Little to say for myself

Monday, January 12, 2004

Has it really been three weeks?

Blimey, doesn't time fly? Hello again.

Just got back yesterday from a trip to Tokyo - my first visit to Japan. I noticed something striking within minutes of stepping out of my hotel in Akasaka, and then realised it was something Mr. Happy had also remarked when he visited there in July last year. There are no litter bins, and there is no litter. Towards the end of that first stroll I saw why. A policeman, walking towards me, stooped to pick up a couple of sweet wrappers in his white-gloved hand (from an otherwise spotless pavement) and popped them into his pocket. I thought about how much money would be saved if we all did that - if we all thought about who could be responsible for the dropped litter, rather than who was responsible for dropping it.

It seems that most uniformed officials are issued with these white gloves. The most curious I noticed were the men in green posted on each subway station platform. Their role appeared to be to walk to the platform edge before the imminent arrival of a train, and to make a sweeping gesture of the arm indicating that, on this occasion, the train would be arriving in this direction and on this track. What was even more curious was the fact that they repeated the gesture after the departing train had disaappeared into the tunnel again - as if to say "There you are - I was right."

Some photos (click on them to enlarge): First of all, can anyone tell me the significance of these pots:

and these lanterns:

stacked at the entrance to the various Shinto shrines around the city? I'm guessing they relate to the families that use the shrine, but I could be very wrong.

Also, can anyone tell me what was kept in this beautiful chest of drawers I spied in an antiques shop?

I really wanted it, but couldn't see how I could squeeze it into my carry-on bag.

Outside Shibuya station is apparently the world's busiest pedestrian crossing. From my vantage point at the second-floor window of Starbuck's (I know, I know - the shame - I explain it away with the photo-op excuse), I was struck by the discipline of "don't walk":

and the free-for-all of "walk":

Finally, I liked this subway commuter:

and was impressed that someone had the balls (if that's the right anatomical reference) to design the entrance to a Roppongi lingerie shop in the shape of a vagina:

No beating about the bush there...

posted by Plig | 13:53 |

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Forget the sentimental notion that foreign policy is a struggle between virtue and vice, with virtue bound to win.
Forget the utopian notion that a brave new world without power politics will follow the unconditional surrender of wicked nations.
Forget the crusading notion that any nation, however virtuous and powerful, can have the mission to make the world in its own image.
Remember that diplomacy without power is feeble, and power without diplomacy is destructive and blind.
Remember that no nation's power is without limits, and hence that its policies must respect the power and interests of others.
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The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts
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When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative
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Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man
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