I’m a huge huge fan of Uzbek food. Actually, I’m a huge fan of all food that has a lot of lamb. I’m a big lamb lover. Unfortunately, the Japanese don’t share my fondness for the meat that is often described as ‘gamey’. BTW – it’s only gamey if you don’t know how to prepare it. Cooking lamb well is an art form. And the Uzbeks are brilliant at it.
Everywhere I turn, people are speaking Spanish – America’s unofficial second language. I’m surprised that I can still understand the language fairly well – considering that I haven’t spoken it in some four years. I learnt a lot of new languages in my twenties – but Spanish is my still my favourite. I hear a whole plethora of other languages, too. Some I recognise. Others I don’t. I breathe in and out. It’s my first time in San Francisco, but I feel at home for the first time in a while.
Navigating the complexity of the Senpai Kohai relationship is one of the stepping stones of working in Japan. Senpai = senior. Kohai = junior. In theory, this is a two-way street that has its roots in Confucianism. The elders pass on their knowledge and experience to the younger ones. Seems fair, doesn’t it? Those with more experience and knowledge lead the way for those with less experience and knowledge. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that these things are often determined by age and rank – not by ability, intelligence and capability.
Despite incredibly advanced technological advances in robotics, the banking industry in Japan is painfully traditional. Japan is still largely a cash-based society, so be prepared to walk around with a wad of cash to buy things. Paying by credit card is only available at major department stores and at some restaurants. Most people pay their bills with cash at a convenience store or at the post office. If you can’t be bothered with that, direct debit is also available. Now onto the banks…
Japan is probably not a place where most foreigners would ever truly feel at home. But after three years here, I can safely say – it’s not exactly ‘home’, but it’s become very very familiar. After five weeks on the road for both professional and personal reasons, I’m back in my messy apartment that I never quite have time to clean. What an anticlimax…
I was hell bent on never living in Tokyo. I’d heard in the grapevine that people here are rude, that it’s overpopulated and that people are racist towards foreigners. Now that I’ve spent a lot of time in Tokyo for both work and pleasure – I must say – that the rumours in the grapevine are false.
In 1904, my great-grandfather moved to Kobe. He had three kids. My paternal grandmother was one of them. She grew up in Hyogo Prefecture. She wasn’t Japanese – but the Kansai dialect of Japan was her first language. It’s rare to find born-and-bred ‘gaijins’ in Japan now. It was even rarer then. Since coming to Japan, I’ve been curious about grandma’s life here.