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Dispatches From The Front: Japan, Part 2

2 May

May 2, 2012

This is the next set of selections from Allan Keyes, my brother, who is on a ten-day tour of Japan. Like last week’s installment, I’ve edited out all references to opium smuggling and multiple geisha madness.

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Dispatch #4

Busy day today:

1- Took bullet train to Nagano

2- Saw the Zenkoji Temple

3- Had traditional Sukiyaki lunch (we stir fry the meat on the hot rock and dip it in broth. Yummy)

4- MONKEYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ZOMG ELEVENTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

5- Chestnut Ice Cream (with a corn flake base) delicious

6- Sour fish paste = BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

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Dispatch #5

SUBJECT: Tastes like it sounds

-Saw Matsumoto Castle today.  AWESOME

-Ate soba noodle lunch. DELICIOUS

-Saw a museum with old drawings. MEH

-Saw a wasabi farm. NICE! Made our own pickled wasabi.  FUN BUT IT CAME OUT FAIL. Ate Wasabi Ice Cream. Suprisingly good.

-We have traditional robes in our room, we’re wearing them to dinner. Hilarity ensues, I’m sure. Later on I’m going to the Osan, which is the hot springs baby.

In the meantime, if you open the pic you understand the subject of this email.

Mets suck!

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Dispatch #6

I ate sushi and went in the public hot spring bath.  It was great.

You know what I said when I walked into the hot springs? “Me big American man”

[Editor’s note: The public hot spring baths are nude only]

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Dispatch #7

I’ve been eating like a pic and LOVING it 🙂  In fact, as I write this I’m watching Hanshin Tigers vs Hiroshima Carp while eating a bag of “cut chip style potato product”

As nuts as the cities are here – and they are nuts – this country is massively beautiful. Remember the film “American Beauty” where the kid is saying how there’s so much beauty in things like a plastic bag swirling in the wind? He’s a jackass who’s full of shit. If he ever saw some of these gardens he’d take one look at that plastic bag and want to smack whoever littered.

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The Editor’s and Staff of Mr. Blog’s Tepid ride would to thank Mr. Allan Keyes for the generous permission to use his emails in this blog, which I am sure he will give as soon as he gets home and reads this.

Beginning tomorrow and continuing next week, a special edition series of Picture Postcard will spotlight some of his best Japan pictures, ten each week.

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13 Responses to “Dispatches From The Front: Japan, Part 2”

  1. zathra May 2, 2012 at 2:05 am #

    Interesing. I wonder how much it costs to live there ? Not that I’m planning to move there. I’m not crazy about the prospect of earthquakes, tsunamis, etc., & I’d have to take a crash course in Japanese or else have a translator with me anytime I left home. & I ain’t that proficient in foreign languages.

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    • bmj2k May 2, 2012 at 6:30 am #

      Especially in Tokyo, English is fairly well spoken there, and many people are very accomodating to those who do not speak Japanese. They appreciate even a token effort to speak their language. My brother got into many cabs where all he had to do was show them the card of the hotel and he had no trouble getting there.

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      • zathra May 2, 2012 at 7:04 am #

        It’s also a very polite country & culture. Even when they were really ahead of us in things like the electronics industry, I mean LIGHT YEARS ahead, for the most part, they were still very polite to us. I understand things have changed slightly.

        Yeah, any major language difference w / still be a major concern. I read a book that I got back in the late 70’s – early 80’s, called ” The Empty Mirror ” by Janwillem van de Wetering. It’s mostly about his trip to Kyoto to spend roughly a year in a Zen monastery & his difficulties w / some aspects of Japanese culture. Interesting reading, & I recommend it for anyone studying Japanese culture & / or Zen Buddhism.

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        • zathra May 2, 2012 at 7:17 am #

          & when I said ” I understand things have changed slightly “, I meant that the Japanese aren’t quite the industrial giants / major – league heavy – hitters thay once were, if some of w / I’ve read is correct.

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          • Thomas Stazyk May 3, 2012 at 3:19 am #

            These comments have really hit the essence of the culture shock I felt. On the one hand the people were friendly and helpful and accomodating. But at the same time the language and customs are so different that you are constantly whipsawed between the comforting and the disturbing.

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            • zathra May 3, 2012 at 7:57 am #

              I think they’re still a nation with one foot in a soil full of ancient tradition, & 1 foot more or less firmly in the Space Age.
              Japanese women seek to break through what we w / call ” the glass ceiling ” yet they probably still walk 3 paces behind their husbands. Not having been there, I wouldn’t know for sure.
              & ” disturbing ” is kind of in the eye of the beholder, as someone who’s been to several contemporary art exhibits, I can attest to that.

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              • bmj2k May 3, 2012 at 9:16 am #

                I’m going to ask Mr. Keyes to weigh in on this later.

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                • zathra May 3, 2012 at 10:11 am #

                  Americans are learning to be multicultural, at least on the surface, but we still have a long ways to go before understanding any culture outside our direct, prolonged experience. Kind of reminds me of the British, even when their empire was going the way of T. Rex. IMHO.

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                  • bmj2k May 3, 2012 at 11:05 am #

                    If only I had the time I’d to debate the opposite, that America is getting less multicultural once you peek below the surface.

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                    • zathra May 3, 2012 at 11:31 am #

                      Wellllllll…… We do have Indian food, given a kosher seal of approval, labels in Spanish AND English on most products, as well as information en Francaise, and we have more information, via Youtube & other venues, about other cultures’ rituals, rites & customs. Perhaps you’re right. How much do we really understand, though ?

                      Like

                    • bmj2k May 3, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

                      We have a lot of things but how much of it is liked, wanted, or understoo? We have religious and cultural tolerance but tolerate only means to put up with.

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                    • zathra May 3, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

                      I think that we’ve only begun to scratch the service on true understanding of lots of other cultures. The furthest I’ve ever traveled is along the U.S. / Canadian border back in 1983, & the only significant differences I picked up on were the use of the metric system ( More precise, really ) & Canadian slang & euphemisms that are used in ” America’s Hat “. 😉

                      Oh, & they have extreme Conservatives, almost like the Tea Party – ALMOST.

                      Like

  2. Mac of BIOnighT May 2, 2012 at 8:49 am #

    Regarding Qoo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qoo

    Like

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