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“Emergency sign”

Found this song from the ending part of the NHK documentary “Human Crossroads” (事件の涙; Jiken no namida), and had it stuck in my head ever since. Its melancholic, as if a thirst never gets quenched, clenches the heart as the tune progresses.

“Human Crossroads” tells the melancholic stories, mostly the sad happenings in the contemporary Japanese society. One episode I remember vividly of, is the mass massacre incident happened in Akihabara, Tokyo. Although many people and its victim will go on remembering that day as a dark one, many people may not attempt to seek what was going on in the perpetrator’s head — his motivations, his background, etc.

This song somewhat fits the narrative of the documentary, and hence, left a deep impression in me. The documentary particularly focused on the human aspect, something we might have inconspicuously neglected over time…

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Hotchkiss and stapler

One morning, I overheard a colleague’s conversation over the phone about someone wanting a “hotchkiss” being delivered to an event’s venue.

“Hotchkiss”, I paused and gave a brief thought about its meaning.

Stapler.

A quick search on the Internet revealed that “Hotchkiss” not only is common to the Japanese, it is also attributed to Benjamin B. Hotchkiss for machine gun, a weapon that was widely used during the First World War. It was also popularized, thanks to the company name “E.H Hotchkiss”.

The word “stapler” might be foreign to the locals, so mentioning its name might draw confusion. I was reminded of the last trip with my friend few years ago when I wanted to buy a medicine to overcome a mild fever at a local drug store in Tokyo station. I asked the salesperson if they sell Panadol. Unsurprisingly, the salesperson didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. I then followed up by asking if they sell paracetamol.

Disappointingly, they said they didn’t sell the product that I mentioned. Armed with Google search, I finally found what I want.

It turned out that the Japanese are more comfortable and familiar with the term ibuprofen. Hence, brands like Bufferin and Tylenol are more prominent in the local drugstores (and they work like Panadol too). However, I am a bit puzzled to Panadol’s unavailability here, while it is widely available in Taiwan (very helpful whenever I visit there!). I also noted that Watsons is not available in Japan, but it has branches everywhere in the neighboring Taiwan. Hmm.

In the end, I learned something new — something that is common back in the home country isn’t always that common in another country.

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He Who Can’t Marry

Recently, I watched “He Who Can’t Marry” (結婚できない男; Kekkon dekinai otoko; translated in Chinese as “结不了婚的男人”) on Netflix, a drama produced in 2006, which tells the story of a rich, lonely architect bachelor who is in his 40s named Shinsuke Kuwano, and the characters surrounding him, including a doctor, a car’s salesperson, the main protagonist’s subordinate, a pug (!), and more.

This is a comedy/romance drama, which is lighthearted to watch. I chuckled and at times, laughed at almost every episode of this show. From moments where Shinsuke enjoyed his private time in his apartment listening to the classics while pretending to be a conductor to the chit chats and happenings between the characters and topics surrounding Shinsuke , as well as events surrounding Kaneda, Shinsuke’s rival architect (including moments where Shinsuke periodically checks Kaneda’s website for updated happenings surrounding him), I enjoyed every moments of the show.

“Oh! Kaneda updated his site.” while browsing through the contents

After a tiring day, or just feeling stressed and needing a hearty laugh, or just searching for a classic Japanese drama, I can wholeheartedly recommend this show. Being a new fan of this show, I also found a site dedicated to showing the places and set in the drama, which are mainly based in Tokyo. Bookmarked to visit the places someday.

Its sequel, “The Man Who Still Can’t Get Married“, which aired in October 2019, doesn’t look too promising. Airing new episode at Tuesday every night at Fuji TV, I watched episode 3 of the show and found it somewhat disappointing (Japanese TV drama nowadays are a bit of lackluster, in my opinion).

With that, I wrap up this post with Shinsuke who’s very particular with his living style — enjoying his steak alone.

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Typhoon Bualoi (No. 21) hits

This morning, Typhoon Bualoi (typhoon no. 21) swept through Chiba Prefecture (located east of Tokyo) and its neighboring areas. It brought strong wind and torrential rains along the area, including where I stay. I commute to work by bus, hence I was partly drenched while waiting for the delayed bus due to the unavoidable traffic congestion at the bus stop.

The plum rain season in autumn is quite chilling, especially when one only wore thin clothing. However, the typhoon was the main cause of today’s weather, with areas recording almost one month’s worth of rainfall in half a day!

Near noon, I received multiple warning alerts from the local municipal government regarding advisories to perform evacuation at affected places. However, I wasn’t alone in this regard. iOS devices (notably iPhones), when received the said warning alerts, sounded an alert tone with the warning messages appearing on screen. The alert tone amplified with the presence of many iOS devices at the same floor.

Many colleagues looked at each other amusingly as they confirmed the message they received — a landslide confirmation information, advisories regarding water level at nearby riverbanks hitting dangerous level (which can overflow), evacuation advisories and listing places to evacuate to in case of danger.

[Level 4 alert] Evacuation advisory

I received an evacuation advisory alert (issued at 2019/10/25 13:00) sent by the local municipal government to residents of high risk areas (where I was at) to evacuate to the designated evacuation area(s)/shelter(s) if necessary, including community centers and schools.

From what I’ve gathered from the news, cases of severe flooding, river water overflowing, and landslides had caused damage to properties, partial paralysis to transportation, and even death. Even though typhoon is not an uncommon phenomenon to the Japanese, the severity and strength of the typhoons these few months had left them in an undesirable state. As temperature gets cooler over the course of the autumn season, some people might find it hard to go through, especially those who needed to rebuild their homes.

Fortunately, in the area where I live, nothing destructive had happened — yet, the effects of the typhoon are still visible. People cramming in trains going home at reduced speed (due to possible flood and winds), cleaning up of garbage flew all over the place, and so on.

I sincerely hope the victims can recover soon from these disasters, and let this typhoon be the last one in this decade.

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Typhoon comes in threes… and more

Continuing from the devastating Typhoon Faxai last month, Typhoon Hagibis (No. 19) struck Japan at Saturday, October 12, that had created a new record in the Japanese history. Rivaled the Typhoon Kanogawa that wrecked the island nation and caused at least 1000 people dead, Typhoon Hagibis left some parts of Japan paralyzed and disruption for short to medium amount of time in various areas, notably transportation and residential areas. Although Japan is well prepared for natural disasters like these, Typhoon Hagibis’ wrath had definitely cause miserable amount of inconveniences in daily life.

At that Saturday, I was in a friend’s house in western Tokyo. My friends and I were caught off guard when we had a look at the typhoon’s projected path — we were extremely close to it! The typhoon landed Tokyo and continue upwards during the midnight, where it continued to cause havoc, including floods in areas near rivers, and landslides at hilly areas. Lucky for us, my friend’s house was left unharmed (so did mine, a property which was built in the 1970s!). We couldn’t go outside — the wind was so strong that it could take you down, or worse, causing an object to fly at high speed and possibly hit us.

The next Sunday morning, it was like a dream — the sun in western Tokyo shone so bright, and the temperature had quickly risen to the normal autumn temperature — chilly yet warm. However, it was nightmare to people who had evacuated and people who had their homes and properties destroyed. It was only less than a month apart from Faxai.

Yet, two more typhoons, No. 20 and No. 21, are headed to Japan this week. Luckily, typhoon No. 20 brought only strong winds and rains with no devastating consequences. Its arrival also coincided with the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito at Tuesday, October 22. Perhaps it was symbolic — when the emperor proclaimed his accession to the throne, it turned sunny that Tuesday afternoon.

As of now, Typhoon No. 21 (Bualoi) is looming on the horizon as weather alerts and warnings were issued for the weekend — strong winds accompanied by huge rainfalls.

Living here for less than 2 years, I can sense how volatile this nation is due to its geographical location — one would never expect what will happen next. Maybe due to this volatility, many things were put into perspective and priorities reshuffled, I think.

I sincerely hope and wish for the best for the victims — time to brace for another unsettling weekend.