So your wife let you out tonight. How much allowance did you get?

Osaka Travel Blog

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Random Observation/Comment #: Long hair is probably stylish because hair cuts are expensive (2000 yen). It might just be the style because hair products are also quite expensive. Maybe Japanese people are just crazy.
Just because it was a Friday doesn’t mean it was any different from any of the other weekdays. At this point, I had already done enough for the presentation for the next week, and I was more interested in learning new Japanese sayings and looking at other researcher’s projects. This networking thing has become one of my favorite pastimes, but it kills my productivity for the lab. Given that I only have 5 more weeks of working before I spend the last month doing more traveling, I did not have much to do because we were still deciding the details of my project. It was only yesterday that the head sensei confirmed my tasks so everything up until now was for my leisure.
As the minutes of talking evolved to hours of philosophical discussions, we all decided to have dinner and then go out for some drinks. They apparently get their paycheck this day and it’s a good time to spend a few thousand yen in celebration. It was the first time drinking with researchers so I didn’t go all out in the beginning. In the beginning, it was just chatting with a beer about religion, women, and Japanese cultures, but then we ordered more and more food while waiting for the rest of the group. It is almost offensive to have an empty beer glass, so we kept drinking and talking in English. Finally, some non-broken English so I don’t have to simplify all my sentences to smaller phrases. It was relief to see that even though they were brilliant, they did know how to have a good time.
Mind you, the talk was still the nerdy random facts picked up from who-knows-where blended with a slew of sarcastic comments. Thus is the humor I have come to exhibit – a quick, witty response that catches the other off guard. This is especially effective in a drunken state.
The title of this entry refers to the Japanese culture’s organization of power in a house hold. Many of the researchers I spoke with moved to Japan with their wives as they are working towards their PhD. Although we had about an hour of laughing about Japanese wives, we came to realize that the Japanese husband-wife relationship is more of an economical move than a love-based one. I am in no way speaking of a loveless marriage, but the divided powers in a typical marriage lean towards the woman wearing the pants and the man just making the money. Apparently, the wife is the accountant for the family and has the responsibility of stopping the impulsive male spending towards alcohol and new electronics. It may be true that the female would go shopping for clothes and handbags, but it seems like the Japanese restraint in money spending is tamed when they get married. Maybe marriage leads the women to acquire some extra power of guilt. Dale mentioned how his wife says just the right things to make him not angry at her for being right, but guilt himself into re-evaluating his choices. For example, she would say something like “didn’t you spend that money a little too quickly?” Ah, a trick question. You can’t just say “No, b*tch! Give me my money.” That’s not healthy at all. (Maybe he should try $sudo give me my money.)
At one point, the conversation about religion brought up an interesting observation about all modern researchers I’ve met. Everyone at the table was agnostic even though they were brought up with the Sunday schools about Christianity and Saturday temples about Judaism. Although they knew all the stories in great detail, it only seemed to fuel their jest against the religion itself. In all of our scientific and logical sense, we just agreed that our generation is not ready to believe. Belief is a very powerful thing that can drive millions of individuals to give up personal will and subject themselves to a group mind; this is how we win wars. Be it nationalism or faith, we put way too much trust into a force that is built on manipulation. Our generation is seeing that believing in an invisible man is a great story where morals can be drawn, but our Sunday mornings are spent at the lab, not in a church. I guess we believe in science and its ability to move our society forwards. We do not fear death as much because we love living the lives of today and tomorrow, not 40 or 50 years from now. It’s as if religion was built as guidelines for morality, and the scientists around me already follow the common rules of humanity.
Then again, another point was brought to the table that made me even quieter in deep thought. Richie said, “I find the parallel between the attitude of a teenager towards a parent and our people towards G-d quite fascinating.” He points out how the age of our people in a larger time span of generations is growing into a phase of rebellion and lack of appreciation. We forget that our age as a species is just a spec compared to the Earth and even more of a fraction of an atom’s size compared to the Universe. As children growing up to teenagers, our large community view has begun to reject what we once thought was the answer to all miracles. Now that we’ve developed to see the world before us with science and flawed observations, we each have slowly resented the power above (below, side to side, depending on how you look at it in space). I wonder when we’ll make the mistakes as a whole and crawl back to G-d for shelter and morale support. What devastating fall will we have to get back up from? And when will we grow up knowing that G-d is not someone special to place on a pedestal, but just another one of us trying to look out for our best interest. Replace G-d with parents, and maybe a sense of appreciation will help rethink those decisions that ignored their annoying rules or those actions that showed you took everything they gave you for granted.
I have in no way become religious. I don’t need such beliefs to give me hope for an eternity of bliss or give me fear for an eternity of torture. I believe in controlling my life and influencing the lives of other around me. In some way I am a missionary, but it is only to convert loneliness to warmth and bitterness to reason. My rules as a human being do not need a holy text. It is only led by an engrained idea of love, life, and happiness.
In one way or another, these ideas were scribbled throughout my notepad after hearing Richie’s statement. It echoed throughout my mind all night in the capsule hotel. I wound up there again because it was my first time taking the kita-senri train back to ishibashi and I became completely lost. It was the last train, so I couldn’t even go back a few stops to correct my mistake. As fate would have it, it brought me back to familiarity.
~See Lemons Enlightened

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Random Observation/Comment #18: Ping Pong was either invented by an angel or a demon – I haven’t decided what purpose I work for yet.
This Tuesday was not a long day. I felt very satisfied with my work after presenting to the Ishiguro sensei. He had nothing to say to me, which I took as a neutral state. This could have been interpreted a few ways: 1) He had nothing to complain about, so I did well. 2) He had no idea what I was talking about so he couldn’t complain. 3) It was too premature in my stay to show any criticism when I had not really done anything to show results yet. 4) He doesn’t really care because he didn’t want to spend another minute listening to a side project that wouldn’t be published. 5) My project was so trivial that he had already written all the code on his laptop in the time it took for me to explain my proposed solution. I would expect nothing less from a genius with an android clone of himself.
Hopefully it was the first, but it wouldn’t be too bad if any of the other conclusions were true. I am enjoying just talking to researchers and “stealing their souls with my soul-stealing notepad.” I am up to my third notepad in three weeks and they are all being filled daily with spending and observations that I’ve found inspiring for these journals. Richie claims that I am stealing his soul and selling it online. (This is true. His soul is on sale for a large fee. It could be priceless ::raises eyebrow::. I don’t know what you would do with it though. One day I will write an entry that is entirely in parentheses because it is unrelated to anything I intended to convey.)
Of course after patting myself on the back for a job well done, I bummed around basking in my accomplishments. The things I have to do are not that complicated, but they are very crucial to chiseling my skill-sets. I’m slowly leveling up and working on my programming attributes so I could use that wizardry staff. Just a few more levels to go… I do still have to decide if I want to become a mage or a druid though. It’s just silly to build my character based on a weapon and one skill, but we’ll see how well this works out. I can always start a new character, right? (As you can tell, I love MMORPG references).
After this thrilling day, I took the bus home and came to my apartment door thinking I heard the sound of the most beautiful music. It was the rhythm of a well trained ping pong bounce. I could tell how well they played by the sound and frequency of the bounces. I didn’t even bother putting my stuff down in my apartment 4 rooms away. I pictured the players in my mind before opening this door that was back lit with a glorious aura and some smokey special effects. As my eyes focused at the sight before me, I imagined these guys doing cartwheels and returning the most ridiculous serves. Instead, there were two middle-aged Vietnamese guys playing in their boxers. It wasn’t exactly how I envisioned champion ping pong players, but they weren’t terrible.
Normally walking home from the bus stop, I pass by these soccer players on the field. I’m always torn between asking them if I could join or if it would be too awkward to play with them. I always say to myself that I’ll go back to the apartment to change and then come out to play again, but when I take off my sweaty clothes and jeans, I don’t really want to do anything but shower. However, when ping pong is in the equation, I do not have any trouble asking to join a game in any language. Luckily, they spoke English. I would have honestly played not being able to communicate a single word with them. It’s ping pong – I’m game. This made my night and it will make many nights to come.
~See Lemons Excited to Play Ping Pong =D

photo by: yasuyo