Thursday, 19 June 2008, 04.30 pm JST
So although this blog has basically been left on a freezing wintry mountain to die a pathetically miserable death, there are still ways to see what I’ve been up to. Here is probably the easiest, and even then it may not make many of you out there into fans.
1. Go to my other website. The one that has pictures.
2. Bookmark it.
3. Wait several months for me to upload newer pictures.
Well, there you go. I thought it pretty simple, too, now that you mention it.
With exactly fifty days left in the increasingly sweltering heat in this country, and exactly fifty days until I return simultaneously to my country, my state, my city, my (parents’) house, and my room, I thought it fitting to make a passing reference to small parts of this country that I’ll miss instantly upon surrender of my gaijin card to the faceless, nameless immigration official. (Well, forty-six days now as I didn’t publish this post immediately.)
This only comes up first because I’ve been spending a lot of time (and money) recently within the jurisdiction of the Nippon Expressway Company, and will probably be pouring more such time and money into their coffers over the next couple of weeks as I try to extract the maximum amount of touring possible before permanently returning to that little island in the middle of the ocean where road trip means covering the entire circumference of O’ahu in two hours. It’s not that I particularly care paying the exorbitant rates that increase proportionate to distance traveled, but it’s made for bullet-like point A to point B travel in getting Kristine and me to all corners of the Kansai region, and even OTHER ISLANDS OF JAPAN like Shikoku and Kyushu. Plus, service areas rock my socks.
[This entire section can also be applied to trains. Haven’t ridden much of those lately, though.]
2. Melon everything
Like balls of melon ice cream and Fanta Melon Soda. A taste unlike anything previously encountered, and which will be hard to come by after going home. Though there are goods of the kind imported directly to Daiei, they only bring in the cheap, unmentionable stuff, and so it is not worth lavishing my time on here. At least we get real Calpis, expensive as that also is.
Despite coming with funny names like Toyota Ractis and Honda Stepwgn (and really, those are two of the tamer ones), Japanese Domestic Market cars come with ten times the goodies cars in America do (including cars from these very Japanese companies!) and for the best prices possible (since, of course, they don’t have to export them anywhere). With features like automatic power-folding mirrors and 50GB hard drive-based user-updatable navigation systems available on even the smallest, most anemic cars, I’m a SUV and fullsize truck-averse citizen of the USDM wishing I could uproot and take the entire JDM back with me. Except kei cars. Those can stay.
4. Sending e-mail by cell phone
And no, I don’t mean that to include more limited SMS text messaging services that the few readers of this site may be more familiar with. I’m talking about sending real e-mails from a real e-mail address with @ and all to any other e-mail address on the planet FROM THE PALM OF MY HAND. Virtually identical to your gmail or hotmail. I guess I don’t mind using a phone to talk (actually, that’s not true…I don’t really care for talking on the phone, necessary and emergency situations aside), but being able to type out a message in seconds, send it off, and wait for the other party to respond with a similar text-based message in due time while carrying on with your day is real nice. Sure, there are inconveniences given the limitations of a cell phone keypad, but the portability can’t be beat. Another thing which I won’t be able to do once home. Not for a while, anyway.
5. Japanese bookstores
Filled with so much knowledge and information that Japanese people themselves can’t be bothered with (Why read about history or literature when you can read manga instead?…but sorry, that’s a topic for another day), bookstores in Japan are my one-stop shop for car periodicals (of course), domestic travel information, 漢字検定 practice books, and recently even Japanese legal volumes. Not that wallet-killing trips to bookstores are nothing new for me, but I sure will miss the vastness of J-bookstores and the impeccable ability of Japanese bookstore clerks to wrap (for free, mind you) your novels and other paperbacks in 4.7 seconds, no questions asked. Surely, there’s nothing there that I can’t or don’t already find via the internets, but hey, I’m a dork. Those who wish to doubt or make fun of me and my books will not be receiving invitations to the future Leong Library.
Five is a nice round number, so I’m stopping here. Plus any more time I spend investing in this first blog entry in months may push it back until after I get back to Hawaii. So I hope you enjoyed. Pray for another entry, if you so desire it.