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”

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.

Drive My Car – the movie

Drive My Car won the Cannes best screenplay.

3 hours movie with long Theater scenes, practicing “Uncle Vania” in the car, which only proves what a great movie it is.

It is definitely the great script, but also the acting and camera work.

Cannot say I understood everything as still my Japanese (no subtitles) is not perfect, but I do not think it is about language, but because some parts are kept vague on purpose. Especially the last scene which was obviously added due to Covid-19.

Read some English reviews before and after seeing the movie, but it feels strange. As if the reviewer (Guardian) did not watch the whole movie, or maybe even did not understand some parts.

“Yûsuke being confronted with proof that she had been having an affair with a handsome and disreputable young actor”

Yet, the fact is that he knew about her infidelities and was afraid to lose her.

“arts festival in Hiroshima, a city that is photographed with crisp unsentimentality. “

As if the reviewer expected to connect the movie to the history. In the only (?) occasion that they tour the city the driver takes him to the Garbage processing plant.

Does “Uncle Vania” connect with the story. I think it does, but I think I will stop here as I think I reveal too much of the story.

Or maybe one last thing:
I loved the way Kafuku san (main character) keeps distance with the driver (Watari Misaki) and it seems the need a mediator to help them talk.
Also when she expressed she would like to see the rehearsal and refuses to enter he brings the rehearsal to her and dismisses it as if it had nothing to do with her.

Great movie. Will definitely watch it again when (if) it reaches the streaming sites

Netflix Binge – Fast Forward or why do I even bother

Some films are good, some TV series are great.

But I find myself quite often fast forwarding through TV series and even movies. Is it the format, lack of interest or the ability to Fast Forward?

Was watching the “Money Heist”, which I feel is weaker than the first story. More explosions, shooting and trying to create more tensions, but overall it is less exciting and less “refreshing in format”.

Which meant “Fast Forward”. I do not need to watch a 5 minutes shooting scene. I don’t need to see all details as these do not really make sense anyway. Human drama is great, flashbacks are interesting.
So, do I miss something “Fast Forwarding” or do I get exactly what I need ?