Plain Talk

TOKYO NOTICE BOARD FEBRUARY 10. 2017

Six Pack Blues by Maris Piper

I met my friend, Eggs, in Shibuya last week. He has said he had a present for me. Excited I raced down there and was handed a T-shirt! I unfolded it saying "Six Pack Coming Soon". If you knew Eggs, you would know that "soon" was the wrong choice of words. It was hardly apt for me, either.
I tried to give it back obviously, but he said it merely reminded him of failure. The story was that he had tried join a gym for the first time in years, and done a few trials at a various trendy gyms in town, but declined them all.

- Oh come on you slob. Get back in there! - But Eggs said Japanese gyms "were not real gyms!". You're making excuses, I thought; but no, as always, he had his reasons....

First, he said it is hard to find a gym that is open 24 hours. Like everything else in Tokyo, they are also pretty small, which makes them crowded and not very well-equipped. Most of the gyms, just had machines and not many free weights, which meant the free weight area was too crowded.
- This is Tokyo. It is crowded. Go and live in the mountains then! -

Eggs had his own theory on another weird thing about Japanese gyms, that too many of the gyms he tried were substitute "host clubs"!
- What are you talking about? -

Eggs reckoned most of the members were housewives and single women and were pampered by the predominantly male instructors, and in return acted as fan club. The gym was more a "service industry" than about health and fitness or physical education. That was the real reason that most of the gyms exceed US$150 a month to use. Lots of fake instructors just chatting.
- Ahh, poor Eggs is jealous... -

Never be jealous of anyone, he said proudly. "The main reason was actually due to Japanese gym etiquette, or well, the lack of it!".

According to him, there was less gym etiquette than the US. Too many people hogged machines, put down towels while they wandered off, basically broke all the rules: " Apart from the trains, it is the only place, Japanese are impolite".

So it seems that the gym culture in Japan lacks the traditional Japanese norms of politeness, modesty, and respect for others. Maybe as a western import, natives think it doesn't warrant the full Japanese treatment.
I put it down to the rules only applying in public. We get none of that in my local oba-oji gym because it is a public space, where Japanese traditional rules applies. Western gyms have their problems too: steroidal men grunting and strutting; locker rooms that stink; hippy waffle from fake yogi wannabes. I simply recommend Eggs comes to the oba-oji gym with me.

He politely declines as we work on the six-pack - the one in the fridge! ... Cheers!

先週渋谷で友人のエグスと待ち合わせした。プレセントがあると言われたからだ。何だろうとどきどきしながら、待ち合わせ場所に行くと、Tシャツを手渡された。広げると「腹筋が6つに割れるまでもうちょっと。」エグスを知る人はみな、もうちょっとだなんて笑わせるぜと言うだろう。それは僕にもあてはまる。返そうとしたが、Tシャツは、自分の失敗を思い出させるからいらないと言った。それは何年か前に初めてスポーツジムに入会しようとした体験で、いくつものトレンディなスポーツジムに体験入会したが、結局入会をあきらめた事だった。

「なまけてないで、ジムに行けよ!」しかしエグスは日本のスポーツジムは「本格的ではない!」と言った。

そんなのは言い訳だと思ったが、彼はうそは言わない。いつだって彼なりの言い分がある。

まず、24時間営業しているスポーツジムを探すのはむずかしいと言った。東京にあるものすべてに当てはまるが、せまくて、いつも混んでいる。それに設備が整った所は少ない。たいていのジムは、トレーニングマシーンはあるが、ウェイトトレーニングする場所は人で一杯で、ウェイトトレーニングすることができない。

『ここは東京なんだから、いつも人で一杯だ。山あいの田舎に移り住んだらいい!」

エグスはさらに日本のスポーツジムにおける奇妙な点を挙げた。スポーツジムの多くが「ホストクラブ」化している!

『それはどういうことだい?」

エグスは、メンバーの多くが主婦か独身女性で、主である男性インストラクタからちやほやされる。だから、ファンクラブのようだったとも言う。スポーツジムは、健康・フィットネスとか体育というより『サービス産業』のようだ。それが、多くのスポーツジムに一ヶ月150USドルも会費を払う本当の理由だ。インストラクタのフェークが、ただおしゃべりしているだけだ。

「かわいそうに。エグスは妬いてるんだろう。」

「誰にも嫉妬していないと彼は断言した。本当は、日本のスポーツジムのエチケットが嫌なんだ。公共のマナーが欠けているからだ。」アメリカと比べると、日本のスポーツジムでのエチケットはひどいと彼は言う。誰もがトレーニングマシーンをを独り占めする。トレーニングマシーンから離れてもタオルを置いておく。基本的なマナーがなっていない。「電車以外の場所で、唯一日本人が礼儀正しくない所だ。」

どうやら、日本のスポーツジム文化では、伝統的日本人がもつ他人に対する丁寧、謙虚、尊敬といった礼儀を欠くようだ。おそらく、欧米からの直輸入スポーツジムだから、日本人的な待遇をフルに受けられないと欧米人は感じるんだろう。僕は、礼儀正しさは、公共の場に限られると思う。僕の近所のおばちゃん/おじちゃんスポーツジムは公共の場だから、そんな光景は見かけない。欧米系のスポーツジム自体も問題をかかえる。ブイブイうなりながらもったいぶったステロイド系の男達、においのきついロッカールーム、ヨギ気取りのワッフルヘアのピッピーとかいろいろある。エグスに僕と一緒におばちゃん/おじちゃんスポーツジムに行こうよと誘った。

彼は丁寧に断った。腹筋を六つに割るトレーニングは。 じゃあ、冷蔵庫に半ダースあるビールは?乾杯!


Plain Talk

TOKYO NOTICE BOARD FEBRUARY 10. 2017

Mr. Obama by Dean Mejia

Well, it really happened. On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump was finally sworn in as the 45th President of the United States (P.O.T.U.S.). Whether you love him, hate him, or are indifferent, he is now the official leader of one of the greatest countries in the world. Now it's his turn to see what he can do. We should respect him for the tough job that he is about to undertake. We shouldn't forget about President Obama so soon though.

Barack Hussein Obama was a very important president, simply for the fact that he was the first ever African American P.O.T.U.S. in history. This is something that many Americans thought would never happen in the U.S.A. considering the dark history of racial discrimination faced by African Americans. Despite the huge hurdle that he had to overcome, he inspired a lot of people from all walks of life and served in the White House for 8 years (2 Presidential terms).

Obama’s legacy includes: putting a stop to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ensuring the death of Osama Bin Laden, saving the American automobile industry from collapsing, creating millions of jobs, lowering the unemployment rate, improving relations between the USA and Cuba, introducing the Iran Nuclear Deal to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, being a champion for gay rights, and among other things, implementing ObamaCare (that, while controversial, did give millions of Americans access to healthcare).

In May 27, 2016, Obama was the first sitting American President to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Japan. He met with survivors of the nuclear bombing that pretty much ended World War 2. In return, on December 27, 2016, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the first “official” visit to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. He joined Obama in remembering those who died 75 years ago in the historic surprise attack by the Japanese military on the US Naval base. Obama had a nice and friendly relationship with Japan.

On a personal (and lighter) note, I was always popular in Japan when I would wear my suit because often times people would say I look like Obama (at least I would hear that from those that didn’t say I look like Lupin III). It never directly helped me to get any dates, or any increases in salary, but it was always a nice ice-breaker. Now my luck has run out because I don’t look ANYTHING like Donald Trump.

What’s App With You?

TOKYO NOTICE BOARD FEBRUARY 10. 2017

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Tokyo Voice Column

TOKYO NOTICE BOARD FEBRUARY 10. 2017

Toki-o Valentines day by Mariko Ishida

Ladies! Especially to the newcomers and gaijin. It is the time of the year again to bring out your cookbooks and ready your eggbeaters.

While in the rest of the world, the females are traditionally the recipients during valentines day, Japan celebrate it in a rather peculiar fashion. The ladies get busy a day or two before the occasion preparing sweets for the men. Japanese women are said to be reserved and shy, hence this time they express their affection and send appreciation to their coworkers, friends and even bosses. There are two types: Romance associated chocolates are called Hon-mei choco. While Giri-choco, are given to colleagues and close male friends that comes with an obligation to be reciprocated after a month, March 14th labeled as the white day. This is based to the Japanese culture of returning a favor when one does something for you.

I remembered vividly how mine went last year. All my roommates took it so serious everyone claimed a corner in the kitchen. I was still in a foreign mentality and refused to join in the fad at the beginning. I saw how these ladies are having so much excitement so at the final hour, I realized why not regale my boyfriend with a unique experience? Albeit we both are foreigners, we are still in Japan after all. I ran to the shopping mall to order chocolates and have it delivered to my boyfriend's work as a surprise treat. Unfortunately, I was an hour late. I learned most shops accept only up to one at noon for same day delivery.

At the end, we simply indulged ourselves and just laughed off of my fiasco. It clearly served me a lesson. I also learned that laboring those sweetmeats yourself amount all the more special.

さあ、お嬢様方!特に来日したての外人さん。一年のうち、料理本を取り出して泡立て器の準備をする日がまた巡ってきた。

日本以外の国のバレンタインディでは、女性は贈り物をもらう側だが、日本では一風変わった祝い方をする。女性が前日、前々日に男性に贈るスィーツを調達する。日本女性は、シャイで控えめだと言われるので、同僚、友人、はては上司へ愛情や感謝を表したい女性はこの機を逃す手はない。タイブには2種類ある。恋愛を期待するチョコレートを『ほんめいちょこ』。『ぎりちょこ』は同僚とか親しい男性友達にあげるもので、1ヶ月後の『ホワイトディ』と呼ばれる3月14日にお返しが期待できる。これは他人から何かしてもらったらお返しをするという日本の習慣に根付いたものだ。

昨年のバレンタインディを自分がどう過ごしたか鮮明に覚えている。重大イベントと考えたルームメイトは全員台所を占領した。私のメンタリティはまだ外人だったため、最初はそうした流行に踊らされずにいた。ルームメイトの女性たちが躍起になってチョコレート作りをしている姿を観察しながら、自分のボーイフレンドはそんなユニークな体験を味わえないだと気づいた。私はチョコレートをサプライズプレゼントとして彼の職場に送るためショッピングモールへと走った。残念ながら1時間遅かった。宅配便の当日配達は1時までだということを知った。

その日の終わり、みんなが思い思いの自己満足を得て、私の大失敗を笑った。本当によい教訓となった。さらにもうひとつ、チョコレートに一生懸命になる行為こそが、このうえなく大切なのだと知った。



Strange but True

TOKYO NOTICE BOARD FEBRUARY 10. 2017

Simple order "Coffee please" just wouldn't cut it any longer...

Coffee had became more complicated in this modern world. Step into any coffee shop and you'll be greeted with a wealth of choice. Some of which makes very little sense. In some places, you can even pay to have a nice, deconstructed cup of the stuff, should you ever feel like invalidating the whole point of buying it in the first place. This choice may seem like a good thing, but it can also be somewhat daunting (and annoying). So, the next time you need a caffeine injection, you can eliminate at least five of them, as these are the options, according to PureWow , no self-respecting barista would plump for.
1. Extra-Hot Americano.
There's only so much heat a person can take. There's also just the one fixed temperature at which water boils. So, with that in mind, what exactly is the point in having an extra-hot drink besides you might burn your tongue...
2. 'Bone-dry' cappuccino.
??? We don't know what this means. Do you know what this means? Anyway, in case - like us - you don't, a 'bone-dry' cappuccino is simply espresso with some added foam, with the steamed milk left out. I'll have bone-dry martini instead, thank you.
3. Skimmed soy latte.
Skimmed milk exists. Soy milk exists. Skimmed soy milk, alas, does not. This drink is a work of fiction.
4. Cappuccino with almond milk.
Almond milk is a sweet and delightful alternative to whole cow's milk. But while whole milk can be turned into a dense, proper froth, almond milk simply turns a little thicker when steamed.
5. And forget the secret menu...
True, many an eating establishment have created a secret menu , but if every coffee shop did have one, all of the best drinks would be on the regular menu anyway...

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