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Atypical Sight: A Cat in a Tree

May 30th, 2008 · Comments Off on Atypical Sight: A Cat in a Tree · Atypical, My Photos

How often do you catch a cat napping in a tree?  It’s an atypical sight that caught me by surprise.

Cat in a Tree

This laid back cat was eying me as I snapped his picture but he didn’t move a muscle.  He was relaxing and catching some rays in Tokyo’s Hibiya Park on Monday afternoon.

Photo Credit:  Personal Collection

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Typical: Thoughtless Celebrity Comments

May 29th, 2008 · Comments Off on Typical: Thoughtless Celebrity Comments · Typical

Sharon Stone is, by most accounts, an intelligent woman. But her comments regarding the recent earthquake in China make her seem like a blond headed bimbo. Here’s what she said:

”I’m not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans because I don’t think anyone should be unkind to anyone else,” Stone said Thursday during a Cannes Film Festival red-carpet interview with Hong Kong’s Cable Entertainment News. ”And then this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and then I thought, is that karma? When you’re not nice that the bad things happen to you?” (Source: The New York Times)

What was she thinking? I’m sure that the majority of the 68 thousand people that were killed, the many thousands more that were injured or and the 5 million Chinese people left homeless had nothing to do with China’s policy on Tibet. So how does Karma factor into it for those people? I’d like to hear Sharon Stone answer that question but after hours calls to her office by the New York Times were not returned.

On a personal note, I was horrified and stunned after hearing about the devastating 7.9 magnitude earthquake in China . I even felt guilty about publishing my experience of the recent 6.7 magnitude earthquake in Japan. It seems so insignificant and trivial now and my thoughts surrounding the China earthquake have yet to include the concept of Karmic retribution, until now….

Unfortunately these type of comments by celebrities and politicians are not uncommon. Remember when the United States re-named French Fries to “Freedom Fries” in protest over France’s lack of support of the war in Iraq or when religious leaders claimed the Hurricane Katrina was the result of God’s wrath upon the sinners and homosexuals in New Orleans?

Here is a Japanese proverb that I think Sharon Stone, and others like her, should take into account before espousing their personal views to the media:

Kotowaza Silence is Golden “Iwanu ga hana”

The literal translation of this Japanese Kotowaza or proverb isNot-speaking is the flower.” The English equivalent would be to say that some things are better left unsaid or “Silence is golden”.

UPDATE: CNN is reporting (5/29/08) that Sharon Stone made the follwing statement regarding her previous comments:

“Due to my inappropriate words and acts during the interview, I feel deeply sorry and sad about hurting Chinese people,” Stone said in the statement. “I am willing to take part in the relief work of China’s earthquake, and wholly devote myself to helping affected Chinese people.”

Not very heartfelt if you ask me….she is willing to take part in relief work but WILL she and will the Chinese accept her help?

Kotowaza Source: Nihon no Kotowaza

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Atypical Interview Questions

May 28th, 2008 · 4 Comments · Atypical

Mail Box Japan What would you think if you were asked the following questions during a job interview? I warn you they’re not your typical questions:

  1. “How many public mailboxes are there in Japan?” (Replace the reference to Japan with your home country or state.)
  2. “How many drops of water does Lake Biwa contain?” (Again, replace the body of water in this question with one in your region.)
  3. How many slices of pizza are eaten in the world each day?”

According to the Daily Yomiuri Online an increasing number of companies in Japan are using questions like these to gauge a candidates problem solving ability. The correct answer is not necessarily required, the interviewer wants to see the response of the applicant to the question and will pose follow up questions to determine the logic used in answering the question.

I don’t know about you, but these questions seem very difficult to answer and I wondered if this was a Japanese technique or if it was used elsewhere in the world too.

A quick search on the Internet turned up this question:

Imagine you have eight coins, seven of which weigh the same and one that doesn’t (it’s heavier). You need to use a pair of scales to find out what’s the odd one out.

Imran On Tech claims that this question is used by Microsoft, Google and Amazon when they interview perspective employers. It’s seems a lot more logical and I would not be as intimidated by this question as I would be by the three stated above.

I think that these type of questions are a good indicator of problem solving ability and are much better than the typical “Where do you see yourself in five years?” or “What’s your biggest fault?” that are almost passe by now.

What about you? Have you even been asked a logic based question in an interview? Have you ever asked one of a perspective employer?

Finally, if you want or need to know “How many public mailboxes are there in Japan?” and walk through of the logic used to answer the question then you will want to read “Firms test logic ability of job-seekers“. Have fun and don’t be surprised if you have to answer a logic questions in your next job interview – you’ve been warned!

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Just Another Sunday Afternoon in Makuhari

May 26th, 2008 · 2 Comments · The sights

The plaza just outside the Kaihin Makuhari train station in Chiba is always a hive of activity, especially on the weekends, and this Sunday afternoon was no exception. I usually try to avoid the areas on the weekends because of all the crowds that gather to go one of the many events held at Makuhari Messe or to attend a Chiba Lotte Marines baseball game. But yesterday I met my hubby over there for lunch and while I was waiting for him I got to enjoy some of the entertainment.

Chiba Afternoon2

I witnessed a lively dance performance that the was a lot of fun to watch and was well received by the audience. Then the group above was parading through the plaza, on their way to perform somewhere, I’m sure. The girls looked like they were enjoying the day and were kind enough to pause so I could take a quick shot.

Chiba Afternoon3Then the cute pink flower mascot to the left was leading an odd group of clowns and musicians dressed in traditional Japanese attire. They all had placards on their backs featuring a photo of the earth from space and notations about co2. I also saw a mention of TEPCO, Tokyo Electric Power Company, and I suspect that the pink flower may be the corporate mascot. I’m not sure if they were protesting or promoting the environmental impact of space travel but they were definitely entertaining! Chiba Afternoon1

This trio looks like they were transplanted from a Shriner’s Parade back home. All we needed was a big guy on a tiny motor bike with big shoes and the scene would have been complete!

I can’t say for sure if the Sunday was a specific celebration but it’s not at all uncommon to see street entertainers in the plaza on the weekend. I often see magicians, singers and the other day there were a group of gaijin out offering a free five minute “English Practice” session to anyone who was interested.

The plaza just outside of the Kaihin Makuhari train station in Chiba is a happening place on the weekends – you should check it out sometime!

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Yes, I am an expat wife but that doesn’t define me!

May 24th, 2008 · 10 Comments · About me

My name is Shane and I am an expat wife. I’m not making any excuses about it but I do tire of some of the questions and assumptions that go with the role. Let me answer a few….

  • No, I don’t work at a traditional job. I have traveled half way around the world to support my husband and I would hope that he would do the same for me if our roles were reversed.
  • No, I don’t spend all my time shopping or hanging out at the foreign social clubs.
  • No, I don’t spend all of my time complaining about life in a foreign country and about how much I miss my friends and family back home. Sure I have days when I have those feelings but they don’t rule my life.
  • Yes, I like living in a foreign country. There are so many different things to learn and see if you make the effort.
  • Yes, sometimes it is a lonely existence. I spend a lot of time by myself and it’s hard to develop a social network in a country where you can’t speak the language.

Are there challenges to overcome as an expat wife? You bet! If you had any type of career in your home country you will feel lost for a time when you adjust to a new routine in a foreign country. When I first arrived in Japan back in 1995 I was still in the mode of a career woman and was used to a faster pace. I found that all of my chores and errands were taken care of quickly and I ended up with a lot of time on my hands – it felt like a vacation at first. But I was unfamiliar with my surroundings and everything seemed to take a lot of energy to accomplish. I had to master grocery stores and the transportation system. I had to find the post office, the dry cleaner and other services that I took for granted at home. And I had to accomplish all of this without speaking the local language! So, no, I did not, and do not, sit on the sofa and eat bon-bons all day.

[Read more →]

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Buy a train this weekend – a 35-Ton Train!

May 23rd, 2008 · 4 Comments · 1

Keihin Electric Express Railway Co. will put two commuter train cars up for sale on Sunday in Kanagawa Prefecture in celebration of their 100th anniversary.  But there’s a catch…

You have to be able to afford to ship and have pre-arranged storage for the 35-ton cars that are approximately 18 meters long, 2.8 meters wide and 3.5 Keihin Electric 1000 Seriesmeters high and shipping costs are estimated at Y5 million in in the Kanto region.  That’s a whopping $48 thousand USD for shipping alone.  The price of the train cars are negotiable – whew!  But I wonder how much it would cost if you wanted to take one home as a souvenir?  Are there import duties on trains?

The two 1000-series cars were built in 1976 and were decommissioned in March of this year.  The trains operated on the Keikyu line which runs between Narita International Airport and Yokohama and also services Haneda Airport (line map – PDF).  

Airstream Vendor I think a vintage train car could be retrofitted to make a cool condo and would be roomier than most in Tokyo but you would need to find a place to park it.  Or maybe this would be an upgrade for the food vendors operating out of Airstream trailers in Tokyo? 

While this is a cool opportunity to own your own train,  I’m not too sure that may people in the Tokyo area have room to park a train in their backyard.  I wonder who will be bidding?  Would you be interested in buying an old train car?  What would you do with it?

For more information check out the Japan Times article titled Keikyu to sell two old train cars to fete 110th anniversary.  You can contact the company directly by calling 03−5275−5912 (Japanese only) or visit the Keikyu Web (Babel Translation) for additional details on the sale..  

Photo Credit:  Personal Collection & Wikimedia, Keikyu-1000-1-1333

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Want to manage a baseball team in Japan?

May 22nd, 2008 · 2 Comments · Baseball

There is an opening. Yesterday, Terry Collins announced his resignation as manager of the Orix Buffaloes, formerly the Orix Blue Wave, and the original team of Ichiro Suzuki. Pitching coach Mike Brown and batting coach John Debus also resigned. An interim managed has been named from within the coaching staff.

Collins led the team to a 83-105-5 record since joining the team for the 2007 campaign after Orix finished in the second to last spot the previous season. The team finished in last place in 2007 and has spent most of the 2008 season in the same position with a record of 21-28 through Wednesday. Before joining Orix, Collins had been serving as player development director at the Los Angeles Dodgers. He managed the Houston Astros from 1994-1996 and the Anaheim Angels from 1997-1999.

It must have been difficult for Collins as he has had to deal with a team that, earlier this season announced the signing of Jeremy Powell only to be usurped by the Fukuoka Soft Bank Hawks for his services in what became somewhat of a scandal in Japanese baseball and prompted Nippon Professional Baseball Commissioner, Yasuchika Negoro, to step in and settle the dispute. Rumors continue to fly about the ineptitude of the Orix Buffaloes management team and this must have only compounded the already challenging task of understanding the culture of Japanese baseball and implementing change in an arena that is often reluctant to embrace that change.

While American managers like Bobby Valentine and Trey Hillman have had success in Japan that success has not come without frustration. Even though baseball was imported to Japan from the United States in the late 1800’s the establishment in Japan have traditionally been slow to adapt the American style of play. A league president in Japan was once quoted as saying “American managers are not suitable for Japan. They’re too easy.”

It’s rumored that Ichiro’s team, the Seattle Mariners, might be in need of a new manager? So I wonder if Terry Collins will be up for the job? Bobby Valentine says he isn’t interested. Collins and Ichiro might have something to talk about on the bench….

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Ready to roll at Atypicallife.com

May 21st, 2008 · 3 Comments · About me

Welcome to my new, self hosted, home!  I’m happy that you dropped by for a visit and hope that you will update your bookmarks and subscribe to my new feed by clicking the RSS icon to the right.

The format of this blog is based on the Cutline Theme but Chris Pearson. I modified the header portion and the colors in the CSS. Many of the widgets that you see in the sidebar were pre-installed with the theme and they were very easy to activate and move them around. I had a couple of minor issues that I needed help with and found the answers by searching the Cutline website.

My new host is bluehost which I picked based on recommendations from friends. Bluehost offers a one button install of the WordPress platform and it worked as advertised.

A little hand holding from my friend Nick got me through some of  the transitional stuff that intimidated me and he gave me some really great advice, not to mention helping me to find the code for a dotted line that was driving me nuts!

Over the next few days and weeks you will probably see some minor changes on the site but the basic look and feel will remain the same for the foreseeable future.  What do you think?

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10,000 Hits and an Announcement

May 17th, 2008 · Comments Off on 10,000 Hits and an Announcement · About me

MovingAs many of you know I have been blogging since November of last year and in the past 6 months 10,000 people have taken the time to read what I write about. I think that’s pretty cool and to be honest with you I am blown away! The WordPress.com platform is amazing and it has allowed me to learn the blogging ropes without too much pain and suffering but it’s time for me to spread my wings even further and move this blog to a self hosted platform. I’m excited about the move and I have purchased two new domains:

Shanesakata.com will be a placeholder right now. Sort of my online resume with links to my other sites and writings. This is a static web page and I’m not sure how I will use it in the future but it’s now mine!

Atypicallife.com is where all of the content on this blog will be moving and I really hope that you will follow me there. The transfer will be made tomorrow and to be honest with you I’m not sure how long it will take me to get everything up and running given that I am definitely a novice in that regard! I have some exciting plans for Atypicallife.com and I can’t wait to share them with you!

I have to thank a few people who have encouraged me to make this move. Those people are Nick, Neil and Billy. They all write great sites about living working and playing in Japan and have been very generous with their suggestions and encouragement. They are great guys and you should definitely check out their sites!

So thanks to everyone for reading all my ramblings to date and please take a moment to update your bookmarks to reflect my new home on the web:

Atypicallife.com

Photo Credit: Wikimedia, Julien Demenagement 1876

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It’s time to pull out my Tokyo Map -the sun is out!

May 16th, 2008 · Comments Off on It’s time to pull out my Tokyo Map -the sun is out! · Daily Life

After almost two weeks of rainy, cool and cloudy weather the sun has finally come out and it feels like spring – yeah!  I have been a little under the weather lately and haven’t kept my promise of checking out a new site each week lately so it’s time to pull out my map of Tokyo and figure out what I’m going to do this weekend…

image I could go to the Sanja Matsuri Festival in Asakusa this weekend but about 1.5 million other people will be doing the same thing and I’m not so sure that I want to deal with the crowds?  I think that I can catch similar festivities on a much smaller scale a little later in the summer.

Instead, I think that I’ll head for Kagurazaka, or Iidabashi, with my camera to do some urban exploring.  I hear that the area is a great mix of old and new and used to be home to a lot of Geisha houses.  Kagurazaka-dori is a hilly areas with a modern main street that is in contrast to the many cobblestone alleys and old fashioned shops that can be found if you take the time to wander around.  Now that sounds like a better way to spend the day, don’t you think?  So if the sun is out I think that’s where I’ll be tomorrow…

Photo Credit:  Flickr, Kagurazaka #001

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