Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Company, Conversation, Cuisine, OH MY!

Tonight was a one off if ever there was a one off!  Very privileged to
have been able to meet up with the amazingly talented Namiko Chen, her incredibly bright and witty hubby and their two practically perfect children.

Nami has made my life in Nagoya richer, which may seem odd as they all live in San Francisco.  But the world wide web is the bringer togetherer (to coin a phrase) of a disparate lot and I'm a better cook when it comes to Japanese cuisine because of her generous nature, her culinary expertise and Shen's wicked production, web design and business sense.

You must indulge.  Start by surfing to www.justonecookbook.com  - and don't stop there - use this as your springboard to their YouTube Channel, their Facebook page and for goodness sake, sign up to have deliciousness delivered directly to your inbox.

Itadakimas. Love. Me.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

I still love Google, it's just that ...

... I've discovered I must un-love them with regards driving directions / road transport in Japan.  A simple issue.  All the driving / bus directions show up as if we were a driving on the 'right side of the road' country, as opposed to the fact that we're a 'left side of the road' country (which is, technically, the right side for us).


It's a little thing really, and as we don't own a car ourselves, unlikely to cause any more drama than watching the bus we need pass by us from across the road.

It does seem to be a fairly significant oversight on the part of the Google mappers.  They appear to have had no trouble with Australia, the UK, Singapore etc ...

Love, Me


Sunday, July 26, 2015

It's July. It's Nagoya. It's SUMO!

Sumo is, quite simply, cool. The Prince and I had our first live experience yesterday - we are now sumo enthusiasts. Under the delightful guidance of the fun and quite patient Sumiko san, we were able to enjoy our foray into the world of riskishi's (the wrestlers), dohyo (the ring they wrestle within) and the rankings - from the ultra qualified 'Yokozuna' to the fledgling Jonidans, who are basically the higher ranking rikishi's houseboys. Eat up!

Love, Me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Relying on the Kindness of Strangers ... and the power of Google!

I love Google. There, I wrote it - I normally just say it to anyone who will listen.  Now it's not that Larry Page holds any particular allure for me, and I'm certainly not on the Google payroll.

I love Google specifically because it/they are making our life here in Japan easier, better and helping us to experience much more of Japan than our limited language skills currently support.

The ever evolving features of Google Translate means that we're comfortable with reaching out to others, most of whom have little or no English skills (understandable!), to try and communicate on their terms, and show them respect in the process.

Case in point (one of a hundred I could share).  Having leveraged all that is Google search / translate etc. in the planning of one of our many weekend adventures, I managed to get us to a little town called Motegi, 3 hours by train(s) outside of Tokyo.

The final leg to our destination (the Twin Ring Motegi and The Honda Collection Hall - cool if you're a rev head) required that we hire a taxi.  None were to be found at the very small railway station, so we set off to the 'main' street to see if we could hail one.  We quickly surmised that this wasn't going to be an option as Motegi is that small and that quiet.

We happened upon a local car dealer/mechanic and that's when all the courage that having Google at my back provides me came to the rescue.  I didn't hesitate to go into the office, offer up my limited Japanese, leverage the translate app on my pocket parrot (iPhone), and combine the two to ask the nice lady in the office to call us a taxi.  Being delightfully Japanese, and thus incredibly polite, she did so without any hesitation, even offering us a cup of tea while we waited.  A generous gift that we will not forget.

What's the phrase?  "There are no strangers in this world, only friends we haven't met."

Thanks Google, for helping us make new friends and truly experience this very cool country.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Early Musings

To set the scene, my darling Prince Charming (aka Martin) (yes, per earlier post references, I found him) and I have relocated to Nagoya, Japan for a few years.  At least that's the plan, as Martin has secured a great new job here, we're expecting that we'll sail through the 90 day probation period and be calling Nagoya home for the near future.

It's a brilliant town.  While it's the 4th largest city in Japan, it nevertheless seems to feel cozy without being cramped.  We've had great fun walking (and walking and walking and walking), climbing stairs and availing ourselves of the terrific subway and train network.  It's incredibly easy to get around, and inexpensive, too.

Early observations:

  • Hardly anyone walks along staring down at a smartphone.  Big Plus!  And they're not to be used (for calls) on the trains, so peace for all is preserved.
  • There is no smoking on the footpath, but by all means feel free to ride your bike, zipping in amongst the pedestrians with a relaxed demeanour.
  • Speaking of bikes, unlike Australia, where there is palpable animosity between car owners and bike riders, here they are welcomed and indeed encouraged.  No helmet laws either, so it doesn't ruin your 'look'.
  • The Japanese in general, and Nagoya is no different, having amazing fashion sense.  At every age, men and women alike take great care in their grooming and dress - regardless of particular style.  It's like 1953 New York.  Or what I imagine 1953 New York was like, I hadn't yet been born.
  • After living for the past 7 years in Singapore, Nagoya is very affordable.  The rent on our fully furnished, serviced apartment in the downtown area is on par with our flat in Singapore, while everything else is about 40% cheaper.
  • The population of the greater Nagoya basin is around 2.5million.  In a space of 326sqkm, them's good density numbers.  Even on the weekends, when the weather is lovely (and it has been the past two weeks) you don't feel crowded.
Every walk brings new insights, new adventure.   And that's what life's meant to bring, right?

Love, Me

Thursday, August 15, 2013

You've got to see what you want inside yourself before you can see it in others. Cynism #645b

Friday, April 27, 2012

Now.

This is nothing less than perfect in a less than perfect world. I know a good thing when I see it ... It's a bad thing to let go.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Gobsmacked in Translation

The movie "Lost in Translation" served Tokyo up as a backdrop, a minor character at best.  Sofia Coppola, the film's director, appeared to want to downplay Tokyo's innate charm, its indefatigable attitude, and instead allow her protagonists to shine, albeit in a hugely understated way.  The fact that she succeeded, in my view, is both an accomplishment and a shame.

Tokyo should not be seen as a backdrop or canvas in any visitor's eyes, but instead celebrated as the painter, the artist of the experience.

The city slaps you in the face, then draws you in and plants a conciliatory, open mouthed kiss.  Like Hong Kong, the sheer volume of its main centres commands your attention, but unlike Hong Kong, there is a grace with which it does so.  The simple act of turning down a side street leads you to another world, often steeped in tradition and hallmarked by tranquility – in architecture, in attitude.

The explosive randomness of the city appears in many ways to be a stark contrast to the nature of its inhabitants.  The Japanese remain stoically courteous, though never obsequious – polite, though not necessarily sincere. They have harnessed zen and use it well.  However, dig a little bit and the hallmarks of dissension become apparent.  In some of the more colourful neighbourhoods – famous Harujuku for example – graffiti'd walls, the ubiquitous billboards of the disenfranchised in cities around the world, make an appearance.  Shibuya, with its world renowned 5+ way intersection, adds an edginess to Tokyo's gleaming skyscrapers, as does the Rappongi Red Light District.

It's a city which deserves your undivided attention, and compels you to deliver it.  This is my fourth trip and I can't say I've scratched the surface – I do feel like I may have made a little scuff mark though.  I'll be back soon to dig a little deeper.

Love, Me

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Behind the Wall

Hello (Insert your name here)!

If you're reading this, you're obviously a mate, or one of my 2 blogstalkers, welcome in any case.

So the hotel in Shanghai has 'free' wifi (once you upgrade to the Club floor – the free beer is a bonus) but not necessarily 'free' internet access.  Not their fault, mind you.  Appreciate all the sensitivities at play.

So here's my workaround – I spend small fortune logging into FB (can't even google using the whole word ;-) via the cell network (evidently freedom of speech has its price) to let you know where to find me if you need me, or indeed just want to chat.

Comments will automatically generate an email and I will respond.

I'm wearing a black skivvy.  I'm finding ways of communicating from behind the silk curtain.  I'm feeling rather chuffed at my ingenuity and at the same time considering how to repel down the 25 floors once the thought police arrive.

Love, Me

A Great Wall but not Impenetrable

Arrived safely in Shanghai, only to be further threatened with death during the trip from the airport to the hotel. Fangio Chan, my driver, took particular delight in seeing how many times he could get the impact and proximity sensors to go off, at speed. I think he beat his high score. It was like the game of Frogger - and I was the frog.

And now at the hotel - 5 star of course but with a decidedly communist twist - no access to Facebook via wifi.

As if that's gonna stop me connecting with my tribe.

Just don't expect an immediate response - back in the neutral zone Saturday night.

Love, Me