a The Transit Lounge: July 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...

Friday, July 23

Myki Madness

Myki is Victoria's failed answer to SUICA or PASMO in Japan. In fact, the world 'failed' doesn't aptly describe just how dismally the ticketing service is performing. Read today's Herald Sun Article, State Government seriously considered dumping myki ticketing scheme, for more information.

The bizarre thing is that Japan Rail - who has successfully implemented similar programs across the country, for millions more people that use a far more complex rail, bus and tram system - offered their help, software and systems to the state government years ago for a price far less than what MYKI has cost. The State Government basically said "No, we can do it ourselves." Why would anybody want to reinvent the wheel???

Plain and absolute stupidity.

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Wednesday, July 21

Summer Snacking

A lot can be said for Japanese seasons and the food that comes with them. And of course the changing seasons also means changing chu hi flavours - this is my chance to give a shout out to pineapple, since it won't be on the shelves once September rolls around with spring. So what does summer for mean for us foodies?

Spending your days in the comfort of air-conditioned buildings and trains isn’t the only way to keep the heat and humidity of the Japanese summer at bay. What you put into your body also has an effect on how you adapt to the heat. Certain Japanese foods are seasonal for a reason. Think about it. Body-warming ramen designed to put bulk on your frame isn’t eaten in winter by accident. So what’s on the menu for summer?

Read more here.

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Tuesday, July 20

Hiroshima Heaven

I am being a bit lazy today - unpacking a house load of stuff will do that to you! Still, my feature on Hiroshima for Weekender was published last week and you can read more about this beautiful city, its surrounds, and how the area has grown in the 65 years since the atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima, City of Peace.

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Friday, July 16

Hallelujah Haneda

Photo courtesy of JAXA/Weekender Magazine

Finally Tokyo is moving into the 21st century and getting itself an airport that take international AND domestic flights. Yes folk, up until now, Narita has been servicing the international flights while Haneda has taken care of the domestic side of things. In fact, most major cities in Japan control flights in this way (Osaka has Kansai International and Itami, which is technically in Hyogo prefecture, for local traffic).

Read more: Open Skies at Haneda by Stephen Parker.

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Thursday, July 15

Signs of the Time

This sign appeared in the lobby of my old apartment in Osaka.

Now the content is absolutely fine. It's in Japanese. Which is the problem. When this pic was taken, the building had more foreigners than Japanese in there, and a Canadian guy was employed for a while (to manage all of us unruly gaijin). But then they building owners would place all sorts of signs up - in Japanese - and would crack the sads big time when the gaijin didn't adhere to what was written. The worst was when they would dish out fines for it. It was like living in Western Halls at JCU!

I remember 805 getting blamed for this party one time - and the owners tried to fine us. The only problem was, none of us were home at the time. We were all overseas. When we were all finally back, we were told we'd have to pay penalties. The owners were adamant it was us...because the Japanese neighbours told them it was.

Then there was the time my flatmate got his BB Gun...now when I think back, I would have tried to fine us at any opportunity too.

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Wednesday, July 14

Take Off...Or Else

The runway at Hiroshima Airport.

There is just a touch of kamikaze about it.

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Tuesday, July 13

Vegan Values

Going vegan is one of the most eco-friendly things someone can do for this earth. I recently wrote about it for Tokyo Eco in Weekender magazine....

When people find out I am vegan (by diet only), their first response is usually something along the lines of, “Oh, it must be so easy to do that in Japan.” They could not be further from the truth. Read more here.

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Monday, July 12

Japanese Tee

Not sure this tee is of the organic variety.

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Thursday, July 8

Online Overload

Have been at the Online Retail Expo Conference all week - oh my goodness, the world is getting mobile and the world is getting social. Social media is probably one of the biggest influences over the past 12 months, shaping not only the internet and how we use it, but retail (offline and of course online). M-Commerce, or mobile commerce, is what is going to influence the online world the most over the next 12 months.

The user stats of how we, around the world, are now interacting online (and the influences it exerts on our offline interactions) are incredible - hoping to get up a report on my blog over the next.

Ps Been doing a fair bit of interviewing too. Will get back to my normal blogging next week!


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Monday, July 5

A Washed Up Tsunami?

Tears, tantrum and hot dogs. What more could a person want in a story? Japanese competitive eater Takaru Kobayashi, nicknamed "Tsunami", was arrested in New York today for losing his shit at a hot dog eating contest - an event he has won many times in the past.

Kobyashi holds various records in the competitive eating field including one for eating 41 lobster rolls in 10 minutes and another for eating 57 cow brains in 15 minutes.

So what was his dummy spit about? Who cares. I just want to know at which point in a life does one say "I want to eat competitively."

(Read more here).

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Saturday, July 3

Abusive Chef - Restaurant Boycott

This kind of behaviour is inexcusable. What gives the chef the right?

Dining out is not just about the food, but the whole experience – the taste and texture of the food, the service, ambience, etc. And human interactions should generally be governed by a general rule of decency. I recently dined at Le Petit Restaurant Epi in Daikanyama and had the single worst dining experience of my life – after a misunderstanding about the bill, the chef publicly humiliated and verbally assaulted me in front of a room full of diners. It was inexcusable behavior, from human to human – the encounter left me shaking and crying afterward. I didn’t know it until then, but being verbally attacked in such a violent, unexpected and irrational manner feels a lot like being physically assaulted. It was a horrible, traumatic experience. He could not have hurt me more if he had punched me in the face.

Read more here.

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