Sunday, December 15, 2019

Memory, Resonance & My Reptilian Brain

Shiojiri, north of the Kiso Valley.
Saturday morning, and I’m on a train headed for Nagoya. The guy in the seat in front of me is dressed in a suit. His head turns side to side, slowly, barely perceptible as he peruses the newspaper in his hands. Watching him, I think of how each of us takes in the world around us.

For the next twenty minutes we’ll be passing through fields of rice, soba and grapes. Then the land will rise up and close in on both sides and we'll be rolling down into the steep, narrow Kiso Valley. We’ll follow the line cut by the ancient the Kiso River, along the Kyoto-Tokyo path the daimyo traveled when these places were known by different names.

The Kiso Valley
South of Nakatsugawa the land will open up again, bringing more fields and towns I fear are slowly sinking toward extinction. The generations are no longer content with small-town tradition. By the time I get off this train we’ll be in Japan’s third largest city, a place that, though I’ve been to and through it many times, has left me with few lasting memories.

I do recall the time I bumped into my friend Hiroshi as we were both changing trains at Nagoya Station. He was on his way to nearby Gifu, to visit family still living in the town he grew up in. I was on my way further south with my then-girlfriend. All three of us were living in Fukushima at the time. In the middle of a crowded platform we laughed at our chance meeting. We snapped a quick picture to memorialize it. Then we continued on our respective ways.

If not for Hiroshi I might not remember I’d gone through Nagoya at all.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Jobs YO! Pay LO!

Online Job-Hunting in Japan

As a self-employed individual I am always on the lookout for new opportunities that will pay me for my creativity (such that it is). My wife might beg to differ, maintaining I am always on the lookout for opportunities that will get me out of doing the dishes.

Regardless, my vigilance recently paid off when I discovered an employment site here in Japan called YOLO.

Already you’re certainly wondering: ‘Kevin, what sort of lucrative creative outlet did you find?’

Answer: Are you kidding me?

YOLO may be a great job resource for some people. And I wish them well. But for me, YOLO is a gold mine of another sort.

I ran into yet another foreigner the day who said he was looking for pretty much anything besides teaching English. He was the kind of guy who, in the space of twenty seconds, could shift from that to the cost of living in Japan to his screaming extroversion to his friends’ opinions of him to the Rape of Nanking. It was all I could do to keep up. So I never got around to telling him about YOLO and how he could work outside where there are always tons of people to talk to as he took his aggressions out on the pigeons for poverty-level pay.

I just noticed the picture next to this ad. This pigeon-coping work looks like serious business. And how about the job listed right below. How exciting it would apparently be to work in a convenience store for up to $12 an hour!

I’m sorry. For some people – college students or illegal visa overstayers from China, for example – this would be the perfect opportunity. Easy, part-time work for some pocket change (or, like, food), where all the Japanese you need to know are numbers, a few standard bits of politeness and “Do you want this piece of processed shit warmed up?” Since this is Japan there’s no Christmas bonus, but also since this is Japan there’s pretty much zero chance you’ll get held up at gunpoint.

Speaking of not getting held up at gunpoint, here’s an interesting gig.

The uniform for this job in Tokyo’s hoity-toity Shinagawa neighborhood evidently includes a one-size-fits-one-size necktie, possibly the one used by the last employee who we might guess was fired for patrolling his nethers in the bathroom on company time.

As I look through these job postings I’m starting to think that somewhere there’s got to be a need for a marketing consultant. Not for this place in Osaka, where the employees enjoy a yellow safety vest and lenient facial hair rules and are therefore happy…

…but for this place, where at least one employee looks about ready to puke in her box and chuck it at her boss.

The companies I suspect will get the most applicants are the ones who can show that the job involves sombreros, booze and little gothic mariachi voodoo dolls – clearly a winning combo.

So maybe I’ll track that guy down and tell him what I found. Meantime I should keep a closer eye on YOLO myself. This opportunity was just posted two days ago.

Six articles. Six hundred bucks. My kind of gig.

Posted two flipping days ago - and the application period has already closed.

Maybe they’ll bump up the hourly on that gig with the pigeons…