Back From Japan

» 20 January 2010 » In NPB Tracker »

As I’ve alluded to a couple of times, I returned last week from a trip to Japan (a brief moment of which was captured by Deanna). I haven’t gone into a lot of detail on my own background with Japan, but I began studying Japanese over 10 years ago in college, and lived in the Osaka area for a couple years in the early 00’s. Now that I visit on an semi-regular basis, I find my trips to Japan to be a blend of light culture shock and familiarity, depending on how long I’ve been away. This time, it’s been a busy three years since my last visit, and here’s what I noticed:

  • Japan’s mobile phone ecosystem is still way ahead of the US’s. Apple’s iPhone is available in Japan, and it’s a market leader, but there are far more competitive offerings from Docomo and au than we anything we have here in the States.
  • The Back to the Future II-ish Mitsubishi i has apparently been rolling in Japan since 2006, but I don’t remember ever seeing one on the road before this trip.
  • Despite its age, I saw a favorite car oddity of mine, Toyota’s WiLL vi, continuing to occupy Japanese streets.
  • After all these years, the more subtle differences are what catch me off-guard. It’s things like train ticket machines with animated characters that bow to you; the menus in coffee shops being placed on the counter, rather than posted behind the server; and placing your money in a dish rather than handing it to the cashier that really reminds me that I’m in a foreign country.
  • I fell asleep watching NHK’s Kohaku music program on New Year’s Eve. That show is meant to be a pretty big deal, but the live studio audience always looks bored to tears when they are shown on tv.
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka? “No good, too fat,” in the words of a distinguished baseball fan I happen to know.

We’ll return to regularly-scheduled programming tomorrow. And as an official announcement, I’ve joined Fangraphs, so look out for more there.

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