Plain Talk


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!












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


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.

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Tokyo Voice Column


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.





Strange but True


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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