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2017/02/24

Vietnam’s Tet

The Chinese New Year’s has ended, putting the rest of Asia back into its work cycle amidst the suddenly warming four seasons.

Much like China’s New Year our overseas factory in Vietnam has an annual celebration of its own called Tet. People rush from the cities back to their hometowns creating an abnormal experience with a sudden rise in crime from the greedy.

Officially Tet 2017 takes place on January the 28th making the holiday span from January 26th through February 1st. Most companies will go on break from January 25th through February 5th, creating quite an impact in our workflow here in Japan.

I was actually in Vietnam until the 24th with my 1 hour route going right through everyone clambering to the bus terminals. My travels took over two hours longer than normal. Looking out from the car I was in amidst all that traffic, you get to see people piling giant packages and two or three people onto a motorcycle like there’s nothing to it. People riding in taxi’s will stuff them full of packages and bags the likes of a family moving to a new country, and then squeeze in as many people as will fit.

It was an event that gave me a rare firsthand experience of the strong national character of the Vietnamese people, to whom Tet is an important holiday, just as New Year’s is here in Japan.

From Pumping both wheels

2017/02/20

An embarrassing memory

A long, long time ago, when I was young, I used to think it was cool to wear driving sunglasses while skiing. That was during the ski boom in Japan and was much more popular than it is now.

One day I fell and smacked my face into the snow. I got up quick and felt something was off but started skiing again. After making it to the bottom I headed to the bathroom and looked in the mirror...

Bummer, I thought, as embarrassment started to rise within me.

When I fell my sunglasses didn’t fall off, but...

What felt strange when I fell was how bright the slopes seemed. One of the lenses had fallen out and I had been skiing with only one lens in my sunglasses. I’m sure the other skiers were looking at me like “weird guy alert.”

After that I started wearing sport sunglasses for a while. A bit later carving skis came out and everything sped up making my eyes hurt from the wind while wearing sunglasses, so now I wear goggles when I ski.

The lens that fell out was scratched a little, but still where I had fell, so I ended up using those sunglasses for a while anyway. Outside of the ski courses of course.

Use of the proper tools for your intended job is important indeed.

From 3+

2017/02/10

Be careful with your words

Late last year a video game came out that had been very heavily marketed and was eagerly bought up by millions of gamers once released. Immediately people started complaining that this wasn’t the game they had been looking forward to, many even asking for their money back. Eventually, false advertising claims were even brought against the company, though did not amount to an actual lawsuit.

I don’t pay much attention to the news, but I had seen some of the advertisements. Deciding to see what everyone was talking about I bought a copy of the game for myself. The game is No Man’s Sky, a space exploration game where you travel from planet to planet gathering resources to upgrade your spaceship. I thought it was pretty fun, though it was far too expensive at 60 dollars. There were however some very obvious problems.

There were two things that players were most upset with:

1. In the promotional videos there were ships flying directly over the surface of planets, dodging rocky outcroppings and giant snakes. In the actual game you are not allowed to fly anywhere near the surface of any planet or whatever animals there might be. And there are no giant snakes.

2. It sure looked like it in the videos, and they even said several times the game was multiplayer. In reality, the game is entirely single player, only letting players know if they are the first to discover a location or not.

No Man’s Sky quickly accumulated the worst rating in the history of big-selling games on Steam, the largest online video game platform on Earth. It might be fun and it might not deserve such a horrible rep, but it’s certainly not alright to mislead consumers about a product, and many players are convinced that is what happened.

Be careful with what you say and do! It might reach much further than you ever intended.

From Postman

2017/02/02

A bookstore to watch for

How are you fairing amongst these continuing cold days?

What a great seasons to spend time some place warm, reading a book.

I’d like to introduce a slightly different book store that opened in December of 2016.

“REBEL BOOKS”

Open from 12pm-10pm, with undecided holidays

This bookstore specializes in different shapes of books as well as zine’s, which are self-made small magazines made with color copies of photographs and text often held together with staples, making it a bit different compared to most bookstores.

This bookstore has a corner for books they’ve gathered through their “book fairs,” with hip-hop being the current theme of the section. Starting February 18th the theme will change to author and traveller Minori Kai, cycling through other themes over time such as travel, snacks, liquor, toys, and architecture, making for a quite varied corner.

A store promoting going and seeing what you might run into rather than simply going out to find a specific book you might have in mind. Also, though truly a bookstore, they also have beer, spirits, juice, and teas you can enjoy making it a drinking friendly bookstore.

They’re making it clear it’s alright just to go for a drink if that’s all you need, so why not go and enjoy in their unique and calming atmosphere.

From Aqua

2017/01/27

Fried Chicken Cafeteria

Isn't food just wonderful.

An update from me who finds happiness in delicious food.

This time I’d like to introduce a favorite among commoners and student palettes “Kotori Cafeteria”.

This is a restaurant that’s kind to their customers with cheap yet large volumes, just like the good ole days.

Their most popular dish being the Fried Chicken Set!! Even though this fried chicken set has a heartwarming price of only 750yen, the contents are quite amazing. Crispy fried chicken are piled on the tray to around 20 pieces!! Now I’m sure you’re expecting a stomach ache from 20 pieces of fried chicken, but the gentle cooking oil they use lets you gobble them all down.

The chef's kindness is quite apparent!!

The rest of the menu is just as big, inexpensive, and delicious, so make sure you stop by if you get a chance. Lunch time brings in a big line out the front door, so make sure you’ve got plenty of time when you head out.

From Creampuff Fingers

2017/01/24

Japanese Sake Tour (Makino Brewery)

I love deciding on which sake to buy by conversing with the shop owner. Some prejudice alters the flavor of sake, but I have more fun remembering the conversation that took place when I bought it. Unfortunately I’m pretty shy, so if the owner doesn’t approach me I often end up just staring at the display case…

Recently I had almost an entire day open and in wonder what I should do decided to visit a brewery and by some new sake. I was thinking of something close to me, but that maybe I’d notice something new. Even though I’m shy…

I decided on heading towards Sachijitu, and visiting Makino Breweries. My reasoning was simply that I had heard of it from long ago, and that maybe I should start by visiting a long seller. I suppose I was just reaching for something to push me out the door.

After setting out I started thinking, Kuraguchi-machi is pretty far away. I thought I’d get there in around 40 minutes, but ended up spending more like 90 minutes driving. Apparently I misread the estimated travel time… When I got there it certainly looked like a dignified store from the outside just as I had imagined when I left my house.

The inside wasn’t necessarily large but a feeling that it had been kept in its clean and tidy state for many years was pervasive. After making one spin around the shop I had more or less decided on a sake I wanted to buy, though wanted to talk about it and so taking a deep breath asked

“Do you have any recommendations?”

“The bottles over there won an award at the Kagami Convention”

Unable to expand on the conversation the encounter ended with that little tip. Still, I was able to find more unorthodox amusement with sake and took some pictures of their vintage sake replicas.

I should start with my neighborhood. I hope to tour the local breweries little by little.

From Jyoushin Electric Railside Resident

2017/01/17

Quite a lot…

The entrance to Differ in Odaiba, Tokyo

On New Year’s Eve I went to see rock band FLOW during their “FLOW COUNT DOWN LIVE 2016-2017 ~Differ New Year Opening Season 3~”.

It’s been 4 years since FLOW’s last countdown live. I attended that concert as well of course.

Last time I had seats near the front stage, but this time I was standing near the central round stage. A friend of mine in the fan club got his hands on tickets No.1 through 5, putting us in the godly first row of excitement to welcome in the new year.

That’s getting in at 10, starting at 11, and partying until 1:30. Standing the whole time and cheering maybe a little too much results in an array of side effects causing me to spend the rest of my vacation quite lazily.

Prior to all that we headed to the venue with lots of time to spare and were able to spend most of the evening wandering around Odaiba. When I think of Odaiba I imagine a busy city, but on New Year’s Eve it was rather quiet.

Amidst the quiet I couldn’t help but notice the Chinese being spoken in all directions. I got the impression almost everyone I passed was Chinese. I remember hearing in the past of foreign visitors buying up whole stores, but having a hard time getting a hotel whenever I need to visit Tokyo for business is about the only personal experience I’ve had. This time was the first time I really experienced just how many Chinese tourists really come to visit Japan, and there really are quite a lot.

From Naotyn

My usual report

I am continuing to do my best in Dragon Quest X.

I’ve joined a team and found out why online is so fun. In other words, I’m hooked. Perhaps short lived though, Monster Hunter Double Cross is coming out in March…

2017/01/04

Takasaki Annual Event

Daruma doll, cut out, 03

Congratulations on starting a new year.

In Japan most people have been out shopping the new year’s sales and visiting shrines for their new year’s prayer.

Here in Takasaki we have our annual “Nanakusa Grand Festival Dharma Fair” on January 6th at the Shorinzan Darumaji, but due to various problems this year the Takasaki Tourism Bureau held the “Takasaki Dharma Fair” outside the West gate of Takasaki station much earlier on January 1st and 2nd.

Though it was the first time the fair was held there were over 40 dharma doll shops and restaurant booths setup making for a busier than usual inner city new year’s.

Takasaki’s dharma dolls are a lucky omen in Japan also known as “auspicious dharma,” and “fortune dharma,” with a crane and a turtle written on their face, “prosperity” written on their stomachs, and things such as “family safety,” “business safety,” “success,” and “achievement” written on both shoulders. Outside of Takasaki however, dharma dolls with writing on them are a rare sight. Dharma dolls are also said to “always rise after a fall.” Their purposefully balanced center of gravity represents how one should hold their heart, ready to persevere through any difficulties they may have to deal with.

If you haven’t bought a lucky charm yet, why not pick up one of Takasaki dharma dolls.

By the way, the “Nanakusa Grand Festival Dharma Fair” will still be held on the 6th and the 7th at the Shorinzan Darumaji, so check it out if you get a chance!

From Aqua

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