I live in Tokyo now but most of my friends and family do not. The main idea here is that I can tell these people about interesting things that happen and are seen.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Healthy and Pre-occupied

Well, it's either rained or been disgustingly dishrag humid pretty constantly since the last post in which I declared that the rainy season was cancelled. Chalk another one up to Man's Folly.

One of the Things that apparently Happens when you work for a Japanese corporation is that you go and get a health check, and since I now have a full-time, non-teaching job, that's what I did today.

(The above has been added to "Sentences To Not Start Your Novel With.DOC")

It was more comprehensive than I expected. They X-rayed my lungs. They tested my eyesight and hearing (in a cursory fashion - the test had a total of four tones, not counting any that I was possibly deaf to). They even stuck thingies on my bare chest like was done to E.T. and Elliot. All up it was very much like the first 42 seconds of the video for "In Da Club".

I've never had a real medical check-up before, so I was quite expecting to look at the lung X-ray and see Lucifer's face like in the 9/11 smoke. Happily, there was only two dark smudges that I'm told represent lungs that are normal - perhaps even boring. An off-white smear indicated that my heart is of a size "within normal limits, though possibly mean-spirited". Basically everything was normal and healthy-ish - barring results from the blood and piss tests that I await like a sailor's wife. The only nasty surprise is that I'm two centimetres shorter than I've been telling everyone for the past year: HEIGHT FRAUD. So, everyone: I could be alive for a while - adjust your plans accordingly.

Tune in next time for an in-depth and scornful analysis of David Bowie's 1985 hit "Magic Dance".

What kind of magic spell to use???

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer in Tokyo Will Always Remind Me of Hotness and Buildings

Thanks to the machinations of that wily old trollop La Nina, rainy season appears to have been cancelled, here in the Kanto region at least. But the city is still hot and humid, and suffused with an old, wrinkled scent - the smell of things that have been used, over and over again, by thousands of people - a smell that always reminds me of the first time I came here and went "coo it's not like Parnell is it".

Strangers in strange lands are inevitably moved to express themselves in the medium of overwrought, ill-advised metaphorical language. I am no exception. In fact I'm probably a good example - even a classic! - and I could well be used for cautionary, educational purposes - to warn young kids off thesauruses perhaps - or thesaurii - did we ever settle that one? Oops - I ended the sentence already - there was more to be said there I feel.

So I duly set out to inflict a description upon Tokyo's summer perfume, these hints of shit and ginger that furnish me with strange and not unpleasant nostalgia. I thought I'd start with the basic idea that Tokyo is a big set of lungs that I'm walking around inside. However, extending the metaphor, that would make ME maybe 1) some dust (BORING!!!) or 2) a disgusting lung parasite, which is possibly quite apt but could lead to rather more self-examination than I'm prepared for right now - thus, I abandoned the metaphor.

So anyway the main idea was that I reckon it's pretty hot and wet inside lungs most of the time and the same is true of Tokyo.

My back-up LURID METAPHOR emerged fully-formed and naked in the world during a chat session with Amanda, and here it is:

me: it is a complicated smell that requires recourse to ever more lurid metaphors to describe
basically every surface in the city is slightly warm and slightly damp and is exuding its essence into a great urban potpourri, where the dried flowers are concrete thinly laminated in the wax of human generations, and the curly bits of coloured bark are cats with face-ulcers
Amanda: Dude
me: potpourri usually comes in a basket so i guess the basket would be Sin

Amanda is in Kyushu of course, where the rainy season is fully functional - enthusiastic, even! The misery of two weeks constant rain shall only be compounded when an enormous convoy of trucks arrives from Tokyo, and bears all their fresh water away to offset our impending drought.

Anyway! There is another thing that happens when it gets hot, apart from me sweating and also overstretching my slight abilities as a writer and snapping all the tendons in my writing bone or whatever the hell I'm trying to say. Namely: people open all their windows. Consequently I have become a member of my neighbour's lives as they reside but four inches away. Right now I can hear someone splashing around in a bath and someone else chopping up something on a chopping board - hold on - yeah, sounds like carrot. And THEY in turn are listening to me listening to Nas and typing things.
Toyko is crowded and it's the biggest city in the world and sometimes I really realize this. However this social disaster is neatly defused by the fact that my neighbours are all humble, quiet living people of a kind mainly found here in Japan, and I am doubtless far more of a nuisance to them than they to I. As one night during my recent trip home attested, it doesn't matter how big your section is if your neighbours are P-smoking maniacs.

(Sudden, shuddering thought: a union of New Zealand's legion of P-smoking maniacs, with Japan's ready supply of "SAMURAI SWORDS"?????? Let's pray that the endless churn of continental drift never squidges these nations together)

Speaking of such, and finally, and most importantly, and lest we forget -- last but not least, allow me to add -- last but not least: what's up to everyone back in NZ. I had a mad decent trip and it was crazy way too short but as they say in "That's Life" magazine: "Life is suffering".

Seriously, it was great to see so many friends and family that I'd missed and realize that by the simple expedient of vanishing for ten months you can make everyone forget anything bad about you. Hooray!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Situation Update, and, Ninjas: Where Are They Now?

Here's what's happening now:

1) I'm going back to NZ for a little under two weeks, flight is tomorrow! I'm looking forward to coffee, meat pies, and people I ain't seen in too long (if you're reading, you may be one of them: hi!).

2) I've got a new job writing academic materials... as Shakespeare was to ignoring grammar and making up words, I shall be to illustrating the difference between present perfect tense and present perfect PROGRESSIVE tense.

Grammar quiz!
What's the difference in meaning between the following statements:
"I have lived in Tokyo for ten months."
"I have been living in Tokyo for ten months."

Answers to Comments section please! If you have a good explanation, I will show it to my boss and you can come take my job off me.


3) After my holiday I gotta go through a visa application process that rivals childbirth in its extravagent levels of pain, struggle, and sheer rigmarole.

4) I received a few gifts from some of my students in my last week or so of work, such as a Winnie the Pooh soap and flannel gift set, and some chewing gum. Best of all, however, was a book about ninjas. Consequently I have been thinking about ninjas in a serious way again, despite their return to a state of cultural overexposure in recent years (i.e. once again they are PRETTY PLAYED OUT doggs).

So next time I have a chance to visit the Kansai area I intend to visit Iga and Koga, home to the two main ninja krews of antiquity.

In modern times, the Iga school appear to have diversified from spying and assassinations, and now provide workshops and team-building exercises for those in the corporate world. Check the practical advice on the website... how to reduce stress the ninja way.

I have a backlog of photos I ought to flickerize... most of them dating back to the time of Mum and Dad's visit. Some more have been uploaded tonight.