Here are today’s pictures for all who care to see them. Today I’m showing you some of my recently cleaned-out Star Wars figure display. I have a few hundred figures, bought from 1997 through today, and they’re really fun to collect. I tend to go for the well designed figures, and shun the crappier ones — I’d gladly buy another Gamorean Guard or one of the recently released good Stormtroopers, for example, but I passed on the poorly designed re-issues of the original figures with 1977 Kenner packaging because the figures looked horrible.
Today’s J-List post is below. You can also read it on the J-List website or the JBOX.com site.
One could write a book studying the psyche of gaijin living in Japan — for example, the “three states of eye aversion” they seem to go through when it comes to looking at other foreigners around them. There are many gaijin from countries like America, England, and Brazil who appear regularly on Japanese TV speaking fluent Japanese and giving an “outsider’s view” on things — it’s common for one of the commentators on a news show to be a foreigner, for example. Foreigners living in Japan often hate these TV personalities, if for no other reason than because their Japanese is better than ours. Among the foreign-born “talents” you can see on TV here are Wikki-san, a Sri Lankan man who passed the entrance exam for the famous Tokyo University even though he’s a foreigner and who’s become a spokesman for tsunami disaster aid in the past few weeks; Patrick Harlan, who speaks his annoying macho English on NHK’s hit English study show “Eigo de shabera-night”; and the eternal Dave Spector, former ABC television producer who become the most famous American in Japan, appearing on hundreds of variety shows (he dyes his black hair blonde because it makes him look more “foreign” on television).
During my time in Japan, I’ve had certain “gaijin shocks,” real out-of-body experiences that you could only have in this country. American Football is followed by some Japanese fans, and I managed to find a game being broadcast late at night — half an hour into the action, I realized I’d been listening to the sportcasters give the play-by-play commentary in Japanese without even noticing it. There have been other times when I found myself quite surprised by something, such as when I had that first dream in Japanese, or realizing I understood what the opening words to the Mr. Roboto song meant (“Thank you, Mr. Roboto, until we meet again…Thank you, Mr. Roboto, I want to know your secret”). Once, while eating pancakes, I couldn’t find a fork so I made do with chopsticks, aware of how silly I’d look to friends back home. Finally being able to read the “sake” (sah-KAY, rice wine) character on Dr. Sane’s “spring water” in Yamato/Star Blazers was another enlightening experience for me. Ah, it’s fun to live in Japan!
Breakfast cereal is one of the major staple foods in the U.S., and it’s slowly growing in popularity here in Japan, too. It was slow going, though — Japanese consumers preferred Japanese food, like fish, miso soup and natto (fermented soybeans) to what looked to them like “bird seed.” Now, several brands of cereal compete for share the Japanese cereal market, lead by Kellogg’s, who markets Corn Flake, Corn Frosty, Choko-wa (chocolate loops), Genmai Flakes, and recently, Fruits Loops (the “fruits” is a fluke of Japanese phonetics). Unfortunately, Kellogg’s products are very expensive here — about $4 for a box that contains only 2-3 American-sized bowls of cereal, so I usually choose Ciscorn or Calbee’s cereal products when I go shopping. Another option for gaijin living in Japan is to order supermarket cases of American cereal from the Foreign Buyers’ Club in Kobe (http://www.fbcusa.com) — it’s a convenient way to buy food from back home, if you don’t mind having 12 boxes of Cheerios sitting around for a year.