Version 2.0 - Tokyo is coming soon. Please excuse the construction and let me know if you have any problems.

Holiday Plans

Friday, November 21, 2008 / Posted by Zackary / comments (0)

Many people have asked about my holiday plans. So what am I doing? I don't know yet. Whenever I figure out something to do that is exciting and affordable I will pass on the details.

Tonight some friends are having an early Thanksgiving Day party. I have been looking forward to this and will no doubt get stuffed. On Saturday morning and early afternoon I plan on sleeping and then sleeping some more.

Saturday night I am going to an English party. There are small compaines here that set up private students for one-on-one lessons with a native speaker. The students pay a one time fee to the company and then it is just the student and teacher. These English parties are sometime small in a conference room or in clubs like that one I am going to tomorrow. For native speakers the party is free. I really like the word free in any langugae. Japanese students pay a high fee to get in. The last big English party I went to was a blast. So I am looking forward to the one on Saturday.

Time to go run for my afternoon bus.

Take care,



Response to a comment

Friday, November 21, 2008 / Posted by Zackary / comments (3)

I did ask for questions and received this one recently.

"Please tell us about your travels in Japan. You know, a full circle synopsis so if we never venture to Japan, we'll still know something about the country. If we go there sometime, we'll know what we want to see for ourselves firsthand as we'll have "seen" bits and pieces of what you've experienced."

Perhaps one day I will write a book about Japan. To give a "full circle synopsis" would be a series of books. Sharing "bits and pieces" are one of the main reasons I write this blog. Is there a particular thing you want to know about?

Maybe about one of the following things:
  • transit
  • yen
  • attractions
  • culture
  • relationships between Japanese people
  • realtionships between the Japanese and foreigners
  • what the Japanese schools are like
  • what shopping is like in Japan
  • how the banks work
  • how and what the apartments are like (Yes there will be pictures of my place soon. This weekend I swear.)
  • how to get a job and what they are like
  • the experience of teaching English
  • information about the Japanese language
  • popular music
  • clothing styles

I will work on a short overview of Japan and see how that goes.

Thank you for the questions. I envision this blog as more then just a one sided conversation so I welcome opinions, thoughts and questions.

Peace & Love,



Updated blog on Japanese employees Take II

Thursday, November 20, 2008 / Posted by Zackary / comments (0)

As I have many new readers I am posting an updated blog from last year.

Today is cold, dark and the rain looks to last all day. This is the kind of day I love to stay in bed, read a good book and turn up Kind of Blue nice and loud. As I have a cold this scenario sounds especially attractive.

In Japan employees only take sick days when they are really sick. I don't think they get paid if they call in sick. If I have perfect attendance I get a bonus each month. On the plus side the government health insurance pays your wages if you are too sick to work. People across the board wear masks in public, the kind that doctors wear. Children wear them too and they come in pretty colors and designs. Disney alone makes a fortune selling masks.

On a side note, Tokyo Disney is insanely popular in Japan. I would love to own stock in the company and set on the beach all day while someone brought me frosty drinks. Disney icons can be seen everywhere, even more than in the US. When I talk to woman about Disney their eyes glaze over like I am talking about paradise. I am not mocking them, I love Disney too. My friend Carl went last weekend and had a great time.
In addition to rarely calling in sick, employees work long hours. The Japanese actually have a word for dying from overwork.
I teach a business lesson on work which includes business hours. Students are not surprised when I tell them typical American business hours are 9 to 5. When I ask students their hours they claim to also work 9 to 5. I know this isn’t true so I ask more questions. Calling on a student I will ask her what time she left work the day before. "I left at 7:30," she will say. Turning to another student I ask the same question. "I left at 8:00," he will say. This game will go on as they claim to work 9 to 5. They are technically scheduled from 9 to 5 but nobody leaves at 5. If the boss is still there at 8:00 no one is leaving. I work from 8:30 to 4:15 each day. The Japanese teachers work before and after me. In the evening they don't do much but are here which is what counts.

Toyota's corporate headquarters are in Nagoya and they are like the Vatican. Toyota has their own city and pieces of many businesses. In their city they have dormitories for employees and many live there. It is common for men to stay in the dormitories during the week and go home to their families on the weekend. Many other companies also have dormitories for their employees. When you go out shopping or to a cafe during the day you see a sea of women. Asking a woman when her husband gets home, she will quote a very late time. I was with my friend Jeremy at a large Starbucks and he said, "We are the only men here." I failed to see how that was a bad thing. As we were leaving a half hour later high on venti lattes there was one male employee.

Toyota being Toyota decided they could change the rules. So they decided to not observe most of the national holidays. Instead, they created Golden Weeks which combine holidays into blocks of times of about a week or two. Many other companies follow the Golden Weeks in one form or another. One of my friends has to follow the Golden schedule but doesn't like it because most of his friends are off when he is working.

Nagoya in the summer is VERY hot and the humitiy is often 80% or more. A few years ago Toyota decided to let their employees wear short sleeve dress and be a bit more casual. Of course everyone followed their example so the summer is slightly less hot.

People ask me if Chicago is the automotive capital of America. I am sad that they get Detroit and Chicago confused as Detroit is not such a nice place. They do have a new beautiful airport. I never know what to say the main industry in Chicago is. Generally I talk about the financial markets and banks. Some days I feel like a goodwill ambassador for Chicago as I tell people about the wonders of the city. I was always proud to live in Chicago and I have never loved it more.

The Internet isn't working here at school today for some unknown reason. I am reminded of an Onion (a satirical newspaper) article entitled, "Lack of Internet leads to employees actually working." Without the Internet one does need to something to do. I guess in a worse can scenario that would be work.

The Internet just came back but I have a class.

Take care.


Labels: ,

Recommended Links

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 / Posted by Zackary / comments (1)

Hello Everyone!

As I have massive amounts of free time I visit the Web often. So I thought it would be fun to give you some of my favorite links. If you have read something interesting lately on-line please share with me and I will put it on my blog.

The New York Times has an amazing ability to find serious writes that can fully explore current events. Every so often they have great stories on people and places not related to the days news cycle. I hope you enjoy the link below about a 12 year boy as much as I did.

I want to write about politics when I have more time. I wasn't a McCain supporter but I was very impressed by his concession speech. As much as I like Obama, his speech was not great.

I live in Nagoya and the link below contains lots of good info. There are even maps and such for those of you that like that.

Some of you may have followed the story in Alaska where Sen. Ted Stevens (R) was convicted of felony charges but still ran for re-election. He came real close to winning too.

The link below is a fun test of your knowledge of past Presidents. I hope you do better than I did!

Everyone reads manga in Japan. It is like Harry Potter in America where you can see a child, a senior citizen, a punk with fire red hair, a policeman and an attorney all reading it on the same day. Harry Potter is very popular in Japan and when I ask the kids they always know it. The author is worth 1.5 billion last I heard.

A nice article on women in the wine world. The Japanese don't drink much wine and many restaurants don't carry it. The excellent French restaurant I ate at last week had an amazing red wine. I had forgotten how interesting and delightful wine can be.

I hope you enjoy these links, it was fun for me to share them.

Peace &Love,

A quick update

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 / Posted by Zackary / comments (1)

And I am back!

This is a short note to let everyone know I am still alive and such.

My left wrist hurts most of the time so I haven't been writing much email. I am going to keep this blog updated so please check back often. You can also choose to follow this blog on the top left hand corner.

Anything you would like me to write about?

Nagoya is starting to get cold (not in the Chicago sense of the word) and that is nice. You know why I love winter? In Chicago I love snow so that is cool. I do not love snow when I am driving. My favorite thing about winter is dressing up in fun clothes. The summer in Nagoya is so HOT that even I only think about comfort clothes. Now I can do the cool layered look and enjoy my leather jacket.

My apartment is fixed up nice and is very warm and cozy. This time of the year there is nothing better than coming home and curling up with a good book on the couch. If you have a nice cup of coffee and turn up the heat you can pretend it is spring. I pretend a lot, it keeps me sane. What am I reading? Lately it has been a guilty please, an Anita Baker Vampire novel. I think she is becoming a vampire and a werewolf, I'm not sure.

I have enjoyed listing to my CD collection (7,300 songs and counting) which makes me happy. The funny thing about having a big music collection is that someone always has more. I met a Japanese guy last week that has over 2,000 CD's. My collection includes a mere 750 CD's.

18 more days of work an then I have 23 days of vacation. My job has been annoying lately but I can't complain about the time off. Actually, I can complain about anything as many of you know. Let me try again and say that I am happy about the long vacation.

Take care and keep in touch,

Love & Peace,