Mount Fuji

Me: Can we do a quiz about Mount Fuji?

Japan: Sure.

Me: OK. How high is Mount Fuji?

Japan: 3776 metres.

Me: Correct. When did it become a World Heritage Site?

Japan: 2013.

Me: Correct. How many people climb Mount Fuji every year?

Japan: About 250,000.

Me: Correct. When?

Japan: In July and August.

Me: Correct. Why?

Japan: Because it’s summer. It’s the only time of year when it’s open and not shut off because of the weather and temperatures.

Me: No, sorry, I mean, why do people climb Mount Fuji?

Japan: Ah, well, because it’s Mount Fuji, isn’t it? It’s the tallest, most famous mountain I’ve got. It’s beautiful. Why wouldn’t you want to hike up it?

Me: Correct. Why wouldn’t you want to hike up Mount Fuji?

Japan: You might get ill and suffer from altitude sickness.

Me: Correct. And –

Japan: Also, most people climb it at night time so they can watch the sunrise from the top. It must be quite difficult doing all that in the dark.

Me: Correct. Next –

Japan: And it’s 3776 metres high. I mean, that’s tall. It’s not easy is it?

Me: Also correct. Now let’s move on –

Japan: And it’s busy. It’s a popular place. You’ll probably find yourself in queue of people in the cold and wind at 3AM on a path that wasn’t designed for thousands of people 3000m above sea level on a Saturday night in July.

Me: Whilst potentially suffering from altitude sickness.

Japan: Exactly.

Me: This doesn’t sound like fun does it?

Japan: No, but it can’t be helped.

Me: Why not?

Japan: Because it’s Mount Fuji. It’s everywhere. There’s no stopping it. I’m consumed by it. And it consumes us. There’s a whole business and culture tied up in it. It’s a never ending river of Fujiness.

Me: Well –

Japan: From Katsushika Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mountain Fuji onwards.

Me: But –

Japan: To umbrellas

Me: What?

Japan: And t-shirts and key rings and hand fans. Who needs those?

Me: Hold on a sec –

Japan: And tissues holders and cups and 3D postcards. Who buys this shit?

Me: Just a –

Japan: And snow globes and tea towels and fridge magnets. Why?

Me: But –

Japan: It’s painted on the walls of onsens and hotels and cafes and restaurants. It’s plastered over posters and billboards and advertisements, in books, movies, TV shows and dramas. Did you know you can buy blueberry cheesecake flavoured kit-kats in a Mount Fuji shaped box? That actually exists. I mean, what the fuck? Blueberry? Cheesecake? Box? What the hell is wrong with us all?

Me: …?

Japan: …

Me: Have you spoken to your doctor about this?

Japan: What’s the point? It’s Fuji. It’s not going anywhere is it? It’s the giant beautiful shining light bulb and we’re the moths forever heading back unquestioningly to the timeless, classical, one true mountain like faithful disciples blind to reason.

Me: …

Japan: …?

Me: Right. So, erm, I guess that’s the end of the quiz then.

Japan: Yeah, er, sorry about that. That kind of got away from me there. Have you ever climbed Fuji anyway?

Me: I have actually.

Japan: How was it?

Me: Well, there was a bit of a mix up so we had to climb it at night even though we didn’t want to and it rained and it was windy and cold and cloudy so there was no sunrise to see and also we got split up on the way back down and we had to launch a search and rescue mission for one person but he was actually further down the mountain and fine and it was all a total mess really.

Japan: That doesn’t sound nice.

Me: Nah, it was fine. I bought a t-shirt.

Japan: I see.

April 18, 2014. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Omiyage

Me: I went on holiday recently.

Japan: Nice. Did you get any omiyage?

Me: Erm, what? No, I went to –

Japan: Omiyage. You bought souvenirs and gifts for other people, right?

Me: Not really, no, I –

Japan: What? Why not?

Me: Well, I bought a little box of cookies for some of the people I work with but –

Japan: Some?

Me: Yeah, what’s wrong?

Japan: Omiyage. You went on holiday?

Me: I know. I went to –

Japan: So you needed to buy everybody a gift.

Me: Everybody?

Japan: Yes. Everybody. Everybody in your workplace that you work with and even the ones you don’t. All of them. The people that were doing their job while you weren’t there. Them. You need to buy them a souvenir.

Me: But, I mean, that would be loads of people.

Japan: Yes, right.

Me: Which would mean shopping around and buying loads of gifts.

Japan: Yes.

Me: And spending money.

Japan: Right.

Me: But it’s a holiday. You’re meant to relax and have fun.

Japan: No, you’re meant to go shopping for other people. To show them some gratitude for working while you were away enjoying yourself.

Me: But you wouldn’t be away enjoying yourself. You’d be stressing about buying unnecessary gifts.

Japan: Stressing? You don’t have to stress about it. Lots of my cities and tourist destinations have box sets of speciality local sweets or snacks all individually wrapped. I’ve got a whole omiyage industry built for this network of guilt inducing social conformity. There is no stress.

Me: What if you go on holiday to a foreign country?

Japan: Ah, well, then there’s stress.

Me: Hmm. And then when you get back you give everybody you know a little speciality gift.

Japan: Exactly.

Me: So this must be going on quite a lot?

Japan: Oh yeah. You’ll get a little cookie or pack of sweets or cracker thing every other day if you work in a big office.

Me: Well that sounds nice; everybody sitting in an office happily munching on cookies together.

Japan: What? Don’t be daft. You don’t eat them.

Me: Huh?

Japan: No, you just take them home, don’t you.

Me: But –

Japan: Give them to your kids or your partner or your pet or your bin. I mean, you could eat them but that’s kind of missing the point.

Me: So, sorry, what is the point?

Japan: That you went on holiday.

Me: Oh, yeah, that reminds me, I went to –

Japan: It doesn’t matter. You didn’t get omiyage.

 

March 27, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Love Hotels

Me: I missed my last train the other night. It was a pain getting home.

Japan: Really? Why didn’t you stay in a love hotel?

Me: A love hotel?

Japan: Yeah.

Me: A hotel of love?

Japan: Right. I’ve got loads of them. You can take a date there and stay in a cheap, overly kitschy, well stocked, potentially comfortable hotel and, you know, get some loving.

Me: Get some loving?

Japan: Yeah, have some fun, make love, consummate a relationship.

Me: Why don’t you just go back to a house and do all that.

Japan: Because the whole point of a love hotel is that you can be discreet in your extra marital, secret or illicit relationship without the prying eyes and ears of family or neighbours or your own guilty conscience.

Me: Right. So these love hotels are very discreet then?

Japan: Er, well, sort of, sometimes. I mean, they might have concealed car parks and entrances and exits so nobody can see you come and go.

Me: Or come and come.

Japan: Or they might have a vending machine as a lobby so you can pay for your room key without even having to see anybody else.

Me: Quiet and understated.

Japan: Or they might have a giant neon Statue of Liberty replica on the roof.

Me: Erm…

Japan: Or there might be a Cinderella theme.

Me: Theme?

Japan: Or the building might be in the shape of a ship.

Me: Hang on –

Japan: Or it might be called something silly like The Legend of the Innocent Beaver.

Me: Sorry, how is this discreet?

Japan: Well, they’re normally all in the same place. Each city has at least one area that has lots of love hotels so you can hide your clandestine liaison in a postcode of neon clad daftness full of people copulating.

Me: What about the stories I hear of you being some kind of relationship wilderness where nobody has sex anymore?

Japan: Dunno. It might be lazy journalism reporting a non-story about a subculture of a subculture and prescribing it to an entire population. Don’t you have love hotels in England anyway?

Me: Sort of.

Japan: What are they called?

Me: Travelodge.

Japan: Sounds bland.

Me: Or home. You can just go home and have sex in England.

Japan: Well sure, but that’s a bit boring isn’t it? You should get them to change it up a bit. Get them to cover one of those hotels in sky blue lights, put a giant plastic replica of the Sphinx on the roof and call it Dr Monkey’s House of Tickle.

Me: Hmm, that may well work in the centre of Osaka but I’m not sure it would have the same kind of charm next to a dual carriageway in suburban Slough.

Japan: Your loss.

February 14, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Fukubukuro

Me: Happy New Year, Japan.

Japan: Thanks. Did you get a fukubukuro?

Me: A what?

Japan: A fukubukuro. It means “lucky bag”. Did you get one?

Me: No, I didn’t.

Japan: You missed out. New Year week is fukubukuro time. Lots of my shops and department stores sell bags of discounted items on New Year’s Day.

Me: And what’s inside these “lucky bags”?

Japan: I don’t know.

Me: You don’t know?

Japan: No. Nobody knows.

Me: Why does nobody know?

Japan: Because it’s a fukubukuro. There are lots of different items inside but you don’t what exactly. The bag is sealed.

Me: So, people go to a shop or department store and buy a bag full of random stuff without knowing what’s inside it?

Japan: Exactly. There might be something expensive in there. You might be lucky. You never know.

Me: What if there isn’t?

Japan: Well, don’t worry. Everything inside the bag will be at a huge discount – 60%, 70%, maybe more.

Me: But I could save 100%.

Japan: How!?

Me: Buy nothing.

Japan: But then you wouldn’t be lucky.

Me: Why are shops and department stores selling bags full of stuff for 70% less than normal anyway?

Japan: It’s New Year. They need to get rid of all the old stuff. It’s sales time.

Me: What if you don’t like some of the stuff that’s inside one of these luckybags?

Japan: Give some of it to a friend?

Me: What if they don’t like it?

Japan: Erm, they’d throw it away, I guess.

Me: What if you don’t have a friend that wants any of this stuff?

Japan: Erm, you could throw it away, I guess.

Me: What would the shop or department store do with all this stuff if they didn’t stick it all in sealed bags and hawk it as “lucky”?

Japan: Erm, they’d throw it away, I guess.

Me: Would that cost them money.

Japan: Probably, yeah.

Me: Is this just a fantastic sales ploy that could realistically be called, “Redistribution of Shit Nobody Wants Prior to Finding Its Way into Landfill In Order To Make or Save Money”?

Japan: …

Me: …?

Japan: No. It’s a lucky bag.

Me: So, can I buy one?

Japan: No.

Me: Why not?

Japan: They’ve sold out.

Me: How do you know?

Japan: Because it’s after New Year’s Day.

Me: Do they all sell out on New Year’s Day.

Japan: Of course. People queue up for these things.

Me: People queue up on New Year’s Day to buy a bag of random unknown stuff that could be nice or could be useless?

Japan: No. People queue up to buy a bag of something lucky.

Me: I admire your optimism.

Japan: Thanks.

Me: And am amazed by your twisted logic and ability to blindly sell arbitrary things to your general public on a national holiday. Annually.

Japan: Cheers. Happy 2014.

January 8, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

State Secrets

Me: I understand you’ve recently introduced a new law called the State Secrets Act.

Japan: That’s right.

Me: And why was this done?

Japan: To increase the security of information.

Me: So, your information wasn’t safe?

Japan: Well, not safe enough, no. I think now it’s much more difficult for people to gain access to information that my government doesn’t want people to otherwise know about.

Me: And what would happen if somebody found out and published this kind of information?

Japan: They’d be put in jail for at least ten years.

Me: Really? Wow. That seems a little severe.

Japan: Well, on the face of it, yes, but if there’s one thing we’ve all learned from the whole Edward Snowden, NSA, leaks thing it’s that governments hiding things is very important and if somebody were to publish something the government doesn’t like –

Me: Such as the truth?

Japan: Such as the truth, then we wouldn’t want that person to spend a few weeks trying to piece their life back together in the transit lounge of an airport and then live the rest of their life in forced exile, would we?

Me: So it would be easier to just throw them in prison for ten years minimum?

Japan: Exactly.

Me: It seems that your government has quite a bit of power in this situation.

Japan: Well, not really. I would like to point out that it’s not the government that decides what is or is not considered a state secret.

Me: So, who does?

Japan: Bureaucrats.

Me: Bureaucrats?

Japan: Yes.

Me: Who employs these bureaucrats?

Japan: Well, the government, of course.

Me: But –

Japan: You see, what we’re trying to do here is avoid any problems of transparency.

Me: But this will mean there’s less transparency.

Japan: Exactly. If there’s less transparency there’s less of a chance of having any problems with it.

Me: And are there any plans for an independent oversight committee to judge and overrule the decisions about what information should or should not be withheld from public knowledge?

Japan: Oh yes, probably, but, you know, you can’t rush these things, can you?

Me: Especially when increasingly reactionary forces are just making things up as they go along?

Japan: Well, yes. That’s the very essence of government.

Me: So, this must have created quite a lot of debate?

Japan: Oh yeah. Huge debate.

Me: The lower house debate was live on TV, wasn’t it?

Japan: It was. Until NHK had to end the coverage for other scheduled programming at which point the government just rammed the bill through with the help of the coalition anyway.

Me: And then it went to the upper house of parliament for more debate?

Japan: That’s correct. Then they voted and passed it into law.

Me: And how long did that debate last?

Japan: Oh, a few hours.

Me: And this occurred at a time when the people could watch and evaluate the pros and cons of the arguments with sober reflection?

Japan: Kind of…

Me: When was it?

Japan: Friday night.

Me: And how long has this potentially society affecting discussion been going on?

Japan: Erm, a couple of weeks.

Me: Is that all?

Japan: Well you have to be decisive about these things. Timing is everything.

Me: How long have your politicians been debating about the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP?

Japan: Three years.

Me: And are they any closer to forming any opinions?

Japan: Oh, there’s plenty of opinion. Most of it conflicting conjecture voiced by angry men in suits in front of microphones. Oh, yeah, loads of opinions. Too many really. That’s the problem with democracy.

Me: And so what do your people think about all this?

Japan: Who?

Me: Your people?

Japan: Oh them. They’re great, aren’t they?

Me: Yeah, but what do they think about the State Secrets Act?

Japan: Ah, erm, some people protested about it but not many and not for very long.

Me: I guess they didn’t have much time.

Japan: Right.

Me: And everybody else?

Japan: Er, well, most people seem to be working quite a bit, possibly too much. Or they’re quite often preoccupied with the screens of their mobile phones. Or buying stuff. People like stuff, don’t they?

Me: Right…

Japan: Look, don’t worry. What they don’t know can’t hurt them.

Me: And now there’s less chance they’ll know anything.

Japan: Exactly. See. I’m just making things safer.

Me: Well, thanks for building a better world to live in.

Japan: No problem.

December 13, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

NHK fees

Me: I was watching TV the other day and –

Japan: Have you paid your NHK fees?

Me: What?

Japan: Your NHK fees?

Me: Whose fees?

Japan: NHK. The Japan Broadcasting Corporation.

Me: Fees?

Japan: Yes. You need to pay the NHK fee if you have a television.

Me: Oh…

Japan: Have you paid your fees?

Me: Erm, no. How much is it?

Japan: About 14,000 yen a year for terrestrial TV. 24,000 yen for satellite or cable.

Me: Right. And why do i have to pay this?

Japan: Same reason you have to pay the BBC in the UK. It’s public service TV.

Me: Ah, right, I see. And how do I pay?

Japan: You just pay the NHK man.

Me: NHK man?

Japan: Yeah.

Me: Sounds like an unwanted superhero. Where is this NHK man?

Japan: I don’t know.

Me: So, how can I pay him?

Japan: Oh, you just wait.

Me: What? Where?

Japan: Just wait at home. He’ll come.

Me: What do you mean “he’ll come”? Do I say “NHK man” three times into the mirror and then he just suddenly appears demanding 14,000 yen?

Japan: No, you don’t have to do that. He’ll knock on your door and ask you to pay the fee.

Me: How does he know that I’ve got a TV?

Japan: He doesn’t.

Me: So I could just say, “Sorry Mr NHK man, I don’t own a TV. Bye.”

Japan: But you do own a TV.

Me: Yeah but he doesn’t know that.

Japan: But –

Me: And that’d save me 14,000 yen.

Japan: But if you have a TV you have to pay. It’s the law.

Me: Law?

Japan: Yes.

Me: Oh. So what happens if I don’t pay?

Japan: Erm…nothing.

Me: Nothing?

Japan: Well, there’s a law stating that you have to pay the fee but there’s no law stating any kind of punishment if you don’t. Apart from some possible irregular visits from the NHK man.

Me: Hang on. Now that you’ve told me all this I’ll just make doubly sure to check the spy hole on my door whenever somebody knocks and if I see a slightly harassed looking clipboard using superhero on the other side I just won’t bother answering.

Japan: No!

Me: Problem solved.

Japan: Stop!

Me: Money saved.

Japan: It’s public service broadcasting. They need the money. An estimated one million people didn’t pay in 2006.

Me: And how many of these people didn’t have a television?

Japan: I don’t know.

Me: …

Japan: …?

Me: Have you ever heard of an honesty box system of paying for cookies in a cafeteria?

Japan: What?

Me: You seem to have applied the same principles to your national publicly funded television broadcaster.

Japan: Just shut up and pay the NHK man.

Me: OK.

Japan: Promise?

Me: …

Japan: …?

Me: Yeah. Sure.

October 30, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Sumo

Me: Let’s talk about sumo.

Japan: Great. I love sumo.

Me: Is it just two fat men pushing each other?

Japan: No, no, no. It’s way more than that. It’s a centuries old contact sport delicately tied together with Shinto rituals and a martial art.

Me: How old is it?

Japan: The current professional sumo tournaments first started in 1684.

Me: Yeah, okay, that’s old. And there are no weight divisions in sumo, right?

Japan: That’s right.

Me: Everybody is just massive?

Japan: Not always “just massive”. That’s the beauty of sumo. Sometimes one wrestler could be twice the size as the other but due to superior technique, skill, speed and knowledge the smaller man can win. There’s a lot of technical ability that goes behind every sumo wrestler.

Me: And they have to wear fancy underwear, right?

Japan: It’s not underwear. It’s called a mawashi. It’s a silk belt. All martial arts have belts.

Me: Silk? Very comfy. How often do they have a tournament?

Japan: Six times a year. Each tournament is 15 days and they wrestle every day. The man with the most wins is the winner of the tournament.

Me: Every day? That sounds a bit intense.

Japan: It’s a martial art.

Me: And they’re not allowed to cut their hair, right?

Japan: Right.

Me: Or drive a car?

Japan: Correct.

Me: And I’ve never seen a sumo wrestler wearing regular clothes.

Japan: Yeah, surprisingly it’s not a waistline issue. They just always have to wear the traditional yukata in public. They have to lead quite a traditional life.

Me: Well, who wants to squeeze into a pair of jeans when you’re that size? What do they eat to get that big anyway?

Japan: They don’t eat breakfast. Just a huge lunch every day of chankonabe which is pretty much the entire contents of a fridge cooked in stew washed down with rice and beer.

Me: Beer?

Japan: More calories. More bulk.

Me: Do that have any health problems with this kind of lifestyle?

Japan: Er, well, their life expectancy is about 10 years less than the average with diabetes, heart problems, liver diseases, blood pressure and arthritis affecting a lot of retired wrestlers.

Me: Is it really worth it?

Japan: The top wrestlers can earn about 20 million yen a month.

Me: A month?

Japan: Yeah.

Me: Wow. So do lots of young people aspire to be calorie-guzzling, traditional lifestyle-leading sumo wrestling super men?

Japan: Oh, yes. In Mongolia.

Me: Huh?

Japan: Most of the best sumo wrestlers are from Mongolia. The last time a Japanese wrestler won one of the six grand tournaments was in 2006.

Me: Mongolia?

Japan: And no young people really aspire to be sumo wrestlers because no young people really watch it. It’s a sport watched by old people. Who else can sit for hours on end watching traditional wrestling?

Me: Mongolia?

Japan: They’re good at wrestling.

Me: And what about all the problems?

Japan: Problems?

Me: You know, the match fixing stuff I read about.

Japan: Quiet now.

Me: Just a couple of years ago there was a big scandal with 14 wrestlers and text messages and gambling and one guy got banned and they cancelled a tournament for the first time ever. Something like that, right?

Japan: Erm, pardon?

Me: And hasn’t there always been a hazy relationship between sumo and the yakuza?

Japan: Mongolia?

Me: I think it was in 2010. They bought 50 prized seats so that the gangsters were very visible during a televised tournament. Why did they do that?

Japan: Is that the time? I need to get going.

Me: Yeah alright. Anyway, you like sumo.

Japan: Sumo. I love sumo.

Me: It’s not just two fat men pushing each other.

Japan: Exactly.

Me: It’s two very skilful, technically gifted Mongolian men with a drastically reduced life expectancy and unconventional lifestyle who wear silk and didn’t fix the result or gamble illegally and have absolutely no ties with organised crime syndicates…pushing each other.

Japan: …

Me: …?

Japan: You know, on balance, your ignorant first description was probably nicer.

October 1, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Umibiraki

Me: I’ve heard about something called umibiraki.

Japan: Oh, yeah, umibiraki – The Opening of the Sea.

Me: Opening?

Japan: Yeah. Normally in the first week of July a Shinto priest holds the umibiraki ceremony on the beach. He purifies the sea to make it safe.

Me: So, is it closed before then?

Japan: Well, not closed exactly.

Me: But people don’t go to the beach and have a swim in the ocean before umibiraki in July?

Japan: No, of course not. Why would you do that?

Me: Because it’s really nice weather in May and June.

Japan: But that’s before umibiraki.

Me: Yeah but it’s nice and warm and sunny and stuff.

Japan: It’s spring.

Me: Yeah, right. Or you could go in September. You’ve got lovely weather in September.

Japan: No, no, no. You can’t go for a swim at the beach in September.

Me: Why not?

Japan: It’s after the beach season.

Me: So, when does it end?

Japan: Late August.

Me: Late August? Pretty much the hottest time of the year?

Japan: Yeah.

Me: But…what…I mean…

Japan: Why would you go for a swim at any other time of the year?

Me: Because you like the beach.

Japan: But it’s not the beach season.

Me: Who cares? It’ll be nice and sunny.

Japan: But you won’t be covered in sweltering, sweaty, heat stroke inducing hotness.

Me: Great!

Japan: What? But then you won’t need a tent.

Me: A tent?

Japan: Yeah, you know a big tent/gazebo thing to give you some shade.

Me: But –

Japan: And if it’s not meltingly hot and humid you won’t need to take a cool box to keep the food and drinks suitably cold and refreshed.

Me: If you go when it’s not oppressively hot you won’t need all this.

Japan: That’s crazy. What about the fold up chairs and the bbq?

Me: Who the fuck takes all this shit to the beach?

Japan: Me.

Me: Why?

Japan: Because it’s hot.

Me: Why don’t you go when it’s not hot?

Japan: I’ve told you already. You can’t go to the beach when it’s not beach season.

Me: What if you like surfing?

Japan: Well, that’s different. You don’t need a tent and a bbq to go surfing do you? You need a surfboard and a wet suit.

Me: What about the Okinawa islands?

Japan: It’s always beach season there.

Me: Do you need a tent and a bbq when you go to Okinawa?

Japan: Well of course not. That would be silly wouldn’t it?

Me: Yes, of course…

Japan: So, what are you doing this weekend?

Me: Well, if it’s nice weather I was thinking of going to the beach.

Japan: But you can’t go to the beach. It’s not the beach season.

Me: But it might be nice weather.

Japan: You should go hiking.

Me: What? Why?

Japan: Well, hiking season will be starting now.

Me: Will it be busy?

Japan: Sure.

Me: Wouldn’t it be nice to get away from all the crowds?

Japan: Oh yeah, definitely it would. But where could we go?

Me: Erm, the beach?

Japan: Impossible. It’s not beach season.

September 6, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

The Royal Family

Japan: Oh, congratulations by the way.

Me: What? Why?

Japan: The baby.

Me: The baby? What baby?

Japan: The Royal Baby. George. The new member of your Royal family. Your future King.

Me: Oh, that, yeah. I don’t care.

Japan: What? Why not? You’re English.

Me: That’s exactly why I don’t care. It’s no big deal. It’s not my family. Not my baby. Not even a friend of a friend’s baby. Why do you care about it anyway?

Japan: Because it’s the British Royal family.

Me: But you’ve got a Royal family. Why don’t you gossip about them?

Japan: Well, they’re a bit boring to be honest.

Me: Boring? How can a Royal family be boring? Don’t they sunbathe topless in the Mediterranean?

Japan: Er, no.

Me: Do they dress up as Nazis?

Japan: Nope.

Me: Do they go to war?

Japan: Nah.

Me: Do they land helicopters in gardens.

Japan: No, no, no.

Me: Do they say racially and socially inappropriate things and think absolutely nothing of it?

Japan: No, that’s what my politicians do.

Me: Don’t they have weddings, parties and anniversaries that cost the GDP of a small impoverished country?

Japan: No.

Me: Well, do they at least always wear an expression of bored confusion and mild indifference?

Japan: Not really.

Me: Well, this is your problem then.

Japan: It’s not a problem. I actually –

Me: If you want the whole world to rubber neck your entire nation for a couple of days every now and then you really need the Crown Prince to do something newsworthy.

Japan: I don’t. I quite like having Emperor Akihito as the “symbol of the state and the unity of the people” as stated in my constitution. It keeps them out of the politics of the country, out of the limelight and more modest and respectful.

Me: “Symbol of the state”? Don’t you mean “Head of State”?

Japan: Ha! No. Imagine that; an unelected grandparent parading around being your country’s official chief executive.

 Me: Erm…well…

Japan: No way. You mean that your Queen is your…

Me: Head of State? Yeah. She meets the Prime Minister every week.

Japan: Every week? What do they talk about?

Me: I don’t know. The weather? Last night’s TV? The England cricket team’s lower middle order batting selection? Gin? Anyway, at least my Prime minister can meet the Queen. You won’t even allow women to ascend the throne and be Empress.  It’s a sexist system.

Japan: Well, so is yours.

Me: No it isn’t.

Japan: What is the full name of your country?

Me: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Japan: Kingdom?

Me: …?

Japan: …

Me: Fuck off. We’re not calling it Queendom.

Japan: Sexist.

Me: Queendom? It sounds a bit gay as well.

Japan: Homophobic.

Me: So what do you think we should do? Copy you? Turn the whole of the British royal family into an extension of the foreign office and the tourist industry, take away any and all executive powers and authority and have no ceremonial, flag-waving, blind nationalism every time one of them dies, marries or reproduces?

Japan: God no! Don’t do that. Who will the rest of the planet get to gawp at then? As long as I can keep my nice, normal, unobtrusive Royal family please go ahead and keep your mad, scatty, headline grabbing, regal morons. It’s great entertainment. And congratulations again, by the way.

Me: …

Japan: …?

Me: Yeah…thanks…

August 2, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Noise

Me: Can we do a quiz about noise?

Japan: Noise? Yeah sure. Can i be the quiz master?

Me: You?

Japan: Yeah. You’re always asking the questions. I want a go.

Me: Erm, okay.

Japan: Right. First question. Is it acceptable for children to make a noise?

Me: Well, yes. They’re kids.

Japan: No, that’s incorrect. Children should be quiet especially when in groups and when outside.

Me: But children make noise. Making noise is what they do. It’s one of the few things children can do to high level of competency.

Japan: Next question. If you went to a convenience store or electronic goods shop would it be ok for the people who work there to continuously shout unnecessary greetings and play overly loud cutsie jingles for no discernible reason whatsoever?

Me: No, that would not be ok. That would be really annoying.

Japan: No, that’s also incorrect. It’s no problem at all.

Me: But if that happened all the time then i’d probably avoid those places.

Japan: Next question! Is it socially acceptable for politically far-right, narrow-minded fucktavists to drive around a city centre on a nice Sunday afternoon in an old bus playing nationalist songs and speeches at ear bleeding xenophobic levels of idiocy?

Me: Well, no. Never. It’s 2013. How could that possibly be okay?

Japan: Wrong again. That’s fine apparently.

Me: But –

Japan: Next question! Would it be okay or not okay to play a musical instrument in your own flat?

Me: Well, of course that would be okay.

Japan: No, no, no. You’re not doing very well are you? Musical instruments make lots of unnecessary noise that frustrates people, especially in my thin walled apartment blocks. If you like to play music you have to go to a park or stand under a bridge or pay to use a music practice room similar to the karaoke places.

Me: Hang on –

Japan: Next question! Would it be ok to own a dog?

Me: Well, yes.

Japan: Correct.

Me: Ooh, I got one right.

Japan: And would it be ok for that dog to bark?

Me: Well, yeah, I guess. Dogs bark, don’t they. It’s natural.

Japan: No sorry, wrong again. People should train their dogs not to bark and if they can’t do that they should keep the canine inside at all times.

Me: Inside at all times? What –

Japan: Next question! Is it acceptable for politicians to stand outside train station exits blaring dull political slogans into the peaceful mornings or do the same thing with a car and megaphone in the long lazy afternoons?

Me: Definitely not. That would be –

Japan: No, that one’s ok as well i’m afraid.

Me: Even with the current state of the political system?

Japan: Yeah, I know. Even though i’m one of the growing number of countries to have a democracy that has evolved/retarded to the point where it doesn’t matter who the electorate vote for everybody loses, this still remains a fine and dandy form of electioneering and self aggrandisement.

Me: So, dogs barking and kids playing and musical instruments harmonising are all bad.

Japan: That’s right.

Me: But excessive nationalistic and political sloganeering outside a shop that blasts out jingles is ok.

Japan: Yep.

Me: So is it socially acceptable to use a mobile phone?

Japan: Of course. I love mobile phones. I consume them by the million.

Me: So you can talk anywhere you want on a mobile phone?

Japan: Talk!? On a mobile phone? In public? What? What kind of rude and inconsiderate population do you think I have?

Me: I’m confused. What if –

Japan: You’re always confused.

Me: I’m not sure that’s entirely my fault.

Japan: …

Me: …?

Japan: You’ve failed the quiz by the way. You’re not very good at answering the questions are you?

Me: Can i do the questions next time?

Japan: Only if you do it quietly.

July 23, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

« Previous PageNext Page »