General Store (Old Sapporo Buildings #2)

Another morning walk encounter. This stalwart purple block unit hasn’t been open for at least a decade (we believe). The ground floor remains permanently shuttered.  Yet the electricity still pipes through to the two vending machines. Don’t know if they generate enough income to even pay the utility bill.

Fishmonger / Dry Cleaner (Old Sapporo Buildings #1)

Starting a series documenting some of the old buildings I come across in my walks around Sapporo. Today’s comes from my morning route up Asahiyama along Asahiyama-Dori. In the day time the right/yellow half is a fish shop. What is more interesting is the blue dry cleaner sign on the left side, which hasn’t been […]

COVID-19 and the Image of “Safe” Japan

For as long as I have lived here, Japan has always evoked this image as a “safe” country. “Safe” in the immediate physical harm sense, I could go on ad nauseam about the “unsafe” nature of the overall business/workplace culture to the human psyche. But in terms of my physical safety, I probably haven’t lived […]

Control, When All Else Fails

Well, as I sit here, I fear the worst. Japan has done next to nothing to address the Corona situation. Here in Sapporo they closed schools for about 2 weeks at the start of March… and that’s about it. Almost a laughable (little) amount of testing has occurred, just check the stats. The government, both […]

Japanese Free Time

Quite a few years ago, before I set foot in the Japans, there was a policy shift in the Japanese school system. They stopped holding Saturday classes and cut back on some coursework. It seemed a step in the right direction. It was supposed to help invigorate the youth, help them to more independently discover […]

Japanese Thanksgiving

This year, Japanese Labor Day fell on Friday the 23rd of November. This coincided nicely with American Thanksgiving (Thursday, November 22nd). So we took advantage of this synchronization by assembling our own massive meal. (Well, my expert chef wife did all the cooking.) Most of these ingredients were purchased at Costco, or found at local […]

Death & Destruction of Japanese Domiciles

With an aging society (as discussed earlier), you would expects there to be a huge surge in available home to purchase. But you would be terribly wrong. In fact, because of a variety of cultural-economic issues, purchasing a used home is anathema to the Japanese way of life. This saddens me because every day I […]

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 […]