Happy New Year From Japan!

Happy New Year from Japan, or as we say “Akemashita Ometedou!”

What are your predictions for 2017?

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Christmas Magic and Ice Skating In Yokohama

Looking for Christmas feelz in Japan? Or maybe somewhere to faceplant on ice?

I have a place for you!

It’s a perfect spot for enjoying the Christmas Spirit in Japan, and it’s at the Red Brick Building in Yokohama.  Where you can see these kind of displays:

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Continue reading “Christmas Magic and Ice Skating In Yokohama”

How A Japanese Company Overworked My Husband

About two or three years ago, my husband worked a grueling shift for nearly two months.  He would come home at 3am and then get up and leave at 5:30 am. He lived on two hours of sleep.

Things were so bad, we discussed him quitting and maybe moving to my country where I would seek employment. I watched a confused fog fill his eyes after two weeks of this shift — only one weekends did he get any amount of real sleep — left him mentally drained and finally depressed.

However, I firmly believed the decision would have to be his. I made it clear I would support whatever he chose and we would work through it together.  In the end, he wanted to keep his job. He worked very hard to get it and it’s a very good one.

Finally, his schedule returned to a more reasonable one and he’s never been put through anything like that again. His hours have remained as reasonable as a full time job in Japan can be ever since that two month period.

Unfortunately, many other Japanese workers are not so lucky. I read this:

It is an article about Dentsu forcing a female employee to work over a 100 hours of overtime until she finally suffered a mental breakdown and killed herself.

You might say, ‘why not walk away?’.

However, I remember the fog in my husband’s eyes and the confusion that began to set in. I would argue that after working such a grinding schedule, she may not have been in a right state of mind anymore.  Go that long without sufficient sleep and it becomes hard to make a clear choice anymore.

(My husband made his final decision after he had a chance to sleep).

 

On one hand, I am someone who admires hard work. I have worked long hours to accomplish something. I don’t think everything should be about money and how much you make. That said, when companies clearly exploit their employees I think it unacceptable.

My husband is lucky that he does get paid for his overtime, but I’ve heard many horror stories of employees not getting a dime for all that overtime.

Many are afraid to quit right now with the job climate the way it is in Japan. Toshiba is in the process of collapsing and its taking whole communities with it.  There is a town that relied on a Toshiba factory for much of its trickle-down economics. When the factory closed, all those workers that used to occupy the Izekaya’s and karaoke bars in the evenings dried up. Now those businesses are going bankrupt as well.

If you succeed in getting into one of the “prized” companies, few are willing to leave. The companies know this, and use it to their advantage.

I don’t know what’s a good solution to all this. It does seem like slowly more and more legislation is being passed to forced companies to stop with the overwork (or “karoshi” which is death from overwork).

We’ll see how it turns out.

Car Camping Our Way Through Japan

Our Most Recent Car Camping Trip To Nikko

To save money on trips, my husband and I do car camping. This is becoming a common trend in Japan. There are even guidebooks on “Michi no Eki” or Road Stops (see the links below).

You can stay for free at road stops and cut down the cost of staying at a hotel. It’s best to choose road stops with onsens (hot springs) so that you can bath and relax before you bed down.

Car Camping works in fall, winter, and spring, but is not a good idea in summer (because it’ll get really hot and stick inside the car and you don’t want to sleep with the windows rolled down).

It’s also a good idea to buy curtains for the inside of your car, or use sun shields (so that people can peer inside your car while you sleep).

This has been our experience so far (as I mentioned in others posts). Continue reading “Car Camping Our Way Through Japan”

A Present From Mt. Fuji

Oh, Mt. Fuji is a wily one. For years this great big symbol of Japan has eluded my shots, dodging behind walls, telephone poles, buildings, or clouds.  Even when I climbed Mt. Fuji I failed to get the perfect shot due to a rain storm that hit that night.

This has been a long time coming.

Mara vs. The Slumbering Volcano.

Today, on Christmas Day, the mountain could escape my camera lens no longer.  At long last I achieved a perfect shot.  Behold, for I have conquered the mountain, and captured it exposed in a cloak of powder white, naked for my digital memory banks.

This is my Christmas Present from Mt. Fuji: a perfect shot of its wintertime glory.

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The Last Sunset Before Christmas

Just wanted to share my picture from a hilltop of the setting sun on Christmas Eve here in Japan.  We went on vacation and went to Ise Shima.

Ever heard of it?

Recognize this picture?

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We were here.  Well, not in this picture, but the place where this picture was taken.  Our accommodations were in the vicinity to this.

There is a hilltop near this and we climbed up to it and snapped this photo taken on December 24th, 2016:

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Goodbye 2016!

Merry Christmas from Japan.

Three Hooligans On Christmas Eve

We were haunted on Christmas Eve by Three Hooligans who decided circling around the Road Stop, revving their bikes and waking everyone, was a fun way to spend Christmas Eve.

I filmed some of their antics because my husband was about to call the cops on them when they finally drove off at 1am.  Car camping has its downsides.

It was a bit nippy and my husband is sick so we found it a bit difficult to fall asleep.  However, we were just starting to when the three hooligans on bikes came through circling round and round us and the other cars and RVs. They deliberate flashed their lights at the cars and roared their bikes.

Talk about jerks!

I don’t understand why these biker gangs in Japan (and also scooter gangs) love harassing neighborhoods and making a nuisance of themselves.  I guess it’s the attention?  What makes waking everyone up and bothering them fun?

I guess these guys get off on this type of thing.

Other than our three little hooligans, we managed to get a decent night of rest. We headed off on the next part of our trip and to spend Christmas Eve at a Japanese traditional inn (or Ryokan).  Can’t wait to get home on Christmas and finish off that chocolate cake.

I’m not done with it 😉

Have a merry Christmas everyone!