Plain Talk

TOKYO NOTICE BOARD Throwback from APRIL 24. 2015


When I first moved to Japan I was always quick to point out various cultural differences and assign them a positive or negative judgment, for example:
1. extreme courtesy and professionalism of staff members in virtually any setting = POSITIVE
2. people shoving and pushing in order to get a seat on the train = NEGATIVE

In my early years here, I had the habit of comparing these events to similar situations in my own country. This would inevitably lead to an unconscious ranking of JAPAN VS AMERICA! However is would sometimes come out in conscious conversation as well causing to 'officially' and 'objectively' decide which was 'better'. For those who are wondering, my tallies have varied over the years. In the beginning, I saw Japan as superior on almost all fronts. After four or five years, I began to reject my new 'homeland' and prefer American styles and customs over those of Japan.

It was around the mid point of my fifth year that I read the advice of cultural anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson, who said that if one is to live in another culture, he or she should eventually live in a third as well in order to triangulate their differences. If one remains stuck between two cultures, he or she will always set up irreconcilable oppositions between the two and mark one as superior to the other. I recognized that this was exactly what I was doing by constantly comparing Japan and America so I have since tried to recognize the impact of both of 'my' cultures and become a 'world citizen' by visiting a few other countries and becoming more flexible about my cultural identity.
Today however, I was faced with one of the oddest experiences of my life. An Experience so odd in fact that it truly contained the potential to turn me back into a 'Judge'.

After using the public restroom in Ikebukuro station, I gave my hands a thorough washing. I do not always do this after a 'number one', but it was the end of the day and I had changed trains several times so I decided it was a good time to clean up. As I did so, and splashed a bit of water on my face for good measure, I noticed an elderly Japanese man at the sink just to the right of me collecting a bit of water in his left hand then gently splashing it below his belt. I could only see this out of my periphery mind you so I just assumed that he must have spilled something on his pants and was trying to clean it off. This however was not the case...

In the moment that I turned away from the sink I decided to risk a closer look only to find that the man was holding the head of his penis in his right and and splashing water on it with his left. He was then using his right to rub the water around. The action did not appear perverted in any sense, I think he was just 'cleaning up' in the same way that I splashed water on my face. Instead of splashing water on his face, he was splashing it down below.

As I exited the restroom, we caught eyes for a moment and he glared at me sternly, almost as if to say "Don't judge me!". Stepping just outside the exit I stopped, covered my face with my hands and gave a deep thunderous belly laugh (imagine this from the perspective of the 5 o'clock crowd of tired commuters hurriedly changing trains to make their way home: crazy bearded ŠO‘l).

In the end, I was spared from becoming a 'Judge' and found myself just a baffled, bemused, and jovial man as I strode up the stairs to find a seat waiting for me on the semi-express train home.

Tokyo Fab



While the World Health Organization makes clear why we need to stay away from one another, confining yourself to home is no easy task. Loneliness is already a social health crisis itself, with roughly 1 in 3 adults experiencing it to some degree.
Just because wefre isolating and socially distancing doesnft mean that we have to be lonely. It is now even more important than ever that we stay connected to friends, family and colleagues.
Herefs some things to do with your friends during this unprecedented time.

1. Just Chat and have some drinks!

An obvious way to communicatec but sometimes all you need to do is to have a good old talk. In our modern world, sometimes with all the technology, we may have forgotten in the past to properly engage with friends on outings. Now that wefre at home, the telephone or doing a video chat with a friend is really the only way to stay in touch through apps such as Whatsapp, Facetime, Skype or even House Party. Itfs fundamental to maintaining that vital human connection we need to keep us happy and healthy.


2. Join the Virtual Concert Together! One World: Together at Home

One World: Together at Home is an ongoing virtual concert series organised by Global Citizen in support of the World Health Organization. The special is intended to promote the practice of social distancing during the 2019|20 coronavirus pandemic.


3. Share Your Artistic Integrity

spent the evenings drawing together on a shared piece of paper. Itfs a technique used by surrealists to express the subconscious.Of course, if you canft actually be with your friends in person, there are many online ways to do this. You can use sites such as A Web Whiteboard to draw on a shared whiteboard or the app Draw Something where you have to guess what your friend has drawn for you. Get creative and make a quarantined masterpiece!


4. Virtual Karaoke Party

Bet lots of people are missing going to Karaoke Box! You can do KAraoke online at sites like Whether youfre a star in the making or canft even hold a single note, youfre bound to have a good time with your friends/family doing this!


5. Have a Movie Night or TV Watch Party

Netflix Party, an extension for the Chrome web browser, lets friends or family members watch a movie or show together online. Long distance movie night attendees can choose their own user icons and nicknames and chat during the screening, sharing emojis, screenshots or GIFs, while Netflix Party synchronizes playback. Grab the popcorn | you don't have to binge alone.


6. Work Out Together

Itfs more fun and motivating to work out together than alone, right? Someone to cheer you along and motivate you to keep going when you feel like stopping. You can both join a live Instagram workout session from a trainer of your choice, finding a workout video on Youtube, or connect up via Messenger and come up with a workout together. Itfll give you some focus and a challenge you can accomplish together!

Whatfs App With You?



The coronavirus crisis has us restricted to supermarkets, pharmacies and, largely, our humble abodes, but with this app, you can stay fit at home! Fiit lets you take high quality workouts with leading personal trainers on your iPhone or iPad, with the option to connect to your TV. Membership gives you unlimited access to hundreds of workouts (25 minutes and 40 minutes), whenever you want, wherever you are \ whatever your fitness level. Your first 14 days are totally free! WHAT CLASSES ARE THERE? Choose from on demand and live leaderboard classes across three studios: Cardio, Strength and Rebalance. Whether youfre just starting out or a trained athlete, keep progressing with entry level, beginner, intermediate and advanced workouts. Now, you could - theoretically - draft a workout plan by yourself, striking the right balance of planks and squats, push-ups and pulses!

Stop, Breathe & Think:

Try meditation with the Stop, Breathe & Think app to reduce your stress and help you sleep better. Focus on taking care of yourself through mindful breathing and mental wellbeing. Stop, Breathe & Think is an award winning meditation and mindfulness app that helps you find peace anywhere. It allows you to check in with your emotions, and recommends short guided meditations, yoga and acupressure videos, tuned to how you feel. This app with personalized meditation and mindfulness experience will help you stay calm and focus on mindfulness and encourage you to try daily meditations to calm your mind during this unprecedented time.

Strange but True


What Can We Do for Our Heros?

In UK, NHS and social care workers who need emergency home repairs can get them for free as part of a ’1 million helping hand for Britain's healthcare heroes. HomeServe, the home repairs and improvements business, has today launched the special offer as a thank you to those at the frontline of the Covid-19 response. Free emergency repairs including plumbing, drainage and heating will be provided by HomeServe's network of trusted and qualified engineers, typically the same day. Richard Harpin, founder and CEO of HomeServe, said: "All of our NHS and Social Care workers have shown enormous bravery and dedication in their response to the coronavirus crisis. Everyone at HomeServe wants to do their bit to ensure that NHS and Social Care workers have working plumbing and hot water at home at the end of an exhausting shift, whether they are HomeServe customers or not.h

Lucky Winner!

A young dad who lost his job as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has won millions of pounds on the lottery. The unnamed man, in his 20s, is one of millions around the world who have been left worrying how they would cope after being made unemployed because of coronavirus. With a wife and young baby the father was "stressed" and worried about how he support this little family. But all that changed when he wonthe top prize in Australia's the Lott's Set For Life game. It's safe to say that his, and his family's, life will never be the same after he netted the huge AUD $4.8million win. For the next 20 years the family will receive AUD $20,000, which is the equivalent of 1,370,000, a month. The Australian dad purchase his ticket online at, which has since been confirmed by officials. Congratulations!



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