Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Notes on a Shinkansen

This is a set of more or less random notes I wrote last November, the last time I was in Japan. I had planned to write a blog post about this but I forgot. I just discovered the notes on my iPod Touch and decided to post them even though it was a few months ago. I really like Japan and I wish I would get there more often and that I would really spend some time reviewing Japanese so I could converse better when I'm there. But it's pretty much once a year now, and I pretty much speak English. C'est la vie. Or should I say shikata ga nai?

Friday evening November 9. Night before flying home from Tokyo after one week business trip. Taking the Shinkansen alone from Osaka to Tokyo because my colleagues had other plans in Osaka. I've eaten my "ekiben" dinner (train station lunchbox) along with a couple of beers and I'm listening to music on my iPod. Feeling pretty relaxed.
  1. Crosby, Stills, and Nash's "Helplessly Hoping on headphones, first time in ages. Beautifully simple three-part with Stills in middle, Crosby on left, Nash on right. Just lovely. Parts are tight but very distinct. 
  2. Ekiben is usually good. Foods I wouldn't normally think to eat cold that somehow work. Tonight tonkatsu, breaded fried pork filet with sweet BBQ-like sauce. Side of sticky rice balls plus a piece of baked grilled salmon, a fried potato wedge, one piece each of broccoli and carrot. Plus a piece of sushi tamago which is really a slice of a cold, dense, sweet rolled up egg omelet. All cold. But good with a tall can of Suntory "The Premium Malts" beer. Works for me.
  3. Dorayaki (どら焼) was an early fave Japanese food for me when I started coming here in the early 1980's. A sandwich of small round pancakes with sweet bean paste inside. A sweet dessert my daughters thought was disgusting. Sweet bean paste is a bit odd. I just had one, first in years, from a 7-11 store. Pretty good. 
  4. No photo ops on night train back to Tokyo but yesterday coming down, Mt. Fuji was very clear and I wished I had a camera with me. Actually I have two, one in BlackBerry, one in iPod Touch, both suck. A friend on the trip took a nice iPhone picture in Mishima [see above] where we visited a customer. I finally will get an iPhone myself next month to replace Blackberry -- iPhone 5 should be cool even though I have lots of apps on iPod Touch. But having a nice camera, everywhere Internet, and GPS should be nice. Oh yeah, and it's a phone. [Update: the iPhone 5 is really cool]
  5. So many smartphones In Japan now, especially iPhone though I probably just notice those more. Many fewer paper manga and newspapers on trains. Everyone riding head down with their devices. 
  6. A small coincidence in shuffled songs on iPod. Two very random songs in a row happened to mention Japan. Julie Andrews "In My Own Little Corner" from "Cinderella" has the line "I'm an heiress who has always had her silk made, by her own flock of silkworms in Japan" (this is Rogers & Hammerstein so of course this is to rhyme with milkmaid). Then the Local Natives' song "Airplanes" which has the line "I keep those chopsticks you had from when you taught abroad in Japan."  Say what? I sure do have a weird collection of songs on my iPod. 

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