Communication in Japan Weblog

{December 15, 2008}   Condensed World

I was doing my research last night and came across the following passage on

Summary of the World

If we could shrink the Earth’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look like this:
81 would be from less developed countries with a gross income per capita and year of US$ 3,580, 19 would be from developed countries with a gross income per capita and year of US$ 22,060.

There would be 61 Asians, 12 Europeans, 13 Africans, 9 would be from South America and the Caribbean, and 5 from North America including Canada.

75 would be non-white, while 25 would be white.

60 would mistrust their own government.

(No wonder, that the governments mistrust their people.)

60 would live within 62 miles of a coastline.

50 would be female, and 50 would be male.

50 would rely in some manner on coastal and marine habitats for food, building sites, transportation, recreation, and waste disposal.

48 would live on less than US $2 a day.

48 would lack access to basic sanitation.

47 would be urban dwellers.

(The world’s urban areas are expected to surpass rural areas in population around the year 2005)

29 would believe in witchcraft.

25 would live in substandard housing or have no home at all.

20 would live on less than US $1 a day.

17 would be under 18 years old.

16 would lack access to safe drinking water.

16 would be unable to read and write.

14 would suffer from malnutrition.

10 would live in least developed countries.

8 would have Internet access from home.

4.5 would be citizens of the United States

1 would be infected with HIV/AIDS.

1 would be near death, and 1 would be near birth.

Only 1 would have a college education.


Half of the entire village’s wealth would be in the hands of only 6 people, and most of them would be citizens of the United States.


When one considers our world from such an incredibly compressed perspective, the need for cooperation, tolerance and understanding becomes glaringly apparent.



After reading that, I was … speechless?? … I mean, 48% of the world living on less than $2 a day… is that even possible?  When I found the article, I told me host mom about it, and she was like, “These people are lucky!  They can pay for house and electricity with only 200 yen!”  I told her that I don’t think that is really the case (I mean, come on now, 25 people don’t even have a good home, and 14 are suffering from malnutrition!!).  Still, wow, only one person receiving a college education?  I see college students everywhere… just wow… I think the website mentioned that this is old.  But just thinking about it.. wow….


Here is another version of the “Summary of the World” (the page is animated ^_~)


Youtube version:


(After watching that video… I don’t even know why I’m taking Japanese…)


{December 13, 2008}   Buses

Last night my mom took me to a Christmas Gospel Choir in Osaka, so I had to meet her at Hirakatashi at 5:30.  My bus card expired earlier this week, so I had to walk to Hirakatashi.  I really don’t mind because it is good exercise (or at least that is what I tell myself….). 

Well, as I was walking, no less than four buses (that are still in service) passed by me, and they were all in a row.  I remembered when I had to wait for the bus (with service) at Kansai Gaidai.  Remember my earlier post about three nonservice buses passing by me when I was waiting for the bus?  Well, I think that the drivers are avoiding the students on purpose.  In order for me to get to Hirakatashi by 5:30, I had to leave around 5:10.  The time when most students get out is either around 5:20 or 5:40 (so maybe between 5:20-6??), and what we see are nonservice buses passing us by.   Now, at 5:10 there are four with-service buses???  Oh gee!!!  Well, the good thing about this is that since I’m walking, I won’t be affected by the bus system.  Poor people having to walk…

Now, the choir that my mom took me to was pretty good.  I didn’t really know that I was going to go to a gospel choir because my mom told me it was going to be an orchestra (O_o… big difference I think..).  Most of the songs sang were in English (the only Japanese-language song was Silent Night).  These people have great vocals (so awesome that I think I could hear them fine without a mike.. but since the majority of the audience are senior citizens, I guess it’s understandable…).  The problem was that some of the members did not (or cannot) pronounce the words correctly, so it was a bit hard to understand.  The singers had lots of energythough, and like I said earlier, their voices were awesome!  So I ended up half trying to place myself in the shoes of these senior citizens and try to hear what they hear.  Amongst the songs that were sang were Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Seasons of Love, and I Believe I Can Fly.  I don’t know, but are these songs considered Christian Gospel songs?  Who knows, huh?

{December 12, 2008}   Home

I remember in one class, we talked about how the women in Japan would wear their heals outside and slip into their slippers when they get inside the company.  This shows how a Japanese company functions like a family.  In the U.S., it would be the opposite.  The women would walk to work in their sneakers (or other walking shoes), and slip into the heals as they get closer towards their workplace.

Last night I saw a picture of my host mom and host sister at their recital.  My host mom plays the harp while my host sister plays the violin.  Both of them were dressed up and looking good.  What shocked me was that both of them were wearing slippers!  At a recital?!  (like “what”???!!!) So I asked my mom if the picture was taken while they were practicing.  She told me that that was their actual recital.  I found out that their recital was held at the place where they normally go for lessons, so I guess their teachers are now like their family.

Before I came to Japan, I had a music major roommate.  I remember that whenever she had a recital to go to, she would dress up and not change into slippers when it was her turn to perform.  I had been to several of her recitals, so I know this from experience.  However, I’m not sure if she had practiced on stage before.  I know that she was worried about how her teachers would be grading her, and that her appearance is important. 

I guess that because of my roommate, I was kind of surprised that my host mom and sister were wearing slippers for their recital.  I know that did wore dress shoes when they left to go to the recital.   I saw my mom when she came back from the recital, and my host sister only brought one pair of shoes over when she stayed with us the night before the recital…

{December 11, 2008}   Culture Shock

Wow… it’s almost the end of the semester and I still feel like it’s only October, maybe closing to November.  My friends told me that it’s because the weather is probably different where I lived.  They said that it is the little things that I missed. 

Anyways, so, the class started out this morning  with what each of us are doing over winter break.   Then one of my classmates said she is going home.  She said that she really misses home.  She told us that there was this one time where she just wanted to go home and that she really didn’t like Japan.  She said she feels better now, and that she really likes Japan, but she’s still excited to go home. If this doesn’t scream “culture shock,”  I don’t know what does.  ^_~

{December 9, 2008}   Fresh Meat!!

Ok, I remember that there was a discussion in one of my classes about fresh meat in China.  It was about a foreign student living with a Chinese host family. To repay the family for their kindness, the foreign student wanted to cook something for the family.  The host sister volunteered to take the student to the meat shop for fresh meat.  However, the foreign student couldn’t stand it (because they were killing the animals right there) and so they went to a supermarket where meat was in a package.

Today there was a presentation that one of the groups  did about Walmart.  Apparently Walmart also sells fresh meat the way the Chinese prefer.  They have meat that were uncovered, and one of the comments that the presenter made was that Walmart used to chopped the chicken right there until the SARS incident.   They also said that there is a fish tank where customers can select and buy the fish they want.  I think that packaged items are not fresh enough for the Chinese to enjoy.

{December 8, 2008}   Back to Train Experiences!

So over the weekend, as I was going back to Hirakatashi, my friend and I encountered drunking businessmen (I guess they just got back from a nomikai – they still wore their business suits…).  Well, it was late at night, and we were on the JR line, so there were seats.  It was just two of us and we had a four-seater seat thingy (we took the pair of seats at the end, but then the guy on the other side of us went and flip the seat thingy so that an extra pair of seats faced us, so then we have a four-seater…)… In the next stop, these two drunken businessmen came in.  We didn’t realize they were drunk until we smell the alcohol on their breath when they asked if they could sit there (or something like that… it was in Japanese, and they were slurring… they just plopped down anyway, so I guess our responses doesn’t matter…).

It was kind of a funny situation to observe.  Both of them were slouching, and talking in a ‘hush hush’ way.  (We can still hear their conversation even if we don’t understand, and the alcohol on their breath is so strong…) The guy sitting directly in front of me then stretched out his legs and it looked like he was falling.  His feet were all in my space!!  I was quite uncomfortable, but didn’t want to disturb him.  Our stop was also coming up, so I didn’t want to say anything.  My friend suggested that I should “accidentally” drop my bag so that the guy would move his feet, but I felt guilty.  Poor little old guys, you know.  Still, it was funny when the other guy was doing all the talk as this guy was falling asleep.  I guess it was interesting because it was the first time either of us encountered old drunken Japanese businessmen.  Gee, since both of us are business majors, I wonder if we would be in the same situation in the future… O_o

{December 6, 2008}   Whale meat

In one of my classes yesterday, we talked about foreign companies going to Japan.  The discussion of whale meat came up when my teacher talked about Testco, a famous company in the UK, coming to Japan and took over a Japanese company.  One of the products that this Japanese company sold was whale meat.  When the UK population heard that Testco is selling whale meat in Japan, they protested against Testco. 

So, the problem was that what should Testco do in this case?  On one hand, if they continue to sell whale meat to the Japanese consumer, they’ll face negative publicity in the UK.  However, if they stop selling whale meat, it would seems like they are forcing UK’s opinions onto the Japanese market.  Luckily though, whale meat was not all that popular (therefore not profitable) in the Japanese market, so Testco was able to take the product out without offending both sides.

On a side note, Japan actually supports “whale research” where these “researchers” go around the world, killing whales for “research,” and … I guess… eat them.  Not a lot of people are a big fan of these “researches”…

{December 2, 2008}   Nomikai!!!

Yesterday my host mom told me that she will go to a nomikai later on today.  So, since I’ve learned about nomikai in class, I asked her how she felt about it.  The first thing she told me was that she didn’t want to go, especially since it is very expensive.  However, by going to these gatherings, her department and the department that she works with can build a better relationship.  Her department is mostly female dominant while the other one is mostly male.  Therefore, at times, both departments do not agree with each other.  So, these nomikai actually make their relationship more amiable.

For those who don’t know, nomikai is basically a drinking party where a group of coworkers goes out together to build a closer relationship with each other.  It is unique to the Japanese, I think.

{December 1, 2008}   Durian!

Yesterday one of my friends let me have some durian chips! They taste *very* good. I think this website has a good explanation of durian: Durian is a “fruit from South East Asia that has a horrible smell yet tastes so good. It smells like natural gas (not the bodily function type, but the additive type that is in fuel natural gas).”

My granny would serve these fruits every once in awhile. I have to admit that the fruit smells… and not in a good way. I *love* the fruit, but there have been times when I cannot stand the smell, so I couldn’t eat the fruit. My uncle really despises the scent. When she serves the fruit, my uncle refused to go anywhere near my granny’s apartment.

Here’s a picture of the fruit


And here is a video of the fruit: How Smelly is it I wonder???

et cetera