The sign above has intrigued me ever since I started working at my current job. It is posted on the door to the stairwell, and since I do quite a lot of running up and down between our floors I see it at least 2-3 times a day.
Here’s the thing… I’ve NEVER seen these people that supposedly are on the other side! I always open the door veeeery carefully to not bump into the “people that are on the other side” but I always fail to see anyone. They must hide as soon as they hear me approaching! Maybe they have supernatural hearing abilities… Next time I’ll walk like a ninja to the door and roundkick it open – if that doesn’t surprise these mystery people, then I give up! I’ll start using the elevator, cause it is just too creepy….
On Friday we decided to take a trip to Yumenoshima to look at the marina and the tropical greenhouse dome. Yumenoshima is a man-made island situated in the eastern part of Tokyo harbor, easily accessed by train (get off at Shin-Kiba station on Rinkai-line or Tozai-line) and it also has a large park where you can stroll around in peace and quiet, being quite close to the sea and that was something we thought would be a nice thing to do on a day off.
Wehn we got off the train at Shin-Kiba station, the first thing we noticed though was that there was a LOT of people there. OK, a lot of people visiting a nice big park in the center of Tokyo on a National Holiday is nothing strange, so we thought nothing more of it. However, we turned around the corner outside the station and suddenly we were face to face with about 30-40 cops dressed in protective gear equipped with shields and everything – fully prepared to combat a mob of angry somethings. A lot of “regular” cops were around as well as police dressed in civil clothes. Police cars and vans everywhere around us and above all, tons of people, all pretty much walking in the same direction as us, towards Yumenoshima Park. Man, there goes our peaceful afternoon strolling around in the park. We still did not know why there were so many police in the era. We saw some sigsns of a “matsuri” (festival) and that answered the question of why there were so many visitors, but not why the police had brought everyone and his brother to join the action.
When we closed in on the entrance to the park, we were met by people handing out leaflets to passers-by, we didn’t read all of them, but some were Anti-North Korean. “Hmmm….” why would people hand out leaflets urging people to take action against North Korea outside a festival??
And then we finally reached the entrance and saw that the Japanese Communist Party had occupied the whole of Yumenoshima Park for their “Aka Hata Festival” (Red Flag Festival). Wow….I mean, wow. There were thousands of people there, and they were listening to speeches, engaging in discussion groups, taking up donations (FOR North Korea, perhaps?) etc. The funny thing is, I did not realize it was a commuinst festival at first – it hit me afterwards… There a few hints along the way I should have picked up on of course (Red Flag anyone?) but the nickel just didn’t fall all the way down in the slot…. My wife said she felt a bit uncomfortable at times walking around inside the festival grounds, but I was blissfully ignorant and just thought it was a bit sad that the place was so crowded…
Well… We did get into the tropical green house, which was pretty empty considering how many people were in the park next to it – so it felt like an oasis in the middle of a red desert.. I can highly recommend it – but do check the calender before you go, so you don’t end up right in the middle of the next radical party festival….
I never cease to be amazade by Japanese television. Its range of shows range from the mundane to the interesting to the off the chart weird. On average, it is not so interesting unfortunately – and that has its reasons I guess, but I won’t dive into that discussion now.
I want to highlight what has quickly become one of my favorite shows of late (actually, after seeing only one episode), and that is Chimpan News Channel a news/talk show “for animals” on Fuji TV. As the speaker voice says in the introduction of the show, “there are more animals in Japan than children, so why not make a show for animals”
The host of the show is a chimpanzee named Gomes Chenbalin and his staff includes a very very aggressive (almost wild) monkey named Paul (he is on a leash but still manages to scare the living daylights of all human guests that appear. Basically, the show is sort of a talk show, with Japanese celebrities coming on the show and being interview by Gomes.
So you might think… How on earth would that make an entertaining show? Well, the chimpanzee is voiced over by famous Japanese comedian “Bibiru Oogi” and does an extremely good job of ad-libbing and keeping up with what the chimp does on the show. Sure, the show is scripted and the monkey is very well trained but it’s still a monkey and you can never be 100% sure of what its reaction is going to be to a particular sitatuon. The result is hilarious!
In the below clip, for some reason one of the guests has taken off his shirt (I don’t know why, since I haven’t seen the episode in question) and Gomes tells him to cover his face because his producer gets annoyed by the “naked guy”. So he makes him put on a horse-mask, and then you can see for yourselves what happens…
I have collected quite a few funny and interesting photos on my cellphone, snapshots I have taken when I saw something that really caught my eye. I figured I got enough for a blog post, so here you go! Hover over the photo for a description, click to view the whole photo.
In case you are looking for the “joke” or “funny part” in that last photo… there is none, I just wanted to post post how Ginza now looks on Saturdays and Sundays – when theyu turn Chuo-Dori into a no-car zone. Recently they have put out some tables and chairs in the middle of the street for people to sit and relax. It’s really really nice, actually.
By the way, a few months ago, I posted another batch of these kinds of photos, check that post out here.
I wanted to share with you three lists; one is the top things I love about Japan. The second contains the things I hate, and the last one is a list of things I just don’t understand about Japan!
5 Things I Love About Japan
– Low crime makes you feel secure whenever and whereever you are
– The food is simply marvellous. And the variety you can get is top notch.
– You are never bored in a city like Tokyo. Always something to do!
– Japanese people are extremely service-minded and courteous.
– Public transportation is abundant, on time, and clean!
5 Things I Hate About Japan
– Earthquakes – sooner or later there’s gonna be a big one.
– It’s expensive to live here, and apartments are generally rather small.
– Japanese people’s lack of flexibility can be frustrating.
– Honne and Tatemae
– Japanese working hours tend to be ridiculously long.
5 Things I Simply Don’t Understand About Japan
– Fried fish and rice for breakfast
– Why most houses & apartments only have frosted windows.
– The fascination of Pachinko.
– Japanese people’s patience to wait countless hours for anything.