Christmas is just around the corner! Christmas day is just a day here and if it falls on a working day you go to work. But never the less the Japanese seem to embrace it and enjoy it just as we all do!
Well everything has been ticking along all ok, so far so good! My Japanese has not improved much since being here, with the renovations going on and 2 kids all in the same room when we are at home I don't get a chance to pick up my books and read them and try and remember some of the words. The renovations are close to being finished now, this morning 4 vans were parked out side and people everywhere doing stuff!
What can I say about Japan thus far - Their goverment departments are super fast, they have better systems in place for handling things, they don`t tend to keep you waiting for ages and ages like in NZ. Everything is done quickly and with the least amount of fuss. You fill in papers, they check them on the spot and say come back in this week and all will be ready to be picked up, you never que for hours, they give you a number and you sit and wait for your number to come up, never wait for long. Immigration and city hall have all been good to deal with.
Transport - Not having a car has not worried me at all, in fact it is a blessing as now I am forced to walk or bike, its actaully quite nice walking, you get time to think, see what is going on, look around. The subway is quite good to, it takes me where I want to go, I get to sit down, think about things, edit photos on my camera, watch the giant city of Tokyo whizz past. I would NOT call my self an expert but I think now I could maybe go out by myself on the subway and get home again. Subway travel is cheap. I look at it this way, don`t own a car so no shaken to pay, no petrol to pay and no repairs. Shaken is 100,000 yen every couple years so thats $1666.00NZ or $833 a year that is one HUGE amount of subway travel to use those amounts.
One thing you don`t see much of here is the Chinese electronic/electrical products, NZ is full of it yet Japan has many of its own name brands on the shelf. Laptops are Sony, Toshiba, Fujutsu or NEC. The TVs are Sony, Sharp, Panasonic and Mitsubishi. Same with the BD player/recorders. Kingmax 8GB class 10 SD memroy card is 880yen $14.50NZ, an olympus VG-120 point and shoot camera that takes HD movies is 6970yen $115NZD, a Toshiba 6.2kw heat pump is 73,800yen $1230.00NZD thats not the cheapest one they get more expensive if you want a 10kw one. They are all known brand product here and the prices seem ok too.
I seem to be fitting in well here , I have made one friend already and we can`t talk much as he doesn`t know much English and I don`t know much Japanese, but we still seem to laugh and have fun. Its amazing with the little amount of Japanese I understand, hand signals, pointing at things you can actually communicate. I really want to improve my Japanese as it would be much more interesting to have proper conversation.
Today I saw this twice and I have seen it many times before, that is people taking pride in their city, people sweeping the street, cleaning something, today I saw a guy removing moss from the foot paths, something I have never seen in NZ, its always the councils job or it lies on the street for ages.
Radiation - Its a word that scares everyone as we don't know much about it, we are taking our own precautions, we filter the water, the milk we buy comes from Hokkido or Nagano which are a long way from Fukashima, since most fruit is imported there are no problems there, beef is from the USA or Aussie ( we don't each much) and fish, we haven't been eating a lot of that either but really don't know to much about where that is being caught, I see some is from overseas. I keep in touch with the NZ radiation lab in chch with their thoughts on the situation. TEPCO are in for a long haul to get this under control. I have seen reports it will take 30 - 40 years to clean up and shut down the plant at a cost estimated $66billion, it sure is a lot of money in a tight economic world. Japan is paying a big price for the use of nuclear power. I understand why they have it and if they didn't Japan wouldn't be the place it is today, we wouldn't be driving reliable Japanese cars or enjoying quailty electronic products. Its a double edged sword. Its easy for people to look in and criticize the Japanese government for not doing enough or not letting all the information out, people in Japan are not dumb, its one of the most advanced societies in the world, Japanese people know when they are being lied to, radiation is something anyone can measure its not that easy to hide but hard to see. Is Fukashima a problem, very much so! Will they get it sorted, yes but in a long time, could it get worse, possible. The effects of this disaster will be long reaching on this country. What ever you think it is very sad this has happened to such a nice society. If you have never been here you sure are missing out on something special.
All done at 60 yen to the NZD
Milk 180yen for a 1 liter - $3.00NZD
Beer 6 pack 500mil cans 688yen - $11.50NZD
Juice 1 liter 188yen - $3.10NZD have seen it on special for 98yen $1.65NZD
1 large steak was 488yen - $8.10NZD
Leo wanted a drink today when we were at city hall, I was falling a sleep in the waiting area, it was just to warm. Over here cold coffee/tea is quite popular. Leo and I went to the machine and Leo wanted hot lemon, so I got him one, I wanted hot coffee so not to get a cold one I stopped a women on the street (all done in Japanese) asked her what the hot ones were (I can't read Japanese) she told me which ones were and I bought one. Why am I talking about vending machines this is why, the vending machine sold HOT corn soup in a can. To me a vending machine sold cold drinks, snack food or cigarettes not hot soup!
New digital television is great, not only for the clear pictures but the features, now with new movies at the push of a button they are in Japanese or English! How cool is that!! Nothing else is, the news is still all Japanese!! Grrrrr its just new Amercian movies with Japanese dubbed over! Japanese game shows are great! I so much wish I could understand more casue they get up to a lot of fun!!! The stuff they showed on the old C4 in NZ was just old, the new stuff is just so funny!
No one can escape them, they are everywhere and taste good here! Better than NZ. Why am I posting about Macdonlads just for a little trivia, they are celebrating 40 years in Japan this year.
I read in an English news paper that the manager of the power plant has been relieved of his duties and is in hospital, they would not say why he was in the hospital, give you one guess.
On the news last night they spent about an hour on Fukashima Daiichi, they showed the latest readings around the plant and surrounding areas, the readings looked very similar to what I was looking at in NZ before I came over, the gov readings looked similar to the alternative meadia readings.
They are amazing, I have never seen so many women with amazing figures as I have in Japan, they all dress very very nicely, have their makeup done perfectly. In the subway it is like walking in a country full of models! I am not sure how many are single or married but never the less still a very pretty race of women, I should know I am married to one :) Everyone is very polite here, many of the ladies here love our Eurasian kids and talk and chat away to them. You can never tell the age of a Japanese girl, they just seem to look so good you would never know.
Bus and Train
On the bus and the train it is quite acceptable to sit next to anyone, something that people in NZ on the bus will never do, they would rather stand. Guys in Japan will give up their seats for my wife when they see her with our baby (Luke) I don't know if that would happen in NZ, maybe it would. When at the bus stop the other day early morning my wife was chatting to a couple, they were 83 and 85 and didn't look a day over 65! They were getting around pretty good for their age!!!
Well it is amazing to me that the car fumes are not smelly here, in NZ cars stink, it was quite noticeable, I think it must be the fuel they run on here, maybe in NZ we were getting the cheap fuel that didn't burn well and in Japan they are running on the good stuff, I really don't know but you can't smell the cars. All cars here are petrol very few are diesel, even the buses are petrol with manual or preselect transmission. The bus drivers turn the engines off at the lights and at night if behind another car at traffic lights people turn the head lights off and just have the park lights on and when they start moving again they turn the headlights back on. Traffic light changes can be quite long here. Japan knows how to move traffic, if it is for the good of the flow of the traffic and you want to turn off a small street to a big main road you wait for ages, in NZ the lights are setup so that even if there is one car turning the large flow of traffic is bought to a stop, even if there is no car the lights will change and stop the main flows, crazy!
I don't think many people could handle driving in Japan, its not the traffic its the politeness and sometimes the time you have to wait. Japanese are very patient people.
example - When using escalators you stand to the left side leaving the right side free for people in a hurry to get up quicker, in NZ people just stand where they like.
When you ride your bike you have time to think, you don't realized when you drive a car how much concentration it takes and you are really only thinking about driving. Well today it hit me, I am illiterate, well it gets worse, illiterate means you can't read or write and i can't speak either, what does this make me? It was interesting to me that I completed an education in NZ and could read and write and speak, and now I can't hmmm am I tri-illiterate now?
When we were going to see sky tree we were on the train for quite a while, I got to thinking about the world economy, I decided no matter what the financial analyst say the world is in a depression, people are expecting to see a depression like the 1930's but we are in different times now. I was talking to a friend about houses in Japan and the prices, he said they are due to drop then, I said Japan has been in a depressed state for over 20 years now, the prices haven't changed, its depressed so not likely to change any because the rest of the world has just caught up to Japan. Why are we in a depression, my thoughts are big business, business have just got to big, the wealth is not being distributed across the people, to few people hold the wealth. Then the big business men of the world tried to find a way to make more profit at about this time China just started to open the doors for cheap labour. This all started in the early 1980's, a country doesn't go broke over night it takes many years, those many years are here now and we are seeing the results. A depressed economy, tight job market, high unemployment. If you don't believe me that we are in a depression check out the definition at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depression_(economics)
The Glory Days
Today we went to Shinjuku, this place must of been amazing in the hey days, it must of oozed money out of every corner, nook and cranny! The building and building work is amazing, the streets VERY wide and flowing. The girls dressed to the 10s but you would not expect anything less here. I can sit here and only imagine what it was like until the financial collapse in 1997 when the Japan banks went through, the bubble burst! Japan has been on 0 inflation for 20+ years, does this mean the place has been in a recession for 20 + years, one could assume so. The stories I have heard, the money that flowed, one can only wonder what it was like in the hey day. I have missed the hey days, how did I miss it, well I was just not old enough :o) But I can still sit here and wonder what it was like. Their was a very brief window in time between 1993 and 1997 when I could of come over but I was thinking cars and night clubs, if only I was as wise as I am now. My father in-law refers to them as the Glory Days. I sit here in what I think is present time, but with in a split second I have been part of history, whether my mark on the world is big or small I am part of it as all of you are! History is formed from split seconds, seconds, minutes, hours, decades, centuries, its kind of a weird thing. I look at old photos and the clothes I was wearing, they look crazy yet when I was there they were hip, hair styles come and go. There is no stop on world to get off and watch so enjoy your ride!
I was in the park yesterday, Leo was playing and I met a French guy who had been here 11 years. He was a uni professor, we chatted about the economy, he put it it perspective for me in a way I never looked at it before, I said Japan has been in a recession for a long time, he said and unemployment is 4.5% thats pretty good for a recession isn't it, I had to agree, we talked about Sendai, he said the Japanese have got a lot of people rehoused and sorted already, I said in NZ its a year on and we still have major issues on whats happening. He said look at all the large companies here they are functioning just fine in a recession. He said a recession is different for every country, he asked me what the economy looks like to me, I said things seem to be going ok here, he said thats right. To much media hyper and other peoples ideas poking their noses in putting their 2 cents worth in not even setingt foot in the country just reading numbers off a computer screen seems to be what people do these days. Anyone have any comments?