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.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My friendly confines

Unless they have some first-hand experience with the city, mentioning Tokyo to those in the general populace evokes a certain handful of images. Expensive? Sure. Tons of people? You bet. Raw fish, fast trains, and all manner of assorted weirdness? You could say that.

Another topic sure to come up is Tokyo's cramped spaces and the challenges they pose in finding housing. We're not all crammed into capsule hotels, thankfully, but admittedly there is a kernel of truth to this, too. I'm getting my first taste of this as I settle into what will be my home for at least the first few months of my time as a Tokyoite.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Stop me if you've heard this one...

...but New Year's resolutions are bunk. What, other than the turning of the calendar and the end of the holiday season, makes this a better time than any other to undertake self-improvement?

Then there's the resolutions themselves. For all the fuss about making them, it seems it's taken as a fait accompli that they will come up short, as though a New Year's resolution carries all the weight of your average political campaign promise.

Given all this, Mark Twain perhaps best summed up the occasion in his 1863 New Year's Day editorial in the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise:
Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. To-day, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient short comings considerably shorter than ever. We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how we did the same old thing last year about this time. However, go in, community. New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions, and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion.
Happy 2016 to everyone. If you're not already living the life you want to live, here's hoping this is the year you start.