2016/05/31

Experiencing the "Cool Japan"

“Cool Japan” is the term/project that Japanese government launched several years ago, to funding Japanese Businesses to promote their products and services to overseas.

I personally feel uncomfortable about the salf-proclaimed “Cool” thing. And I also don’t like the fact that bureaucrats (who are generally not really a "cool" people) decides which Japanese products and cultures are cool to non-Japanese people.

However the concept of it interests me as Japanese expat lives in outside of Japan, to think about what is really cool about my country.

Me and my family got short holiday to Japan in May 2016, and I want to share my thoughts on what was cool while we were staying in Japan.

Haircut


The main reason of this trip to Japan was to show our 5 months old baby boy to mine and my wife’s parents.
Another big event (for my wife) was to take our boy to professional photo studio to have some nice pictures.

In Dubai, my wife cuts my hair because I usually do not care much about how my hair looks like, and my wife’s ability to cut is more than acceptable.
However this time I had to go to haircut because my wife want me to be perfect dad on the pictures taken by professional photographer.

So we went to one of unisex hair salon in Fukuoka city.

In general, Japanese hairdresser’s technique is superb. And quite cheap too.
We paid about US 72 dollars for us got haircuts as well as our baby was taking care of by salon’s designated nursery for one and half hours.

In Dubai, my wife pays more than that only for her haircut, and constantly complaining about the results.

It is definitely good to experience that when you visit Japan. Though I will recommend you to bring the picture of hairstyle you want, because normal Japanese hairdresser will not speak English very well.

By the way, Fukuoka is a nice city. The population of about 1.5 million, It’s big enough to enjoy many activities but not too busy and crowded like Tokyo.

 
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Everything is generally cheaper in Kyushu Island where Fukuoka City locates. You will not be discriminated by your Tokyo accents in Fukuoka, unlike Osaka (half joking).

Also it has it’s own food culture, like "Tonkotsu Ramen" which is pork bone based noodle soup. Big no-no in muslim countries like Dubai.

Anyway, the photo session in the professional studio was quite reasonably priced too. It was about one third or quarter of the prices we expect in Dubai.

 

Pair of Glasses in 30 minuets


We went to eyewear store called “JINS”, which is considered “UNIQLO” of the eyeglass retailers.
Nothing flashy, OK quality and cheap. Sounds pretty much like Japanese mentality during the lost decades

Usually making pair of glasses, it will take 2-3 days after you visit the store everywhere in the world, I assume.
This company in Japan, it’s not the case. If they have the stock of lenses fit to your eye, they will finish the pair of glasses only in 30 minutes! My wife even got eye test there, and entire shopping process was within one hour.

After choosing our flames, we looked around other shops for about 25 minutes and came back. Glasses are almost ready. We wait for several minutes, and its done.

I couldn't believe it was so fast.
However the store clerk actually apologized for kept us waiting for a couple of minutes!
Don’t worry mate. No other shops in the world could get a job done in 30 minuets.

That attitude simply shows what Japanese people is like, albeit that maybe just a formality.

Toyota Prius


My hometown is Okaya, Nagano, which is located 200km west from Tokyo.
We visit both Fukuoka and Okaya every time we go to Japan. And we usually take Bus or Train from Tokyo, or use airplane between Fukuoka and Matsumoto airport where is very close to Okaya.

This time, we rented a Toyota Prius and drove from Haneda (Tokyo International) Airport to my home town.
Because we have 5 months old baby, It is a lot easier to use a car instead of public transportations.

I usually drive Alfa Romeo Giulietta in Dubai. Nice design, fan to drive, not sufficient in many aspects and you don’t talk about reliability.

A complete opposite is Prius. Although both cars are sold as "family car”, Prius is super efficient, dull looking, not fun to drive, and super reliable.

Sounds like a Italian men vs. Japanese men, isn’t it?

OK. Lets talk about Prius.

The car I rented was 2016 (4th generation) model with 1.8L engine with the electric motor.
I honestly don't like this design...


Particular area of the car design is a bit too much to my taste.

However After 5 days of driving it, I was very impressed.
Why? I drove just over 500km, up and downs, 0m above sea level to 1000m. And the gas consumption in entire trip was this;


What a sufficient car this is. The technology Toyota offers is just amazing.

Although Prius is not by any means a powerful car, it has enough power to drive narrow and slow Japanese road and highways. If you consider higher gas prices in Japan, this is definitely the car you want.

Nissan/Prince Skyline Museum


Talking about a car, there is the museum specialized for Nissan Skyline (and some Gloria) in Okaya.

http://www.prince-skyline.com/

I did not know such place is exist in my home town. And this place is probably the most visited place by foreigners in entire Okaya City.

Here are some pictures for Skyline enthusiast.




The view from the museum is also nice.


Japanese countrysides are becoming more like American countrysides


This is not cool at all.

My hometown is kind of a dull countryside city of 100,000 population include direct neighbouring cities, Shimosuwa and Suwa. But it has a great scene of greens and water.

The city used be well known for the silk industry (early 20th century). After that city’s industry made transition to precision machine and instruments like camera and watches. It used be a home ground of Epson and Yashika Camera. The city also had Olympus factory, but now many of them are gone.

Because of the ageing population and initiative to enhance the large companies by Japanese government (even though government is not saying that), many small businesses in small cities like Okaya are now all gone.

I feel a bit of nostalgia.
Because my childhood house was located in the centre of commercial area, I had neighbour friends who are sons of cosmetics store, cake shop, toy store, Japanese tea shop, camera store, chinaware store, electrical appliances store, and so on. They are all family owned businesses.

All those businesses are gone.

Once you drive through major road, all the shops and restaurants are replaced by the all major names owned by large companies. It is exactly like there is nothing but McDonald’s and KFC in American countryside.
Locals are employed by large companies in cheap wages and community is just losing innovation and economic momentum. The large companies getting richer everyday while many Japanese people are getting poorer and some are even struggling to live a life.

I honestly do not like the direction of the Japanese rural area are heading.
But maybe that is just the way it is in today's free market system in the developed countries.

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2016/05/02

ジーナ式子育てその後(現在生後4〜5ヶ月)

我が家では、昨年12月に生まれた息子に「ジーナ式寝かしつけ」を実践していることを以前のコラムで書いた。
ジーナ式寝かしつけを導入してみた/ジーナ式子育て①
ジーナ式寝かしつけを実践してみた/ジーナ式子育て②

おかげで息子は生後10週目以降、完全に夜通し寝るクセがつき、その後2ヶ月以上経った現在まで、毎日夜11時から朝7時まで中断することなく睡眠。
たまに目を覚ましてチュパチュパ自分の指を吸ってることはあっても、朝7時までに泣き出すことは全くなし。(正確には1回だけ朝6過ぎに泣きましたが。)

生後数ヶ月だというのに夜と昼の区別が完全についているのだろうか。実におもしろい。

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我々親も夜はすっきり熟眠することができ、普段の仕事・生活も、子供ができる前と同じ、とまでは言わないものの全く問題なく日々の生活を送っている。
よってジーナ本もすでに2ヶ月以上見てもいない。

この「ジーナ式寝かしつけ」、0歳児の子育てをできるだけ楽にしたいご夫婦には断然お勧めです。

現在の息子の状況


ところで、よくよく考えてみればこれまでの子育て、世間一般的に言われている大変だ、ということをウチではほとんど経験しなかったなあ・・・

最初の不慣れな1ヶ月は夫婦2人でOKだったし、夜泣きはしない、おっぱいでも哺乳瓶でもOK。

もちろん子育て自体は手がかかるのだが。

ただしこれから大変になりそうな兆候はたくさんある。

息子はなぜか外では緊張するのかむっつり顔してあまり泣かない。だが家ではギャンギャン。そしてとにかく鳴き声がでかい。
これは外ではとにかく「いい人」な妻に似たに違いない。だが家では大将だ。

そして夜の就寝は全く泣かないのに、なぜかお昼寝は非常に苦手。寝かせるまでも手がかかるが、その後30~40分ごとに起きてギャン泣き。

それから今のところ寝返りはする、ハイハイはまだ、という状況なのだが、だんだんパワフルになってきて腕をブンブン回すことが多くなった。
これにはうちの猫も危険を感じるらしく、息子が近いとそれとなく距離を置く。

ハイハイし始めたら目が離せなくなりそうだ。

ドバイでも日本のオムツが売っていた


うちでは近くのスーパーマーケットで買えるパンパース(センシティブ)を使っていたのだが、時々うんちが漏れるのが不満だった。
とにかくすごい勢いで噴射するのだ、うちのは。

そんな中、日本のオムツはかなり優秀だという話を聞いていた。まさかドバイに売っているわけないし、と思っていたら・・・

アラブ人度の高いスーパー、ユニオンコープで日本のオムツが売られているのを妻が発見。早速ムーニーのオムツを買ってきた。日本で売ってる同製品の値段よりもべらぼうに高く、パンパース(センシティブ)よりも高い。日本から来ているからしょうがないな。とりあえずはお試しだ。

「ふんわりぴたりのエアフィットでモレ安心」

パッケージにご託を並べるのは日本製品の特徴だが、なかなか期待の持てそうなお言葉。

だが・・・

モレた。

で、結局入手しやすいパンパースにもどる。

なぜかユニオンコープにはムーニー以外の日本製オムツも何種類か置いてあったんだそうだ。現地のアラブ系住民には人気があるのだろうか?日本製オムツは。

他にもユニオンコープで発見した意外な日本製品がある。
それはハリオのフィルターペーパー用コーヒー関連製品だ。私自身コーヒー好きなので重宝している。でも日本製オムツと同様、なぜかユニオンコープでしか手に入らない。

日本製コンシューマーグッズが圧倒的に苦戦しているドバイ市場にあって、意外な日本製品が限定的な経路のみで流通しているところがおもしろい。

近々予定する日本一時帰国が若干心配


心配ではあるが、いろんな意味で楽しみなのが、近々予定している息子を連れての日本行きだ。
息子にとっては生まれてから初めての日本。じいちゃんばあちゃんに顔見せするのが今回の目的だ。

心配な点は、ニュースなどでよく目にする日本の子供にまつわる厳しい環境だ。

やれ電車の中ではベビーカーを畳めとか、赤ちゃんが泣くと近所に迷惑とか、近くに保育所ができそうになると近隣住民の反対に会うとか、保育園に入れないから日本死ね、とか。

やたらと子供に厳しい話ばかりだ。(そんなんばかり放送するマスコミのせいであって、実際は違うかもしれないが。)

ところでドバイでは社会が子供に対して非常に優しい。総じて子供に対して寛大だ。子供も多いし。よって学費が高いことを除いては非常に子育てをしやすい環境にある。
完全に車社会なので移動時に他人に迷惑をかけなくて済む、という利点もある。

アパートに住んでいて、赤ん坊が泣いてうるさいと苦情が・・・
なんて話はドバイでは聞いたことがない。

他にはとにかくインターナショナルなので、教育の場としてそういう環境を好む人にとっては良いだろう。

そこで日本だが「保育園落ちた日本死ね」以来、保母さんを確保するのが難しい、というニュースをよく耳にする。給料が安いので人材不足になりがちなんだそうだが・・・

そこで私個人的に思うのだが、それこそフィリピン人など後進国からの人材を受け入れれば良いのではないかと思う。

うちでもたまに活用するが、ドバイのナニーやシッター、幼児向けナースには出稼ぎフィリピン人が非常に多い。明るく社交的で歌うのが大好きなフィリピン人女性は保母さんにとても向いている。

そして月給20万円程度でも、住む場所が確保され、本国への仕送りができれば喜んでその仕事に就くだろう。

それから幼児の相手は、介護などと違い日本語能力はたいして必要ないから、今すぐにでも始められる。日本人の保母さんとフィリピン人スタッフを両方おけば問題なしだ。

こういう話の場合、もちろん法整備や環境整備は必要だが、何よりハードルが高いのは日本人の頭の中がグローバル化できるかどうかだろう。

結局なかなか難しいんだろうな、移民受け入れに閉鎖的な日本では。



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