World News Disengagement

For the last several months, in addition to my continuing disengagement in Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (the current big three in terms of damage to the human soul), I have been actively avoiding the news. It’s not a total unawareness of current events, but a general decrease in the sources of information about those events. […]

Podcasts That Keep Me Sane in Japan

Basically 90% of the media I consume comes from podcasts. I listen to them from the early morning on, and I am always looking out for interesting audio to fill my earbuds as I attempt to zone out on my morning and afternoon commutes. I mix it up quite a bit, sometimes educational, sometimes a […]

Shopping Baskets of Japan

A recent trip back to ‘Merica has had me really contemplating some of the aesthetics of shopping. One of the primary memories of that last trip was me scouring Super Walmarts (and other like sized storage depots of abundance) looking for a shopping basket. Not a shopping cart. They are everywhere, and getting larger with […]

Low Productivity, Japan’s Dirty Little Secret

“The streets are so clean!” “Such excellent service.” “Public Transportation is quiet, clean and efficient.” “Gift wrapping is included with any purchase?!” “Japanese students clean their own classrooms!” “The streets are safe.” These are the common refrains you hear everywhere about Japan, and I left out quite a few for brevity sake. All these statements […]

Social Media Cleanse Complete

Well, it’s been a while. A three week trip back to the US put a monkey wrench in my writing. But I have stayed clear of nearly all social media in that span, which has been a welcome addition to my lifestyle. Basically my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts have been completely canceled after the […]

The Trans-Siberian Railway Dining Car

When I set off on my Russian trip in the spring of 2003 I had zero expectations, and was totally unprepared. I knew more about some tiny ancestral village in the Ukraine, my final destination, than the thousands of miles of railway journey between there and Vladivostok. I did zero research on the language, people, […]

Geriatric Japan

Everyone knows Japan has a demographic problem. It’s society is aging rapidly, and this is constantly referenced in economic projections for the coming decades. But what does that mean on the ground, away from the statistics? I’m no spring chicken. I’m approaching forty at the time of this post. But on my daily commute and […]

Japan’s English Problem

It’s the elephant in the room. Observers of Japan will complain about the school system, the testing, the monolithic nature of it all. Sometimes they talk about the textbooks. All of these are valid issues, and all hinder students’ ability to learn the language well. My favorite is when they scapegoat the ALT (Assistant Language […]