Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Arrest her! She looks Asian!

My ex-manager from the Falls is going to have a tough time visiting Japan next time. She could get arrested on the spot for looking Asian.

Police erroneously arrest 'Asian-looking' Japanese woman on immigration law breach

Tuesday, February 28, 2006 at 07:01 EST

SAITAMA — The Saitama prefectural police on Monday arrested a Japanese woman on suspicion of violating the immigration law but later released her after discovering that she was a Japanese national, police officials said.

The police had judged that the unemployed woman, 28, was not Japanese because she looked like a foreigner of Asian descent and that she carried an envelope written in Portuguese, the officials said. The woman was questioned by a policeman around 7:40 p.m. on Saturday in Kawaguchi. She told the officer that she was Japanese, but stopped answering further questions, the officials said. The woman's family said she is not good at speaking with strangers.




 同署によると、交番勤務の署員3人が25日午後7時40分ごろ、川口市上青木西の路上を歩いていた女性に職務質問。女性は「日本人です」としか話さず、 身分を示すものも持っていなかった。署員が所持品に書かれていた母親の勤め先を訪ねたものの、身元は確認できず、26日午前5時15分ごろ逮捕したとい う。




Isn't this an indication of the incredibly racist direction Japan is heading in? Soft racism, yes, but still, just arresting a person because they MIGHT be foreign? I mean, hey, the barber at the place I go to looks like Kim Jong Il, but there's no evidence to say that he's not Japanese. I think the police need to take a look at alllooksame.com.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Fun Times on Messenger/IRC

This happened when I logged on IRC for the first time in decades. Apparently I couldn't type the /nick command correctly.

* Your nick is now Hane-no-suke
* Your nick is now Hanenosuke
whatever you Erroneous Nickname
* Your nick is now whateveryouwant
HANENOSUKE Unknown command

And this is the record of a horrible chat I was having with Kayumi/Madmartigan.

羽之助 - Whatever, you erroneous nickname! says:

Dark Schneider - Whatever, you erroneous nickname! says:
I can't see that.
Dark Schneider :It looks like a big black blob
羽之助: someone who is a slave to his crotch is about as INTELLIGENT as a shellfish.
羽之助: this is the original character for 'intelligent'
羽之助: but it carries another meaning as 'rock hard'
羽之助: so my mnemonic of "crotch-slave" still stands
羽之助: except that slave should really be minister (its true original meaning is downcast eyes), so I could have a Ministry of Crotches
Dark Schneider: Except it's only "slave" as a radical/primitive, where it can also/still be used as retainer, as well.
羽之助: Yeah. I just wish Heisig would keep the same meaning for everything.
Dark Schneider - ::you can pretty much dismiss what he uses as the meanings for the radicals if you like.
Dark Schneider: FOR EXAMPLE
Dark Schneider: he lists "Rice" as meaning USA as well in radical-form
Dark Schneider: And the only place I've seen that used in the book was in Astray
Dark Schneider: (rice, road)
Dark Schneider: where I have NO idea how to use USA
Dark Schneider: but I can use rice to say "leave a trail of rice so you won't go astray"
羽之助:Following the road of the USA will lead you astray.
Dark Schneider: mine's better
Dark Schneider: or for edge
Dark Schneider: I prefer "stand on the mountain's EDGE and it'll be so windy you need to comb your hair"
Dark Schneider: no
羽之助:it is so!
Dark Schneider: ...good christ I hate this font size
Dark Schneider: that does NOT look ANYTHING like that.
羽之助: hahaha
Dark Schneider: Seriously
Dark Schneider: What font size are you using?
羽之助: Mine is a ... 12.
Dark Schneider: Wow, even at 12 it's legible.
羽之助:12 is all you need. Unless your montior resolution is set to supershrunk
Dark Schneider: It kind of is.
Dark Schneider: 12 is retarded-big looking though
羽之助: then go for 11 or 10.5
Dark Schneider: She's got breast cancer. That's Sheryl Crow, right?
羽之助: Does she?
羽之助: Yes.
羽之助: Huh. Too bad.
Dark Schneider: Yeah, announced today.
Dark Schneider: I wonder if it makes her happyyyyyyyyyy.
Dark Schneider: I guess she's finding that every day is a winding road.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

An Interesting Night Out

Yesterday was a blast! Delivered a short Hong Kong lecture because it was the last day at one of my classes, then went to the office to shock everyone with the beardless face. The evening was pretty good, as I went to the JTB office with friend Liz. We technically arrived after closing, but we gaijin smashed our way in and got her her tickets to Okinawa. After that, we walked to Strawberry Cones, which despite the name sells pizza. Good pizza, especially for Japan with its reputation for bad pizza. On the way there, I actually said "Let's Pizza" and was immediately kicked by Liz for it. Good. We ordered a large, took it back to my apartment and stuffed ourselves. After a few printing misadventures, Liz drove me downtown to the post office so I could meet Uri.


We headed to (where else?) Paper Moon, where I just drank coffee (because I was sleepy) and Uri just drank assorted fruit drinks (because he was driving). Mr. Watanabe provided the usual cool demeanour, and we chatted with him and co-bartender Keiko for a while about life in Japan and overseas.


Then, two men walked in. One was white, the other, Japanese. They were speaking English. At first, we were pretty cold to each other. Then I suggested to Uri that we switch our speaking language to French. The white guy, hearing this, switched to French and asked where we were from. It turns out that he was from Montreal, from the same neighbourhood as Uri, and was in Japan to do some filming. We talked until around 2 and then headed off to our respective apartments/hotels.


Today I watched a German movie about the end of the war and the fall of Berlin, called Der Untergang. Highly recommended.


Oh yeah, and in this story, Tottori Prefecture will soon ensure that violations against human rights will go unpunished.

Tottori to halt human rights ordinance
Saturday, February 25, 2006 at 05:00 EST
TOTTORI — The Tottori prefectural government submitted a bill to the prefectural assembly on Friday to indefinitely suspend the enforcement of an ordinance aimed at protecting people from racial discrimination and other human rights violations, citing lack of support from legal circles. The bill is likely to be approved on March 24, the final day of the current assembly session, and the scheduled implementation of the ordinance on June 1 will be postponed indefinitely, prefectural officials said.
Hurray for the Tottori Inhuman Rights Act of 2006!


<人権救済条例>施行停止の条例案を提案 鳥取県知事

 表現の自由を侵すなどと批判を浴びた鳥取県人権救済条例について、片山知事は24日開会の定例県議会に、条例の施行を無期限停止する条例案を提案した。 主要会派が賛成、可決される見通し。同条例は県弁護士会が条例の運営にあたる県人権救済委員への弁護士派遣を拒否、片山知事が抜本的に見直す意向を示して いた。
(毎日新聞) - 2月24日14時27分更新

And finally, I now have gold hair.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Snip チョキチョキ

Since I got these booklets from the kids at one of my schools, I went to a stationery store and picked up some special paper to write thank-you certificates. The principal of the school had told me where I could buy the paper, so I went into his office today to thank him.

It appears that when he leaves his office, he tapes a picture of himself to a stuffed bear and leaves it in his chair. God I love this guy.

Today the fifth-years were making Brazilian food.

I forget what they're called but they were pretty good.

I wonder if this is a company that makes food ingredients specifically for Brazilians in Japan?

It was actually an extremely good day at that school. Sure, I had the Class from Hell, which is always a downer but oh well. The only one I really care about is a girl I call Satori-chan, or 'Miss Enlightenment' as she is one of maybe four people in the whole class who pays attention and doesn't try to assault other students. More info in English here.

Oh yeah. I got my hair cut.

And, the video of Day Two in Hong Kong is online.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Warm! あったかい!

I went biking this evening without my winter coat on - just the suit jacket - and I wasn't too cold! The snow's pretty much all melted too. Whoo! But, will it last?

The important question is, will the warmth stay long enough for me to decide to finally cut my hair?

The Teach Yourself Chinese book has arrived. Looks thick and comprehensive! Goody!

And, a link from Tvashtri ... what do you guys think about me?

kks's Johari Window

Monday, February 20, 2006

Valentine's Day in Japan 在日本のヴァレンタイン日

So I'll talk about the title of this post and then go back in time to talk about other stuff. Sound good? Okay. Now, shut up and read and behold the pretty pictures.

Valentine's Day in Japan basically means all the women have to hand out chocolate to all the men, which is known as "obligation chocolate". I almost thought the women in our office weren't going to do it, and I was quite happy because 70% of Japanese women hate the "tradition", but I got one anyway, in the shape of an amused monkey. While I appreciate the gift, and will have a White Day return present in the form of white alcohol (pina colada, anyone?), the choice of monkey is ironic in that a few JETs refer to themselves as "trained monkeys" - amusing people who speak English but are not to be taken seriously or thought of as more than a toy. Sometimes.

The office supervisor, of course, got entirely appropriate chocolates. I really want to know where the girls got these particular ones. The packaging reads as "girl's kisses".

The shop where I bought stamps from the Angry Old Man and also purchased the Evil Potatoes is closed! One day I was going by it on my bike on my way back from the BofE, and it was shut with 'For Rent' signs on it! What the heck? I mean, I hated the shop but I'd at least like to what what happened.

Edit: I talked to the bike shop guy next door, and apparently the husband died, so the wife decided to close shop.



One of the schools I was at last week was having a day where the older students would go to the younger grade classes to dispense guidance and stuff like that. I remember doing the same thing in my elementary school. I hated it, as I recall.

At another school, I was browsing around the teacher's office when my eyes fell upon this incredibly disturbing picture. Kids have cooking classes, and this is a cooking textbook. She looks like she just dumped a bunch of arsenic in her baked goods.

In accordance with my previous stance, if you're going to teach something, make an effort to teach it right. Subject-verb agreement, people! The only way this gets forgiveness is if it was actually written by an elementary or junior high student.

Japan likes its tobacco, and the unscrupulous youth can easily buy cigarettes and alcohol from vending machines. This one, however, has a sign that says it will have an "adulthood verification function" device attached to it in 2008. A bit late, and I think the cigarette vending machines should be outlawed completely, but better than nothing.

A few days ago, a fire truck raced by one of the schools. Meaning that there was a fire somewhere in the neighbourhood, the school officials quickly telephoned the fire department, got the address of the fire, checked to see if any student's houses were nearby, and finding that there were, quickly called the house and called the kid to the office to prepare for any possible shock. All of this within maybe 1 minute. Cool and commendable.

On the weekend, I was hitching a ride with my friend on the way to our weekly soccer game. We went by the Culture Centre, and due to some kind of event and people parking on the road because they couldn't bother to do it in the lot, what should have been a 30 second ride to pick up her brother turned into 15 minutes. Attention all road-parking 4-way-flashers: YOU ARE ALL BASTARDS, DIE DIE DIE.

Walking home, found this at the entrance to a person's driveway. Shinto paper, to protect against the entrance of evil spirits and such.

Since the school term is winding down, I've been having the last lessons of the year with the more regular schools. I've received wonderful "memory books" of the past year (I've only been in the schools for 6 months but they all say "Thank you for a year of teaching" - I think they need to check their math), but the real gems are when the students say "Your classes are always interesting" "I look forward to coming" and best of all, "I hated English but now I love it". Since they are relatively few, I believe these testimonials. Hurrah, I have worth!

In other news, to help me with the increasing number of Brazilian kids in the schools who do not speak Japanese, which is the main language of instruction for my English classes (oh sure, you laugh, but I can spend either 30 seconds explaining the game in Japanese or 10 minutes in English), I have ordered a "Teach Yourself Brazilian Portuguese" book. My Chinese textbook has just shipped, so I will be studying that soon too.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

JTHK: Day One, Tokyo to HK 香港への旅路第一日:東京から香港へ

The video is finally available for public viewing.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Stupidity Reigns but Does Not Rule

This past week has been pretty stupid in Japan.

First, the man who will probably be the next PM of Japan, Aso Taro, said that the Emperor must visit Yasukuni.

Second, a black man who was shooed away from a store in Osaka Prefecture and had the gumption to sue about it had his case rejected because the judge had"doubts about the plaintiff's level of comprehension of the Japanese language".

Third, a former trade minister, Hiranuma Takeo, said that changing the current Imperial Succession law to allow females to ascend the throne was impossible because “If Aiko becomes the reigning empress and gets involved with a blue-eyed foreigner while studying abroad and marries him, their child may become emperor. We should never let that happen". Other arguments include precedent that Japan has never had an empress before, and that Aiko does not carry the 'Imperial Y Chromosome'.

Fourth, Aso went at it again, this time about Taiwan, where he said that "Thanks to the significant improvement in educational standards and literacy (during the colonization), Taiwan is now a country with a very high education level and keeps up with the current era".

Fifth, following news that Princess Kiko is pregnant, PM Koizumi has announced that he will no longer put forward a bill allowing Imperial succession to pass to Princess Aiko.

Sixth, Koizumi announced that he is reluctant to allow more foreign workers into Japan because of a possible rise in crime.

So why is this stupid?

1. The Emperors, beginning with Hirohito, have not visited Yasukuni Shrine ever since the spirits of executed war criminals were smuggled in one night in the seventies by shrine administrators.

2. The fact that a visibly non-Japanese man can be shooed away from a store and a discrimination lawsuit can be easily dismissed does not bode well for a future where Japan needs immigrants to survive.

3. Besides obviously racist, it is stupid because it is apparently OK for Aiko to marry a black-eyed Korean-American when studying abroad. We all know how the old guard would approve of that. Japan has also had plenty of empresses - Empress Suiko, for example. And as for using genetics as an excuse - sorry, but all you need for succession is descent from Amaterasu and possession of the Three Sacred Treasures. Japan, welcome to the 21st century. Where is the great spirit of Meiji and modernization? In Denmark, apparently.

4. Imagine the uproar if a British former trade minister made the same remark about India. For sixty years Taiwan has been independent of Japanese rule. Plenty of time for improvement by themselves. Just another example of the old guard's inability to let go of the past.

5. Princess Kiko's pregnancy couldn't have happened at a *coughcoughcough* more convenient time. I wonder how much pressure she came under to produce a boy as Koizumi tried to introduce a revised Imperial Succession bill. Artificial insemination and sex selection, anyone?

6. More immigrants and foreign workers does not mean more crime. Seeming as Japan desperately needs immigrants to pay taxes for the pensions of the upcoming retirees, if the government is that concerned about foreign-related crime, perhaps they should crack down on the Japanese agents who import workers and force them to work in the "body" related industries.

And that's the roundup for this week. Support the True Heir - Princess Aiko for Empress!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Snowball Fight 雪合戦

The women I went out with on Friday to the movie gave me something great - a box like the ones at shrines or temples to deposit money into for good fortune! One step closer for me getting a kamidana.

This is my view as I wait for the bus stop. For the past three days, I've been going out to a school way out in the country - only three buses per day to that area. Lots of very old interesting things there, like Murdered Woman Hill, which is an idiotic folk tale - a woman divorced her husband and went back home, and on the way home rested on a rock in the forest and fell asleep. Her ex-husband, distraught, came through the same forest, coincidence or no, and saw 'a ghost woman' lying on a rock, and killed her. Uh huh. Nice excuse. I, of course, plan to sleep on said rock overnight and see what happens.

One popular and easy song/game is "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes", at least until third or fourth grade, depending on the school. Since I don't have much in the way of material at this particular school, I get to use my favourite medium - chalk and board!

It's been a weird few days, with massive snowfall. Still, the shrine of the area's guardian deity looks pretty in the falling snow. 最近は本当に雪多かった。ま、地域の守り神の神社は降っている雪のままで綺麗でしょう。

Turns everything grey, though. The only spot of colour are the two junior high school students.

Some kids are still suffering from flu and colds, though. One poor guy threw up inside the office, and a Circle of Protection: Vomit was immediately set up from nearby materials.

Still, the snow was perfect for making forts, as it was wet enough to roll giant snowballs. The fort actually started out as a snowman, but as the second ball was too big for anyone to lift, it became the first part of the front wall. When I left the school for the last time today, it had gotten quite impressive. If I get a day off I might go back out there just to work on it some more.

Anyway, on to some non-picture commentary. As usual, the first and second graders were excellent at remembering words and WRITING (including kids making normal mistakes like writing the capital E backwards!), whereas asking the sixth graders to do the same thing would elicit groans and complaints. Since the sixth graders were going to middle school in April, I told them to get ready, because they would have English class three times a week. The look on everyone's faces was pure shock and horror. They seriously thought once they finished elementary school, they would be done with English forever. HAHAHAHA!

I also met ANOTHER girl with a Chinese mom. Man, Ichinoseki may be in the middle of nowhere but it is probably more multicultural/multiethnic than the rest of Japan! It continues to rock!

Since I'm tired of raising my voice and screaming over the voices of noisy students, I bought a whistle, a yellow card, and a red card. Now, if they're all noisy, I can use the whistle, and if one particular students is being an idiot, I can just yellow card him. Red card means get the fuck out. Of course I have no real power to use this, so maybe a 'face the wall' would work.

Waiting for the bus to go home, I actually saw a snowplow. Now I know that they exist here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The New Face of Pat, Your Imperial Ruler 羽刀、貴方達庶民の天皇の、新しい顔

New banner! Whee! 新しい横看板!やった!

The beard is continuing to protect against the cold, and coupled with my ever-growing hair (on the head), I can now carry giant snowballs on my shoulder and not feel cold. I'll have to shave and cut in March for girlfriend reasons, but until then, it's wolf time.

On Friday night I went with two nice women from the now-defunct English group to see a movie called "Always: Evening in 3-chome", about Tokyo in 1958. Even if it does glorify that damn Eiffel rip-off hunk of metal, it was a good movie. The funny parts were funny, and the sad parts were sad. I recommend.

On Saturday I went to the gym and used the equipment with two friends, which was fun. While filling out the registration, a guy came over and asked me what country am I from and the usual chitchat. To finish up, he said 'Well, I hope you take a good Japanese wife from here!' Things progressed even more hilariousy when we went upstairs to use the equipment. The two Japanese girls I was with ... didn't say a word! They just stood there while the attendant panicked over what the hell these three people were standing there just staring at her for! Eventually I spoke up and said 'Hey, we're new. Do we give these forms to you or what?' Later, she said she had been panicking because she thought she'd have to speak English. Come on. This is Ichinoseki. If you meet a white person here, chances are they're a Portuguese-speaking Brazilian.


Saturday was also Soccer Day, and I lasted for about 5 mintues before falling and twisting my ankle. AGAIN. It's fine now though.

I've moved my computer into the kitchen, which means I'm closer to the fridge. The space heater for the kitchen is this orange demonic thing, on which I burned my underwear trying to heat it up one morning. パソコンを台所に移動したので、もっと冷蔵庫の近くになってしまった・・・台所である暖房はこの鬼みたいみかん色な物。これで或る朝に下着を暖めてみる時はよく燃やしてしまった!

And thus passed the weekend.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Just A Normal Entry 只の普通な記事

After a few weeks of procrastination, I finally started to make some curry. I had more than enough chicken, seen here, frozen. Damn that's hard to cut. Easier than if it was raw, but still. I bought a bunch of potatoes a few months ago from a little store, and if you peel the skin then you've got a nice layer of green. Which means poison. Normally I leave the skin on and just take out the eyes, but this time I had to peel all the potatoes ... sigh. I compensated with lots of onion and garlic, and sesame seeds. I love sesame.

This is a notice I saw on a bus. It reads as "For your safety, securely lock your doors! Get into the habit when you leave the house. I still remember when I was young in my Canadian hometown, we'd never lock our doors, though my the time I was almost done in elementary school we had gotten into the habit.

The school I was at still had posters that the students made about other countries during their bit of international study. I did this is Grade 4 and had to do Italy. If only I had been given Japan or China then ... heh. Golf is now an English sport, by the way.

Hurrah for China! 中華万歳!

There really is no organized snow removal here. I saw one woman shovelling the snow from her driveway and ... throwing it into the middle of the road. This picture was taken near the big supermarket I live by. Vehicular traffic has (I think) created a large snow boulder in the middle of the road.

On Thursday night I went out to an onsen with Manga Girl. It was nice, except I was a little surprised that there was no outdoor bath. Because it was separated by sex, we agreed to meet back in the lobby's rest area (pictured) after half an hour. Problem was, I thought half an hour started after entering the bath; she thought it began after entering the changeroom. Ah well.

Out at the Japan-Style School, we were just having a 'Play Day' of sorts with the younger grades, in which I wouldn't actually teach anything, but instead introduce 'Canadian games'. A little 7-up went well, but then I took everyone to the gym for everyone's favourite - dodgeball! To make things evil, I gave them two balls to throw instead of one. When our time was up, we prepared to leave ... except that the gym doors had locked automatically!

I have my keitai on me at all times, so I just called the office to send someone to let us out.

Later that day the kids went around the school seeing what magnets would stick to. They all had cute horseshoe magnets - no utilitarian bar magnets here!

After the day was done at the school I returned to the office and managed to talk to the other city ALT for the rest of the afternoon without complaining about Japan. I also gave out chocolate-covered almonds to the staff and told them to watch out for demons. Walking home I jumped into a snow-filled rice field.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Pointless Labour 無意味な労働

Did we ever get a huge snowfall the other day. Wow. We’re talking Canadian-style drifts, although I’m sure everyone up in Aomori is just sick of it. Anyway, since there was massive snow, instead of hiding in the staff room or AV room like I usually do after lunch, I went outside. Surprisingly enough, instead of playing in the snow, two kids were shoveling the front driveway. The front drive is huge, so I grabbed a shovel and began to help them.

But before that, I was at another school, and I saw that the students were making some really nice representations of their names.

I haven’t taken out the paper in a really long time. Hope they take it! 本当に久しぶりに紙とかを出しに行った。大丈夫ならいいな!

This week is the one time of the year when the Japanese acknowledge that they used to share the same calendar with the rest of East Asia. It's Setsubun-no-Hi, Season Change Day, and at the school some students put on devil masks and I whipped peanuts at them. Everyone in the class went nuts going after the peanuts. It was great. Devil out, luck in!

Anyway, back to the snow shovelling. Instead of playing in the snow, I helped these two kids shovel. When cleaning time started, more kids filed out to shovel, including a few teachers. Except ... there was zero organization. I think I managed to shovel more than everyone else combined, but only because everyone else was doing it so haphazardly. And they were using pickaxes to chop away at the ice under the snow. So you'll resort to kids wielding heavy mining implements but you won't salt the ice? Not that it mattered - the heavy snowfall ensured that all our work was for nothing. So WHAT WAS THE DAMN POINT of making the kids go shovel?

On the way home I slid on some ice with some students. And thus the day had meaning.

Seriously, though, lots of snow.

Sign warning motorists of an accident closing the highway between Tsukidate and Furukawa.