A sign in Azabu Juban that made me laugh.
Wandering around Chofu (a district of Tokyo) I came across this place. I am not sure what is going on, is it a shop?
There was a very helpful sign in English. If anyone could help me out with the translation, that would be great.
Foreigner in a foreign land.
The use of English in Japan can be interesting. Take a guess at what this company’s business is?
A wind vane (or weathercock) is an instrument for showing the direction of the wind. They are typically used as an architectural ornament to the highest point of a building.
I only figured it out by looking in the window (smile) and noticing the colors that are inside of the lamp by the door.
What is this? As seen in Tokyo Japan.
It took me that many attempts to figure out how to use it. It is a paper towel dispenser .. somehow the towels come out the top.
Always an adventure.
I am often perplexed by the way that English is used in Japan. A couple cases in point.
Why is the title of the car wash in English and the content in Japanese?
Why is this Crunky bar advertised in English? (Yes .. Crunky bar)
Why does is this sign in Japanese have only a few English words? (Most people will not understand that this means that the entire city is smoke free – it is illegal to smoke in public (awesome)).
This is just funny (At the entrance to the big Buddha)
This just makes me wonder, what were they thinking? (although this is not Japan – this is in Singapore)
And last but not least, I point the finger squarely at the Canadian consulate in Japan. Really? English and French hand-washing instructions .. but nothing in Japanese. Figures.
From around town.
“The quality sleep”. Japan has a different definition of what constitutes a quality mattress than North America.
I was grabbing a bottle of Sake at a local shop and this wine advertisement (among others) caught my eye for the unique use of English in the marketing – specifically the “desire for being drunk” phrase. Quite the sales pitch.
I am glad this guy caught up with my taxi. Look closely … (from my iPhone). He is in the rain, holding an umbrella, in a suit, riding a bike, with no helmet while talking on the phone. I don’t understand why no one wears a helmet …
Another interesting use of English in the ANA line at Narita. I laughed at the sign giving us an update on when we will board.
Living in Japan is a little like a Monty Python movie. There are some obvious things that make you laugh, but the best laughs require that you pay close attention or you will miss them.
I think I need to meditate more. Or maybe I don’t. Normally the below conversation would have driven me a little mad. Instead, I laughed because it seems to happen a lot in Japan.
(Dialing Citibank Visa)
(Press 2 for English. Press star 1 for lost or stolen card .. I press *1)
(Conversation with Japanese call center agent identifying myself and that card is stolen, I mean .. Lost)
"Have you reported this to the police?"
(Bewildered) "Why would I do that?"
"Because it is the cautious thing to do"
"Have you cancelled my credit card?"
"Were there any charges on it since my last purchase"
"If someone found it, would they be able to use it?"
"Then why would I report it to the police?"
"Because you should. It is the right thing to do"
"Well I can’t as I am getting on a plane and I will be gone all week"
"Perhaps you can do it when you are back"
"Why would I do that? I have never gone to the police to report a credit card loss, ever"
"Because you should, it is the right thing to do. They will take down the details in case someone finds the card"
"Ok. Sure. That is what I will do. When I am back in a week, I will go to the police and report that my old, cancelled credit card that no one can use is stolen"
"That is good. Thank-you"
"How long till I get my new credit card?"
“And I should still report it even though I have a new one coming and it will be here before I get back?”
"Ok. Thanks. I will do that."
I got off the phone and shook my head, then laughed.
Can you imagine walking into a Toronto police station to report a lost credit card? They would laugh you out of the station.
I bet anything though, if I did go into our local Koban to report this, I would quickly have 6 policemen swarming around me, 2 on the phone and 2 on walkie talkies trying to find someone who speaks English and all of them willing to help. Unlike in Toronto, they don’t have a lot of other things to do. Not like there is any crime happening ….
I live on Mars.
They are to be avoided at all costs.
When I say plastic bags, I mean the $1 store plastic bags with zippers or perhaps a plastic bag in the form of a duffle bag. In a customs line at the airport it never ends well.
This has now happened to me 3 times, watching the spectacle unravel in front of you.
I will admit, I smiled as the I watched the Chinese customs official pull out 3 bottles of liquor (carefully wrapped in tube socks), three bottles of assorted drinks, scissors and a brand new Zippo lighter still in the packaging. However, the ensuing loud voiced, arms waving argument between the man and his family with the 3 customs guards just went on and on. I politely tapped a customs official on the shoulder and indicated that it would be great to be passed through using my hands and a smile as I do not speak Mandarin.
I would have rather watched it from a line over.
All over the back of your pick-up truck filled with yard tools? Logical isn’t it? As seen in Tokyo, Japan.
It makes sense in a city where a large carp will guide you during a earthquake.
Like I said before, when you are walking through Tokyo, you need to look up.
I have no idea why this one caught my eye in passing. I was walking from lunch and noticed the print on the front of this dress. Who/what is Felicity Catch and why grammar do time so bad?
And to answer your question: NO. My Japanese is not improving as evidenced by a recent conversation:
“I got this amazing sparking sake from Meidi-ya” (I pronounced meedie-ya)
“meedie-ya. You know the grocery store”
Laughs. “Oh you mean (pronounces it right). You have been saying that for a month and I had no idea what you were talking about”
The only good thing, I don’t write anything down in Japanese.
Loved that this guy was out there drumming up some business in front of his store.
Now that is initiative.
Japan and Canada appear to have a very different view of what constitutes a rough and tumble “bad boy”. In Canada, that would be a Marlon Brando type or a hockey player. Perhaps a UFC fighter.
This is the Japanese bad boy (you must always remember to look up when in Tokyo).
(bottom right). Perhaps they took it literally and meant “bad boys” due to their over-use of hair gel and feminine disposition? Or perhaps they are bad boys because no boy band should number more than 5 (I counted 12). Perhaps the 3 in front are the bad boys as they did not get the pre-photo shoot memo on only wearing white.
Lost in translation … Never ceases to make me smile.
Mark your calendar. I am saving up for this day (actually, from Bali)
In Hong Kong they build buildings with bamboo scaffolds. In Canada, you climb up the sides of a scaffold. In Japan .. it as one would expect.
Amazing how this product looks suspiciously similar to the Dyson innovation. By Toto Japan. Mitsubishi has one too.
As seen in a Japanese parking lot. I have been warned, in a rather contradictory manner.
The Tokyo baseball pre-game workout in Minato-ku.
I cannot imagine standing in a circle, holding hands and bouncing up and down to the cadence of a random teammate with people on my hockey team … ever.
Advertisements in English are more frequent in Tokyo than I expected.
In some of these advertisements they trend to the literal more than they would in a North American advertisement.
This one made me smile. I would have thought that “cleanliness” was a given, not a feature of the club.
While on holiday last week I read the book Sh*t my Dad Said by Justin Halpern. As you will expect, it was filled with more than a few crude statements, but also filled with a few touching moments between father and son and a few that had me laughing so hard I was in tears. One quote stuck out from the beginning of the book:
For as long as I’ve known him, my father has been a blunt individual. When I was little, I mostly felt terrified of him, so I couldn’t appreciate that I was dealing with the least passive-aggressive human being on the planet. Now, as an adult, all day long I dealt with people—friends, coworkers, relatives—who never really said what they were thinking. The more time I spent with my dad in those first couple months back home, the more grateful I started to feel for the mixture of honesty and insanity that characterized his comments and personality.
Amen to that.
Last weekend we finished a round and were having dinner on the patio at King Valley. It was a beautiful evening, sun going down, no wind and a great post-round dinner with the family. On the deck above a wedding was being held and after listening to the broadcast nuptials (‘I do’ over a megaphone .. I heard it from the 18th green), the crowd dispersed while the couple took photos.
Above us a few young men were speaking and the words floated down:
“I am serious, my golf game is really coming along. I mean, my iron work is really progressing. I pick that 7 iron out of the bag and I bang it 120 yards, right down the middle every single time. Every single time, 120 yards. I am serious … 120 yards (insert emphasis)”
I leaned over and whispered … “Average male golfer hits a 7 iron 135” (smile).
One of my favourite PC games has finally made it to the console. I downloaded the demo of You Don’t Know Jack from XBOX Live (It is CD form too) and introduced the boys too it a few Saturday night’s ago. What a great family trivia game, there really isn’t anything out there like it and we spent an evening laughing. For those who don’t know it, it is not like all of those other trivia games (which I simply do not play). YDKJ is all about irreverence and humour. This screenshot says it all.
About time and fortunately, it made the transition to 2011 quite nicely!
Imagine my surprise while in Halifax when I walked into the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal to see the below – the Office of Gaelic Affairs. One of the things that I love about Canada, immigrant history remains strong – in this case Scottish (oops – corrected from Irish). The Gaelic language is spoken frequently (didn’t know that) and remains a strong part of the culture.
I was also told a funny Gaelic story. When the G8 was held out there, an ad was put in the paper for a bilingual taxi driver to shuttle dignitaries and staff. When they hired the guy, someone tried to speak French to him. He didn’t speak a word. They hauled him in and said ‘Right here on your application you said you were bilingual’. ‘Yes’ he responded, ‘I also speak Gaelic’.
Another funny story. While I was in Halifax I was told about the European tourist who mistook Sydney, Nova Scotia with Sydney, Australia. Via:
Joannes Rutten should fire his travel agent. Or pay closer attention. The 71-year-old Dutch tourist and his 14-year-old grandson Nick thought they were flying from Amsterdam to Sydney, Australia. Through a mix-up, they ended up flying to Sydney, Nova Scotia in Canada.
Air Canada arranged hotel rooms in Sydney, NS for the pair, until they could arrange flight back to Amsterdam where they could sort out their flights.
It turns out Rutten said they didn’t know there was another Sydney. He’s not alone. Other tourists have ended up in the wrong Sydney before.
The weather was bad (very Irish – rain and wind), but the sunset was spectacular as we caught a quick flight over to St. John. And yes, that is a prop. Luckily it was not a Dash 8 that we flew in on (which is about as smooth as a roller coaster ride).
5. One more on cars. Parking is very funny in the UK. In North America, when you park on the street you must park in the direction of traffic in the appropriate designated area. In the UK, people park on either side of the road (direction is irrelevant) and often anywhere and everywhere. After all, parking wasn’t an issue hundreds of years ago so they really didn’t plan for it.
4. British people LOVE their dogs. We loved that they loved their dogs. Parks are full of dogs running around. The elderly (who seem healthier than North Americans) are always seen walking around with their dogs. Everywhere you go – dogs. On Wentworth, one of the more prestigious courses in the world, dogs are welcome. Our neighbour would golf every weekend with his lab running behind him. Amazing. We North American’s could learn something from the European’s in this regard – seeing a family with their small dog in the restaurant in Normandy was incredibly refreshing. That is a true ‘family’ out for dinner.
3. Everything has a cost and a benefit. I just realized, after 24 amazing months that one of my costs was that I never got to say good-bye to my dog, Bram. Ciao Bram.
2. It is all about people. England is a diverse culture and I am thankful to have worked with and met many amazing people who have a huge impact on my outlook on life and my character. In two years, I owe many people an enormous debt of thanks.
1. Life is about experiences, not things.
15. England is very old. Canada is very young. Two years later, driving by an old church or a pub that was built in the 1400s still amazes me. I could spend hours wandering a cemetery reading the inscriptions, history was made in the UK.
14. Stop signs should be banned in North America – long live the roundabout. North America should learn the lesson.
13. Spoiled food is good. In Canada, things don’t spoil quickly. In the UK they do. As an expat it is initially frustrating as you have to hit the store more often. However, you soon realize that quicker spoiling means less preservatives and definitely less salt. All organic is now the family motto. Oh yah, and I now detest chain store fast food – have been without it for 2 years and don’t miss it.
12. Male fashion is all about the brown shoes with the suit or jeans, and the French cuff shirt. Got it. Understood! But still don’t buy into the whole pink shirt thing. Sorry.
11. Parking in England is an adventure. Like everything else, the people building the homes and roads 1,000 years ago were just not thinking! I had a BMW 5 series estate. Parking with that car meant that every time that I got out of the car two things would happen: there would not be enough room so I would have to get out sideways and no matter how hard I tried, my door always touched the car beside me. The only car that actually had enough room to park was the Mini (which is why there are so many of them in England I suppose). In the end, the UK has cars, but really isn’t made for cars. The UK was made for horses and walking.
10. The world is flat. Ten years ago, going international would have been a lot harder. Web cams, 1 hour phone calls for $1, email, digital photos and videos, cheap flights, social networking and XBOX LIVE keep you as connected .. as you want to be.
9. A Tom Tom GPS got me all around the UK, Washington, Scotland, Belgium, Paris and through Normandy. I cannot imagine doing this without a GPS. And I will never buy in car SATNAV again. Overpriced, hard to update and generally underperforms – mobile satnav for me please.
8. I have become a very proud Canadian. Canada is a great country, with a rich and varied culture (French, English and everyone else in the world) – with a proud link to Britain.
7. Customer service in the UK is a paradox. The milkman comes to the door 3 times a week (good), you can order groceries on the internet (good), Amazon lets you buy pretty much anything you can think of (books, DVDs, shoes, MP3 drm free downloads to filters for my Jura coffee maker) from one central place and have it delivered in 1 day (awesome). But the ‘convenience’ store on the corner closes at 6, the mall is closed at 6 on a Friday night, the 16 year old checkout boy at the counter sits down while checking me out and watches me pack my own bags, and on many occasions, because they thought we were American – they were downright rude.
6. The world owes the UK an enormous debt for their resolve during WWII. If it were not for this nations ability to hold out while the Americans made up their minds, the Germans would not have been stopped.
A few others I will add:
Off to IKEA we go, 16 frames acquired. Kitchen prepared, tools laid out, time to begin the project when the conversation begins: “Now, take your time. We know what has happened before” (Correctly referring to errors made in the past).
I am bound to succeed. I work it all out on a grid. I calculate every measurement. I spend more than an hour preparing before a single hole is drilled. I check and recheck measurements. I re-measure, 2, 3 times. Confident in my cautious and fool proof approach, I drill 16 holes. I insert 16 screws. I put up the first frame.
I put up the second and third frame … DANGER Will Robinson .. they don’t fit.
What? But I measured, I prepared, I checked and triple checked? I KNEW THAT FAILURE WAS NOT AN OPTION.
You see, when I prepared my measurements, I used the dimensions that are printed on the IKEA frames to create the grid. Turns out those dimensions are internal dimensions not external dimensions. My measurements were off by 3 CM per frame. So while this is a good cliché and ‘generally’ true. There are exceptions.
Next time, travel to the store – hire a handyman. Much better plan.
The day that I blogged on luck I received an email from the man who always told me that “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity”.
What was that mail? I paraphrase (It was a self extracting PowerPoint that I was supposed to forward to others):
Old Chinese Proverb:
This Chinese proverb brings luck. This proverb has gone around the world 8 times, now it is your turn to have good luck. Forward this to 20 people in the next 96 hours and you will receive luck via mail or the internet in the next 4 days.
Constantine got his first letter in 1953. He had his secretary make 20 copies. 9 hours later he won $99M, the largest lottery ever in his country. (How fair is that? Shouldn’t his secretary who did all the bloody work get the big win?)
Carlos received this card while working, but did not send it. Two days later, he lost his job. (Poor Carlos, if he had been working instead of screwing around with chain letters, maybe he would have kept his job). (With his new found time …) Carlos took the time to make 20 copies and mail them out to friends and family. After sending them, he became successful and rich. (The big ah-ha for Carlos was that people are suckers, he realized that people will do anything if you put superstition or ‘get rich quick’ in the message. So, Carlos started the first ever Multi-Level-Marketing company, selling Natural Herbal products that he relabeled from the local Costco and marked up 600%).
Before 96 hours, you must send this letter! This is true! (Whew, I was not going to do it, but now that you say it is true, I WILL. But wait? Who are you? Why should I believe that this is true?)
This was sent to the world by a missionary from South Africa (Ah, well, there is the answer. If it is a missionary sending it out, it must be true. After all, he/she must be a heck of a missionary as South Africa can be tough).
Luck is finally at your door. (Well, if you are, you are not coming in without a winning Lotto ticket. Otherwise, bugger off)
I did not forward this email.
And as luck would have it, the hydraulics on the plane went .. I wasted 6 hours in the airport, missed my connection and am stuck in an airport hotel. I will lose the whole day tomorrow.
That being said, I did sleep in a comfy bed and am quite well rested (Better than the red-eye I was on), the attendant was nice enough to upgrade us to business class, I am having a great bacon and egg breakfast and Serenity was playing on the hotel pay-per-view. All is not lost.
But perhaps I should have forwarded it.
I don’t gamble, the others in the party where not interested. I have known him a while so I was candid: ‘look, if you want the keys to the Expedition, go ahead and we will all go out for a nice 3 course steak dinner. But if you think that you are going to drag me to some cheese ball casino, your nuts’. Put that way, he said bugger you all, he was going. I gave him the keys and we all retired to our rooms for an hour before the rest of us would reconvene for dinner.
….45 minutes go by, my phone rings. ‘hello, this is the concierge, your customers are down here waiting for you to take them to the casino.’ … A knock at the door… I tell the guy on the phone to wait, ‘who is it?’ … ‘Bell hop sir. Your customers are waiting downstairs for you to take them to the casino.’ I was beat, down I went and there he stood, with the other execs around him (smiling). He had rallied the troops .. We were off to the casino.
We travel an hour and during that hour he takes me through the theory of blackjack and his cheat card, a color coded card that shows you what to do for the best odds for every possible combination. We arrive and sure enough, it is a dump. After we have a REALLY bad meal we hit the casino with one caveat: when I lose my $100 (big spender), he has 1 hour and the bus leaves. If he is not with us, he can hitch a ride home.Off we go, and he explains to me his philosophy of betting which I later renamed the ‘pansy model’. Start at 5 bucks, each win grows the bet by 5 bucks until you lose, drop back to 5. To me this just means a long night at the table – so I quickly get to a $20 table and begin playing (Fully expecting to lose).Well, not tonight. I was on fire. Every time I put money on the table, I just kept winning (That cheat card was very handy). The louder I laughed at the irony – the more the people around me shook their heads. At one point, I had a string of 5 blackjacks in a row. My dealer of choice that evening – who I called Carolana bobana – (I was also having fun with the name game) was getting tip after tip (Good karma) and I hit a high of $3000. At one point, after losing a $100 hand, I can remember my executive friend saying ‘What? Remember the rule! Don’t go back at $25, start small!” .. to which I looked at him – laughed and added another $75 to the bet (I won). In the end – after tipping the dealer at least $400 through the night – I walked out with $1600 – or as I put it 16 really cool looking black chips.
The moral of this story:
The customer is always right.
I firmly believe that to be the best at what you do – you have to love where you work and what you do. During my career – I have left companies because I did not believe in the company or did not like what they stood for (In one case – it was the ethics (lack there of) and culture that caused me to leave).
Today – I love my job. I believe in the company I work for, we are doing great things, building great products that will revolutionize the world and I have great co-workers. Which brings me to my point – I also believe that to do love your job you have to fun. And for me – that means the occasional prank.
One of the people on my team sent out the following note today – after I happened upon an unsuspecting coworker victim who had left his laptop unlocked (He later claimed that he did not realize that I was in the building or he would have been more cautious). It seems that if you go into the accessibility functions of Windows XP and use the wizard which asks questions such as “are you blind?” (click yes) – “are you deaf?” (click yes) .. that it does all kinds of cool things like create high contrast purple and black backgrounds, puts a magnifier in place, etc … (snicker).
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