North of Japan, Tohoku, but some harrowing footage is also from Tokyo. My boyfriend is in Tokyo. He does not pick up his phone. Voice-mail tells me he is not available. I try again and he picks up. Thank God! His voice is calm. If anything he is annoyed because he has been summoned up to go back to his fire station. He was on his way to meet up with friends when the train stopped and now he is in the middle of Tokyo. I ask him if he is ok and he tells me that there was an earthquake and that it must have been quite big as no public transport is running. I tell him about Tohoku, about thousands dead and about the water which could reach Tokyo within hours. He listens with disbelief. I quickly realize that he has no idea about what has happened. I summarize everything Reuters tells me. Before we hang up, I ask him to call me every one hour to let me know he is alright.

My boyfriend is on his way to his workplace – fire station in Norther Tokyo. Together with millions of other Tokyo residents, he needs cover by feet several kilometers to reach his destination. I watch the news. They say how Japanese are well prepared for earthquakes; that all of them are trained how to behave when the nature forces strike. First images from when the earth shaken appear on the screen; one of them from some TV studio. Mum asks me why do Japanese hold on to computers instead of trying to save their lives. I say I don’t know. I decide to call the TV channel I am watching. I tell them I have lived in Japan and that I have gone through the emergency training and that my boyfriend is a firefighter and he is in Tokyo now. They ask me if I can send them some images they can use. I say that it would be, considering the circumstances (me being in Poland atm and my boyfriend being called up for emergency) rather difficult.

Meanwhile, I get plenty of messages on facebook asking me if I am ok. Some people thought I was in Japan at the time. I write them back that I am safe in Poland, but that I am very worried about my boyfriend and his family. I also mention my new flat and all of the furniture, including this high-tech eco fridge that we have just bought and a 48-inch TV we got from my boyfriend’s parents. I suspect some of the stuff to be be broken. I upload my boyfriend’s picture in his firefighting uniform as my profile picture and attach a badge ‘Pray for Japan’. One third of my facebook connections already have Hinomaru (Japanese flag) with black ribbon as their profile pictures.

I hear the name Fukushima Daichi Plant for the first time. I don’t register it right away. Too much has already happened for me to digest another bad news. Radiation leak sounds like a really bad joke at the time. I refresh Reuters page every 2 minutes. The website is flooded with alarming reports from Japan. I hear that the army is being deployed to Fukushima to ‘cool the reactors’. Soon after, I learn that firefighters will also be deployed. I call my boyfriend and ask him to promise me that under no circumstances he should go to Fukushima. I tell him to quit his job if he was ordered to go. I beg him to do it for me and our future family.

Rainbow Party

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A stunning, colossal rainbow has appeared spread between Roppongi Hills and Shinjuku in Tokyo on 3rd August. We took a short break from work and had a little 虹の会 (‘niji-no-kai’ – Rainbow party) at one of Ebisu’s rooftops. And then this word-play has come to my mind and I was stricken by its grotesque nature – I could not help thinking how different 虹の会 (‘niji-no-kai’ – rainbow party) was from 二次会 (‘ni-ji-kai’ – after party). I used to confuse these two words a lot because their pronunciation is so similar.

二次会 (ni-ji-kai)  After Party

To see what ni-ji-kai often ends-up being like in Japan, please launch Salaryman album on Pawel Jaszczuk’s portfolio page. I promise you wont be disappointed. You might be very disappointed, but not indifferent. Anyways, check it out here!

 

虹の会 (niji-no-kai) Rainbow meeting

      

 

Mario Samurai

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My boss has been listening to this track for the last couple of weeks. First I thought it was his phone ringtone. Then someone has told me that it was a piece made by Sakamoto Ryuichi – a great Japanese film composer, winer of both Academy and BAFTA Awards. Well, it wasn’t. It’s composed by another Sakamoto, known as Professor Sakamoto and it’s goes by unlikely name ‘Samurai’.

Next doors DV

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I was woken up last night at 4.20 a.m. by a woman screaming ‘It hurts!’, a baby crying ‘papa! papa!’ and a man shouting something incomprehensibly.  I listened to it together with my boyfriend for around a minute or so assuming that someone else would or already has called the police. But the screams would go on. We called the police and my boyfriend has gown downstairs to let them know where the accident was taking taking place. After 6 minutes two officers came on bikes. Only two officers? On bikes? I couldnt believe it as I have seen around 7 of them dealing with speed limit breach before.

This is a photo I’ve taken from my flat and you can see one officer hanging out by the mansion entrance.

Around 10 minutes later the firefighters have also arrived. In Japan, the ambulance service is provided by the firefighting department.

I don’t know how they have dealt with the accident. I truly hope that the family does no longer have to endure the tyranny of that monster . However, I am worried that little has been done, as culturally, it is rear for the public services to interfere with he private sphere of a household.

One of the things that I cannot understand – how can such father look into his child’s eyes the next morning?


When Penguins Board a Train…

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Love this ad @ Tokyo underground.

It says at the top – Have you seen this type of person?

and at the bottom – Stay in line and do not push your way onto the train.

Unfortunately, the ad is completely missing the point. I have never seen any Japanese forcefully making their way to the front of the line at the train platform. Japanese take their manners seriously,but- selectively – at the same time. The whole new world begins once they are already on the train. Voluntarily offering a seat to the elderly or a pregnant women is exceptionally rare. However, another thing strikes me even more.

I happen to be an unfortunate one to be taking Saikyo-line every day (possibly the most crowded line in Tokyo). Have you ever seen one of those videos on youtube where the station officers are pushing people onto the train in order to squeeze in as many as possible? – Well, that’s reality (dont believe those Japanese who claim it to be the practice of the past😉 ). However, the reason people need to do the impossible to get on the train is not only because the trains are so full. It’s also because once the Japanese set their two feet on the train they tend not to move any further into the carriage but occupy the by-doors area. That leaves a whole lot of unused space inside the carriage – so that people by the doors can barely breath while the ones in the central part have enough space to do yoga if they wanted to. Whenever I find myself in such situation, I get really annoyed and forcefully zig-zag my way inside the carriage, thinking ‘I will teach you a lesson.’

So Ive asked my boyfriend about why would people do such a nonsense and selfish thing. Apparently, while growing up this has never been stressed to him as a lack of manners.  It just doesnt come up under the definition of manners (?!)

But wait… manners is not some fixed inflexible not-expandable idea defined by someone in the past.  It’s alive and kicking and applicable to a number of circumstances whenever we see that our rather self-centric behavior is causing disturbance to someone else. It’s strange that the Japanese, who focus so much on maintaining a superficial social harmony, fail to notice it.

Clever chewing gums

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To my surprise, I discovered a little pile of stickies in my chewing gum box the other day. First, I thought they were there by mistake, like a dead rat in a can of meat or sth (you get to read about this sort of stuff from time to time). But they were there on purpose and the purpose couldnt more obvious. Once you are done chewing your gum, wrap it with a stickie before disposing. So simple and so genious. Thats what a call a Japanese sense of convenience!

Beach Sumo

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Today at the beach a little spontanious sumo event took place. A couple of young sumo wrestlers (I think they possibly belong to a sumo circle at some University) gave a chance to some  non-sumo guys to challenge them.

By the time I grabbed my camera it was coming to an end…