The Three Rs I Live By–Respect, Responsibility and Restraint

I try to live by the three Rs: Always be Respectful, often be Responsible and sometimes show Restraint.

The first R, the respect, comes from my belief that everyone on earth has the ability to contribute something for the betterment of society.

I suppose it’s my faith in the fundamental goodness of human kind that underlies this belief, but the “always” part in particular doesn’t come easy.


The Amazingly Different Remarkableness of Japanese and Americans

The Japanese excel in order and discipline.

My favorite example to illustrate this is the shugaku ryokou, which is like a field trip for an entire grade over a couple nights at some exotic location like the historical city of Kyoto or Tokyo Disneyland. There, the students are divided up into small groups of four to five who are told to explore the locale without adult supervision and return to their lodging by a certain hour.

If you`re an American, there are so many things that are remarkable about the shugaku ryokou. For starters, it’s hard to imagine four American high school teenagers collectively having enough maturity to study the travel guide and coming up with a two-day plan to explore the city.

But what is really mind-blowing is that the shugaku ryoko occurs every year in middle and high schools across Japan without a single incident that makes newspaper headlines. This means that unsupervised teenagers roaming the streets for an entire day manage to avoid having a brush with the police and return in time for dinner.

This is unthinkable in the United States, where the thinking would go “of course teenagers are going to be reckless and irresponsible and expecting them to act any other way would defy common sense.” Any American school that lets something like a shugaku ryoko happen will be rightfully sued for negligence.


2014 Was An Uneventfully Fulfilling Year

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Christmas Letter

It is hard to believe, but this past September marked three years since I transferred to Tokyo. I am entering my seventh year with my current employer, meaning that I have now worked in the Tokyo office longer than I did in New York.

How time flies.

Life is interesting in that you remember important milestones in your life, no matter how long ago. I first moved to the United States when I was eight years old, and I still vividly recall the mixed emotions I felt eight years later when I reached a point when more than half of my life was spent in the United States. Now that I have reached a similar milestone, this time professionally, I feel nostalgic going through similar mixed feelings I felt so many years ago.

Apart from going through a major milestone, my 2014 has been uneventfully fulfilling, both in and outside of work.


Godzilla Looks Good in “Godzilla” (2014), but Not Much Else Does

The film is most entertaining when it matters, when Godzilla and MUTOs engage in battles of the monsters as humans become collateral damage. These scenes in “Godzilla” are probably what a Godzilla movie produced by Toho, the Japanese production company that made the original series, would have looked like had it been able to pour unlimited amount of resources to produce the best-looking Godzilla movie.

Much has been made of the fact that, despite the title, Godzilla doesn’t appear until well into the film, and even then, only sporadically. As in “Jaws” (1975), there is some cinematic technique to this approach of “less is more” in which late and infrequent appearance builds suspense. Of course, “Godzilla” is no “Jaws,” either in the quality that it seeks or the technical mastery that it achieves. This naturally means that during the vast majority of “Godzilla,” without Godzilla’s full force against the MUTOs on display, the audience is left to suffer from the rest of the material that is at times inept and is otherwise mostly ridiculous.


Let’s Have More of the Winter

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Four Seasons

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s a tough one month period because, after the calendar turns to December, the mind begins the countdown towards Christmas. On the other hand, there is something indescribably jolly about this time period. It’s not just the shopping for the gifts, the colorful red and green illuminations, the Christmas carols and the holiday dinners. Japan has embraced the commercialization of the Christmas season as much as the United States, but there’s a distinct difference that I suspect comes from cultural differences that can’t be simply imitated. For all the materialism that seems to drive Christmas, the holiday season has an intrinsically special meaning for people that puts everybody in good spirits. And happiness breeds more happiness, something I observed even while I was living in the perpetually grumpy New York.


There is So Much to Love About Autumn

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Four Seasons

Autumn is one of those gifts from God where it seems like everything comes together. It’s not only pleasant to be outside, but also beautiful to see. If my mood is to be indoors, there’s plenty of things to do and get excited about indoors. The season of autumn is special all the way to the end. Thanksgiving, that most wonderful of holidays in the States, marks the official end of fall (at least for me), as the weather begins to feel exactly right and the Holiday spirits fill the air. Yes, I love the fall. It’s a shame it only comes once a year.


Summer is the Memories of Discontents

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Four Seasons

There is only one good thing about the summer, and it’s that it is followed by the most pleasant season of the year.

I was born in August, right in the smack of the summer, no doubt on a hot, humid and miserable day. My mom always wonders why I hate so much the season in which I was born, and my guess is that I was forever traumatized by experiencing at birth the worst of what this world has to offer. Coldness is something you can deal with by putting on more clothes and putting on a cap to keep you warm. There is nothing I can do about the heat of the summer. I can strip naked, take a cold shower, and it still won’t change the fact that I’m always hot.

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