Monday, October 16, 2006

Saying Goodbye to Japan - Crime

I'm going to miss not having to worry about violent crime and robbery. You don't realize it living in the states because it is a daily thing, but it is a drag having to deal with danger. I realize it everytime I get into LA, it starts when you get out of the airport. You have to think to yourself; "Where is my suitcase?" and "Where should I lean my guitar while I take a piss?" and "Maybe I shouldn't be carrying this much cash on me." I have never once been concerned for my personal belongings or for my safety for that matter here in Japan. America could take a lesson from the Japanese on scruples and morals.

I remember once while in LA I sat down and had a slice of pizza in a restaurant with my guitar sitting next to me in its gig bag. I got up and took 10 steps from where I was sitting and realized I left my guitar back at my seat. I went back and got it and caught a bit of the conversation the guys sitting at the next table were having. One guy said to the other guy; "Shit, he remembered his guitar." They where waiting to steal it. On the other hand, one time here in Japan, I was trying to catch my train one morning to go to the college where I teach guitar. It was a hot summer day with a hundred percent humidity. I was rushing to get my ticket and all of a sudden someone tapped me on my shoulder. I looked behind me and it was this guy in a suit and tie who was sweating and breathing like he had just ran the marathon. He had obviously been chasing me. He told me I dropped some money on the ground and gave it to me, about fifty bucks. Imagine that. In the States it would have been long gone.

It is a cultural difference I guess. I mean, think about it for a minute, we as kids say that stupid saying; "Finders keepers, losers weepers" which basically means that if you find something it is yours and who ever lost it is shit out of luck. In Japan, for the most part nobody would want something that belongs to someone else... Sure to bring you bad luck.

Something that you could not imagine in the sates, shop keepers sometimes have their goods out on the sidewalk in front of their stores. Customers take a look, find what they want and bring it inside to pay for it.

I'm an American patriot but I wish America was a safer place for my family. It could be if we all wanted it to be so.


Crime in Japan

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Saying Goodbye to Japan - Toilets

As many of you may know, I'm relocating my family back to Los Angeles. I'll still be coming back to Japan to teach and play but I will move my home base to the South Bay. I've been living in Japan for 15 years and the Japanese way of thinking and life style has become a part of me and I've decided to post a few memoirs of my life in Japan here on this blog.

I came over from Los Angeles in 1990. I had been to Japan before and have always liked the country, its modern conveniences and love for gadgets contrasting with its Buddhist and Shinto roots. The first thing I recall is the urinals at Narita Airport in Tokyo and the way they automatically flush, once while you are doing your business to prevent any embarrassment and once again when you are done with your business. The Japanese can't imagine actually touching the little lever that flushes the urinal and try to keep things as "touchless" as possible. Not too keen on germs. I've almost never seen a urinal in Japan that doesn't flush itself. Matter of fact, a lot of the toilets are automatic too and are wired to keep your butt warmed. You can control the temperature with a little lever. There is also a button that sends a stream of warm water to clean your nether eye. Go figure... an automatic bidet. American toilets leave a lot to be desired compared to their Japanese cousins. The public toilet stalls are also much better in Japan than in the States. The little room with your heated toilet and automatic bidet has walls that go from the floor to the ceiling so you can escape from reality and don't have to worry about anybody peaking up under the door like in an American stall. In America if you made the stalls like that you would have people living in there or at least having sex. In you home the toilet is in a separate room from your bath tub. Again the Japanese could not imagine something dirty like a toilet could get put in the same room as a bathtub where you want to get yourself clean. I'm going to miss going to the bathroom.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Although I don't consider myself an expert on fine wines, I still enjoy a good glass of wine from time to time. My pal from Toshiba EMI took me out to a wine bar to introduce me to this Chambolle-Musigny. You see the chalky soil at Le Musigny restrict the yield and is responsible for a very delicate wine. Chambolle Musigny is a charming village in the Cote de Nuits, north of Clos Vougeot that is famous for some of the finest red wines in the world today. If you are looking for a great wine (that will set you back a little) this is the one for you.