Saturday, April 09, 2005

Trees Company...

Friday 8 April 2005
Well the cherry blossoms have finally made their all too brief annual appearance.They`re at their peak this weekend about 7 days after they first bloom.Prompted by increased temperatures and intense media attention they petulantly put out their pink petals.
The local park, adjacent to my train station where I make my daily pilgrimage to the chalk face will be packed these next few nights in homage to the florid flowering flora.
Crowded with drunken rosy-faced salarymen.Crowded with budding under-aged students with their portable karaoke boxes.Crowded with party people.
At 7a.m these mornings the park is relatively serene,echoing with the sound of crumpling beer cans as the local homeless divide the spoils of the night before and crows scrap over leftover food or greedily swallow the drying deposits of vomit that dot the park.
Oblivious to all this activity one can spy the odd huddled body covered in spent petals lying on the blue tarp sheets that serve as picnic sheets under the trees.Another victim of gross intoxication .
By 8a.m the park is taken over by dogwalkers,commuters and students criss-crossing to work or college.
Random Thoughts
The Aichi 2005 Expo which opened in March has had a few hiccups.The ban prohibiting patrons bringing their own food into the parks has been lifted..ostensibly it was to prevent food poisoning but in reality it was to secure a captive market for the high prices the Expo`s food stalls were charging.Anyway that ban has sensibly been lifted.There remain problems.
One of my students handed me an English version of the Expo site map.It was riddled with Japanese -English errors.You would think with all the money and resources squandered on this project someone would have proof-read the map.Some examples.."the low-ride bus is thoughtful of handicapped people"..even if you disregard the non-pc use of "handicapped" how can an inanimate object like a bus think?...the phrase "wide-ranging tourist " is used.Is this an obese tourist?One can go on an "aerial stroll" when you ride the gondola...sounds kinda risky.
Oh there are more ... should ask assistance from the guides"lightly"mmm like i was going to ask them "heavily"?In the event of an emergency happening you should follow the guides and not use "self-judgement to evacuate"And so the list goes on ..grab that dictionary and find any random word and put it in.Meanwhile "you should not make a dangerous action" nor" ravage" in the park.
Its embarassing and frustrating.Its supposed to be world-class and professional.The Japanese Government wants a permanent seat on the UN Security Council..well until they sort out the teaching of English and proof-reading and bring the standard up I dont think its appropriate even without taking any political or historical considerations into account.
I would more than happily have voluntereed my services to proof read any written material for the Expo.In fact I helped a number of students who were working as volunteers to check their English before they worked.
Im not the only one critical of signage and mispellings..a local monthly magazine included a photo of a sign at the Expo which stated "No Smorking"...sigh
The start of spring apart from signalling the coming cherry blossoms also heralds the start of the annual painting season.Buildings all over the city get a face lift and new paint job before the onset of the rainy season.This year is no exception and my 14 floor apartment building is also undergoing this lenghty process.
There are ropes and pulleys and gantries and scaffolding and cones and flashing lights festooning the sides of the building.It looks like a space shuttle launch site.It means hammering and drilling.
Banging.Dust and noise.For three months.From 8 a.m to 5p.m.7 days a week.Unless it rains.
It means no sleep-ins.It means nosy workmen.It means strange people on my balcony.
Spring also means change.The end of the last financial year March 31 and the start of the new one on 1 April. New jobs, the start of the new school year..the closing of poorly performing businesses and the opening of new ones.
My school will shortly move across the hall and occupy an old opticians offices.We finally get to have our own kids room..this means we can hold our own classes of up to 8 kids..Im over-joyed.
Speaking of failing businesses the KFC outlet which occupied part of the ground floor of my apartment building suddenly closed March 31.
April 1 bye bye Colonel.The life sized replica of the Southern gentleman was loaded unceremoniously loaded onto a truck.I fondly saluted his departure while workmen continued to gut the premises of its equipment.At the time of blogging the retail space remains vacant.

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