Seasons

Japan: Did you know that i’ve got four seasons?

Me: What?

Japan: Four seasons. I’ve got them. All of them.

Me: Yeah…?

Japan: Well, it’s amazing. Spring, summer, autumn and winter.

Me: OK. Don’t lots of countries have four seasons?

Japan: No, no, no. Lots countries don’t have four seasons. I’m practically unique in my quad-seasonalness.

Me: Really? Are you sure about that?

Japan: Yes. Take your country for example.

Me: England?

Japan: Right. Does England have four seasons?

Me: Yes. Yes it does.

Japan: No it doesn’t. I thought it was always raining. Well, what about Canada? And Norway? And Russia?

Me: What about them?

Japan: They don’t have four seasons do they? It’s always cold. And Africa is always hot. Same as India and Australia. That’s how it works. I have four seasons. Nobody else does.

Me: What are talking about? Do you think that you’re the only place on the face of the earth that has four seasons? Really? Did you study science as a kid? You know, the earth’s axis being at an angle and the sun’s rays and everything?

Japan: …..?

Me: The northern hemisphere tilts towards the sun in summer and away from it winter, right? That means that unless you live with either polar bears and penguins or in an equatorial rainforest you’ll get seasonal variations. No? This is news? Honest?

Japan: But, what about my cherry blossom and my snow and my red leaves and my sweaty summer. Who else has that combination?

Me: Billions of people. It’s just you’re the only one who goes crazy for it as if every change in the season is an unexpected surprise and you feel obliged to mark the shift in weather as if it’s a memorable occasion worthy of flying a flag and getting all proud. They’re seasons. We’ve all got them. It’s a global thing.

Japan: But mine are nicer.

Me: No they’re not. You just adore them. You go crazy for the flowers and blossom in spring as if it’s the first time you’ve seen pink leaves. And you jump in the sea and swimming pools in summer as if water has just been invented. Autumn is just like spring but the leaves are a different colour. Your determination to get to a mountain, spend loads of money on designer snowboarding outfits and spend a day falling over on the snow in winter is tenacious. You love your seasons. You live for your seasons. You celebrate your seasons. That’s different. But having four of them isn’t that unique.

Japan: But that doesn’t sound as good does it. “I’ve got four seasons” makes me sound special. “I celebrate my seasons” makes me sound a bit crazy.

Me: Well…you are a little bit crazy, aren’t you?

Japan: Smart arse. I’ve got four seasons. If you don’t like it go back to rainy damp England with its mono-seasonal second-rate weather patterns. Envy my seasonalness. Covet my changing temperatures!

Me: Did you not hear what i just said about the earth’s axis and the-

Japan: Blah, blah, blah, give it a rest science boy. I’ve got four seasons. Stop sneering and join in the celebrations.

Me: But…yeah…okay.

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January 30, 2012. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Washing machines

Me: Hi Japan. How’s things?

Japan: Yeah, not bad. What’s wrong now?

Me: I was wondering about your washing machines.

Japan: What about them?

Me: They don’t seem to use hot water.

Japan: Why would they?

Me: Because a washing machine is meant to wash. To wash something requires hot water. Your washing machines don’t use hot water. Everybody washes their clothes in cold water. That’s mad.

Japan: No it’s not. It’s fine. I’ve got loads of dry cleaning laundry shops. People love them. They go their all the time with anything. It’ll turn out great. They even do ironing.

Me: But it’s a bit inconvenient going to the dry cleaners all the time and –

Japan: No, no, no it’s not inconvenient. There’re millions of these dry cleaning laundry places.

Me: Yeah, because nobody’s got a washing machine that washes with hot water and –

Japan: Well, no of course not. We don’t need them. We can go to the dry cleaners.

Me: But if you had washing machines with hot water you wouldn’t need millions of dry cleaning laundry places.

Japan: What would be the point of that? You’d have to do all your washing at home.

Me: Yes! Exactly!

Japan: But you wouldn’t take your shirts to the dry cleaning laundry places.

Me: That’s right.

Japan: But they wouldn’t be clean.

Me: Yes they would. You’d be using hot water.

Japan: But washing machines don’t use hot water.

Me: That’s what i’m fucking telling you.

Japan: But we don’t need washing machines with hot water. We’ve got lots of –

Me: Dry cleaning laundry places, yes, i know.

Japan: Well, i don’t see what the problem is.

Me: I just want to be able to wash my clothes in hot water.

Japan: Why?

Me: So it cleans them better.

Japan: Well just go to the dry cleaning laundry places then. There’s load of them.

Me: Forget it.

Japan: You’re weird.

January 16, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Kotatsu

Me: Japan, what’s a kotatsu?

Japan: Ah, kotatsu. It’s so good. So comfortable. So nice.

Me: Yeah, but what is it?

Japan: It’s a way of keeping warm in winter. It’s a small heated table that has blankets attached to the edges of it. You cover your legs with the blankets and the heater on the underside of the table heats your legs and feet as you sit around it in the winter and it’ll keep you warm whilst you watch TV and eat oranges and stuff.

Me: Sounds a bit old-fashioned.

Japan: Yeah it is, it but it’s ok because the heaters are all electric now.

Me: So, the heaters under these little tables with blankets attached to them used to be heated by something else?

Japan: Yes. Normally charcoal.

Me: Did they have some kind of chimney device?

Japan: No.

Me: So how would you get rid of the carbon monoxide?

Japan: Open the door.

Me: But it’s winter. It’s freezing. Your house would be cold.

Japan: Er, yeah. But old Japanese houses weren’t very well insulated anyway. There was always a bit of a draft.

Me: Right…Aren’t old Japanese houses made of wood?

Japan: Yep.

Me: A charcoal heater under a wooden table in a wooden house? Did this ever lead to house fires?

Japan: Yeah but not very often.

Me: Right….And what would happen if you move away from the table?

Japan: You’d get cold.

Me: So you just have to sit around the table?

Japan: Well, yeah.

Me: What happens if you don’t like the people who you’re sitting around the table with?

Japan: Erm….choose your friends more carefully in winter?

Me: And what about the rest of your body? Does that just get left to the cold air?

Japan: Yeah, your back’ll be freezing and you’ll have to keep your hands under the blanket. But the theory is that if your feet and legs are nice and warm and your head is cool then it’s good for blood circulation and health.

Me: But last time i checked carbon monoxide poisoning and house fires aren’t really contributing to blood circulation and brain health are they?

Japan: Fair point. Anyway, nobody’s got a charcoal one now. They’re all electric. And everybody’s got air conditioners or under floor heating.

Me: So why are they still in the shops? I was wandering around a department store last week and there was a whole section of the place hawking these strange heated coffee table blanket contraptions. What’s going on?

Japan: We’re a bit nostalgic for them. We like them too much. Can’t give them up. And they probably use less electric than the air con and under floor heating and people are kindly trying use less juice since most of my nuclear power plants are still arse to front.

Me: Ah…yeah…how’s that going?

Japan: Don’t fucking ask.

Me: OK. Thanks Japan. See you later.

January 7, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Cute

Me: Japan?

Japan: Yes?

Me: Why is everything cute?

Japan: What do you mean?

Me: Well, everything is cute.

Japan: Everything?

Me: Pretty much, yeah. You seem to be obsessed with cuteness.

Japan: Such as?

Me: Practically everything. Your food is cute. Cute slices of cute coloured fish on cute balls of rice. Your cars are cute. Little cute boxes zooming everywhere. Your gadgets are cute. All miniature handheld electronic stuff. I’ve seen tiny cute cans of beer, dogs with cute ribbons on their heads, cute kids playing little league baseball on a cute green field next to a cute river lined with cute looking houses or big apartment blocks filled with dinky rooms with cute clothes drying on a cute sized balcony. Your old people are cute. Your women are cute and –

Japan: Hey, stay away from my women.

Me: Sorry but it’s true. And some of your men are cute.

Japan: ….?

Me: Not like that. I mean they wear funny hats and green shoes and smile all the time. You love cute. Cute phone accessories. Cute clothes. Cute cartoons. I’ve been to pork bbq restaurants that have cute cartoon pigs dancing around the menu as if to reassure the customer that the pig rearing, slaughter, butchering, cooking and eating process has some kind of intrinsic level of cuteness. I’ve seen warning signs for train doors, high voltage electric and rock falls all communicated to me through the power of a smiling cute cartoon character with a speech bubble. You can even make danger seem cute.

Japan: I like cute.

Me: And people describe things as cute all the time. The default reaction to almost anything is “kawaii” which must be said in a cute sounding voice. Look, I bought a new coat. “Kawaii!” Look, I’m a child. “Kawaii!” Look, this is an animal. “Kawaii!” Look, I just set fire to your shoes. “Kawaii!” Why is everything in a continual state of cuteness?

Japan: Well, not everything. Sumo wrestlers aren’t cute. Try eating a bowl of hot spicy noodles and look cute. Rush hour on the Yamanote line is decidedly uncute.

Me: But those seem to be exceptions to the rule. Most things have to be cute. It’s just natural to you somehow.

Japan: I guess it’s because we’re not big, loud people so we like everything else to be not big and not loud. We like cute because it suits us. Something a bit modest in size and good looking. Anyway, you’re cute.

Me: …..?

Japan: Not like that. You’re western. That’s cute.

Me: But are westerners all “modest in size and good looking”?

Japan: Not really but it doesn’t matter. Westerners are cute. That’s just how it works.

Me: I’m confused.

Japan: If you want to have conversations with me, get used to it.

January 1, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.