Mr. Wake

Are you understand?

Location: Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan

Sunday, February 27, 2005


One of the few (two) Japanese shows that I will watch if it happens to be on and I happen to be doing nothing is Tensai! Shimura Dobutsuen, which means "Genius! Shimura's Zoo." They have an arrangement common to Japanese television of showing video of off the wall things followed by a panel discussion. The panel consists of tubby, goofy guys with dyed hair and dumb, pretty girls. OK, I don't know that they're dumb. I can't understand anything they say, which is definitly more my issue than theirs.

The theme of Genius! is animals. Among other things, every week they have a video of a chimpanzee named Pan-kun and a bulldog named James, both juveniles. Pan-kun is sent on some kind of errand (Here's money. Buy cheese. Or, more interestingly, buy an octopus) and he has to drag James along on a leash. They usually blow it, because they are animals. Pan-kun couldn't tell the cheese from the butter; James ate all the mushrooms they'd collected. But they were able to come back with an live octopus, which is the one task that I would not have been able to do. Most animals on Genius! are discussed; however, the octopus was quickly boiled and eaten, mostly by humans, but Pan-kun and James were given a share.

Anyhoo, what jumped out at me on the last episode was the Q&A session with the kids. Boys and girls ranging from about 6 to about 10 were neatly arranged on risers and were told to present their questions to the panel of chubby guys and pretty girls. First question from a ten-year-old girl was for one of the female panelists, Megumi.

"I heard one of your breasts weighs 1 kilogram. Is that true?"

"I had them weighed and they actually weigh 1.5 kilgrams each."

"What do you eat to make them so big?"

"Excellent question. Liver."

Next question. 7-year-old boy.

"Where does a snake's tale start?"

"Good question. Let's get the herpitologist."

Cut to: Medium Shot. Herpitologist.

"The snake's tale starts just behind his butt-hole. Which begs the question, how do you find a snake's butt-hole?" He holds up a snake and points. "It's here."

At this point a real, live, enormous python is brought in a poured onto the floor in front of the kids. A lesser herpitologist in the studio finds his (the snake's) butt-hole and shows it to the kids. The kids, tubby guys, and cute girls, gather around and pet the snake.

Cut to: Pan-kun and James. The mission was to meet their trainer on the far side of the park. They had to buy tickets, take a boat, buy more tickets, and take a train up a mountain. They succeeded, but that idiot Pan-kun bought three adult tickets instead of two children's.

Monday, February 21, 2005

My Sweater

After leaving my Japanese class at the Y today, I realized that I'd forgotten my sweater. I called them and had the following conversation (in Japanese).

Y: Totsuka YMCA.
Me: Hi. I'm one of your Japanese language students, and I think I left my sweater there. It's brown. In room 205 I think.
Y: Is this Wake-san?
Me: ... Yes.
Y: Another student turned it in. It's such a long sweater, we figured it must be yours. You can pick it up tomorrow.

She didn`t say "big sweater," she said "long sweater." I've had similar experiences at the cleaners. When I come in the guy at the counter yells to his wife in the back, "Can you get the gaijin-san's pants?" without me having to show a ticket. Also at the Y, I used to complain in kind of a self depricating way that that I was too big for the table. The tables have metal shelves attached to the underside, and I had to slouch a little to keep the whole thing from lifting off the floor and resting on my thighs. Of course, there are worse complaints one can have than being really tall. I only do it because I haven't figured out a way to be self depricating about having blue eyes or blonde hair. Anyway, I come into class the next day and there's a post-it with my name on it attached to one seat at one table. The chair had been replaced with a slightly higher desk/chair combo unit, and the metal shelf had been completely removed.

Friday, February 18, 2005


Work bloging. Apparently, Hogarth doesn`t need me today, so I`m "working" on the Bridge. This work consists of translating some quality assurance forms so I`ll know what they mean. We`re on break now.

Apparently, there are some people that everyone bows to when they walk through. My guess is that these guys were customers. There was a meeting going on upstairs, and when itlet out everyone left through the Bridge. As they walked through everyone on the Bridge stopped what they were doing, stood up, and bowed. They stayed standing until the customers left. When I say "everyone" I mean "everyone except me", of course. There was a lot of kooter-kissing going on at my last company, but little bowing.

BTW, workblogging is more dangerous that I thought. This is one of the few websites I go to that`s in Japanese. So anyone looking would know what I was doing. But we are on break now. The chime will sound the end of the break in about a minute thirty, and then it`s back to work.

Saturday, February 12, 2005


Check this out. I can shop at Japanese Amazon in English.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

what the freak?

I use the word "freakin" as a substitute for a word with less mass acceptance. The Blogger spell checker wants to replace it with "foreskin."


Saturday night Shacho and I went out to get steaked. And steaked we got.

We went to a place in Ueno, a section of Tokyo, called "Gain."

At Gain we were to meet Shacho`s bodybuilding friend. And which would he be? Could he perhaps be the gentleman with the dyed blonde hair who`s doing a poor job of hiding a pair of pythons beneath a skin-tight spandex shirt? He was one of those giants who seems like he`s become too big to handle delicate items. It seems surprising that he can take off his sunglasses (at 10 o`clock at night) or lift his wine glass without destroying them.

Shacho left the table to chat with the chef and order for us. During this time I chatted with the bodybuilder. And there`s pretty much only one thing you can talk about with a guy like that. Answers: for 20 years; an hour per day; yes, but it used to be 4 hours per day.

Shacho returned with the chef, a pudgy, silver-haired man who was dressed like a dentist in a Godzilla movie (if there is such a thing). Shacho introduced him as "sensei." Sensei was carrying a plate of moist, red slabs. The charcoal oven was right next to our table -- actually, everything was right next to our table. Gain only seats 32. Sensei plopped himself on a stool, slapped the meat on the grill, and spanked it with a spatula.

Each plate was garnished with a sad heap of vegetables -- corn, carrots, green beans -- as if it was illegal to serve steak without them. Shacho`s and my steaks were half a kilo each and the bodybuilder`s was a full kilogram of cow. For those of you who enjoy Big Macs as opposed to Royals with cheese, half a kilo is a 17 ounce steak, and one kilo is 2.2 pounds. Each was devoured completely in reverent silence. The bodybuilder was taking individual bites that would have been a full meal for my wife.

Dessert. Two scoops of vanilla and a cup of coffee. Sensei was back at the table chatting a laughing about bodybuilding apparently. Upon request he knelt down and presented me with a bicep for squeezing. Sensei was a freakin rock.

Shacho poured a sip of wine into his dish of ice cream. "Is that the Japanese style of eating ice cream?" I asked hoping my tone conveyed that I knew full well that it was the Japanese style of eating ice cream on Krypton. "It`s my style." He answered. Now, Shacho was wearing a suit. Suits in restaurants can have an effect on people who do not usually wear suits. The non-suited assume that weird things that a suited one does with food are how it`s done, and bodybuilder dribbled some Beaujolais Nouveau on his ice cream with complete seriousness. Well, when on Krypton, right? So I had a red and vanilla float, myself. Actually tasty.

Mi-chan update 2

Watching people talk to a cat in Japanese really underscores how ridiculous it is to talk to a cat in any language.

Mi-chan update

Mi-chan is "our" cat.

The Family has covered most of the comfy chairs in the living room with sheets to keep them from getting all catted up. But recently Mi-chan has figured out that he can burrow beneath one of these sheets, and make himself a nice, cozy spot to take a nap. This renders him invisible, which is probably the point as far as he`s concerned. Although very adept at using chairs, he seems unaware that others also use them and that said others are many times his size. Wife has made a little sign for us to put on chairs where Mi-chan is sleeping to prevent Mi-chan from becoming abstract art. As I write this, Wife has carefully peeled the sheet away from Mi-chan`s face and they are staring at each other through a magnifying glass. Mi-chan is far less interested than Wife is.

Friday, February 04, 2005

J bloggers

I'm at work and probably should not be blogging, but it is after 5:00. Anyhoo, I was surprised to see that blogspot automatically appeared in Japanese. It's not commong for a website to have a Japanese version at all (unless I'm doing something wrong, I-tunes doesn't even have one), much less know which one to show a guest. Would that I could read Japanese, it would be interesting to see what they talk about.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Ocean's 12

Spoilers below. I'll let you know when we're close.
Went with wife to the Warner MyCal cinema. MyCal's are American style movie theaters. They have big lobbies with tasteless carpeting in purple hues. There's a concession stand, and they sell popcorn, coke, candy, and dogs at inflated prices. They will even arrange them in a foldout cardboard tray with circular compartments that are a little bit too small. Most movie theaters here have little of this. Floors are tile. The concession stand is an afterthought and it sells cans of tea, coffee, and chocolate "biscuits." The trade off is that one gets to bring one's own snacks. As soon as the lights dim the auditorium comes to life with the crackle of burger wrappers. And did you know that you could by a beer at a movie theater in Japan? And I'm not talking about no paper cup, I'm talking about a...OK it is a paper cup, but still. Also, at the Warner MyCal you can choose your seat when you buy the ticket. No need to stand in line 40 minutes prior to the previous showing, run in, and end up standing in the nose bleed section with your wife in the looking-up-like-a-turkey-in-the-rain section, both of you looking at each other and trying to communicate the seeing conditions with hand gestures.

Ocean's 12 (no spoilers yet): In Ocean's 11 each of the 11 had a particular skill, and each skill is focused on a specific goal in a tight plot. In 12 you got a bunch of guys who pull some jobs. Not even all the guys are used.

I don't buy the character of the zillionare brat who is bored with the lack of challenge in his life and decides to become a master thief. For some reason this only happens in Europe.

I found the grainy, hand held camera thing really annoying. For an Oceans movie I want slick. Don't try to make me feel that I really am in an Amsterdam apartment with some of the highest paid actors in Hollywood.

Spoilers below. Don't read more if you haven't seen it.

They cheat. The guys took the egg before any of this happened. All of the characters know this, but they don't talk about it even though there's no reason not to. And how did they take the egg? By somehow finding out what train the egg was going to be on and staging a fight. I've lived in or near New York City and Tokyo for the last ten years and I've never seen a fight on a train. And if I did see a fight and had my newspaper that I'd already read on the seat next to me, I'd put a hand on it. Somehow I think the actual guardians of the egg would have the train full of teargas if George Clooney so much as scratched his dimple.

Why the elaborate plot with the Julia Roberts thing (which I thought was funny) when Bourne is just going to pull a switcheroo in front of the cameras. And they only used four of the twevle for this.

They tell us that getting past the lasers is impossible because they move in random patters, but then the zillionare Master Thief gets past them. Couldn't the Chinese guy have done that?

But I still liked it. The same way I like watching Star Trek. If you think about it for two seconds you realize that it's utterly preposterous. But it's just fun to be in that world. Cloon and Pitt really feel like they're old buddies and they're fun guys and it's fun to hang with them for a while.