Plain Talk


Good Couples Day by Dean Mejia

Now I remember, it was about this time last year when I celebrated my first ever “ii fuufu no hi” (or good couples day) with my Japanese girlfriend. I had never heard of the day before and I’m still not sure about how widespread or popular it is because we were overseas in the USA when the date arrived. It falls on November 22 or 11/22. The reason this calendar date was chosen is because when you look at the number 11, it can be read as the Japanese word “ii” meaning good, and the number 2 translates into the Japanese word “futatsu”, (so “futatsu futatsu” that’s where the fuu-fu comes from). I can dig it.

I have been living on a budget and didn’t have much time to prepare anything special (especially since I just found out about the existence of this holiday 2 days before), but the only thing my girl wanted was my time.

She asked me for a favor. She wanted me to take her to the water. It didn’t matter if it was a river, stream, the sea, whatever; she just wanted to go to a body of water. She had a sad, yet beautiful plan in mind.

Three years ago her grandfather passed away. Two years ago her grandmother passed away. This left her with a very big void in her heart because these were people that she was extremely close to and whom she loved very much. Her grandfather’s ashes were spread across the sea in Osaka. Her grandmother was also cremated, but my girlfriend kept some bone pieces as mementos. She happens to have pieces of her grandmother in Japan and at my home in New York as well (I’m fine with it, because her grandmother was my favorite member of her whole family.).

My girlfriend decided to take a piece of her grandmother to the sea so that she could be reunited with her husband. This was a very touching moment that I will probably never forget. We arrived at the water and we respectfully re-introduced the grandmother to the grandfather. This was done with words only. My girlfriend’s grandmother piece never left her hands and it was definitely not going to be tossed into the ocean. We remained silent for a while so that the beautiful couple could catch up. I can only hope that we can be as good of a couple as her grandparents were, and still are.






Plain Talk


Ridin' Safe in Tokyo by Jay Lookyman

Cycling in Japan in some ways in the epitomy of the beautiful paradox that attracts foreigners to stay here. A country supposedly obssesed by rules and yet free and easy like a Californian commune when it comes to certain areas - like cycling.

However, freedom sometimes come with a price. According to government officials, a total of 11,000 bicycle accidents occurred in the capital in 2015 only, leaving 33 people dead, with 60% percent of all cases caused by dangerous cycling and violation of traffic rules.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has therefore established an expert committee to develop a plan for the prevention of bicycle accidents amid a growing number of fatal cases related to dangerous cycling. The committee is to discuss prevention measures, including making it compulsory for bicycle dealers to instruct customers about safety precautions such as wearing helmets.

Those objecting to the new rules could look at the more detailed figures from useful comparative source of data about London by ROSPA in the UK. Although different cities, this may be a useful guide for cyclists to at least know the main dangers of cycling in Tokyo should wearing a helmet be too bulky or "uncool" or unnecessary. For example, around three quarters of cyclists killed have major head injuries.

To be more aware of when and where and how cycling accidents occur could improve safety and hopefully help you avoid accidents:
-Around 75% of fatal or serious cyclist accidents occur in urban areas
-Around half of cyclist fatalities occur on rural roads
-75% happen at, or near, a road junction
-80% occur in daylight
-80% of cyclist casualties are male

Driver/rider error was 73% with the most common key contributory factor recorded by the police is ‘failed to look properly’ by either the driver or rider, especially at junctions.
Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) present a particular danger for cyclists. These often occur when an HGV, bus or coach is turning left at a junction or passing too close to the rider.

Of course, it's not always due to bad drivers, cyclist were responsible for about 30% fo the fines incurred in a recent operation to bring safety awareness. Police said cyclists were fined for jumping red lights, cycling on footpaths and having incorrect lights. In fact, The second most common contributory factor attributed to cyclists was cyclists entering the road from the pavement.
The committee is also looking into revising Japan’s current bicycle traffic regulations, and will provide a detailed report on all suggested improvements by the end of this summer.

In the meantime, ride safe!

What’s App With You?


Stephen Hawking's Pocket Universe:

Beautifully illustrated and educational, this app will teach you a few things about the Universe ― or at least things that our scientists think about it. Based on Stephen Hawkin's works, it will educate you on interesting stuff, such as black holes, the universe's constant expansion, the Big Bang, and that confusing space-time theory. Explore Stephen Hawking’s phenomenal work on six mind-bending, fully illustrated topics including Space-Time, Black Holes and the Expanding Universe. With up-to-date understanding on scientific breakthroughs this is a fresh and exciting look at Professor Hawking’s greatest and best-selling work A Brief History of Time! ‘My goal in this new app edition, as in my original book, is to highlight the excitement of new discoveries, and to offer an understanding of the new picture of reality that is emerging as a result.’

Sit With Us:

High school life can be cruel, and let's be honest ― kids can be awful to one another. Sit With Us was designed by a 16 year old girl who was a victim of severe bullying. It was terrible having to eat lunch alone every day, so her goal was to create an app to make sure that no kids felt like they had nowhere to go. So, Sit With Us was created! Inviting others to join the lunch table not only fosters a warmer, more welcome community, but also provides a great opportunity to make new friends. No one needs to or should eat alone!


Tokyo Voice Column


My Junk Mail Self by Mardo

I was literally just this second deleting about 50 emails from my junk folder on one of my several accounts. It got me thinking, Quite frankly, if my email junk box and inbox had been flipped, I would have a MUCH MORE INTERESTING LIFE!

My real inbox at the moment has insurance renewal notices, receipts from stores I frequent, a newsletter from my club and some daily headline updates… Useful, but not that interesting. My Junk box has emails from gorgeous Russian girls offering threesomes, Canadian drug companies, African Princes and a few emails in other languages I can’t understand.

Inbox me is a regular guy with bills, Junk mail me, is AWESOME! Russian women hitting on me, obviously having some adventures which then need medication, hanging out with royalty wanting me to help them get their lost millions and a whole bunch of people from all over the world wanting to chat! Junk mail me sounds like a millionaire playboy or James Bond!

Unfortunately I have to stick with my regular inbox and reply to coworkers instead of replying to the European Lotto commission and the millions of dollars I have won. The emails in other languages will probably give me a computer virus, and I have no time to fill out a survey from a radio station I haven’t listened to since I moved countries.

But I think that will be my new motto “Live life like your junk mail”. It would probably be a very short life, but such an interesting one.



受信ボックスの僕は請求書に追われる平均的男性だが、迷惑メールボックスの僕はすばらしい! 僕はロシア人女子にナンバされ、薬物治療が必要で、失われた大金を取り戻して欲しいと請われ王族と飛び回ってアベベンチャーを楽しみ、世界のいたる所からメールがどっさり来る! ジャンクメールの僕は億万長者かジェームスボンドのよう!



Strange but True


Ghostly Batman Nightclub

The Batman Nightclub in the Thai resort town of Pattaya has been brought back to life with this stunning set of photographs. Constructed in 1994 just south of Bangkok, Thailand, the nightclub was one of Pattaya's most thriving spots for night-time entertainment. It was no doubt once home to many eager western tourists seeking some Thai nightlife. But just 18 months after the official opening, the club was shut down for underage drinking and drug use. American Photographer Dax Ward visited the eerie grounds to photograph the lifeless remains of the nightclub. Dax has never been a superstitious person, but this particular location certainly left him feeling uneasy. He said: "I definitely wouldn't come here at night, for both concerns of my general safety and that it would just creep me out. "I don't really believe in ghosts or spirits that haunt dwellings, but if any place were to ever have made me consider changing my mind, this would be it" The photographer and technology teacher said this abandoned picture set was one of his best photographic work.

Na'vi Babies anyone?

Sillicone baby doll manufacture Babyclon has, for reasons not entirely clear, created a range of Na'vi babies, all painted in the distinctive blue hue of the humanoid species. A video posted on the company's Instagram account shows a bundle of three snoozing blue babies cuddled up together in a blanket. A woman strokes one of the babies' ears and gently tweaks its tail, demonstrating how extraordinarily lifelike they are. While undoubtedly an impressive feat of craftsmanship, some viewers were slightly weirded out. One Instagram user summed up the mood, by saying: "I'm both scared yet feeling the need to buy 20."


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