a The Transit Lounge: June 2010

Back in the Day: I had a quarter life crisis, headed to Osaka, Japan for the unknown–only to discover that a passport plane ride are not necessarily a ticket to escape. Some Years Later: Settled back in Oz, the man of my dreams ended up in Tokyo for work–which is how a passport and plane ride showed me home is where the heart is. And Now: Well as luck would have it, we are about to embark on Japan Mark 3, with a baby in tow and another on the way...

Tuesday, June 29

City Slacker

I have been a little slack on the blog this past week, and will be for the following week. Moving country/house/house again/new jobs/writing deadlines/everything else - and the biggy NO PHNONE OR INTERNET (check out my Twitter rant about Telstra under MissRiz)...the blog has been a little slow.

But hang in there. I will be back after the break.

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Friday, June 25

Green Tea Goodness

Woo hoo - my next Body Balance article published in
Weekender. I was totally tea ignorant until I moved to Japan back in 2003, now I can't get enough of the stuff whether it's black, white, green, and have got the hubby onto it too. Enjoy.

It is impossible nowadays not to be aware of the goodness that is green tea. While this evergreen plant has been consumed and celebrated for thousands of years throughout Japan and Asia, it is really only in the last 65 years that green tea has piqued the interest of the West and gone under the microscope. In that time, many advantages to consuming it have been discovered, and scientists realize that this plant holds a lot more medicinal potential than first ever thought.

Read on here.

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Wednesday, June 23

Butter Me Up

Just what every one needs in their handbag or brief case - a Stick Type Butter Stick.

Just don't get it confused with your UHU Glue stick.

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Just don't get it confused with your UHU Glue stick.

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Tuesday, June 22

Guys and Dolls

I don't remember this Barbie from my childhood.

I wonder if she comes with any extras, such as clothes?

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Monday, June 21

Training Tactics

In the future, maybe this is how I should train...

Never mind the fact that what these guys are doing is pretty dangerous, just as long as it gets the laughs!

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Thursday, June 17

I Don't Wakarimasu

Recently, a good Japanese friend flew out to Australia and spent a bit of time in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. It was while driving between Canberra and Sydney that he got a bit excited by the open road, the space and the fact that nobody was on it. So he decided to put the pedal to the metal.

He didn't get very far before he got clocked at doing (I think) 140 in a 100 zone. He got pulled over and of course the policeman came to chat to him.

Now this Japanese friend speaks better English than most Australians I know. But he got out of the car saying "No Engrish, no Engrish, no Engrish."

"No Engrish" translated into a fine worth a few hundred dollars and an explanation on how the speedometer works.

I love/am semi-impressed he tried to pull one over on the cop. How very Australian of him.

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Wednesday, June 16

Tokyo Girl

Before Gwen Stefani hit the stage with her Harajuku Girls, Ace of Base delivered us this: Tokyo Girl. Although this isn't their music clip, it does contain some great images of Tokyo and Japan (along with some very un-Tokyo Girl like images). Sounds very eastern euro-dance to me.

PS. Hi Tokyo Girl - the pics aren't up anymore.

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Tuesday, June 15

Happy Honda

Keisuke Honda is the new national hero of Japan, after scoring in last night's first round match of the FIFA World Cup to take Japan to a 1-0 win over Cameroon. It's also Japan's first World Cup win on foreign soil. I bet Honda will become even bigger than Kosuke Kitajima, breast stroker who won gold at the '04 and '08 Olympics.

I have said it before - Japan love a mascot. And they also love a national hero. It's only 7am here in Tokyo now, but I can bet by the time I have had my mid-morning coffee, Honda's face will be plastered all over buses, and he will endorsing some sort of energy drink or men's face cream. I can see it now. Some DHC ad saying "Kick goals with DHC and kill those wrinkles forever", claining that their special blend of wrinkle killing ingredients helped give Honda the killer edge over his opponents...

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Friday, June 11

Fight For Freedom of Speech in Japan

In the environmental documentary The Cove, diver Mandy-Rae Cruickshank swims with dolphins near a Japanese cove where the mammals are hunted and slaughtered. (Maple Pictures)

This time it is the dolphins versus Japan. CBC News is reporting about the fight within Japan to get the controversial documentary The Cove to cinema screens. It was screened - albeit one session only - at last year's Tokyo International Film Festival, when festival organisers caved to pressure, and the session sold out quickly. Although at the screening itself, news crews were banned from TIFF property and there was nothing around advertising that The Cove was on (in fact, it was only talked about in foreign press in Japan). It was very obvious that TIFF did not want any press about The Cove whatsoever. The documentary's director, Louis Psihoyos, even introduced the documentary, with a short Q&A once the screening was over - short and quiet because as he has written on The Cove Movie Blog, how could anyone defend what they had just seen?

The Cove Sparks Free-Speech Fight in Japan

Rejected by theatres, dolphin documentary draws overflow crowd at screening

The struggle to release the documentary The Cove in Japan has turned into a fight over freedom of speech, with a prominent group urging theatres to screen the Oscar-winning dolphin-hunt exposé.

An assembly of Japanese filmmakers, journalists and academics have signed a letter calling on theatres to screen the film and not back down amid threatened protests from nationalist groups, who have criticized the doc as anti-Japanese.

Read more here.

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Thursday, June 10

Whales vs Japan

The Great Whaling Debate is about to be ignited. And so it should. Australia is now taking Japan to court in a bid to stop the Japanese from whaling in southern oceans. Mark Willacy, of the ABC in Australia, has recently put some great reports together on this subject.

Read more below. The last article listed is particularly telling. When will the Japanese stop this farce?

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Wednesday, June 9

The Cost of Living

When people found out I lived in Japan, one of their first exclamations is usually "That must be an expensive country to live in." Before I moved to Osaka, many years back, I thought the same thing. But in reality, the cost of living in Japan is relatively low. I am always surprised as to how it ends up on lists on par with Copenhagen and Paris. Yes, to travel and live the tourist life within Japan is expensive, but day-to-day? No way.

Look at a few scenarios.
Bottle of water
Japan: 120 yen ($1.60) *no matter where you buy it from
Australia: $5 at Sydney airport, at least $3 everywhere else

Japan: Under 1000 yen ($13.30) for a lunch set which includes a main rice dish, miso soup, salad, dessert and a drink.
Australia: $14.50 for a small plate of hokkien noodles and a small fruit salad

Hair Cut & Colour
Japan: 9000 yen ($120)
Australia: $150 minimum

Can of Coke
Japan: 120 yen ($1.60) *no matter where you buy it from
Australia: $3 at the servo

Japan: 500 - 1000 yen ($6.65 - $13.30)
Australia: $16

Also the service in Oz is really lacking, as is the quality of clothes, shoes etc. I know I will get used to it in time but is was a huge shock! While Australia may not be exactly price-friendly, the pros of being back far outweigh the cons.

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Monday, June 7

Boarding Dos and Don'ts

This is the sign just before entering the security checkpoint at Narita Airport.

Hmmm, but they don't mention anything about my ninja stars - I'm safe!

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Friday, June 4

Ritz Blitz

View from the 52nd floor of the Ritz Carlton, Midtown.

I kid you not. If you are living in Tokyo and are after some invigorating relaxation time (I know, "invigorating" and "relaxation" don't quite fit together, but it is the perfect way to sum this experience up), you cannot go past the spa at the Ritz Carlton in Roppongi's Midtown.

Even if you don't live in Tokyo and find yourself in town for a few days, this is one luxury worth indulging in. For a start, the view of the city from the hotel lobby 45 floors up never fails to take to my breath away. And then there is the ESPA spa itself on level 46. I managed to sneak a treatment or two in one lunch break a couple of weeks back. Just don't tell my boss. She thinks I was a little late back from lunch because I was out interviewing for an article...well I was kind of. After all, I did write about it here. Have a read and then check it out for yourself.

My shoulders are feeling less tense just thinking about it.

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Thursday, June 3

Dress Like Japan's PM

2 weeks ago Japan's PM, Yukio Hatoyama, was snapped out and about in a shirt that I can only think his wife chose for him:

Don Konishi, fashion critic, basically stated that the PM's choice of shirt was a representation of his views and policies for Japan (old and outdated). "A fashion designer like me can wear this, but not the leader of Japan, " Konishi said. "It seems the DPJ is over with this shirt."

So really it should come as no surprise then that Konishi has turned the PM's fashion faux pas into something fashion forward for his own website, ShirtsMyWay.com. Konishi has created 50-limited edition shirts of the same style, with the website now rallying support for the PM and his "individual style."

You too can look this individual for only $500!

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Tuesday, June 1

Trash Talk

One of the most confusing things about living in Japan is trash day. Different areas have different collection days (not unusual) and different apartment buildings or blocks require you to do different things with/to your trash (somewhat unusual). And this is where it gets tricky.

Some apartment buildings do not require you to do anything other than to put your rubbish out in the desired area. Others require you to separate into plastics, combustibles, aluminium, papers, non-combustibles - which requires you to have an inhouse bin system more complicated than Tiger Woods' love life. If someone catches you putting out the wrong rubbish on the wrong day, you are put through an inquisition and a red letter is stuck above your doorway. Well not quite, but you get the point. That is why I often used the cover of darkness and would make midnight trash runs.

Some designated rubbish areas are small buildings that can be locked. I have lived in 2 apartments that had this. In the first apartment, our house key could open the rubbish room. In the second apartment, the room was only open between 7am and 8am. In other words, way too early for me to take out the trash.

In other words, I can totally understand why Satoshi's balcony here is laden with trash. Like me, he was probably waiting for those odd times the rubbish room opened out of hours...

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