At home in a train

How to make yourself comfortable on a Tokyo commuter train:

Spread your shopping bags.

Call your friend.

Have a snack. Eat as loudly as possible.

Share the snack with your dog while you scatter crumbs everywhere.

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Chocolate for the thunder god

This chocolate is called Black Thunder (ブラックサンダー) or Kuroi Raijin (黒い雷神). Raijin is, of course, the god of thunder. Black Thunder consists of chocolate, cocoa-flavoured cookie bits and crisped rice, and it’s been such a success story that a book has been written about its history. (It started small, became popular among university students, really took off when it sponsored the Japanese men’s gymnastics team at the 2008 Olympics and Kōhei Uchimura started endorsing it.) It’s very tasty. Dangerously so.

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Cute groping?

This is the latest anti-chikan (groper) poster at a train station. I was going to grumble about Japan’s tendency to cutify everything, but then I hesitated: is this poster cute or is it simply a graphic depiction? I’ve been here so long that my “inappropriate cuteness radar” has been corrupted.

PS: That little critter thingy with the blue hat is Pipo-kun, the police mascot.

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Mōshobi (猛暑日)

Another post about summer heat. When Sky Tree is barely visible in a hazy, sullen sky, you know it’s going to be a mōshobi (猛暑日), which means a fiercely hot day of 35+ degrees. I took this photo at 6 am, when it was already 31 with a “real feel” of 38. Japan is currently experiencing a heat wave with temperatures above 40 in certain areas. Hang in there, folks, and drink lots of water or, even better, beer.

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Brain-obliterating heat

August. Energy-sapping, spirit-draining, feet-killing, backbone-demolishing, courage-shattering, hope-destroying, brain-obliterating month of ruthless, savage, searing heat.

Everybody’s standard greeting is not hallo, but a reference to the heat. “Atsui desu ne!” (“It’s hot, isn’t it?”) When summer is over, some inexplicable communication via osmosis takes place and suddenly, without warning and for no apparent reason, everybody says, “Samui desu ne!” (“It’s cold, isn’t it?”) Please note that it’s either very hot or very cold, that this amazing transition takes place overnight, and that everybody changes at exactly the same moment like a flock of birds swerving in the same direction. One day it’s “atsui” at 22 degrees and the next day it’s “samui” at 21 degrees.

That’s Japan.