Aug 31, 2011

Watching the View of Hazy Brooklyn

My wife told me that she wanted to see the Statue of Liberty. I checked the Statue of Liberty's website and I found out that the reservation of the tour for it was all already filled up. So we decided to board to see it from the Staten Island Ferry.

The Staten Island Ferry shuttles between lower Manhattan and Staten Island, passing along the Liberty Island where the Statue of Liberty stands. Most of time, this ferry is basically public transportation for the people living in State Island, but tourists like us who want to see the Statue of Liberty board the ferry. I was surprised that the price of it was free. The New York City government is quite generous.

We went to Battery Park at lower Manhattan by the subway and got on a ferry. On the left side of the deck was full of tourists who waiting to take pictures of the Statue of Liberty. I hung out of the side of the ferry, and my wife took a picture of the Statue of Liberty and me, just like the other tourists.

When we arrived at Staten Island, we boarded the ferry returning to Manhattan because we had nothing to do there. At this time we were on the other side of the ferry, and we found a variety of people living in New York. A business person wearing a business suit was just reading the newspaper. A group of women were gossiping loudly. An old man looked tired and was sleeping on the bench. There are ordinary lives in New York.

While I sat on the bench with surrounding New Yorkers, I felt as if I was also living in New York. For a while, I was just watching the view of hazy Brooklyn and I started to wish that I didn't have to go back to Tokyo and could stay here forever. I didn't know why I thought so.

Aug 29, 2011

"Kawaii" and "Cool", "Moe" and "Sexy"; Japanese and American Pop Culture

When I stayed in New York, I went to the store "Forbidden Planet" which sold American comics and figures. I really enjoyed this store, but at the end I didn't buy anything.

I guess that I might like American comics very much, but I stop myself from getting into the world of American comics, because I know I couldn't stop collecting comics and figures, if I started it once. I don't have enough time, money and space in my house for them. I'll keep it as a hobby in my old age.

My wife used to tell me that she had found I was an Otaku only after our marriage. I thought of myself as an Otaku at that time, but now I doubt if I'm really an Otaku. Actually I'm maniac to pop cultures and often writing about them on my weblogs, but I'm not interested in Japanese Anime and AKB48 at all, which are the core of the Otaku culture and I don't frequently go to Akiba, which is the center of the Otaku culture.

I wrote about three of my favorite Manga authors, Moto Hagio, Katsuhiro Otomo and Taiyo Matsumoto. They've had a major impacts to Otaku culture, but their works themselves are outside of the Otaku culture.

Japanese "Girls (女の子)" (a "Girl (女の子)" isn't limited to a child and every woman who has "Girl's" mind is a "Girl") and "Otakus (オタク)" are making up contemporary Japanese pop culture. The key concept of the Girl's culture is "kawaii (カワイイ)" and one of the Otaku culture's is "moe (萌え)".

It's impossible to translate "kawaii" and "moe" into English, but if I try to translate them, "kawaii" might be "cute" (although "kawaii" has wider connotations than "cute"), and "moe" is a kind of excitement often with sexual emotion.

"Hello Kitty" ( is the symbol of "kawaii". Every "Girl" (including "adult Girls") loves Hello Kitty. An "Otaku" feels "Moe" from characters of Anime, such as "Precure (プリキュア)" or "Idoru (アイドル)" such as AKB48.

"Kawaii" and "moe" are spreading into every corner of Japanese society. When I left Tokyo International Airport, I found "Kasutamu-kun (カスタム君)", which might symbolize (?) Japanese customs. Why do Japanese customs need such a "kawaii" being? In Japan even customs should be "kawaii" now. Of course I didn't find anything like "Kasutamu-kun" at the U.S. customs.

I don't like Hello Kitty, Precure, AKB48 and (of course) Kasutamu-kun. They are so childish, unsophisticated and decorated. On the other hand I don't find "kawaii" or "moe" but "cool" and "sexy" in American comics and, as I wrote, I love them. I like "Catwoman" better than "Precure". I'm not an Otaku but a geek, aren't I?

It's quite difficult for me to explain today's topic. I simplified explanation of the relation between Japanese pop culture and American pop culture.

In fact they've deeply affected each other. I found Japanese Anime in "Forbidden Planet" and there are geeks who like "kawaii" and "moe" in America. On the other hand American comics and Hollywood movies have influenced Japanese Manga and Anime.

For example the anime "Transformer" was made in Japan in order to export to the world market and the movie "Transformer" was made in Hollywood.

Anyway "kawaii" and "moe" are the most important concepts of the contemporary Japanese pop culture, but there are people who don't like "kawaii" and "moe" in Japan.

Aug 26, 2011

The Smell of Book Worms

I went to Strand Book Store at Union Square, New York, which sells used books and some novelties (You might see the tote bags of STRAND brand).

There were many tall wooden book shelves that reached the ceiling. I was walking around the book shelves. I was most relieved at the section of Sci Fiction. I found a young man, who looked like a geek, sitting on the floor and concentrating on reading a book with a gaudy cover. It made me feel that there are like me.

I looked up at books on the top of the shelves, and climbed up a stepladder to take one of these books, William Gibson's "Idoru". I also sat on the floor and started reading "Idoru" surrounded by the smell of book worms. I really enjoyed Strand Book Store.

Next day I found Borders at Columbus Circle. Borders, which was the second biggest book store chain in the US, had gone bankrupt, so they literally sold EVERYTHING in the store, not only books, CDs and DVDs but also shelves, chairs and signs. I looked for a real find, but I couldn't find anything good. I wanted big book shelves, but of course I couldn’t go back to Japan carrying them on my back. killed Borders and will kill Barnes & Noble, but I think that Strand Book Store will survive against

In the future I will probably read newspapers, magazines and new books on a tablet or a smartphone. It's also possible that I won't read any of them but get information through websites. But I have a strong conviction that I'll never stop reading old books that are actually printed on real paper with the smell of book worms. There are a certain number of people like me in the big cities like New York or Tokyo, and they can keep book stores like Strand Book Store in business.

And Strand Book Store is worth visiting for me because of its smell of book worms. I am an animate being who can't live without the smell of book worms, and there are living beings of the same species on this planet earth. We don't smell book worms at all, but rather plastic, in Borders and Barns & Noble. They are too clean and new.

We are in danger of dying out, aren’t we? If it’s true, we’ll be dying with such old book stores like Strand Book Store

Aug 25, 2011

I love suffering from insomnia!

I've been suffering from insomnia for many years, so I take a sleeping pill before I go to bed. I can get to sleep with a sleeping pill, but I wake up very early in the morning, at four or five o’clock.

But insomnia isn't always bad.

I love the early morning hours. It's a completely silent time without anyone else around. I turn on my computer and write a journal on my weblogs. I enjoy this precious time by myself.

Last week I took a trip to New York and Washington D.C. I can control the time when I fall asleep. Whenever I don't take a sleeping pill, I can't get to sleep. If I take a sleeping pill, I can sleep. So I don't suffer from jet lag, because of my insomnia.

I always bring a small notebook and when I get an idea to write on my weblogs, I write it down as soon as possible. When I write one of the ideas as a journal, I cross it out. On my trip to the US my notebook was filled up with new ideas.

I have a lot of things that I want to write now, and these ideas have a best before date on writing.. But recently for some reason I'm sleepy in the morning and I can't wake up early in the morning. Is it jet lag? Anyway I don't have enough time to write new journals, because I sleep during my precious time.

Why am I sleepy? I love suffering from insomnia!

Aug 21, 2011

I'll be back in the real life again.

It's been a week since I last wrote.

Today is the last day of the summer vacation.

During the summer vacation my wife and I took a trip to New York and Washington D.C. We spent all day everyday with each other for a week and talked a lot. I read several books and thought a lot of things deeply.

Now I have a lot of things to write about on this weblog, so I'll write about them topic by topic.

But now after a week escape in Wonderland I've also been forced back to a real life lasting forever. I must be a white rabbit always saying "I'm late, I'm late" again.

"Back in High Life Again" Steve Winwood

My real life may be a high life like Steve Winwood, haha.

Aug 10, 2011

I'm going missing

I have summer holidays between tomorrow and the end of next week.

During the time I'll be turning off my cellphone and not be laying a finger on my PC or accessing the internet (, if I haven't become completely addicted to my cellphone and the internet). So, from tomorrow, I'm going missing.

I want to have time to talk with my wife, take a walk in the forest, breathe the fresh air deeply, swim in a pool, go to Karaoke, drink a glass of chilled white wine (no, many glasses of it), read books that are actually printed on pieces of paper and really think about a lot of things.

I intend to kick back and revel in my own private life to my heart's content.

And then I'll be back to my work and the internet.

Hasta la vista, baby!

Aug 8, 2011

The Laws of "Salaryman" (1) "Cool Biz"

When I wrote about "Salaryman" ("English Words" Made in Japan ), I got a comment "I do hope you'll survive!" I've survived as an ordinary "Salaryman" in Japan for twenty years.

I have to keep many laws, which seem to be quite ridiculous for the people who aren't in the Japanese companies' culture, to survive as a "Salaryman".

Today I'll write about "Cool Biz".

It's quite hot in the summer season of Tokyo, but, as I wrote in the previous journal, a typical "Salaryman" always wears a dark business suit and tie, no matter how hot it is.

The ministry of Environment started a campaign called "Cool Biz". They insisted that "Salaryman" should take off their jackets and ties in order to save the environment. Do you understand the relationship between "Salaryman's" suits and the environment? They said that companies should raise the temperature in their offices to save electricity and "Salaryman" should take off their jackets and ties to stand high temperature. Poor "Salaryman"!

Anyway "Cool Biz" has spread over "Salaryman" and they have taken off their jackets and ties in the summer season. And of course it has been hotter in their office.

Japanese government has been worried about shortage of electricity because of the accident of Fukushima dai-ichi nuclear plants, so they started the campaign "Super Cool Biz". They are recommending that "Salaryman" should dress down more.

My company is very Japanese, so they obey the policy of the government. In my company's website I found an announcement as below.

Announcement: Light Closing in the Summer Season

We will relax the dress code in the summer season in order to meet the request power saving by the government.

1. Light Closing in the Summer Season
1) Implementation period: June 20th (the date of closing period will depend on the supply of electricity)
2) Dress code:
Both of men and women basically should wear "clean and moderate" clothing.

The purpose of the light clothing is to promote ease comfort to work in the office, but we show the example of "inappropriate clothing" in order to keep the minimum manner and working environment. Please keep the dress code.

This dress code is applied to only in the office. Please consider and wear appropriate clothing with your common sense when you visit your clients and keep confidence of them.

For male
The present dress code
tops & bottoms

Basically wear a business suit and tie, or clothing corresponding to them, and be allowed to take off a jacket and tie in the working time.

The new dress code

Be allowed to wear a polo shirt and an open-necked shirt.
Be allowed to wear chinos and cotton pants

The inappropriate clothing

Flamboyant shirts
Putting a shirt out of pants
Half pants, cropped pants, pants without press, gym pants, jeans and so on

For female
The present dress code
tops & bottoms

Wear clean and moderate clothing corresponding to a suit or a jacket

The new dress code
tops & bottoms

We don't show a concrete guide, but don't wear inappropriate clothing as below

The inappropriate clothing

A sleeveless dress without a jacket, a T-shirt, scanty clothing (a camisole, halter-neck and so on) and clothing with a slogan or logo
A too short or too long skirt, a skirt with long slit, casual pants (short pants, jeans and so on), jersey pants and skirt, leggings and gym pants

When I read it, I literary laughed out loudly.

Why did they prohibit "putting a shirt out of pants" or "clothing with a slogan"? Women in the office are prohibited to wear shirts with the slogan "save the earth" in order to save the earth. That's the low of "Salaryman".

I tried to break this ridiculous low and put my polo shirt out of my chinos in the office.

Three days after I started a tiny revolt against the low of "Salaryman", the person in charge of risk management said to me in whispers that the president didn't like "putting a shirts out of pants".

Our president might think that "putting a shirt out of pants" would be a huge risk of our company. I'm living in such a ridiculous world.

Aug 4, 2011

Scanning My Brain

I have many things to write on my weblog, but I don't have enough time and energy to write a journal by myself now. It takes much time to write a journal in English, because I need to look up words or phrases in dictionaries and thesaurus, read over it and make many corrections.

I with that someone could scan my brain and write my thoughts down on my weblog automatically.

Aug 1, 2011

Sex & Drug & Rock & Roll

Amy Winehouse passed away and gained admission into "the 27 club", whose members are musicians died at the age of 27, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain.

Of course I heard all the gossip about her, and sometimes I had heard her songs through a radio, but I hadn't heard her singing seriously before her death. Recently I bought her album "Back to Back" through iTunes Store, and I'm listening to her songs on my way to the office.

I like her songs. Her life was disastrous, but her songs are decent soul music. Like kind heard in the late 60s. I associate Aretha Franklin with Amy's songs. It's too much praise, isn't it?

"Rehab" by Amy Winehouse

"Respect" by Aretha Franklin

When I talked about Amy's death with my colleague who is a mother from the same generation as I am, and over 40 years old, I was really surprised that she said that a person like Amy Winehouse should be eliminated from the society.

Taking drugs and drinking too much isn't desirable. Just before her death she couldn't sing well at her live show because of drugs and alcohols, and she disappointed her audience who were awaiting her performance.

But she had never killed or hurt anyone but herself. I think that she had a good reason to do so. I accept her songs, despite whatever she had done in her short life.

Amy Winehouse Drunk live

Most members of the 27 club died from late 60s to early 70s. At that time Rock music was "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll". Most rock musicians were immoral and antisocial. There is a kind of music that only such musicians could create.

"Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll" by Ian Dury

I listened to Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix (their names are next to each other on my list of iPod), and I felt that a musician created such music couldn't live a long and peaceful life. Their music is so stimulating and close to their own lives that sometime it hurt listeners and musicians themselves. Amy's song "Rehab" is close to her own life.

"Mercedes Benz" by Janis Joplin

"Voodoo Chile" by Jimi Hendrix

The members of the 27 club have many followers now. But followers' music is pasteurized commodities that never kill anyone and moved deeply like Janis and Jimi.

I'll show the examples of followers of Janis and Jimi. I can feel that Superfly respect Janis but her songs aren't personal like Janis' ones. I wrote in my blog ("The Song for All of the Stupid Boys in the Word") that rock music isn't contemporary. I like Lenny Kravitz and he studied rock music deeply. But he hasn't been able to create new music like Jimi, because rock music had been already dead.

"Beep" by Superfly

"Are You Gonna Go My Way" by Lenny Kravitz

Before Amy died, Curt Cobain was the latest members of the 27 club. He is the last "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll" musician and killed rock music as the contemporary with his suicide.

"Smells Like Teen" by Spirit Nirvana

Amy was the real musician and I'll listen to her songs forever.