The Witless Clunkery of a Third-Rate Mind

Monday, June 26, 2006

My Life in Beppu ...

Howdy! I thought I'd post a little bit about my town, Beppu. If you looked at this picture, you might just think that Beppu was a fun, exciting place with an active nightlife; the Paris of Japan, perhaps.

Well, you could be forgiven for thinking that; but you'd be a bit off the mark. Beppu enjoyed a lot of tourism (because of its numerous and famous hot springs) up until a few decades ago, but recently it seems that Beppu is a bit depressed. In any case, there's not a whole lot to do here. Nice picture, though.

Beppu has some interesting weather. Located in Beppu Bay (for a map, you can click here
) it seems that the prevailing winds have a tendency to blow clouds and mist in off the ocean, and up the hill. My school is located near the top of said hill, and so occasionally, we can see cloudbanks rolling in ... it's quite stunning.

Which looks like this on campus...

As for my everyday routine, breakfast in the cafeteria is cheap and delicious. You have to get used to the idea of Japanese breakfast (rice, miso soup, fish, spinach salad with small fry, etc.) but I like that stuff, so I go nuts for it. For a buck fifty, how can you go wrong?

Can't talk ... eating ...

In other news...

I have recently started calligraphy again. My teacher in Beppu is a very nice lady named Asoh Sensei. (No "Ah-so!" jokes, please.) She's really cool and very generous with her time. And she's very talented too, winning lots of awards and commissions from companies to do calligraphy for offices, buildings, lobbies, etc. Here she is with a big piece in her home.

Just don't ask me what it says.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

World Cup

The World Cup is on and, for a little while at least, I'm a soccer fan (sorry, FOOTBALL fan) again. I don't usually care much about sports but World Cup fever is pretty contagious. I'm rooting for England, mostly because I have some English friends who will be ecstatic if Jolly Olde wins. Also, England has a strong team this year with some of the world's best players, so it seems that if England wins, it will be a fair result. (I just don't want Brazil to win again!) My second choice is Holland, for my Dutch friend.

And as for Japan ... I really have mixed feelings. On one hand, I think Japan are underdogs in this tournament, and for that reason, I'm rooting for them. But, in typical Japanese fashion, the players and the public here seem to think that, if they just try hard enough, they will actually win the World Cup. It's nonsense, but it seems to be the prevailing view. Japanese news coverage (and especially sports coverage) is unbelievably Japan-centric, so the only thing the fans hear is how great Japan's team is. So naturally, the believe the hype.

This sort of thing happens in Canada too; before the Olympics, you get all kinds of profiles and predictions about "medal hopefuls" and people who are supposedly favourites to get the gold. Then, the actual event happens, and the "favourite" comes in 8th. So we Canadians learn not to take that hype seriously.

But in Japan, they really think they have a chance. More than a chance - they think they are sure to win! It's kind of sad.

So, when Australia played Japan the other day, I was kind of rooting for Australia at the beginning. Japan scored a goal, but it was an obvious foul on the Australian goalie. It should have been disallowed, but it went through. When the Japanese commentators failed to say a word about the clear foul, I got really angry and began seriously rooting for the Aussies.

I don't think you're supposed to do that to the goalie.

Even so, it felt a bit like overkill when the Australians scored three goals in the last 8 or so minutes. I felt sorry for the Japanese goalie, and for the fans who had travelled halfway around the world. But then on the evening news, they showed the Japanese goal (again, no mention of the fact that it should have been disallowed) and then the first Australian goal, but then they didn't even show the next two goals! Ridiculous! So I think the Japanese are getting what they deserve, somehow. Until they learn to have halfway-balanced coverage, I am happy when they fail at sporting events!