My brother’s been bugging me to get him one of these – and it’s not the new iPhone.

No, I’m talking about this.

And today, thanks to a brief note on the official site, I’ve learned that he’ll have to wait until next year to get one. (Assuming I manage to seize one of these from a store in Japan before they run out … again.)

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Oh, happy solitude

Not everyone will view the trend described in this recent Japan Times article as positive, but I certainly think it’s an encouraging development.

After all, it’s no mystery – at least to those who know me – why I dine out at Ichiran so frequently whenever I holiday in Japan. (Here’s a review I wrote of one particular Ichiran branch; note that the seating arrangements described there are standard across their branches.) They’ve got delicious Hakata-style ramen, true enough. But more than that, the individual booth seats allow me to enjoy my meal in near-complete privacy, without having to look at another human being … or worry about anyone else looking at me.

As an incurably anti-social traveller, the prospect of being able to limit my interactions with the rest of humanity to the barest minimum is welcome news indeed. (^_^)

Darn it. One day too late.

My next holiday in Japan is supposed to begin on 30 September. One day too late, it seems, for me to experience this limited-time-only themed restaurant bus.

Not that I would’ve altered my bookings even if I’d known about it in advance, but still … darn it.

(Incidentally, I still haven’t seen the film, nor do I really plan to. But I’m still enough of an anime enthusiast to appreciate special events like this.)

Six years to the day.

On the morning of 22 November 2016, I switched on the TV and allowed the morning news to play in the background whilst I got ready for another day of sightseeing. Suddenly, normal broadcasting was interrupted and warnings began to flash, with reports coming in thick and fast of a major earthquake that had just taken place off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture. Despite the fact that I was a very great distance west of where it struck – at that point in my journey I was staying in Matsuyama, on the island of Shikoku – the urgent warnings raised uncomfortable thoughts about an earlier event, far worse than the present one. What I found most chilling of all was the message delivered by the newsreaders as the tsunami warnings were broadcast: Isoide nigete kudasai.

Three words, spoken calmly yet with uncompromising firmness, over and over and over again.

Remember and pray, even as one looks to the future with hope.

Travel expands one’s horizons … and one’s vocabulary

Hyouka_12_22

Holidaying in Japan can be quite the educational exercise, and it often requires no more than switching on the telly and tuning into the morning news. (A good habit to have whilst getting dressed for another day of sightseeing, if only to learn what the weather will be like.) In the course of the viewing, one tends to pick up certain words that keep being repeated due to their increased relevance at a particular moment in time.

For example, I was in the country during the 2014 Winter Olympics, and the pervasive coverage of Japan’s performance in Sochi led me to learn a new word: senshu (選手), in this context used as an occupational honorific after competing athletes’ names (e.g., Hanyū-senshu). A rather severe raft of snowstorms also took place during that period, frequent news reports of which added another word to my arsenal: ōyuki (大雪), referring to heavy snow.

I’ve just returned from my 12th holiday in Japan, accompanied not merely by bags of socially obligatory omiyage and a rather bad head cold probably caught from a fellow commuter on the train somewhere, but by yet another fresh item for my linguistic catalogue: jikidaitōryō (次期大統領), meaning “president-elect”.

I don’t think I need even mention the chap whose dominance of news reports during my stay has drilled this new word into my head. (^_^)

Fewer, fewer, and fewer still

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun (via The Japan News), Japan’s population dipped for the first time since modern census records began nearly a century ago.

I could spin out a lengthy discourse on the implications of this long-term slide … but I shan’t. Have a look at that article – it’s not just about the total population but also the demographic makeup of Japan, which makes for interesting reading – and spare a moment to ponder the repercussions, upon the anime/manga industry amongst others.

I wonder if they’d let him ride THIS train

So Darkness Inoue wasn’t allowed to board the shinkansen. Sad.

Perhaps he should have a go at this train instead.