The company’s 30th Anniversary Celebration

Chinese opera

Mad day today. Started off with my spotting a Tweet (on Twitter) by Kamasami Kong of Tokyo Metropolis Podcast

Looking for someone who went to Eric Clapton’s concert in Tokyo. Did any of you go? I need a report for the MetPod. Thanks!

I replied to his message via Twitter, and shot him an email too: five minutes later he was recording my review of Eric Clapton’s concert, which has since gone out 36 minutes into this weeks Metropolis Podcast.

Listening to it tonight I can’t help but laugh at how much I talk. He barely got a word in edgeways. Also surprised by how crappy the signal is – will have to use Skype next time.

It was an interesting experience, seeing how Kong did it all so quickly. We had a little chat after the interview too, which gave me further encouragement to move forwards with my next podcast.

Following that it was a mad dash to work to pick up the video camera and tripod, then to Shinjuku in the snow to pick up some DVD RAM disks for the picked-up camera (a word of advice – NEVER buy a camera that writes straight to DVD disk and cannot be controlled from a laptop, absolute pants), and finally to Nakano Sun Plaza where the company’s 30th anniversary celebration was to be held.

Mr. D
Friend and colleague Mr. D, one of the nicest folks you could hope to meet in Tokyo, all dressed up for the celebrations.

It was an ‘interesting’ event. I think if you imagine what a Virgin 30th anniversary party might be like, and then invert it, you’d get a good idea. I gather that that sort of thing is quite normal for Japan: lots of thanks, speeches, lots of formality.

I did enjoy the speech by the university lecturer who specialised in the economy of the geisha industry. Learnt quite a bit there, about how they are diversifying and adapting to deal with the modern economic situation.

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A tiltshift Yellow Umbrella, taken from the party venue window

The food was great too. There was an idea that as the hosts we shouldn’t eat or drink until after the guests had left. Whilst all of the Japanese staff stuck to this expectation, us naughty foreigners decided to forgo social norms and be naughty foreigners.

Caw It was nice!

Following that there were another few speeches (pretty entertaining really – the chap in charge of training at a large shipping company gave a short speech in Chinese to demonstrate what he’s learnt when he took one of our courses. I was damn impressed.

Chinese operaThe main surprise came though when I heard that the lady who I’ve sat next to at the office for the past 5 months was about to perform. Perform what? I thought. Turns out that she was a professional opera singer in China before coming to Japan. I was flabbergasted – she was great!

There was a nice sense of groupism by the end of the day. A bunch of us took the same train to our respective homes, each clutching a big bunch of lilies that had been given to the company by its founder. We chatted away like a bunch of gaijin, ignoring the silence around us.

It was especially nice to get a chance to talk to one of the new staff who just started last year. She’s had a real tough time, and a few of us try to look after her. She’s obviously been working hard to improve her English too, as it’s way better than it was last October. I find her inspiring in that way.

Back home I’m shattered. Tomorrow should be a relatively quiet day, I’ll be working till 4pm (editing videos between phone calls I think), then back home to create some loops for the podcast.


It really has felt that life has taken over this week, with routines being kicked to the side in the wake of incessant urgent demands. I hope next week is a little more orderly.


Hanpane Party

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There’s been a lot of mentions of following your passion of late. On people’s blogs, on the inside cover of the magazine I bought today, on Twitter… red car syndrome perhaps.

Another good day today. Exercised in the morning, taught for a couple of hours at lunchtime, then MC’d a kind of variety show in Meguro organised by a group of friends collectively known as Hanpane.

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It was great, although I did make a bit of an idiot of myself a couple of times due to not really knowing what was going on all the time.

Kicked off with Warusa-P31 [you tube], who were followed by Spanko-ru ‘Sexy dancers”, then an oriental dance routine by a couple of performers who I’m sure went to a Steiner school. There then followed a couple of singers (the first of which was our friend Ryo-kun, the second was a chap who runs a bar in Shibuya, and had the most incredibly powerful voice). The gig was wrapped up by Warusa-P31.

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Went for pizza after that. There I met a young maths teacher who told me that she’d started paragliding this year, which reminded me that that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve decided I will do it before December 2010.

I’m teaching at my part time job tomorrow and Tuesday, 9 hours both days. Part of me is a bit upset that I agreed to do it as I very much want to work on my web-projects, but still, there’s no backing out now. I’m sure it will work out fine.


It’s a small, small world

Photographic entertainment is provided by yesterday’s Office Halloween party (sorry for the repetition to those of you who have already seen them in my site feed).

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For the past two weeks I’ve been looking for someone to do tandem learning with. That is, someone who will teach me Japanese in exchange for me teaching them English.

One might think that having just spent 4 years studying Japanese the last thing I’d want (or need) is more Japanese lessons. Not so. I didn’t put as much into my course in my final year as I could have done (a conscious decision that I don’t regret to split my energy between my course and extra-curricular activities), thus I failed to internalise a lot of the vocab I was learning.

I’d like to emphasise that this is in no way a criticism of our course, which was bloomin marvellous. If anyone wants to learn Japanese in the UK, Sheffield is the place to go, no doubt (n.b. I may be biased). But of course, you only get out what you put in, thus a lot of my course-mates have much better Japanese than me.

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Whatever, I’ve come such a long way, and am constantly delighted by the fact that I (of all people) have learnt to speak Japanese. However, I do tend to stick to the grammar patterns that I’m really familiar with, avoiding the use of complex structures. It was brought home to me just how far I’ve gone down this road when the other night *Twinkle* applauded my use of a complex pattern – it should be normal, not praiseworthy.

So I put the thought out there – I need a Japanese teacher – and tonight she presented herself (although I didn’t know she was a teacher until after we’d been chatting for a while).

She contacted me having seen my profile on, and requested a trial English lesson. We met at a subway station near my office and made our way to a nice little cafe. We chatted a bit more, with her explaining why she wanted to study English.

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Then she stopped, and with a mysterious look on her face said, ‘actually, I’ve got some photos to show you’. Confused, I took the envelope in her hand and took out the photos…

…and blow me down if it wasn’t Phil, my coursemate from Sheffield! I was stunned, and naturally clammering for an explanation.

She explained how Phil had been one of her first students shortly after she qualified as a teacher, when he was living in Tokyo a year or so back. It was only after she’d initially contacted me last Friday that she’d mailed Phil to ask if he’d heard of someone called ‘Joseph Tame’ who’d studied at Sheffield. Seeing that I was quite a bit older she assumed that we wouldn’t know each other …and thus was very surprised when Phil replied that he did indeed know me!

Spot Joseph

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So that’s how it went. We’ve decided to meet on a weekly basis for language exchange – my calls for a teacher have been answered. Thank you Universe!