Never Say Never

To borrow some lyrics from a song that was a childhood favorite of mine:

Never say never, never again.

Never say never, whatever you do.

I distinctly remember saying something about not wearing a certain pair of tight, red pants or dressing like a prince at my wedding, due greatly in part to having self respect and/or shame. And… I’m pretty sure you can guess where this is going from here.

Prince J. Charming

Prince J. Charming

First off, I want to make it absolutely clear that I put in a good fight against wearing this (I realize I look like I’m having a great time in the photo, but you have to keep in mind that I’m wearing a cape. Anything is better with a cape.), but I ultimately lost the war. You see, being an American in Japan, doing a Japanese/Disney wedding with my Japanese/Disney-loving fiance, she clearly has the home-team advantage. I pointed out that we wear black tuxedos in America, and I would like to keep with that tradition. Alas, the staff member (Ms. Suzuki – sweet girl, when she’s not trying to ruin me) would have none of this.

“In Japan,” she says, “guests wear black suits. So if you wear black too, you won’t stand out! Even in your. own. wedding. photos!”

I pointed out that I’m the only American man appearing in my wedding photos, so I’m pretty sure you can easily pick me out of a crowd.

“Hahaha! You’re so silly. Now shut up and play dress up.”

Unleash the Beast

Unleash the Beast

That’s not a direct quote, but the murderous looks she and my fiance were giving me suggested that I should probably just give in. You’ll be happy to know that I did actually win out on this one and won’t be starring as Cinderella’s Prince Charming, though my victory was short-lived. It looks like I’ve got two different suits in my future (since Japanese weddings seem to require a costume change), but I feel slightly better about being able to at least talk my way out of tight red pants. You’d be proud!

Other than that..? Been surviving the brutally humid Japanese summer, heading to work, and coming back home. That sort of life, y’know? Went to go see Godzilla last weekend, which brought to my attention the fact that I’ve never actually seen a Godzilla movie in my life. For someone who’s spent my entire teen years fascinated with Japan, I think it’s impressive that not only have I never seen Godzilla, but the first time I do is watching an American rendition. Go me!

So with that, my friends, I should probably get going. Came down with a fever over the past few days, and it just doesn’t want to go away. Work, unfortunately, isn’t letting up either.. so.. sleep it is.

Enjoy!

The Opposite of White is… Red?

That’s right, you heard me. Up and down, left and right, off and on, white and red, top and bottom, ca… wait, let’s go back a little bit there. White and red? Yes. That:s absolutely right. In the cosmic order of things, the way it works in the land of the rising sun is that the galactic enemy of the color white is not its evil brother black, oh no.. that’d ridiculous. Nope! Until the end of time, it will forever be the battle between white and red.

I guess now’s a good time to explain myself and what I’m rambling on about. Well, I’ve been wondering about this for quite a few years, but I guess it all boils down to the national flag.

Nope, wrong one!

No, not this one…

Well, okay… yes and no. This is technically the flag of the Empire of Japan (though still in use by the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force), you know.. the one we kinda like to pretend didn’t happen. But it still gets my point across all the same. I don’t think I need to tell you what this flag represents, but it’s essentially the sun (get it?) and the rays coming out from it. Obviously the first thing that comes to mind is: “But Jason! We all know the sun is yellow, you silly person. I’ve colored many suns in my life.

And you know, you’d be right. Kinda. It’s actually a pretty fascinating subject, but there are a lot of articles and sites like this one in Japanese (and probably other languages) showing what kids think about the colors of the world around them. You see, while in America we draw the sun as yellow and mountains as brown, the standards would be red and green (or even purple!) respectively in Japan. Growing up in the Arizona desert, brown mountains simply make sense to me.

And this is where it starts.

Where it all begins…

So now that we got that out of the way, where does this red and white battle-to-the-death come in? Well, it all boils down to this hat right here. From kindergarten on throughout elementary school, Japanese school children take part in the annual “sports festival,” where the children are broken up into teams and play against each other.

For the sake of simplicity, you’re basically either on the red team, or the white team. These hats have come about and are common with school children for these games. Not sure what team you’re going on? No sense in buying the wrong hat.. ’cause they’re reversible! Quick last might change ’cause someone was sick? BAM! You’re on the red team now.

When things get more complicated, eventually yellow and other color teams enter the picture, but when you have any sort of simple “Team A, Team B” thing going on here, you’re often gonna see this pairing of red and white.

Not really too important, I know, but something I’ve always found fascinating.

Oh.. and yeah, I’m doing just fine! Hot and humid here in Japan, but otherwise, things are going good for me..!

The Mouse and Me

For anyone who knows me personally, I’m sure you already know about this, but I guess it’s about time that I should mention that I’ll be doing that things adults do and getting married early next year. Shock, gasp, horror.. I know. Hey, it’s a surprise to me too! Well.. no, not really. But let’s try to associate a little bit here.

So in addition to the excitement of having finally passed my first year of being a translator (YAY!) I’ve got a lot of planning to do between now and the end of the year, assuming that my job doesn’t decide to eat my soul in the mean time. If I could ever offer a bit of advice to you, be careful selling your soul to the law industry. They’re fond of souls, and will more than happily take it. Trust me.

No, no. If you’re going to sell your soul to anyone / thing / entity, for the love of all that is holy, sell your soul to Mickey Mouse! Which is what I have somehow done. Because, you see..

I’m getting married at Tokyo Disneyland!

Well, the hotel next to Disneyland, to be more exact. I think it goes without saying that this wasn’t exactly my idea. But, eh, I’m reasonably okay with the idea. More okay than I figured I’d be, at the very least. I believe I had this discussion exactly a year ago, where I said that “there is absolutely no chance I’m gonna get married at Disneyland,” but apparently things didn’t turn out as planned.

No, I'm not wearing either.

No, I’m not wearing either.

I bet you thought I was joking, didn’t you. Nope.. I’m actually totally serious. However, I’m pretty dead-set against the idea of dressing up in the horrible red pants and looking like a prince. Surprisingly, I’m absolutely okay with having Mickey and friends attend The Most Important Day of my Life, but totally not going to dress like a prince. I have standards here somewhere, even if I’m told that they’re misplaced and ill-defined.

The oddest part about the whole process for me, actually, is that not only have I (obviously) never planned a wedding before, I’ve never actually even been to a wedding. Worse yet, I’m living in Japan and doing it at Disneyland, so I have exactly zero familiarity with the entire process. If anyone asks me how “different” it is, I really can’t say. I do credit this with why the sticker shock doesn’t horrify my as much as it should, though. If you don’t know what a wedding should cost, you don’t know how much Mickey is over-charging you. Pretty good in the end, huh??

I’d like to harass you with more photos of how Disney-fied one can get, but I’m afraid I need to be in the office early tomorrow morning. However, I do have a whole booklet of cakes, decorations, and napkins (yes, napkins) on my coffee table, so I’ll be sure to take some photos!

And remember: no matter what you do, don’t wear the tacky red pants.

Candy Magic

Candy molding at its finest!

Candy molding at its finest!

Well, I think we can safely say that being a professional candy artist is a job that we can rule out from my future, but to be fair, it is something people spend their adult lives training for. It was a lot of fun, though!

You basically start off with a ball of melted sugar (think candy cane candy, but without the peppermint flavor) and have 1-2 minutes to pull, cut, and shape into something meaningful. Supposedly this… thing is a rabbit, but don’t think too hard about it. If you close your eyes and pretend, you can almost see it!

One thing that’s counter-intuitive and that you havn to keep in mind is that you have to touch it as little as possible while still trying to make it into something. Your paltry 98.6 degree hands are freezing in comparison, so every time you touch the candy, it hardens. To save time, you also have to keep the scissors in your hand while working, which is definitely not something you want to do in your normal day-to-day life, but it works out somehow.

As I mentioned last time, it’s now been 6 years for me since coming to Japan, but the good news is that I’m still able to find something interesting to do pretty frequently, be it amezaiku candy molding in Asakusa - the old-style downtown part of Tokyo - and the various temples, museums of modern art, or festivals and local events, I’m lucky to at least have a lot to do. I definitely enjoyed those 3 years I spent in Yamaguchi and think I made the right decision to start my life in Japan in the countryside, I think I prefer the city for the sheer variety of stuff to do.

Coming up, I actually have some exciting news and more stuff to cover, but I’m actually at Disneyland right now and missing a parade, sf I should probably go. But! I have some interesting pics to post soon. In thn meantime, enjoy my delicious rabbit!

Well, close enough..

All right, I know I said I’d totally start writing more and that I totally didn’t actually do that, but unfortunately between my work life and my personal life, it just hasn’t left me as much time to ramble on about personal stuff, at least as much as I’d like to. There’s, of course, also my issue with having a desire to ramble on at length and not being satisfied with just writing a short blurb.. but that’s neither here nor there.

So, what’s up with me? Well, I’ve just about finished up my first year as a translator, meaning I’ve finally finished up that nice little check box on life. This week also marks 6 whole years in Japan for me, which is more than a little strange when I stop and think about it. You know, once you hit the “half a decade” mark, you start comparing it with other life mile stones. That means, for example, that I’ve now lived and worked in Japan longer that I was in university. The funny thing is that university seemed so long and important at the time, and yet 6 years in Japan just seems to have come and gone. That’s also probably related to getting older, but hey.. let’s not think about that!

Onto a more personal level, I can’t really talk about my work much, but my personal life is also going pretty well. When I’m not out with friends, dating, and what-have-you, I’ve been spending a lot of time in cafes reading novels (there are a lot of books that sadly never got translated into English, so I’m glad to have a new world of Japanese literature open up), going to museums, and doing different “cultural activities,” I guess you’d call them. Yeah, I’ve been here for awhile, but I feel like I’ve got a lot of catching up to do to take advantage of Japanese culture that the locals had a chance to do their whole lives.

This weekend, for example, I’ll be heading off to try my hand 飴細工 (ame zaiku, candy crafting). Basically, you’re given a blob of molten sugar candy and have about 40 seconds to mold it into some artistic creation. I’ve tried it once with less-than-stellar results, but it was a lot of fun and I figured I’d give it a second chance.

Coming up.. I’ll be sure to post some pictures and talk about it a bit more, before I overstay my welcome and bore you with it all. But hey.. it’s something to look forward to!

And..  I totally swear that I’m going to write more frequently now.

Till next time!

I LIVE!

Lemme see.. what did I miss? Happy Fourth of July, Happy Halloween, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Jason’s Birthday, and Happy New Year! I think that just about covers it, right?

I feel bad for missing so much and for disappearing like this all of a sudden (and for, well, half a year), but for how busy the first half of 2013 was professionally between people leaving and joining our company and very intensive projects, the latter half of 2013 was incredibly busy on the personal front, so updating my blog had to take a back seat. Some of . . . → Read More: I LIVE!

A few weeks late and a dollar short

I absolutely meant to write this a few weeks ago, but let’s overlook all that and not worry about it. Besides, no one really knows the significance of the exact dates except for me (and the Japanese immigration bureau), right?

So! With the coming of June (yes, June.. sorry about the lateness), this marks my five year anniversary in Japan. That’s a full half of a decade that I’ve been here. With the 5 year visa renewal I’ve been granted, that also means that I’ll be here an entire decade the next time I have to take myself down to . . . → Read More: A few weeks late and a dollar short

An Open Love Letter to Japan – Part 2

Well hey there! Figured I’d be a bit more sociable and come around a little quicker than usual. Work’s been (as usual) busy, but I’m just finishing up a 5 day vacation. I didn’t exactly travel very far, but managed to get a bunch of errands out of the way and get out here and there. You know, renew my visa, go to Disneyland, run to IKEA, read a book, that sort of thing. What the young, cool kids nowadays would call a stay-cation. Or so I hear.

But that was now and this is then! Getting back to our story from last time of living on memory lane, we last left off talking about the hostel I stayed at in Asakusa. Fortunately, I actually left the hostel and wandered around the surrounding area on a near-daily basis. I regret to say that I didn’t really head out far and wide, but I did wake up early every day and explored Asakusa, Ueno, and all they had to offer. I did make trips to other parts in Tokyo with a Japanese friend of mine (who I met through a pen-pal program), where we made it all the way out to Tokyo Tower, Roppongi, Odaiba and some other places. But we’ll talk about that when the time comes. Right now, it’s time to talk about…

Asakusa – Temples, Donuts and Ninjas

Continue reading An Open Love Letter to Japan – Part 2

An Open Love Letter to Japan – Part 1

Wow… has it really been over two months since I’ve written last? Apparently so. I need to work on that, but I’m sure that’s something I’ve said before. Unfortunately, I’ve been really busy at the office (who isn’t?) since this year has started, averaging about 40 hours of overtime a month. It’s not as bad as it sounds, but between that, reading and studying, it puts a bit of a pinch on your free time.

In other news, we’re in the middle of Golden Week here in Japan. Typically, this is a week of vacation at the end of April/beginning of May, but it worked out to two extended weekends this year. I didn’t really have any particular plans (when the entire country is on vacation, everything’s pretty expensive), so even though I could go traveling, lay low and read, or do something super exciting, I decided I wanted to try something a little different this year.

You see, recently I’ve been backing up all my files (…again. I have about 4 backups of all my files, since I’d really hate to lose them) and was looking through all my old photos. I actually have a folder literally named “Old Photos.” And in that folder, I found 3 rolls of pictures that I took back in November 2004, when I made my first visit to Japan at the age of 18. It’s been about 8 and a half years since that time, but I still remember vividly all the excitement, how amazing it was to be abroad–in Japan, no less–for the first time. Anyone who knew me back then probably knows that since the age of 13, I was dreaming of going to Japan, so finally coming here was beyond amazing. Since I didn’t want to just watch my limited vacation disappear, I decided to go visit some of the same places and take new pictures, to talk about those impressions I had back before I knew I’d be living here.

So, let’s get started!

First stop — Asakusa

Continue reading An Open Love Letter to Japan – Part 1

Meeting a Movie Star

What can I say? I’m a sucker for junk e-mail (as noted in my adventures with Yuki) when it’s well written and mildly interesting, and luckily for you all, I got another interesting one to my cell phone today. It’s not so much the fact that it’s spam, or that someone’s trying to rip me off, oh no. It’s how elaborate people have gotten to write these stories. And, most of all, what’s interesting for me is how different these e-mails wind up being compared to the American/Western junk mail I’m used to.

Note: This is all translated from Japanese, so some things may sound off.

So.. without further ado, I introduce you to Aya!

From: cp.r.3032@ezweb.ne.jp

Subject: Untitled

I’m sorry for the sudden e-mail. I was introduced to you by a person you know very well. I’d cause a lot of problems for them, so please forgive me, but I can’t tell you their name yet.

I work in management at a certain talent agency. I’m currently managing a talent*, someone who’s probably known to anyone nationwide.

So, let’s take a look at what we know so far:

  • We were introduced “by a person,” but they can’t say who.
  • They work at a “certain talent agency” (the Japanese word is one you’d use to describe a “name brand” or something, implying something everyone would know)
  • They manage a “talent” (a Japanese catch-all term for models, actors, and celebrities) that’s famous (and again, no name).

As you’ll notice shortly, it doesn’t get any more descriptive than this.

Let’s continue on for a little more in-depth information!

Continue reading Meeting a Movie Star