Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Movie: おっぱいバレー (Breasts Volleyball)

I watched Oppai Baree the heart warming story of young, inexperienced school teacher in a small Japanese town who motivates a group of uncoordinated, dorky, teenage perverts to train hard at volleyball with the promise that she will show them her breasts if they win just one match in the high school championship. WTF? Yes, seriously.

As sentimental, formulaic movies go, it was OK. It ticked the usual boxes: training montages; slow motion scenes with inspiring music; a set back at the last minute; the wisdom of some older and/or more dead person leading to the realisation that you have to try your best anyway, followed by running to get there just in time.

It was entertaining enough though, the end wasn't entirely predictable and it kept me guessing. Will their secret get out? Will she be fired? Will they win? Will they get to see her breasts if they do? Will I? Will my kids stop talking about it and shaming us in front of parents and teachers? The answer to the last one is "yes", it took about a week.

Harmless fun.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Imaginary cycling arguments in Japan

Cycling on the road in Japan has had an unexpected impact on my imaginary arguments with drivers.

The most obvious problem of course is that the drivers probably only speak Japanese. While I sometimes try to conduct my simpler arguments in Japanese, at my level it's pretty much a waste of time for everyone involved. Happily, since these arguments are imaginary, I can just pretend they speak English.

A slightly less obvious problem is that a stock justification for cyclist doesn't work in Japan. Occasionally I take up a whole lane because there isn't enough space for a car to safely overtake and I'd rather they didn't try. If I was in a car, I would be taking up that space all the time.

In many countries, one more bike really is "one less car" (like it says on the stickers). That's not the case in Japan. When I don't cycle, I get the train. If I stopped cycling entirely I would get the train every day. I don't own a car here, I don't want to - parking would be expensive and I don't fancy being stuck in the queues I see every morning.

So best case, it's "one more seat on the train". However since I'm usually travelling around peak, the reality is more like "one more standing space on the train". Even in an imaginary argument, that's an embarrassingly poor justification.

I'm probably not even saving much energy by biking (if any at all) but I am keeping fit, saving money and time.The problem is that these are pretty selfish benefits. For a good imaginary argument you need to be way up on the moral high ground and I don't appear to be. In fact, I'm not entirely convinced that cyclists on the road in Japan have the moral high ground at all.

Slightly inspired by watching this video this morning.