Fungus Mungus' Weird Stuff in Japan

A chronicle of general weirdness I've encountered during my stay in Japan.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Geek Tupperware

Japan is a land of products with strange names. Companies will often use an English-sounding name for their products because it's chic. Store shelves are littered with products with packaging that have odd, and often amusing English. This phenomenon is known as Engrish. In fact, there is a web site devoted to Engrish.

I ran to Homac (a home/DIY store) to buy a food storage container for some salsa I had just made and ran this little gem:

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Every self-respecting geek should have one in his/her kitchen. I bought it immediately, of course.

I wonder what SCO would think?

Monday, January 24, 2005

Even Monkeys Fall out of Trees

This isn't so much a weird story as it is a mildly amusing one. At least, I think it is.

The other day, my girlfriend was practicing Shodo (Japanese calligraphy). She holds a 6th dan level in shodo, so I consider her an expert. She was writing the Japanese proverb 七転八起 (Shichi Ten hakki), which means "Fall down 7 times, rise the 8th time.". In other words, "Try and tray again". It's a nice proverb.

While looking up the kanji in the dictionary to verify it, as she often does before she commits anything to rice paper, she inadvertently glanced at the entry directly below the one she looked up. Thus, she commited 七転八倒 to paper.

It was beautiful.

She looked at it for a moment and then a look of confusion spread across her face. Then she consulted her dictionary again. Confusion gave way to amusement and the next thing I knew, she was rolling on the floor laughing until tears came streaming down her face. 七転八倒 (Shichi Ten batto) means "writhing in agony". One kanji made all the difference.

This brings to mind another Japanese proverb I rather like: 猿も木から落ちる (Saru mo ki kara ochiru). It means "Even monkeys fall out of trees", which I will leave for you to figure out.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Cigarette Placebo

Since I've moved to Japan, I was taken by surprise by how wide-spread smoking is. It's still OK to smoke in public buildings, restaurants, and even schools. This is slowly changing...the school system I work for is going to forbid smoking in schools and city offices this April. There are going to be a lot of grumpy teachers and salarymen come April. It looks like there's a company that's ready to capitalize on this.

I was checking out at a drug store the other day when this caught my attention:
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It's a nicotine inhaler, which is nothing really new. But the wacky thing about this one is that it's designed to look just like a lit cigarette, complete with the ash at the end. So this isn't just something you take a toke on when no one is looking.'re supposed to flash it about and look sophisticated, just like the real thing. It comes with 3 replaceable mint-flavored nicotine cartridges.

Whatever it takes to look cool.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Son of Mobile Ayumi Shrine

First, I'd like to apologize for being a little lax in keeping my blog up to date. I'd blame it on the holidays, but frankly, with my family thousands of miles away, I have more free time during the holidays than any other time of year. I'll make a resolution to keep my blog up, nobody ever keeps resolutions anyway, so why don't I just get on with my next entry.

I was doing some mindless window shopping in a mall toy store when something wonderful caught my eye. When I first saw it, I thought I was seeing things. But no.

There it was. Nestled among a scale Ferrari Testarossa, Lambourghini Jota SVR, and several Bitcharger mini R/C cars. A scale replica of the very van that I photographed and featured here last month. Don't believe me? Take a look:

This R/C beauty features the same flares, outrageous wings, and Broadway-stage sized bumper of it's big brother. Not only that, the back hatch opens to reveal a realistic subwoofer system that promises to annoy the piss out of Barbie's Dream House residents blocks away. The really bizarre thing is the color. It's spot on. And all this for only $100.

The only thing it's missing is the mural of Japan's favorite J-Pop singer. But hey, anybody that can drop 100 bills on that R/C super-van surely can drop the dough for a color inkjet printer and decal film to remedy this regrettable omission.