Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Different perspectives of deformity from yesterday's papers

Martinho before the surgery.
A four year old East Timorese Boy, Martinho Ronaldo,
with a severe facial deformity.
Overjoyed: Elsa Sanchez and her son Martinho at the Children First Foundation's farm in Kilmore yesterday.
He is brought to Melbourne for treatment that makes him "normal" again with
much better prospects of living a happy life.  What a lovely smile.

For the details see here.
New subculture in Japan inserts saline implants to give people "bagelheads"
by choice....
For details: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/bagel-head-saline-injections-new-body-art-fad-article-1.1168711

Monday, 27 June 2011

Uniqlo's Celebrity fundraising T-shirts

Uniqlo have just released a limited edition celebrity t-shirt  collection. They are only on sale for a week. The proceeds are presumable going to raise money in Tohoku (as opposed to raising money to increase the wages at their factory in China).   Marketing savvy as always, but it's a generous gesture and it's good to see conspicuous corporate effort to keep it in the public consciousness.  It's a pity though there aren't Japanese celebrities that have designed them too - the shirts are on sale in Uniqlo shops in London, New York, HK, Shanghai etc too.  Anyone wanting one for Christmas will need to let me know ASAP.  

Uniqlo's celebrity Japan shirts
Top Row: Lady Gaga, Cyndy Lauper, Victoria Beckham
Middle Row: Orlando Bloom, Gwyneth Paltrow
Bottom Row: Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron,  Blake Lively.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A good luck story!

Tonight the phone rang at 10.45.
The first thought was ...oh no Hiro's been calling my mobile & I haven't heard it.
It was Hiro, calling as he leaves work - as per custom.
But he hadn't been calling my mobile....
Sheepishly he admitted he'd lost his phone (with my mobile no. in it).
Sheepish because usually I lose things and he finds it both incomprehensible and exasasperating.

"No worries, it'll turn up".... something that has become a mantra for me...
I tried calling it, but no answer.
5 mins later I get a call from it.

He'd left it in a taxi after a meeting in Kasumigaseki.
The taxi driver by chance was in our general area.
he kindly offered to drop it off.
I met the taxi driver at our nearest station.
I have the phone, Hiro's still 15 minutes from home.

What a good guy the taxi driver was.

It's made my week.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Seasonal foods

From front left Vie de France gobo (burdock root), pickled plum & shiso bread, pickled cucumbers, beans, a cabbage, a lettuce, a simmered dish of takenoko (bamboo shoots), fuki (butterbur), dried herring, mushrooms & not sure what else,  asparagus, fried tofu, pickled radish, & shitake.

This week we had a convergence of Hiro's mother sending a care package (she knows Hiro doesn't get much from me!) ,  Hiro taking a business trip to Fukushima and me going shopping...  The food  in the picture is mostly from Hiro's mother (not the bread).   The cabbage, lettuce and tofu Hiro brought back from Fukushima.  He has been going up for work trying to help farmers with support schemes. It's a very difficult situation for them.   The other day in Akabane we saw Fukushima asparagus - most shops are selling nothing from there though.
There is a lot of food in the fridge...I don't need to shop again this week.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Korea's got Talent

This is a very heartwarming video...

We were only saying last night we need to learn some Korean since we're planning to go to Hiro's cousin's wedding in Korea in the summer.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Firoz Mahmud - original art

Lily was in town on the weekend. An art exhibition curator by training, it's a joy to go to galleries with her.  We passed by the Pyramid building in Roppongi and stumbled an exhibition by Firoz Mahmud - a Bengali artist who was exhibited in the Nagoya triennale. The pictures all centred around a theme of war.  Between independence, partition, and colonization the recent history of Bangladesh has been chequered by war.  The theme was brought into the contemporary era with fighter planes... made out of lentils and other base foods of Bangladesh.  With more than 1.3 billion dollars spent on the military in Bangladesh, the messages was pretty clear.  Though the exhibition was small, it was quite remarkable, the contemporary fighter planes juxtaposed against a historical backdrop....traditional mosaics but with a contemporary social message. ... my kind of exhibition. 

Do it again - the final installment & the new campaign

This was the last of the Please do it again manners series on the train.
Perhaps it was too bright in the post earthquake sobriety, more likely it had run its course. The campaign was never quite as eyecatching as the  do it home. campaign but it did have its moments where the "manner"  

Despite the rumours of tremendous civility in Japan, it appears manners have yet to be conquered, as the new campaign attests.   The new series uses dogs and the slogan "I've seen a person like this" / "I have seen this person".  I  missed the first one, not realizing it was a manners campaign - it's not unusual for me to miss the point of ads here - even Hiro sometimes has no idea what ads are for...
The message is tailored to the season in this case - rainy season - have you seen a person who gets onto a train and shakes water everywhere?   The message at the bottom "Please be careful that your umbrella doesn't drip onto others."  Indeed.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Prime ministerial woes

I had a chuckle today when I read that the German newspaper Die Zeit mistakenly sketched a picture of the former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso in its picture of G8 leaders instead of the current PM Naoto Kan. Considering Kan is the fifth PM since 2006, it's not all that surprising that they could get them mixed up...


My chuckle evaporated in tonight's news headlines - elements within the ruling party (former PM Hatoyama and his deputy Ichiro Ozawa - both of whom have been embroiled in financial scandals) have announced they will support an opposition no confidence motion against the PM.
So much for Japan being a consensus country....
Considering the extent of problems Japan is facing, one might think that  it's an opportune time to put Machiavelli back on the shelf for a little while, put aside personal differences,  and strive to be statesmen who co-operate with a common goal....

But no... calculated political opportunism...

Yet again Japanese politicians dismay....

Some kind of deal was struck.  The PM stays put, but he has promised he will resign after things have stabilized...  Personally I think he's doing  a much better job that his immediate predecessors would have done.  People up the coast are, unsurprisingly, fuming...