Last Night in Tokyo

It’s 9:30PM in Tokyo. We head home tomorrow afternoon. It’s been a fine trip but we’ve been putting in some pretty long days, and hence I haven’t been left with much energy for blogging in the evenings.

We went to Akihabara today. It’s such a great place if you have even a trace of computer geek in your blood. I saw some really sleek laptop computers and snuck a photo of a maid-cafe’ employee:

(I’ve got a number of other silly photos that I want to post here, but they’re stuck in my iPod currently because I don’t have iTunes on my traveling netbook.) After spending a couple of hours there we went back to Ginza to rendezvous with our friend Rafael. We poked around Ginza a bit and eventually went back to Asakusa for yakitori. Here we all are: read more

Spee King Ing Grish

One of the things that I didn’t understand about Japan until I’d been here several times is that while Japanese borrows a number of words from English, they often aren’t pronounced in English as such. My friend Dan tried to explain this to me some years ago but it didn’t really sink in until after I’d started studying Japanese and hence had a better grasp of the phonetic differences between the two languages. Most of the sounds in Japanese are present in English, but the converse is not true. Japanese has no “th” or “v” consonants, for instance. On the other hand, “r” in Japanese has a sort of strange roll to it that makes the (in)famous confusion of the “l” and “r” sounds somewhat more complicated than the stereotypes would lead you to believe. read more

Photos Posting OK?

I heard from one person (hi, Mom) that the photos I posted in the previous entry aren’t showing correctly. It should look like a grid of six thumbnails; clicking one of them should start a full-screen slide show. It probably takes a fairly recent browser for all of the bells & whistles to work. If it’s not working at all, leave a comment and I’ll try something else.

Quick Post from Japan

We’re having a fine time here. The day before yesterday it rained all day, so we spent the day indoors in train stations and shopping malls, poking around, buying a few souvenirs and a couple of rain jackets. (Yes, we didn’t pack jackets. We expected it to be warm here, and we were right. We didn’t expect rain, however. Duh. It is an island, after all…) I bought a jacket the color of matcha, once again noticing that the Japanese tend to favor hues unlike those commonly found in the US. read more

Yay! Back in Tokyo

Today we arrived in Tokyo, which is probably my favorite place on Earth. It’s about 7:45PM local time; we’ve been here since about 4:15PM. The journey was remarkably smooth and, by some fluke, we arrived at the hotel in a much more alert and energetic state than usual. On previous visits we’ve usually collapsed into bed by around 5:00, but this time we went out for a bit of shopping in Asakusa and then hit the nearby grocery store (one of a chain here named Life) for things like take-out sushi and two litres of our favorite bottled green tea. Fatigue and jet-lag are going to hit me hard soon, though, so this will be a brief entry. read more

Chocolate For People With Nut Allergies

If you’re not allergic to peanuts, almonds, or other nuts, you’ve probably never looked closely at the allergy information on the wrapper on a chocolate bar. If you do have such allergies, or (like me) happen to live with someone who has such allergies, you know two things: first, an allergic reaction to foods, even tiny amounts, can kill you; second, every chocolate bar you’re likely to find in any store will say something like “MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF PEANUTS” or “PROCESSED ON EQUIPMENT THAT ALSO PROCESSES NUT INGREDIENTS”. In other words, a plain chocolate bar probably doesn’t have any nut in it, but the stakes are high enough that “probably” isn’t good enough. They might as well say “EATING THIS IS TANTAMOUNT TO PLAYING RUSSIAN ROULETTE.” Tracie is allergic to nuts and peanuts (which aren’t nuts, incidentally) and hence hasn’t had a chocolate bar for longer than she can remember. read more