Pretty in the snow

OK, I had a pretty negative article about the hate bus. But this is a beautiful day here in Nagoya. It just keeps snowing, and snowing, and snowing as I exactly said below. This is really only the third day that I’ve seen snow in Nagoya. The first was around Christmas 2008 and it was really just flurries. The next was New Year’s Eve in 2009. Off and on snow had been predicted, then retracted, then posted again. Well, we’ve had mostly ON and it is really, really nice. I don’t need to drive anywhere, I don’t need to take the train. I have no idea if the roads are bad or if the train schedules are messed up. I do know that I went for a walk and had a blast. The snow makes things so peaceful.

I wanted to make sure I got out before it turned to rain, or stopped. But it is continuing.

Street scenes.

2011 snow in Nagoya


2011 snow in Nagoya


2011 snow in Nagoya


I love my furry winter coat. No, that is not real fur. It is another UNIQLO purchase.

2011 snow in Nagoya


She’s got to be really cold.

2011 snow in Nagoya


The shrine across the street from my apartment.

2011 snow in Nagoya


2011 snow in Nagoya


2011 snow in Nagoya


2011 snow in Nagoya


And some local greenery (in black and white).

2011 snow in Nagoya


Ugly, even in the snow

I written about the Hate Bus multiple times. Today it is snowing, and snowing, and snowing. It is quite remarkable and beautiful. I love seeing the snow. I decided to go for a short walk to try to get some good pictures of the neighborhood in the snow. As I was crossing the street, the hate buses were at the intersection. I really dislike the hate buses. But this time I was completely covered up – I had on a full cap that even had flaps covering my ears, and my hood was up. So I stopped in the middle of the street and pointed my camera straight at the lead truck. Screw them.

Hate the world in your Chevrolet


Now, as I have pointed out before, these are Nationalist groups. So why, oh why, is this vehicle a CHEVROLET?!? Do they not see the irony? Or maybe they don’t hate the US.

Anyway, they are not pretty, even in the snow.

Hate bus


Hate bus


No thanks, I’d rather read about it

A recent article in the Japan Herald states, “Third of young Japanese men have no interest in sex.”

Japan’s birth rate is plummeting because more than a third of Japanese males have no interest in or are actively averse to sex, says a survey.

According to the survey of 671 men and 869 women, issued by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, 35.1 per cent of men aged 16 to 19 said they are not interested in or averse to sex, more than double the 17.5 per cent of men in the previous study in 2008.

Really? REALLY? I wonder about their statistics. AFP reports on the same news, as do many other news agencies.

Japanese, in general, are not great at responding to surveys. How were these surveys performed, in what context? It is true that the birth rate in Japan is really low, and the population is declining. It will be a real strain on the country to support all the aging people right now. If current eating habits continue though, I predict the life span of the Japanese will actually decrease for a while in the future. But I digress. Economic models still seem to be focused on growth instead of sustainability, so until Japan shifts their model to a sustainment model, it will be difficult. With neighbors like China, staying out of a growth race is pretty hard, but one that probably can’t be won.

World birthrate


What is leading to such a reduced birth rate? Developed countries or countries with strong regulations on birthrate (China) tend to have lower birth rates. Japan clearly falls into that category. But if I look at the life of a typical Japanese young person, would I want to have kids? Likely, if single, they are living at home or in a small mansion. If married, they are still likely living with one of the parents. Not a whole lot of time for privacy. Plus, people really do work late into the night, easily between 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm. So people are tired and have no privacy. Two strikes against a good sex life. Then, if a couple does get it on, do they want to have kids? Space is small, living is expensive, and having kids amplifies those problems. Many couples are going childless or opting for one child. There are exceptions of course, but I know of few families with more than two children.

What about the 16 to 19 year olds? Are they really so uninterested in sex? I don’t think so. Any trip to a 7-11 will reveal lots of sexually explicit manga [LINK]. Lots of manga shops have huge areas devoted to 18+ manga. My local manga shop is Toranoana and walking through the floors is quite the eye opening experience.

Manga shop


Recently, Tokyo has passed a law that will require a lot of restrictions on manga. This news even made the Wall Street Journal.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly on Wednesday enacted an ordinance that vastly expands a law meant to restrict people younger than 18 from purchasing or flipping through manga depicting rape, sex crimes, incest and “sexually explicit acts and graphic images that are not acceptable morally.” By making previous rules broader and more clear, the Tokyo government will have the authority to deem more manga as “unwholesome books,” which restrict where and how they can be sold.

Perhaps these days, the 16 – 19 year old boys would rather read about sex than actually participate, then spend the next 2 hours trimming their eyebrows and styling their hair. Yes, the AFP article even dredges up the Herbivore man again.

Of course, all my comments are merely speculation. I’ve done no personal research with the 16 to 19 year old boys in Japan.

Staying toasty

I’ve maybe been complaining about how cold it is. Maybe that’s only on Facebook or Twitter, but it’s cold for Nagoya. There’s no central heating in my apartment although I do have radiated heat through the floors in part of my house. Not all rooms, so I have cold areas and warm areas. I like the heated floors, but because they are heated by hot water, my gas bill gets pretty high in the winter.

One way to combat the cold temperature though is to wear warmer clothes. So I’m sitting here in wool socks, a wool sweater, and thick “house pants,” plus a HEATTECH (link in English or Japanese) turtleneck from ユニクロ (UNIQLO). Yes, here I am talking about underwear again.



UNIQLO, as I have posted before is about the only place that I can find clothes that come close to fitting. I’m preparing to go to Hokkaido in a couple of weeks, so I figured I needed long underwear. Everyone swears by HEATTECH so I also bought some long underwear there. And now, I can’t stop wearing it or buying it. Do people in the States often wear longjohns to work? Do you have to reach a certain age to do so?



I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I am not alone in my love of leggings in Japan. Nor does it seem to be an age thing. Many of my younger colleague’s tights poke their way out from under their pants when they sit with their legs crossed. And we know from past posts that leggings under pants are fashionable. So on these colder days, I shamelessly wear my long underwear to work, smugly knowing that I am staying warm.

I do keep it a little old school on the tights, going for the waffle material as opposed to the silky material they offer as well. I almost went with camouflage as well, but I don’t have anything camouflage, so why get the tights? I can’t emphasize enough that, although they pants and sleeves are a little short, the HEATTECH is really nice to have and makes the chilly Nagoya mornings and nights a little toastier.

And for my Midwestern friends and readers, the weather here is nothing compared to your winters. I know it. But I’m a Californian now.

Future Vision

Rumor has it that as you get older, it gets harder for you to read smaller (or regular print), especially in low light. It’s called presbyopia. states:

Presbyopia — the gradual loss of your eyes’ ability to focus actively on nearby objects — is a not-so-subtle reminder that you’ve reached middle age. A natural, often annoying part of aging, presbyopia usually becomes noticeable in your early to mid-40s and continues to worsen until around age 60.

You may become aware of presbyopia when you start holding books and newspapers at arm’s length to be able to read them. If you’re nearsighted, you might temporarily manage presbyopia by reading without your glasses.

Unfortunately, I can attest first hand that the rumor is true and annoying. Over the past few years, my ability to read small print in low light has deteriorated greatly. So for all my colleagues I used to tease on business trips when they held their menus far away, or brought the menu closer to a light, enjoy your Schadenfreude. It totally sucks.

One form of a Japanese vision test eye chart


My eyes are messed up anyway, farsighted with astigmatism. As I’ve gotten older, my farsightedness has actually improved, while my near vision for reading has gone south. So really, the solution should be bifocals or progressive lenses. Sigh. I can still read fairly well without reading glasses though – or at least I can read English. I’m completely blind reading tiny Japanese text with furigana. It is impossible, so I have a pair of reading glasses (and not the pharmacy reading glasses – no sir – my farsightedness and astigmatism precludes that) that I use when I am reading Japanese or small English text.

When I was back in the States in November, I had a pair of lenses replaced because they had become too scratched somehow, and I was tired of seeing starbursts at nighttime through my frames. As a vain guy, I have three pairs of glasses so it wasn’t a major impact, but these frames I wore probably 90% of the time. OK, 99% of the time. I went to the doctor and had them arranged to be express shipped to my brother’s place in Boston since I was not going to be back in LA.

My everyday glasses


Fortunately, the glasses arrived in Boston while I was still there, I popped them on, and they felt really, really good. Ahhhhhh. Then I pulled out my iPhone to read something, and I couldn’t make out a thing. Everything was completely blurry.

Simulated reading results with new lenses


The previous year, my Doctor and I had reached a bit of a compromise. We thought that I could go with my 2008 prescription that overcorrects my farsightedness, and helps my reading ability as well. It isn’t really enough for reading, but it is adequate. I didn’t want to transition to bifocals yet because that is admitting that erectile dysfunction is just around the corner. Actually, I didn’t want to make a change just prior to moving to Japan. In 2010, I got another eye check and of course things had changed. So I had a new prescription and again my Doctor and I agreed to stick with the old prescription but to perhaps update my reading glasses.

When I went to get the new lenses, the optician pulled the 2010 prescription to make the lenses, resulting in beautiful distance vision but horrible reading. Of course, I found that out in Boston. I also had gotten rid of all my old prescriptions in Japan because they were “out of date.” Luckily, my optician agreed to send me the new old prescription and now I am in the process of getting new lenses in Japan.

Of course, in Japan, the lenses are much more expensive. Nothing like paying for lenses twice in a 3 month period. And I was greeted with a matrix of options … how much thinner, what kind of coats, and how much edge distortion are you willing to accept? I kind of shot for the middle – I hope the lines will be straight enough. We’ll see in one week how well the new lenses work.

I had Tomo with me to help with the transaction, and even with him present it was hard to communicate the various things I needed / wanted. However, I’m pretty confident we got the right lenses on order in terms of correction. I’m just worried about the extra stuff like the coating, the index of refraction, and the distortion. Oh well. Time will tell.