Thoughts about History Channel’s Alone

Watched only the first 3 seasons of History Channel’s Alone. I think binging on 3 seasons is more than enough and anyway, this is all I could get on Prime Video.

While watching I was thinking if there are any lessons I can learn from watching the series as to convince me I am not just wasting of time.

Here are the lessons I wrote to myself:

  1. Surviving alone is difficult. (Duh!). We are social creatures and we need not only the interaction but support of others.
  2. What separated the winners from others who decided to retire. I actually could not completely grasp it, but it seems a lot about will power and focusing in surviving the day. 3rd season was a bit more interesting as some players were forced to retire as not to hurt themselves. They had the will power, but not the fat reserves and luck (?) to catch food.
  3. Mistakes in the nature are costly. Falling while climbing, cutting yourself, hypothermia after falling in cold water. Some of the most talented players who built (amazing) boats and tools failed to survive due to mistakes.
    In our normal lives, this is actually less relevant. Mistakes can be costly, but much less. Medical care, support from other people (and government) can help our survival. We should worry less about mistakes nowadays.
  4. Scarcity of food these days. Not only the players were limited what resources they can consume, but there were also limited due to pollution and extinction of species.
  5. All Players went back really appreciating their lives, families and understanding they can survive whatever may happen to them. They can work in jobs they do not enjoy, but at the end of the day they go back home to their families and dinner. It sometimes important to disconnect from day to day lives to re-discover it.

Unsocial Distance by Kanehara Hitomi

This post was in my draft folder for several months. A bit of neglect and a bit of not knowing how to “wrap up” or summarize the post. Excuse me if this post seems unfinished… it is unfinished. Would also recommend reading the paper by Mina Qiao, “Love in the Time of Corona: Heterosexual Romance, Space, and Society in Japanese Fiction on COVID-19”. which only refers to the story “Techno Break”.

I was not familiar with Kanehara Hitomi’s books until reading one of her stories in a literary magazine. It was different, a bit unsettling and definitely different from the other stories in the magazine.

Darker, connects with compulsive behavior, fears , addictions, sex. So obviously I was intrigued and searched for more information. Her debut book was adapted to the cinema by Ninagawa Yukio (!!!) , “Snakes and Earrings (蛇にピアス” which I watched, but I never judge a book by the movie, so will have to read it when I find the time.

As for “Unsocial Distance” which definitely connects to the Covid experience, the fears it generated, the changes in society although I could connect the stories to people I know, storied I heard which are connected to Covid.

Strong Zero – ストロングゼロ – Alcohol dependency , sleeping around just not to face the (good looking) boyfriend who suffers psychological issues, depression. At times, the addiction and hiding it seems a bit comical.

Debugger – デバッガー – Trying to stay young , date a younger man who loves her as she is, but still she is addicted to treatments, surgeries, refusing nature and trying to stay young.

コンスキエンティア (Conscience)- cheating on husband, sleeping with her friend’s brother . wants to feel needed

Unsocial Distance – アンソーシャルディスタンス – Couple story

Techno break – テクノブレイク – This story was published in the magazine and attracted my attention. Corona fears, tracking the boyfriend location, addiction to porn, addiction to taking her own sex videos and re-experiencing them.

Mitski

I enjoy Mitski’s music and was lucky enough to see her live in Tokyo.

As I don’t use TikTok, I was not familiar with her TikTok success and was surprised that her latest (good album) is also a big commercial success. Read about it and a quick search on youtube showed collection of Tiktok memes.

So imagine how surprised I was when I heard “Stay Soft” playing in a Supermarket (Tokyu in Futako Tamagawa) in Japan. I wonder who selects the Music for the supermarket and if that means Mitski is becoming “main stream”

On Context

This is not a blog post about the Japanese language, nor the complexities of Kanji. It is a blog post about the importance of giving context, in life and in business.

While shopping, I was asked at the cash register:
“Yotsuba no muen de yoroshii desuka”
“よつばのむえんでよろしいですか”

As I wasn’t certain I heard correctly, asked to repeat the question and while it was repeated, I connected the dots and realized I was asked about the butter I am purchasing.
When writing it in Kanji, it may become clearer to some people, but it is still not clear out of context.
”四葉の無塩でよろしいですか” – Did you select the unsalted butter manufactured by Yotsuba?

「四葉」 is the name of the butter manufacturer. Literally meaning “four leaves” .

「無塩」meaning unsalted, but from listening, one cannot know which 「むえん」 it is. As it can be 「無煙」smokeless … does not make sense .
「無縁」- unrelated … also does not make a lot of sense.

Now, if I was given the context: “About the butter…”, it would have been clearer. Saved us a lot of time and also this blog post.

As I wrote in the beginning, this is not a post about the Japanese language.

I often encounter similar miscommunication and the need to repeat explanations in business meetings. While the person talking knows the context, it is not necessarily conveyed in words. Leaves a lot to mis-interpretations and misunderstandings.

Giving context and leading the listener is an art. Believing that the listener has your knowledge and understanding is common.

Netflix The bodyguard

The Bodyguard is quite good, but!
I feel it represents a trend on streaming TV to capture attention, but the end fizzles.

Conspiracies, government agencies involved in politics with a bit of a hurried and strange conclusion. Will not spoil it for you, but it really left me unsatisfied. Is it that the writers did not have the courage to “go all the way”, or was the conspiracies were just meant to grab our attention.

I have seen it happen in several TV shows and it made me wonder why. And it also really annoys me. What can I do to avoid such mistakes? Reviews are good, Spoiler cannot be read. Will just need to trust my instincts and take another risks (of wasting my time).

And a request from writers: If you start with a conspiracy, go all the way. Make it bigger and scarier than reality!

Japanese breakfast or being conscious of search words

I love Japanese Breakfast (band) and follow Michelle on Instagram.
When she announced that one of her videos won prizes, I immediately wanted to watch it and remember it.

But when I started to search for it on google, I felt very conscious of the search words and almost stopped.

Search sentence:
“Posing in Bondage – Japanese Breakfast”

Almost stopped in “posing in bondage Japanese”

I just searched for the partial sentence, which google returned the right results (of Japanese breakfast), but I wonder if it is the same for all people and regions.

偶然と想像 -Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy

A new film by Ryusuke Hamaguchi who won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at the 71st Berlin International Film festival

Hamaguchi san is now receiving a lot of attention thanks to another movie, Drive my car, which I also loved very much.
There are some similarities between the movies, which rely a lot on script and the actors, but are obviously very different.

I saw the movie 偶然と想像 and was also lucky to attend the 舞台挨拶, Stage Greeting (?), of three of the actors while the director joined over the phone due to Covid-19 quarantine.

The Movie is composed of three stories, with different titles, but 偶然 and 想像 connects them . Enjoyed the movie very much, can’t say which one is better, but I connected better to the first and third.

I recommend the movie and would like to see it again, hopefully can see it soon in one of the streaming services.

A few things I wanted to share from my experience:

  1. Event cameramen and Video Camera complained a lot about the room being dark , which may also affected the media sharing photos and video from the event. You can also see Shadows on the faces of the actors
  2. 5-6 Cameramen, Video, MC, Audio, Stylists and more more worked on the event hoping for media and TV to pick it up… A lot of effort, which I guess in some cases does not get results . It took 3-4 days till search engines showed it in results.
  3. Furukawa kotone san continues to grow and get more presence in movies and not only commercials on TV .
    During the event she mentioned she would like to hear what people think about the movie and will check the Social networks, to which I wanted to tell her “Don’t” . Focus in what you are doing very well and continue to grow as an actress, listen to directors and colleagues and avoid the public opinion.

    It is her 4th(?) movie I see and I believe she can continue to grow; would like to see her in more diverse roles. Most of her roles are of a cute young woman, which she is, but looking forward to villain roles.

Netflix “we could not become adults”

Short summary: Highly recommended. Really enjoyed the story telling and the atmosphere of the movie.

Long version:

“We could not become adults” (Japanese: ボクたちはみんな大人になれなかった) is based on a series of stories/episodes published online and now available as a book.

I do not know Ozawa Kenji and many cultural references did not trigger nostalgic emotions, but the story telling, the atmosphere of Tokyo, locations and the Covid-19 days (or rather nights) are strong.

The writer in his late 40s, single, drinking a lot and keeps on saying he does not want to be “normal/regular” and as you can guess it takes a while for the story to peel off the layers and our understanding where it came from.

Story of a “big love” which followed by non committed encounters, almost getting married and avoiding it not to be “regular”.

Movie starts with two drunks talking in the empty streets of Shinjuku during the Covid days. It is not clear the relationship between the two, but what captured me is the location. In front of Segafredo, a place I used to visit often when my office was in Shinjuku and the contrast of the empty street to the busy streets I remembered.

Then we go back in time to different memories, women in his life, work and flashbacks to his real love, the girl he wanted to live with, who parted with him on January 1st 2000 saying “I will give you back the CD next time we meet” which never happened.

Great actors, great story telling and a wonderful movie.

Mobile Monthly plan Japan

Or how come I pay a full monthly plan for only one day(!)

I have recently changed from one of the major mobile network operators in Japan to a lower cost. Doing that will help me lower the monthly plan from around 9000 Yen to 3000 Yen.
As I selected a low cost provider which is associated with my previous one, the procedure was very simple and fast.

But, what I forgot to consider is the actual transfer date. Maybe I was being naive, maybe I thought that the date does not matter, but I changed providers on September 2nd.

Now, you would assume that I would have to pay for 1-2 days to my previous provider, but surprise surprise. I was charged for a full month! YES! 9000 Yen for 1 day service.

My kid told me :

Oh, it is well known. When you sign up, you pay for only the time you joined, but when you move out, you pay for the whole month

That means that for the month of September, I am paying a full month for my previous provider and almost a full month for my new one.

Isn’t this something that the Japanese government needs to regulate and control ?

I thought about complaining/calling, but if this is a common practice in the Japanese mobile market, maybe I should focus my efforts in discussing with consumer protection groups.

Will think some more about it.

Did not write the names of the providers as I guessed it does not really matter.