Sunday, January 15, 2012

Law against the obesity??

Came across this bizarre coverage of "how Japanese government forces their citizens to do things". Although old, this video is stereotype one sided coverage given for Japan in western media.

Even though the title of this video is sarcastic, the tone of the reporter (who is not even Japanese herself) is that the Japan government has made waistline measure a legal limit and blah blah blah....

I understand that general impression is that Japanese are very slim and women are even slimmer. But let's not take away the credit to the efforts they put into being healthy and fit. I have worked in Japanese companies for quite long to understand that these medical checks are nothing but routine checks under superb national medical care system. Now this report may talk about NEC and it's employee health care system but NEC is not Japan. Also, there are some benefits that a company gets if it's employees are in-general fit and not having any diseases just because their lifestyles are not healthy. But I see not harm in it.

Being slim is certainly not discussed in government here but it is indeed a social requirement. In this diligent society, being obese is seen as a sign of irresponsibility (which in my personal opinion is right except if you have any health conditions) and laziness. Although, not everybody in Japan thinks in so much details but in a tightly knit and coherent society like Japanese, its hard to justify the company (or society) to foot the bill for your high BP and cholesterol by not having control over what you eat, not exercising or drinking too much. It is as obvious for a Japanese society to expect slim people around as it is for western to expect obese people. (Some people may find this as offensive but even slightly obese people REALLY turn heads in Japan)

Comparatively, men tend live unhealthy lifestyle anywhere in the world but looking slim and beautiful is a routine for many Japanese women. It is so much woven into their daily lives that it has formed a marketing key-word in Japanese: 女磨き (Onna Migaki).

Besides all these social factors against obesity, Japanese diet is one of among the best balanced diet with thousands of years of history behind it as compared to meat centric diet of the west.

I brand this type of reporting, conveniently ignoring all other factors to put across one narrow vision as gap-filling reports. When you actually don't have any significant stories to fill in your on-air time or newspaper pages, you fill those gap with such a low quality reporting.

Unfortunately I have seen this kind of reporting in many western countries lately. Serious issues like Fukushima-crisis were also given one-sided coverage, giving rise to countless rumors. Hope that readers are wise enough to check multiple sources and don't rush in forming opinion.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Party for singles

Thank god I am through all this, but Goukon (合コン)is a huge deal for any aspiring single in Japan. Especially this time of the year (year end and beginning) is also the time when you have good excuse to arrange such parties.

Gokon is a slang word, originally meaning party but has taken closer meaning of speed dating dinner lately. Usually, it starts with one or few people wanting to have such party. More participants are 'recruited' using their connections. It's absolutely OK even if most of the participants don't know each other. In fact, that is even better. Also it's common sense to keep the sex ratio of participants to 1:1 and typically size of the party is from 4 to 10 participants. At one of the Japanese client's place I worked for, there was a roster for desiring participants and during any party there have to be at least 2-3 'outsiders'.

Even the restaurants in Japan are also customized to suit the atmosphere of Gokon. From menu to even interiors. Gokon is arranged in Izakaya (Japanese style drinking bars) or any typical restaurants meant for Gokon. If you haven't been to any Gokon, note that it's dutch and girls usually pay lesser portion. Also if you imagine that since it is kind of 'date' the restaurant atmosphere will be calm and romantic, you are mistaken. Although it is a kind of date, Gokons rarely take place in such restaurants. Unless of course it is matter of 4 people participating in. Usually, it takes place in not too noisy but not too romantic restaurants.

Some of the keywords you will hear often in this context are
Sakura: Yes it's a flower name. But in Gokon context it means a decoy. It's person brought in, just to fill up the place or make sex ratio even. He or she may not be interested in the Gokon or even may be married already. Sometimes it's kind of unsaid favor made to the inviting person because they could not fill the spot and Gokon itself may not take place without it. I have done it few times.

Kanji (幹事): It is not the word for Japanese script but means someone who arranges everything about the party; an organizer or manager in a sense. He looks after everything from choosing the restaurant, notifying everyone to seeing that everyone pays.

What happens at the dinner time itself is similar to typical dinner date. Girls and boys introduce each other and then afterwards it is you and your mingling skill. But iPhone Apps are assisting in everything these days.

本音サーチャー Honne Search (Real Voice/Intention) : It 'analyzes' the real intention behind your voice when you speak to it.

合コン勘定 Gokon kanjo: Easy calculator which considers how much more you charge to seniors or how less you charge to female participants.

If you get a chance to get invited, do enjoy the romantic side of Japan! Who knows, you may even find your soul mate!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

It's complicated

Washing my ass was never so complicated for me!!

This is the control panel of the real toilet in Japan. Yes! Toilets have control panels. I know, that many of you must have seen lot of forwarded emails depicting complicated futuristic toilets but this is real! Many of you in Japan must have seen this too.

I could guess the last row alright. It's *pink* and not for males. But why do you have to put so much thought and details in washing your ass? Does somebody really complain on whether the shower (again, choice of this word is debatable) was too mild or too powerful??

"Hey look! It was too mild. I had to use traditional ways! What's the use of toilet? x△@x#*"
"It was so strong that I felt violated" (For some, this may not be actually a complaint)
"I got confused between second and third row and now all my **** is wet!! How am I supposed to walk around?? @x&△x*#"
"It was so perfect!! I want to use it even when I am not sh***ing!"

At least I have never heard of that kind of conversation! God forbid if these are real complaints or feedback. I can only imagine the burden on the person sitting at the other end of the call getting further details.

And there is more! To 'maintain' this toilet, there is another panel behind! I don't even want to see that. But besides all the humor, finding right kind of button was indeed a great user experience! ;)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Good weather for photography

First of all, Happy New Year to all of my blog readers!! It was a colder than usual year end this time. I hope all of you had a great holidays and wish you a happy and prosperous new year!

After getting my digital SLR, I have been reading about photography and experimenting a lot! Today I clicked this photo. It was a nice weather I could see till quite far over the horizon.

On the left side of the photo is Yokohama Landmark Tower. The red color of the sky is not a result of any editing or filter. I clicked the photo in following mode.

Lens:                55-250mm
Shutter Speed:  1/40
Aperture:          5.6
ISO:                 1600
White Balance:  Flash (I guess it was AWB)

I have to say, I got my camera in just about right time. This is the timing when skies are most clear in Japan. Also, Snow and subsequently Spring is waiting for me couple of months down the line, when I will have (hopefully) mastered basics of the digital photography.

There is neither dearth of good photographers or photography clubs in Japan, nor equipment, locations and subjects to shoot. I hope to utilize best of all..