Hallowe’en Tree

A Hallowe'en Tree. Like a Christmas Tree, only darker and with more pumpkins.I don’t know. It’s only the middle of September, and the shopping centres already have their Hallowe’en Trees up.

Hang on a minute…

This is the first one I’ve seen in Japan, but for all I know they’re really common.

In other news, I continue to be really busy, which is why there are still very few blog entries from me.

Japanese Prime Ministers

I’m sorry it’s been so long since I updated this blog; we went to the UK in the summer, and that ate up a lot of time. I have a bunch of things to post, and I’ve started working on them, so I’ll keep this entry short, just to bring some life back to the blog, and get on with writing more substantial articles.

As you probably know, Yoshihiko Noda has just become the new Prime Minister of Japan. He is the sixth person to hold that post in Mayuki’s lifetime. Mayuki is still three years old.

By way of comparison, there have been eight Prime Ministers of the UK in my lifetime. I am thirteen times Mayuki’s age.

It’s not entirely fair to describe Japan’s political system as “unstable”, but it certainly doesn’t encourage long-lived Prime Ministers. According to a news article I read a few days ago, the longest-serving post-war Japanese Prime Minister did not serve for as long as the average tenure of post-war German Chancellors. I’m just waiting for the Japanese people to take inspiration from the Arab spring and pour onto the streets of Tokyo waving banners saying “We don’t want regime change!” and “We demand that the Prime Minister doesn’t resign!”.

The Colour of Traffic Lights

A notorious peculiarity in the Japanese language is that they think that the “go” light on traffic lights is blue. That is, the word that is normally translated as “blue” (ao) is used to describe the “go” light, rather than the word normally translated as “green” (midori). This is something that foreigners, particularly Western foreigners, are said to argue with Japanese people about. Indeed, on one site of “evidence you’ve been in Japan too long”, “you think the “go” light is blue” was listed as one of the signs.

On Monday, I took Mayuki to Ginza, one of the main shopping centres in Tokyo, because I had a couple of jobs to do there. When we were waiting to cross the road, I pointed at the pedestrian signal and asked, “What colour is that?”

“Red!” she replied, in Japanese. (She almost invariably speaks Japanese, even though I address her in English.)

Moments later, it changed, so I said we could go.

“Oh, it’s turned green!” Mayuki said, again in Japanese.

“Actually, in Japanese you say “blue”,” I told her.

“What? That’s green!” she retorted.

So there we have it. A neutral observer, at two years old, has declared in favour of the westerners.

The “go” light is green.

Global Phenomenon

I listened to yesterday’s Yomiuri Podcast this morning as I was having a walk. Susan Boyle failing to win Britain’s Got Talent was one of the news items.

A genuine global phenomenon.