Sunday, February 7, 2016

In a twist, Chinese imports make headlines

As usual, when a sudden shift takes people by surprise, closer analysis shows the elements leading up to said shift have been percolating for quite some time. For Euro-centric football fans, the most recent shock to their system is the "sudden" emergence of China as a competitor for some of the world's most in-demand talent.

Between them, Jiangsu Suning and Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou Evergrande combined to break the Chinese transfer record three times in the space of a week. Jiangsu bought Ramires from Chelsea (21.5 million euros, or US$24 million) before Guangzhou signed Jackson Martinez from Atletico Madrid (31.7 million euros), only for Jiangsu to trump them with a 50 million euro move for Alex Texeira of Shakhtar Donetsk. This last transfer seems to have put some European noses out of joint as Texeira was considered a hot candidate to sign with Liverpool, whose bid was rejected in favor of Jiangsu's.

Predictably, this led to howls of derisive laughter and claims that Texeira and those joining him in moving east were sabotaging their careers for the promise of filthy Chinese lucre. It's fashionable to mock players who move in pursuit of more money, but stop and think for a moment. While estimates vary, the average length of a professional player's career is about eight to 10 years. If they're still playing in their mid-30s, when most workers start entering their peak earning years, they get accused of being "past it" and hanging on for one last paycheck. Think about that -- eight to 10 years to earn the vast majority of the money you'll have to support yourself and your family for many years to come. No wonder many players take the approach of getting what they can, when they can. If you could triple or quadruple your paycheck for the next eight to 10 years but had to move to Ulaanbataar to do it, how many people reading this would say no?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

I'm toleratin' it

I try not to make a habit of eating at American chain restaurants while I'm overseas. It can get expensive, the quality isn't always great, and more often than not there's a local place that is just as good, if not better.

That said, sometimes nothing else will do. This weekend was one of those times. I'd just finished a walk through the Meiji Shrine grounds and was in the mood for something quick and unhealthy. Unbeknownst to me, though, the Burger King and KFC near my closest train stop are undergoing renovations and will be closed for two weeks.

That just left the old standby, McDonald's, a couple blocks away. As it turned out, it was quite the opportune time to grace the Golden Arches.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The land that forgot Diet Coke

I know, I know. If there's one thing more cliche than someone new to Japan talking about small accommodations, it's someone new to Japan talking about the wide variety of food and drink you don't find anywhere else.

Just deal with it. I've been here two weeks already and there's something I need to get off my chest.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

One week of remedial Tokyo

It's Saturday, which means the start of a three-day weekend -- Coming of Age Day is Monday -- and the end of TUJ's week-long orientation. It was equal parts an introduction to the university, preparation for the coming semester, and a primer for life in Tokyo. It was a bit of a whirlwind at times, but I'll sum up the highlights as best I can below the jump.