Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Monkey sighting... in Shibuya!!!

Ok, now tell me that is not the awesomest headline everer... I just saw this on tv and it was abso- frickin- lutely hilarious! There were something like 15-20 cops chasing this one monkey around for hours - with nets. No tranquilizers, totally low tech with the nets. I believe this says it all:

It’s a monkey - it’s not like it did anything bad,” a police spokesman said, adding that the animal was still on the loose.

The monkey was spotted hopping around by the automatic ticket gates at a train line in Shibuya Station in central Tokyo at about 9:40 a.m. .

It then ran downstairs to the entrance to another line, climbed up and down a pillar and ran around the ticketing machines before taking refuge on top of a train information board for two hours, a spokeswoman for railway operator Tokyu Corp said.

Awesomeness... pure awesomeness. Full story with video footage here.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Nobody Sleeps Like the Japanese Do

...oh it's true. Japanese people are amazing when it comes to sleep - many have the uncanny ability to sleep at the drop of hat once sitting in just about any moving vehicle. It's something you experience on a daily basis while taking the trains in Tokyo... if you're lucky enough to snatch one of the highly coveted seats on the train, oft times you find yourself shrugging a fellow train warrior off your shoulder as he/she attempts to fall into a hibernation-like slumber, totally oblivious and incapable of keeping from using you as their pillow.

I have personally been beset on both sides by slumbering riders at least once. This phenomenon is not limited to seats either, as I've had people standing next to me nod off and start wavering in my direction as well.

My theory as to the reasoning for this is a combination of overwork and/or under sleep. I know a few people that count the 1-2 hours of sleep they regularly get on the train in their daily sleep totals... they depend on this time to get the sleep necessary to be (sometimes barely) functioning members of society. Only problem is that this only works for working people, and you see plenty of youngsters nodding off too... my theory is still in need of some tweaking.

Another interesting corollary of the Japanese sleep phenomenon is that you will regularly find scenes such as those to the right on Saturday and Sunday mornings all over downtown Tokyo if you happen to be out early enough. If you yourself are on the way back from a late night, you are guaranteed to spot a few of them, especially in the notorious party districts like Roppongi or Shibuya.

Now granted, this is a situation where the majority of the populace normally are faced with two less than optimal choices - go home on the last train of the night (12:30ish... night just beginning), or the first train (5-5:30ish... past most people's bed times). Those who choose the latter don't always make it the whole way or don't pace themselves and wind up passed out on the sidelines, like our friends here.
I myself suffer from this syndrome occasionally, but in my case I make it to the train at least... it just takes me more time to get home than usual as I sleep past my stop, sometimes repeatedly. The worst occasion of this I can recall was one time when I got on the train going the wrong way and rode it all the way up into Saitama somewhere, maybe a good hour or so out of Tokyo and on the complete opposite side from Kanagawa where I live. After finally getting back on the train the right way and of course passing out again, winding up at the end of the line past my stop and doubling back again, I think I got home around 11am with at least a good 3-4 hours of train sleep under my belt.

By the way, the idea for this post was inspired by a very amusing community on Facebook, which if you are signed up for I highly suggest you check out, like now. All these pics are borrowed from said community.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Back by popular demand...

Ok, I would hereby like to apologize to my apparent fan base back home - I have been asked by no less than 5 people in the last week when I'm going to update this blog. Yes I've been absent for the better part of 2-3 months now, and it's not because of a lack of anything new for sure... quite the opposite. There's plenty to tell, just not enough free time budgeted to updates here.

A few tidbits:
-back into capoeira the last couple months - good times
-moving to downtown Tokyo - more good times
-I'm now 29 - good times (pics uploaded)

The rest will have to wait until substantiated answers can be provided, so patience. Once the move has been completed it'll mean my commute will be cut at least in half, providing me with more of the sleep that my body craves more than crack but also placing me smack dab on 2 of the main lines in Tokyo for the uber-convenience that people dream about and I need. Hopefully this will mean more time for updates too, so keep your fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I've uploaded pictures of my birthday party on flickr - the rest can be viewed on facebook if you're into that sort of thing. Ok, won't be 2 months this time, promise!!!