Trans tellie

There’s a new drama coming out on WOWOW cable channel here in Japan, interestingly title, “ママは昔パパだった,” which translates to, “In the past, mama was papa.” I asked Tomo today if indeed that was what I thought it was – a television drama about a transsexual. He said, “Yes, it is.” He expressed his fear how the show might play out in terms of treating such a sensitive subject. Transexuals are quite fashionable right now in Japan and appear on many game show / reality show / タレント (talent) shows. I guess WOWOW decided to cash in on that one.

The website homepage for the drama

Apparently I found it news worthy. How did I find out about it? I was reading advertising on the train. I always look at the ads to see what I can and cannot read, try to figure out the meaning, etc. I saw the ad and thought, “Wait a minute. Is that what I think?” My translation was just fine.

A typical weekend day

I’ve presented a lot about odd things here in Japan, and things that are different from the US. I’ve never spent that much time talking about the mundane. Perhaps, because, well, it IS mundane. However, when it is a half world away, the everyday is a little bit different.


tennis bag
Today I decided to go to the Aeon Mall across from the Nagoya Dome on a quest to find a tennis bag. I want something like the bag in the picture. You know, I have to carry twelve rackets with me all the time. Not really, but when you don’t have a car to dump your stuff in and you have to take a train, it is nice to consolidate so you are not balancing a bunch of stuff on your lap. You can put shoes, change of clothes, balls, etc inside. They are harder than it sounds to find. I’m going to have to use my Japanese internet search skills to find a tennis shop in Japan. I struck out, by the way. No shops in the mall that carried what I was looking for.

Ben Sherman flight bag in the bike basketI also was looking for a general sports bag that would function as an overnighter. In Japan, you need a bag for every occasion. I have my general purpose Ben Sherman flight bag, sometimes called my man purse. It is good for running around for the day. It’ll hold a couple books if I am studying, and easily my iPhone, iTouch, and BlechBerry (I know, I don’t need an iPhone AND an iTouch but for some reason I think that putting music on my iPhone will take up too much space even though it won’t). It also fits nicely in the basket of my ママチャリ, so I don’t have to worry about things rattling out of my pocket as I go down the street. But the Ben Sherman bag is too small for a weekender that requires me to take my computer. We won’t even talk about the bulky backpack I bought that holds nothing (North Face Recon “backpack”). I use it and curse it every time. Well, it works for some things. I found kind of what I was looking for at Aeon, but they didn’t have enough selection for me to decide. I think I’ll just take a bag from a sleeping high school kid in the train. That’s the kind of bag I want.

I decided that I really don’t like malls, whether it is in the US or Japan. There is so much concentrated consumption, yet still I don’t seem to find anything I want. Why is that I wonder? I did find the source for all the bright colored clothing though. Yikes! While I was at the mall, I thought I would put together a bit of a “day in the life” as I headed home from the mall to my home. There is a lot I haven’t shown in photographs, primarily because I see them every day. I need to do better documentation of my time here through “stock” photography.

Let’s start at the mall. As you can see, it is a very big mall, much like a suburban American mall. This is almost suburban. It is indeed an architectural masterpiece.

The mall


The mall is out at the Nagoya Dome, where the Chubu Dragons baseball team play. The subway entrance hallway is completely dedicated to the team.

The subway concourse


The mascot of the team is, from their name, a dragon. I’m not sure how this equates to a dragon. It seems more like a mouse to me, but I guess the mascot had to be cute.

Is this really a dragon?

Is this really a dragon?


Arriving at the entrance, there is always the subway map with fees above the ticket vending machine. I always have a 5000 yen pass with me, so I never pay attention to the price and rarely look at the map. I should look at the map because I have taken the wrong subway a few times when I thought I knew where I was going.

Subway decisions

Ticket machines


Once you get your ticket, you have to pass through the entrance wickets.

Subway decisions


You wait for the subway by the track. In some stations there are walls that keep you from being able to jump into an oncoming train, but in most cases it is like this station. The yellow strips are for blind people to make their way around the station. The ligher yellow is where the door will be when the train stops. The geek in my always looks at the center of the doors and the center of the tiles to see how good the conductor hit his marks. You can see the raised dotted yellow tile in front of the door.

The track


Here’s my local exit for this line – the Hisaya-odori (久屋通) exit of the Meijo line (名城線). After one year, I’m discovering that this is a rather convenient subway line, and I like that it runs every 5 minutes on the weekends instead of 10 minutes like the other line closer to my house. However, it does not take me to Nagoya station. It takes me about everywhere else though. There’s abundant information on each track, including a timetable, a map of the stops and the time to each station, a plan of the station, the location of the exits, and local bus information including line a bus stop location. The time table is in white for weekdays and pink for holidays and weekends.

Subway info

Subway info

Subway info


Before you go into the wickets, you have similar information including the general subway map, general train information including the time table (for two lines), and advertising. Also a map of the area also with advertising is available.

Subway info

Subway info


This subway station happens to be in the city center, and like many Japanese cities, there is an extensive underground network connecting stations to stations, and buildings to buildings. Of course, there is plenty of shopping and dining underground as well. Although I prefer to stay above ground, this can be very convenient on super hot days, cold days, and wet days.

The underground city


The subway entrances are typically easy to find, and they are always marked with their icon and also generally have the same architectural look. You can always count on any number of bikes parked out in front of a subway station.

The entrance / exit

Subway logo

Typical scene


This is the biggest intersection near my house, and is the home to two subways lines and my local Starbucks. Traffic seemed to be really thin when I took these pictures.


Looking down Sakuradori

Looking down Utsudori

My local Starbucks and study spot


Walking home from the subway stop, there are many things to see, including:

Tearing down another building for yet a new, unoccupied building?

Making room for a different empty building


A wedding center.

A local wedding center


A typical view.

Looking down Sakuradori


My bank, which happens to be a 7/11. It has an international ATM that allows me to withdraw from my savings account. Rare in Japan. It is not really my bank, but I use the ATM there all the time.

Thank heaven


An import car. Odd.

A Citroen in Japan


A ubiquitous Yama-chan. They are everywhere in Nagoya and specialize in Tebasaki (手羽先), which is basically chicken wings.



And the Lawson’s in my apartment building. It is a convenience store where I can also pay my utility bill. One is due, so I should pay.

I make too many purchases here


A view of my apartment building, and one of the bike parking areas.

My apartment building

Bike parking


I toured around my neighborhood a little bit too. The streets were very quiet, but I was able to find another Yama-chan. I told you they were ubiquitous.

My neighborhood is quiet on a weekend

Another Yama-chan in the neighborhood


And for those of you who wonder what taxis are like, here is an example of two different types. The blue one and the black one. There is a white one too, but I was unable to see one stopped to take a picture. They are actually different sizes and different prices, but I’ve never really noticed the difference. I don’t often take a taxi anyway.

Blue taxi

Black taxi


Oh, and this morning, I finally got a picture of a Hate Bus. Yes, both yesterday and today I heard them.

A white hate bus


Unfortunately, more noise is coming. I recently read this:

Official announcement of the campaign season for the Lower House general election.

It was decided that the Lower House general election is to be held on August 30, after entering the campaign period on August 18.

Please endure noise from vehicles of candidates [ed. emphasis added].


I noticed a little Engrish on my walk as well. It is a flower shop.

Did someone have a lisp?


And finally, tonight was the last night of the Nagoya Castle Matsuri. I went for some yakisoba and a beer, and then stumbled across a lantern ceremony at a local temple. 5000 lanterns are offered for the spirits who were killed in World War II. Today is the anniversary of the end of World War II. I’ll post the pictures from the Matsuri and the lantern ceremony another day. I think this is enough for now.


Team Rescue Fire

I was wandering around Nagoya today, looking for a sporting goods shop in the center of the city that sells tennis gear. Finding a shop is far harder than it sounds.

I noticed a small crowd in Central Park. Yes, Nagoya has a Central Park, and it is a park and it is central but it is really just a wide, grassy median. Then I noticed some pretty strange costumes in the crowd as well. I knew that the Cosplay festival was over so I wondered what this latest festival was. After all, it is festival season. I had no schedule or real plans, so I figured I would check it out.

Team Rescue Fire Shoot

I walked over and saw that there was a crew there shooting something. Hollywood meets Nagoya. I got a closer look at the strange costumes and could tell that they represented fire. Huh. They were almost sleestak-esque. When I got a little closer, I could tell the costumes were a little, shall we say, tragic. Why do Japanese fantasy television shows insist on putting their folks in tights? Indeed, the usual number of camel toes and outline of ill fitting tights were present. I was able to tell pretty quickly that this shoot was for something aimed at children. I hope no child suffers any lingering effects of the images they see on the tube.

As I continued to mill about, the “talent” also made their presence and handed out some packages to kids. Apparently the show promotes Tomica toys (think Tonka, but Japanese) so the talent has some promotion obligation. The “talent” looked fairly young to me. They were friendly with the kids. I took some pictures because I finally had my camera with me. Unfortunately, I was told “No camera” by one of the crew. Oh well.

Through a little interweb research, I was able to learn that this was really a joint Tomica Hero Rescue Fire and Team R-1 production. Two crime fighting groups joining forces for the good of all Japanese. I don’t think I saw any of the Team R-1 people. Not sure. I did see their fancy cars though.

Here’s a link to a previous Rescue Fire and Team R-1 production. Team R-1 and Hero Rescue Fire fight the scary fire people.


And here’s a link to the Rescue Fire feature Jun (Fire 5) and his Senpai (senior) Tatsuya, Fire-1. Interestingly, this was filmed in Tokyo instead of Nagoya. Why on location in Nagoya right now? You can see the funny fire people a little better here. I wonder what else Jun has learned from Tatsuya?


Here’s a look at the flames in between scenes.

Flames at rest


And of course, a detail of a flame. He was one of the less showy of all the flames, if you get my drift.

Flame detail


I didn’t realize that I got such a good shot of all the team members. Here’s Jun Watari, Fire 5, in light blue; Ritsuka Yuki, Fire 2, in green; Tsubasa Aoi, Fire 3, in black; and Yuma Megumi, Fire 4, in silver.

Hero Rescue Fire Team


The final team member, and leader of the team, is Tatsuya Homura, Fire 1, in orange along side Jun.

Tatsuya and Jun


Here’s Jun Watari, played by Masanori Mizuno, meeting a young fan. My camera chose to autofocus on the cone, but that’s another story.

Jun Watari


And no good rescue show is complete without the villain. In this case, taking a break on set.

The villain


Wikipedia tells a lot about the characters in an extensive entry. Here’s an excerpt:

  • Tatsuya Homura/Fire-1 (ç‚Ž タツヤ/ファイアー1 Homura Tatsuya) The rookie member of Rescue Fire, donning an orange suit. At age 6, Tatsuya lost his parents in a fire and was temprorary in the care of relatives for two pain-filled years before he attended Himawari School (ひまわり学園 Himawari Gakuen), where he learned to smile becauseof his friend Mie who became the teacher of his school after he graduated and became a fire fighter prior to joining the Rescue Fire team. Though he is a skilled team member and has a burning Rescue Soul, he isn’t nearly as professional as his teammates, and tends to get in trouble or hijinks as a result of goofing off. He loves eating anything with ketchup on it and is a recycler by nature. He can utilize kung-fu in his attacks Whirlwind Kick (旋風キック SenpÅ« Kikku) and Dragon Kick (ドラゴンキック Doragon Kikku?) He is 19 years old.

  • Yuma Megumi/Fire-2 (恵 ユウマ/ファイアー2 Megumi YÅ«ma): The emergency medical expert of Rescue Fire, donning a silver suit. His parents, Tatsugoro (タツゴロウ Tatsugorō) and Yoshie (ヨシエ Yoshie), run the Megumiya (め組屋) monjayaki restaurant, their lineage being that of hikeshi and tobi. Wanting to be a fire fighter, Yuma promised he would be the best to his friend Jiro (ジロウ Jirō), who takes his place in becoming the best construction worker. Yuma displays a blatant crush on Tama-chan, though his affections have gone unreturned. Using the Break Ax, he can execute the attack Ax Storm. He also uses the Tri-Basher in Gun Mode to execute the Circle Shot attack.

  • Ritsuka Yuki/Fire-3 (雪 リツカ/ファイアー3 Yuki Ritsuka/Faiā SurÄ«): The female member of Rescue Fire called “Miss Perfect”, donning a green suit. Her father was a top rescuer who died during a Super-Disaster. She left the country and trained in America before joining the Rescue Fire team. She likes animals and has a good knowledge of animals. Though curious as to why someone like Tatsuya is a member of the team, she begins to slowly realize the reason behind it and open up to her teammates.

  • Tsubasa Aoi/Fire-4 (葵 ツバサ/ファイアー4 Aoi Tsubasa/Faiā Fō): A member of the Rescue Fire’s Sky Team (スカイチーム Sukai ChÄ«mu), donning a black suit. He attended an American university prior to joining the UFDA, being Ritsuka’s rival with the intent on outdoing her under the impression she was Fire-1. But after seeing someone with less experience than her is Fire-1, Tsubasa refuses to acknowledge Tatsuya’s abilities.

  • Jun Watari/Fire-5 (航 ジュン/ファイアー5 Watari Jun/Faiā Faibu): A member of the Sky Team, donning a light blue suit.

    It was amazing how quickly they were moving through their setups. I didn’t see a single light in use, only a few reflectors.

    And no, I knew NOTHING of this show before I stumbled across the shoot today. Amazing what the interwebs contain, whether you want the info or not. And gosh, all the actors seemed tall.


    Another earthquake – this one closer so it felt bigger.  It was a 6.6 in Shizuoka, it felt like a 3 or 4 here.  Magnified of course by living on the 6th floor.  Also, looks like a 60 cm tsunamai in Izu as well.  Oh, and by the way, there is a typhoon hitting the same area at the same time.

    At least this time I waited until AFTER the quake before I used Twitter.

    In terms of damage, I have no idea.  We are seeing video from the TV news room in Shizuoka that shows stuff on the floor.  Typical earthquake footage.  And now grocery store images with drinks scattered on the floor.

    Preliminary reports are 6.6 at 5:07 pm.  USGS says 6.4.

    Yes, all is fine

    Of course, like California, Japan is very seismically active. There was indeed a 6.9 or 7.1 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan that definitely shook things up. Strangely, Tokyo felt it more than Nagoya although the epicenter was closer to Nagoya. I’ll have to check the fault lines.

    I’m fine, Tomo is fine, and I’ve heard no reports of damage. I reported on it in Facebook, and Twitter, so now it seems my blog. Short of telephoning everyone I know or sending out a large email, I’ve done the best I can to communicate my status.

    I remember one week in Mito in 2004 where we had the Niigata earthquake, a typhoon, and a volcano eruption in Gunma. Japan holds many surprises.

    7.1 Earthquake, 9 August 2009, 7:56 pm JST

    7.1 Earthquake, 9 August 2009, 7:56 pm JST

    7.1 Earthquake, 9 August 2009, 7:56 pm JST

    7.1 Earthquake, 9 August 2009, 7:56 pm JST