Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Yasukuni (1)

Se leggete l'italiano, date un'occhiata a questo pezzo su, il blog in cui mi sfogo sia contro il Giappone che l'Italia e gliene dico quanto a un porco.
If you can't read Italian, you can at least look at the pictures...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sundogs zine

Here I am again, back from the land of blog slackers and procrastinators, and what better occasion than this for introducing my friend and fellow expat Adam Pasion's new zine Sundogs. It's a diary in comic format, with Adam drawing daily strips and commenting on his life in Nagoya. So far he's managed to complete four months worth of strips without burning out. The zine is very well done, and differently from other similar stuff where the author entertains us with utterly boring, uninteresting, navel-gazing-type stories, Adam actually writes interesting, funny, even thought-provoking stuff. If you want to check it out yourself you can contact Adam via e-mail at I guarantee you won't be disappointed. In the meantime, you may want to have a look at his interesting web site
Following are a few strips from Sundogs. As usual I've managed to botch the whole thing and the strips ended up very small. Yes, I'm still a computer semi-illiterate. Anyway, each strip is followed by some kind of dumb comment from yours tryly. Enjoy.

2.1.2008 "Lot of women who look the same"

This one reminded me of Shibuya 109, the fashion mecca for the young (i.e. 15-20 years old) hip Japanese girls. On New Year's Day 2007 I went to Shibuya with my wife and we saw an army of same-looking girls sporting the same huge shocking-pink bag. Obviously they had just bought the (in)famous fukubukuro ("lucky bags") all the department stores and many shops sell during the post-xmas sales season. For those who don't know, these fukubukuro usually contain 4-5 items, but they are sealed, so nobody can actually see their contents. So the ever-resourceful Shibuya gyaru head to a park or some other big space where they proceed to trade all that stuff.

Poor Adam is shown here having a bad, spice-induced BM moment. The spiciest thing I ever ate was a fire-red-colored dish in Seoul, South Korea, where I went back in 1993 to get my work visa. Neither my girlfriend nor I understood a single Korean word, and I knew nothing about the local food, so we just pointed out the stuff a guy near us was eating. Big mistake. I thought I was going to throw flames out of my mouth. I managed to eat half the food. My girlfriend gave up much earlier. However, apart from that rather unfortunate experience, the food was great, our trip was great and I was able to get my visa... otherwise I wouldn't be writing these silly notes now.

This one reminds me of my very first trip to Japan, when I went to Hamamatsu (a 90'-120' Shinkansen ride from Tokyo, down the same east coast) to meet my then-girlfriend's parents. To make a long story (two months long to be precise) short, things didn't exactly go well. At one point, my girlfriend solemnly announced that she wanted me to live in Japan - a 180-degree turn from what we had always agreed upon before. Considering the less than idyllic experience I was having at the moment, I was rather shocked. Which goes to show you 1) that reality all too often shatters people's romantic dreams about international relationships and living abroad; and 2) that you can never underestimate a Japanese woman's stubbornness - especially someone from Shizuoka prefecture - despite all her smiles and shy looks.

Japanese toilets! Thats probably the only thing I haven't got used to yet, even after 16 years, and probably will never do. I'm always afraid of crapping directly into my pants, so the first few times I used one, I actually took my trousers and pants off. Now I just avoid them altogether.
Looking at Adam's drawing, I can't help wondering whether he really faces the door when he uses a Japanese toilet or he only drew himself that way because he didn't want to show his ass... Speaking of that, one of my student recently told me that when he visited China he found out that people there face outside - not the wall, as in Japan - probably because public toilets there don't have doors...