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Omakase, Yojimbo....Bento?? Makes sense, little sense, no sense at all.

I have stated here quite a few times (most recently) about my feelings of awkwardness (the perfect Japanese word for it would be kusuguttasa (くすぐったさ)) about the inclusion of Japanese culture into Western and/or American culture in recent years. One aspect that I don't think I've touched on is the use of Japanese phrases for American/western products. Some of these make sense, others are laughably off.

Tonsilitis

I am grateful to my parents for many things, and resent them for a few others. I think that's fairly average. But if there is one thing for which I will harbor a grudge against them until I die, it's that they didn't have my tonsils taken out when I was younger.

Every year, often several times a year, I get tonsilitis. Most of my colds come via my tonsils. I woke up this morning, unrested and tired, because my tonsils felt like two burning rocks of pain.

A tale of unbelievable customer service by Nintendo Japan

This Japanese blog post ran across the virtual desktop of my life today. (It was on the del.icio.us/popular list.) It tells a tale of unbelievable service by Nintendo. Here's a rough and somewhat abbreviated translation:

eh, what?

(English speakers, please excuse me. This rant is in Japanese.)

StumbleUpon, late to the party

stumbleupon.jpegMy online life has evolved quite a bit, but I started out on the interweb blogging- and writing-wise being primarily a techie type, writing about web design, JavaScript and stuff of that nature. I don't do that much any more for various reasons, and I don't follow those types of sites much any more either except for a handful. But I do get my information about what is supposed to be new, hot and awesome from the few of those techie-person blogs that I do follow. That's how I found out about things like del.icio.us, flickr, Twitter, Vox, Myspace (way back when), Facebook, Joost, and so on and on and on. Of those I only still regularly use the first two (where I secured the username maki, as I like to do on any new site if possible).

None of those cool hip techie type blogs has ever really talked much about StumbleUpon, and I don't know why. Because, StumbleUpon is awesome. It is the best way to surf the interweb waves, through thousands of sites that have been pre-selected for you (aka Stumbled Upon) by other people, and filtered according to your interests.

The Japanese culture boom, from the outside looking in

Last week I tentatively opened up a new site dedicated to bento, the Japanese meal in a box. I have been kicking around the idea of such a site for quite some time now but I was not sure if I should open a new site, or just fold more bento-related content into my existing, more general food site, Just Hungry. While there are already several bento blogs out there, I was not sure if there would be enough interest in a whole site dedicated to Japanese-style lunch boxes, so I procrastinated, before decided that I wanted to organize all that information in one, separate location.

In less than a week, the traffic to Just Bento, discounting the lack of search engine generated visits, has almost equalled that of the almost 4 year old Just Hungry. I'm simply astonished.

But then it's not the first time that I've been surprised at just how much interest there is in things Japanese, from non-Japanese people, in recent years. Whether it's anime or manga, gadgets or toys, fashion or sushi, amigurumi or Hello Kitty, each time I see how 'hot' and 'cool' something Japanese is it throws me for a loop. The funny thing is that all of this interest seems to have come after the collapse of the Japanese bubble economy in the late '80s to early '90s.

Wayback Machine

Sometimes, I hate the interwebs.

Update: Thanks for your emails of support. It's interesting to know it's happened to other people, and it's also heartening to know I still have a good reputation in the web development community despite my total inactivity in that area recently.

Update: The way around the Amazon.com MP3 Download geographical restriction

[Update: This workaround no longer works, unfortunately.]

In the comments to my rant about the geographical restrctions on the Amazon.com MP3 download service, Mark wrote that he could use it from Japan, using his mother's mailing address. This lit a lightbulb in my head (dim as it was): it seems that Amazon uses the default I-Click address to determine whether you have the right to download the MP3 or not. My default address was set to my Swiss address, so first I reset it to my U.S. address and tried buying a tune. No go still - I still got the rejection notice. So, I un- I-Click'ed all my non-U.S. addresses, and tried again. This time I was asked which address I wanted (I had two U.S. addresses to choose from). And bingo, I could download with impunity.

Flying to Zürich is always a culture shock

In this Op-Ed article in the NY Times, Thomas Friedman says, among other things:

Fly from Zurich’s ultramodern airport to La Guardia’s dump. It is like flying from the Jetsons to the Flintstones.

That made me laugh. Flying back to Zürich-Kloten airport from most everywhere, but especially the U.S., is always a visceral shock. "Ultramodern" doesn't adequately describe it.

some of my flickr photos


recently on just bento