Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Hot Kim-Chi on Sashimi Action: Korea/Japan Comparasizing! #1

I think Japan has radically altered my definition of "insanity". As I wandered the streets of Seoul a few weeks ago, I found myself thinking things like:

"Wow, there must be a thousand people on this street... back in Canada, that would be crazy"

But, then again, for the past year, I have been living in the land of this guy:

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(more on him soon. he's a damn genius)

So, how on earth can I compare these two glorious cities. There are so many simmilarities. For example, eating food based on tentacles is highly appropriate, AND highly delicious!

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In Japan, they also come in bite size portions!
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I threw out the "Snake Ice Cream" from Japan a little while ago, and some time ago there was....

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But what of the Koreans?


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They would have won hands down if not for that pesky comma.

Ah... but a side by side comparison? I wouldn't dare...

Oh, come on. You read the post title. You know where this is going. Don't worry though... we're only going to compare important shit.

Like Best use of "Presso" in a grammatically disturbing ad campaign!

From Korea we have...

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And Japan brings the ever faithful...
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Hmmm.... I'm going to leave this up to a vote.

I vote... Japan!

Both Cities have their little tidbits of insanity. For example, both have selected extremely crazy places to house Starbucks coffee shops.

The Koreans elected for a shrine.
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While the Japanese just decided to add 23890328273 people.
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Seriously. I counted.

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Ok... Next category: Drag Queens! Points will be awarded in three categories: Realism, Comic Value and Fashion Selection. /10 for each category, with a further 5 possible points for "Gender Bendery"

Entry #1: Korea "The Fashion Salesman"
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Realism: 2/10. I guess if we made him blurry enough, the fact that he has pronounced breast-like cups would make him vaguely identifiable as a woman.

Comic Value: 5/10. Good sense of humour, but he was letting a "business" get in the way of being fabulous. Lack of focus and all that.

Fashion Selection: 8/10. Ok, his clothes are shit, but he technically has the largest fashion "selection" of any of our three contenders. Too bad none of it fit me.

Gender Bendery: 2/5. ho-hum. he's trying to get attention for women's clothes by wearing them, but he did let me fondle his kajungas.

Total: 17/45

Our next contender hails from Japan. Pulling of a mini skirt far more reasonably than 40% of the female population of North America, I have to hand it to "Mi-Kun"
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Realism: 9/10. No question here. Dude squeezes himself into a pair of platforms and a mini that would do RuPaul proud. You go "girl".

Comic Value: 7/10. Good sense of humour, and more than willing to learn new words, like "Fabulous". Bonus points for being a salaryman on weekdays.

Fashion Selection: 8/10. Great choices. A girdle, a reasonable wig, and a lot of confidence on a windy day! Good work!

Gender Bendery: 3/5. Good work on the outer identity. Loses points for being straight, but a very mini-wearing straight. Bravo!

27/45 - Good effort!

Our final competitor comes from deep in the heart of Shinjuku. The MC at the local Gay Cabaret!!!

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Realism: 1/10. Dude. You've got a goatee, chest hair and a little red dress.

Comic Value: 10/10. Dude. You've got a goatee, chest hair and a little red dress.

Of course, you also point to foreginers and scream "big belly! big belly!" then proceed to dance with them, pretend that your 42" foam cock is aroused by them and then write "for the first time, for the only time, our meeting is very special" on a polaroid. That's comedy if I've ever seen it.

Fashion Selection: 7/10. I have to give points for effort, but pizazz often loses out to a more refined selection. Next time shave the belly hair...

Gender Bendery: 7/5. Once again...Dude. You've got a goatee, chest hair and a little red dress.

Total: 25/45. Great work! But not enough to catch the amazing.... MIKUN!

We're going to have to revisit this topic again soon. It's a really tough call!

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Today's Minor Oopsies

Two of my Japanese cohorts had brilliant little oopsies today.


Brent: So, I'm going to a halloween party tonight!
Student: A what?
Brent: A halloween party.
Student: With drugs?
Brent: What? um.... probably not....
Student: But you said you were going to a heroween party. (Makes injection druge motions)
Brent: A What?
Student: A heroin party.


Sub teacher (other room): Jesus! There's a lot to do here!
Manager: Jesus? Jesus who?
Brent: Jesus Christ.
Manager: Jesus Crisis?
Brent: Well... sometimes...


Women's Halloween Costumes in Japan are just as much a variation of "Look! I'm so naughty!" as they are in North America.

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Emergency Procedure

In the event of an emergency, please remain calm.

Emergency staff have been instructed to rescue the people that most resemble themselves. Failing that, they will rescue those with compatable language skills.

Please divide yourselves accordingly.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Japan Strikes Back!

Apparently, it's time for a sketch-off. A battle of wits, weirdness and well intentioned but less-than-successful language is about to commence. This is a battle the likes of which the world has only seen played out 10858739 times in the world of internet blogging. Well, lady, gentleman and the rest of you crazy kids... I'm about to be number 10858740.

Although I'd been planning to compare and contrast the charms and insanity of Tokyo with those of Seoul, it was a friend of mine who threw the gauntlet and started this battle - without even realizing it, in fact.

Fundamental conflict:
Tokyo and Seoul are both very, very crazy. But...which is crazier ???

For example, Tokyo has long dominated the field of crazyness with its neon addiction, cultish devotion to customer service, and "Let's Noun-ing!". They threw out the ringer of serving whale, horse and still breathing fish in the same meal! What city could field culinary insanity to that degree?

Seoul could and did, coming from nowhere with "Hey! How would you like to eat live octopus!?! It'll stick to your tongue and try not to die in your mouth!"

Well, shit.

Don't count Tokyo down yet. Clearly, short of food that tries to argue you out of eating it(coming, I'm sure), there isn't much do to to beat the octopus dish in the freshness department. So... a new tactic.

Changing the Genus.


And so, we present the Tokyo-culinary-insanity-answer to live octopus...

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Snake Ice Cream!

Trust me, this makes me extra bitter that I'm lactose intolerant. When they get around to making a snake based sherbert, I'll be first in line.

/Special thanks to Vash for sending this my way.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Skewed Perceptions

Every now and again, I find something that explains some small part of Japan.
I made such a discovery recently, when I was riding the train and noticed an advertisement for "The Museum of Western Art". In the guidebook, this had sounded interesting to me, as it seemed to be a different type of cultural flow than I was used to.

Most Westerners are aware of the way that culture flows in from the East. They have seen it in the sushi restaurants of Vancouver, the lack of a fourth floor in new highrises in Toronto, and best of all, on MXC.

After living in Tokyo for a year and talking about global culture with my Japanese students and friends, I have also come to understand the powerful effects of Western Pop Culture on Asian countries. Young guys love to break dance, McDonald's is everywhere, and Jehovah's Witnesses knock at my door regularly.

Still, "The Museum of Western Art" sounded like an interesting way for the Japanese to experience some of the more refined pleasures that have emerged in the West. And by "those pleasures", I mean the rich tradition of painting, sculpture and performance art that flies in the face of the hard-drinking, womanizing, clumsy stereotype that some people hold to.



Imagine my surprise when I saw the painting they'd chosen to use in their ads...
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Here's a closeup of the painting. I'm on the left, with the cup.

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There I am!

I'm so offended by what is clearly a direct attact on poor innocent foreigners who would NEVER do anything to draw negative attention to themselves.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tentacles are lower on the food chain than you are

During my recent trip to Korea, I had the pleasure to sample some delicious Korean food...

- Korean Barbeque (which might just be called "Barbeque" here),

- The best Bi-bimba I've ever had. A Bi-bimba is a rice dish made with vegetables, meat and a raw egg. It comes served in a stone bowl that's been heated in the oven, which lets you finish the final bit of cooking (ie the raw egg) in the bowl at the table. It's YUMMY, and looks like this:
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- A boat load of kimchi, which is super tasty. The Japanese aren't big fans of spicy food, so I don't get to eat a lot of it. (When they say "EXTREMELY SPICY, VERY DANGEROUS" one can expect "has flavour and a detectable hint of pepper")

- This:

That's right. This is a tentacle from a very recently alive Octopus. So recently alive, in fact, that the tentacles haven't gotten the memo about it. So, they squirm, crawl off the plate and stick to things. For example, your tongue and the roof of your mouth. Very odd.... but very delicous.

/another vid, this one with my running commentary/peer pressuring of another teacher.

Oh, and finally, from the "Things I didn't eat because I had nowhere to cook them, but totally would have eaten if I had been given the chance...." department...

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Huge two centimetre long insects! These Grubs looked rather strange, but ... I'll eat just about anything.

In fact... there's something about asserting your place at the top of the food chain that validates all of the hard work done by our distant ancestors. So, I'd like to dedicate this post to Thag, Urg, Kills-with-arrows-and-cooks-with-big-freaking-fire, and all of the good folk that paved the way for our culinary dominance. Way to keep killin'!

If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go beat my chest, then pee on my apartment so no one else claims it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Tokyo, my mind invader

Oh, sweet Tokyo, you are an amazing place. I love you for your utter punctuality, for your unyielding need for ritual, and the ease with which I can tune out unwanted media and advertising messages here. I love you for the fact that millions of people co-exist together in relative peace, safety and respect.

I love you for how seriously you take just about everything. I love the convenience store clerks that count small bills as if they were change from purchasing a porsche instead of a sandwich. I love the traffic wardens that faithfully guide pedestrians around obstacles for eight long hours with a lighted baton and a perfectly ironed uniform, when a simple pylon or "bump" sign would serve much the same purpose.

I love that scenic views and completely insane indoor theme parks can co exist in the same place:

60th floor
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3rd floor
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But, dear Tokyo, is your mastery of English that brings a tear to my eye. At first, I didn't realize that you were correct. I thought you were wrong, because you weren't following the rules. I thought you didn't know what you were doing, and had missed the point. I thought that random sylables were the cause of so much worldwide comedy. Oh no...

Now, I realize that it was I who was mistaken. Even though you have broken the rules of grammar, you have strictly adhered to the rules of THAT IS FUCKING HILARIOUS.

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Same package:
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/maybe you didn't mean to be funny. But dagnabbit! That's the best comedy of all!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Body, Soul and Mind


A letter:

Dear Mr. Atkins,

We have decided that your diet is not something we want to be a part of. We have heard terrible things about how the diet can cause health problems, and that the weight loss is only temporary. We will be returning all of your self help books, and begin consuming large amount of carbohydrates immediately.

Wait a bloody second. We never needed your diet, since we aren't bloody fat. Why are we even writing this?


The Residents of Japan

What inspired this letter?

This sandwich, which is available at most convenience stores.

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That's right folks... it's spaghetti, deep fried potatoes and mayo on a loaf of bread!

And how much is this monster carbo party?

Why... a scant fifty yen.

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A love story:

One of the teachers I know has a whirlwind romance to thank for the fact that he lives in Japan. From what I hear, this charming young gentleman used to work at a hotel in the US. I believe as either a front desk guy, a bellhop or perhaps a fluffer.
One day, a beautiful Japanese girl checked in to the hotel for a week long vacation. During this time, our hero and heroine happened to meet in the hotel lobby. Sparks, dignity and passion flew everywhere and all over everything that week, as I hear she ditched her friends and he ditched a few shifts so they could enjoy each others' company.

Sadly, she had to return to Japan, but promised to return soon to enjoy his charms (both intellectual and carnal).

She did.

And they had another wonderful week together. Maybe it was a month. But it surely seemed like scant days to our lovers. Too soon, she had to return to her home.

Undeterred, our boy mustered the courage to visit. After that, he mustered a bit more and moved here for good. He found a job, and quickly spun through some of the various titles that one can give a partner. Girlfriend, Fiancee, and Wife, in short order. This is no small feat, as cross cultural marriages are sometimes frowned upon by parents here in Japan. Still, he's a nice boy and those two are clearly crazy about each other.

Interesting note: Apparently, the "I want to marry your daughter" bow is a pretty seriously huge one, which involves getting on your knees and bowing until your nose touches the floor. A few times.

Ah, but our story doesn't end here. Oh no. As a wise person once remarked, "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the ba-by carriage."

The challenges of raising a child on a single salary are not to be understated, but it's certainly possible in Japan - perhaps more so than in most industrialized nations. Still, raising a child demands dedicated care and proper stimulus, I am sure that these two fine young people will raise a wonderful family.

Here, you can see their delightful child discovering that milk may indeed be a gateway drug.

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Hey! Daddy's pacifiers!

Of course, mom and dad are obviously very proud. Here, you can see their delightful little rug rat learning the proper way to interact at a party for young people.

Step 1: Drink a lot of beer.
Step 2: Act drunk so people think you are cool.
Step 3: (we always forget step 3 before we leave step 2)
Step 4: Poop your pants.

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Look how proud mom and dad are in the background! You go kiddo! Amuse all those people with your adult-like behavior!

A limber student with little shame.

As some dude once remarked... "Mind over Body".

In this case, it's all mind. This guy is a student at a fellow teacher's school, and he wants to be an action movie star. So, if any of you freelance student art film people want to make a martial-arts-and-explosions oriented film, then we should connect you with this chap.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sweet Japan Pics #10: Big Buttu and Friends

Helpful pointers for Business owners:

#1) Try to make people feel positive about the effect your products / services will have. For example, helping people to feel more attractive or more intelligent is a good strategy for a cl thing store.

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2 a) Religious themes match really well with food.

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Buddha is a great addition to any restaurant. Be sure to include one that is at least ten to fifteen feet in height.

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2 b) Be sure to use a respectful name for your restaurant.

For example, you should choose a part of said religious figure's anatomy that people can feel kinship with. Or just pick the biggest part and go with that.

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Seriously... the bar with the big buddha is called "Buttu Trick Bar." Such fun!

The Buttu Trick Bar is in Shibuya, and actually serves tasty, ecclectic food. The "spicy" dishes were rather tasty, though (like much of Japan's spicy food) would be ranked "laughable" out of ten on a world spice scale. The atmosphere was nice, and the staffe were cheerful enough. Prices were in line with what one would expect. After all, Big Buddha Buttu polish doesn't come cheap.

3) If you want to advertise in English... DO find a native speaker to check your advertising copy. If you don't have access to one, then feel free to use everyday examples of English to inspire you.

CAVEAT to #3 above: DO NOT copy the pronouns and sentence structures of native speakers from cell phone emails.

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Still... I'll give these guys credit for descriptive language. If Ur Reading this, U ppl, Ur restaurant sounds good. If you want free advice about where to put a few "YO"s into that sign, fire me an email. Oh...I Almost Forgot...You Don't Need All Those Capital Letters.

4) A cock-rock hand signal display is always appropriate in your store front window. Nothing else matters.

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5) Protest signs are ok, as are warnings. So are signs promoting ice cream, and those encouraging people to eat their ice cream quickly. If you want, you can EVEN suggest that people take care not to drop thier ice cream. If you still need to go further, make subtle sexual inuendoes to sell your product.

If, however, you want to accomplish all of the above, doing so on a single sign may cause confusion.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Wacky Japanese Product Roundup, Again!

My recent adventure in Ueno yielded some delightful product finds.

Let's start with the relatively obsure one: the most unexpected bit of Canadiana I ever expected to find in a trendy fashion shop in Tokyo.

This shirt is new:
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If you are fan of Fark.com, then this candy bar might appeal to you.

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O'RLY? (Non-farkers: "Oh, Really?!?")

If you're anyone ELSE, then further proof that the Coca Cola company is letting their Japanese division run hog-wild all over the English language might be up your creek.

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Anybody confused?

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How about now?

Getting away from the sex theme (momentarily), I would like to move on to my other favourite subtext!
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Yay! Black Black!

If you look closely, you might be drawn to its HI TECHNICAL EXCELLENT TASTE AND FLAVOUR.
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And for those of you who were wondering, yes... it is black on the inside too.
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But BRreeeentt.... that's not really as sexual as you're making it out to be.

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Surely you are all very amused at these wonderful products! Yes? Great! Well.... dear Momsey didn't raise me to aim for "amused", now did she?

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Be sure to note the helpful explaination: Information Gallery

Best part of the sign: figuring out what happens inside.

Is it a Box full of Hot Men? If so, gay men and straight women should enter. Then again, it could be a Box that only allows Hot Men to enter (so, just the gay men then). But still... it might even be a Hot Box for Men (in which case women provide themselves to men of any attractiveness level).

Or...maybe they just tape the door frame, kick out the women and break out the ganja.