Lost in translation


Fancy Friendship?

Can royalty have friends?
This was the question stuck in my mind this morning.

Obviously they are human and feel the need to connect, but can they ever feel true friendship like a commoner or are there too many other pressures tainting their relationships?
And how would they make friends? It’s not like they can have facebook or twitter or go to the local pub.

It is very perplexing.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t like to live like a royal.
I’ve already decided I would like a summer palace like this one in Nikko.


Coming up on my next blog: I’m in Kyoto

The UNquiet American

So today is my fifth day in Japan, fifth day in Tokyo and fourth itinerary item purchased with JTB.
So far they have been awesome and I have no doubt today will be just as good.

Yesterday I went to Nikko. Right up until the day I kept getting it confused with Nara, probably because I am going there too.

Anyway, everything here runs with Japanese precision, and it is only really the tourists that mess all that up. And there is nothing like a touring bus trip to get you thinking about tourists and types of travellers. It seems that every few months or so there is an article about this or that group of tourists wrecking it for everyone else or conforming to horrible stereotypes, even yesterday in the SMH there was one about Strayans. The sad thing about stereotypes is that more often than not they are true. And despite their exaggeration people refer to them because of it (they remind me of cliche but I don’t know how to put into words how they do).

On the bus tour yesterday I came face to face with the Ugly American.

He was all the the things the worst American tourist can be.

Loud. As soon as he got on the bus he was talking, and without a travelling companion it meant he was talking to us. He then had the audacity to later shush some other passengers.

Argumentative. He didn’t want to do what we were supposed to be doing on the tour. He always wanted to change the plans and get special treatment.

Self centred. He talked only of himself, where he had been, what he thought of places, often cutting off others who were trying to speak also.

Apparently he is on a round the world trip.
And he didn’t like Australia. I am not surprised by this because no one in Australia would have taken his carrying on lying down. More likely they would have told him where to shove it.

Worst of all though was that he was mean to our lovely host. Every time he came up with a problem, like no seats in a car park (what a surprise) she would try and find a solution for him. But often he wilfully misunderstood what she was trying to say and would try and make us all think she was being daft. For instance at one stop he didn’t want to go into a shrine and wanted to sit down instead. Fine, but there were no seats. What there was, was a very nice amenities complex with toilets and waiting room. So our host suggested he could wait there. He didn’t want to sit in a bathroom. She didn’t have the word for waiting room, and even though you could clearly see it and we all knew that was what she meant he loudly exclaimed

I am not sitting in a bathroom, how ridiculous

Honestly, I am glad he did not want to do most of the things on the tour, otherwise it would have been a much less pleasant trip.

On the bus ride home, our host taught us all to make samurai origami hats and paper cranes (a fitting reminder of peace between all I thought).

Peace out man.

Coming up on my next blog: Moving on courtesy of the bullet train.

American Shorts (Friday Book Club)

I was trying really hard to finish this book before I left for my holiday because it was just too heavy to take with me (who travels with hardcovers I ask you?). And lucky for me I did.

I picked it up in a whim and on sale.

I don’t normally read short stories, or adult American literature for that matter. It has never completely appealed to me. There’s a provincialism and frontier mentality that I just don’t like (the same ideas are also explored in a lot of Australian fiction and I don’t much care for that either).

Anyway, Beattie’s stories are more about human nature and relationships, and that is something I am utterly fascinated by. And her stories are truly short stories. A few pages each, examining one intense incident. Easy to pick up and put down whenever necessary and an excellent antidote to YA fantasy.

Her writing reminds me of my favourite American writer, Shirley Jackson.
And lucky for me, her set of short stories

Is waiting on the top of my to read list.

But that will have to wait until I get back.

I also managed to read this book the day before I flew out

The author attended the school I went to, albeit a few years before I went there.
She has used the are as her setting which makes this a really unsettling read for me.
I mean, you all know my liking for dystopic literature, and this novel is very reminiscent of The Way We Fall, but because it is set somewhere I know it makes it more real and a lot. One scary. I think is was pretty good for a first novel and I will be reading anything else she writes too.

Coming up on my next blog: I stay in holiday mode.

The Devil is in the Demographics

I have only taken two pieces of reading material away with me.
One is a ten dollar penguin classic, Of Mice and Men, because I have never read it, think I should, and because it is quite thin.
The other if the October issue of the Australian Harper’s Bazaar magazine.

I bought it because it came with a free Willow t-shirt. You know, one of those one size fits all jobs, except now it says one size fits MOST. One of my other favourite t-shirts came off a magazine, so I thought I may as well get this one too. Plus ten dollars for both a magazine and a label t-shirt seems like a good deal to me.

Too bad that nothing in the magazine fits me, except for the t-shirt.
The first fifteen pages are ads for high end fashion retailers. Places I could never afford, let alone walk into. Then the articles themselves are just cleverly designed ads as well with no real substance, just more unaffordable fashion items.
This magazine is clearly not aimed at me, and yet I still bought it. But only because there was something free on the cover. What does that say about me then? And what does that say about their marketing department? Because I know I won’t be buying it again (unless it come with other free tee).

In Japan, just about every women’s magazine seems to come with a freebie. This month it seems that every one is offering a bag of some sort. Even the train ticket company has a magazine which this month comes with a cute penguin tote.
I haven’t succumbed yet to purchasing one (hence no picture) mostly because I wouldn’t be able to actually read the magazine.

But I am having problems with demographics here too.
At the moment I am staying in Shinjuku. It’s station is the busiest in Japan because most people live out in this district.
Every time I get on a train though I see another high end fashion item on the arm of some Japanese suburbanite. And honestly, I have seen so many now I could start my own accessory store. Mostly it’s Prada or Longchamp. It makes me wonder if things here are cheaper than at home or if they just earn more money. I haven’t been game enough to go into their high end department store Isetan yet because I haven’t really been dressed for it, but I did manage to stumble upon their equivalent of the David Jones food hall and it was magical.


I am actually having trouble buying things in Japan because there is just too much to choose from.

Coming up on my next blog: Something I prepared earlier.

This is an automated message. Please do not reply.

I am currently out of the office and amazingly have untangled myself from the interwebs.
Normal programming will resume in ten days, or when I can find some wifi.

I think this would make a great half way point if my blog were turned into a book. Kind of like an intermission I guess. Too bad it is not actually at the half way point of my year into blogging every day.
Oh well.

Coming up on my next blog: Things are going to get repetitive pretty quickly, and what once may have been cutesy will become pukesy (if it wasn’t already that way to begin with).

いってらっしゃい (itte irasshai – Go and come back)

It is now only one more sleep until I go on holidays.
Last night I let the cat sleep on my bed because she too is going on holiday.

And she is just so cute.

Then this morning I had to use everything that was left in the fridge and so came up with this for breakfast.

I was pretty pleased with myself really. Though now there is nothing for lunch. No matter though as I am going out for dinner (can’t create any more washing up).

The penultimate day before you go away is always a long and boring day. You have things you need to do but really you just want to leave for the holiday. So far I have done the washing, vacuuming and dish washing. I still have to clean the bathroom and do the bins. My house will probably be the cleanest it’s ever been and I won’t be here to enjoy it.

And I am not quite finished packing either.
I have laid everything out that I think I am going to need (not the pillows)

But I wonder if it is too much? My family always thinks that I overpack, but I like to have choices and I don’t know what I will feel like wearing.

I do need to save space for souvenirs though. Last night my mum sent me two links that I think are very thinly veiled hints at what I should be bringing back.
Luckily my air ticket gets me two bags of twenty-three kilos each and so I figure I can always buy another suitcase if need be.
My holiday motto (when it comes to shopping at least) is Just Buy It. Because who knows when you will go back.

Coming up on my next blog: I’ll be in the air.

Shopping of the Future

Today I was in a store.
No shock there, I know.
I needed a specific piece of technological equipment to take wi me overseas.
I went into the store and found said piece of equipment on the shelf.
Standing next to the shelf was a store employee who asked if I ended any help.
All I needed was to pay for the item.
Instead of sending me to a cash register she scanned the product with some hand held device thingy and then swiped my eftpos card through it.
That was pretty astounding.
Then she asked if I wanted a receipt.
I did.
It came out the bottom of a nearby display table.
And my mind was truly blown.
Is this the way of the future?
Or is it just a sign that the robots will be taking over soon.

Coming up on my next blog: Two sleeps and I really need to pack.

Who are you? Who are you?

You can tell when I have had to go to church because my blog suddenly becomes all philosophical and I stop writing about shopping and eating and start writing about Sophocles and epistemology.

Today I was told that the truest meaning of the word prophet is a person who reminds others who they are and to whom they belong. And people need reminding because of enslavement. All the trappings of modern life make us forget who we are, things like vanity and FOMO.
So to figure out who you are you have to move beyond what you do and have, instead of being a human being we have to make like Kierkegaard and think of ourselves as human becomings.

And while we can be Animal, Vegetable, Mineral or Machine, we shouldn’t just stick to that mould. Becoming equals a constant state of flux. And that’s a good thing.

The only thing constant in life is change
And the only place you can never find it
Is in your pocket

But if you really want to know about human nature (and perhaps figure out who you are) I suggest popular culture, namely the film Drop Dead Gorgeous Starring Kirsten Dunst and Denise Richards. And I realised the other girl (in this clip) is the girl from Friends who dated Ross and whose father was played by Bruce Willis. All I can say is it’s only three more steps to six degrees of Kevin Bacon.

Coming up on my next blog: san sleeps