You've been in Japan too long when you walk through your neighborhood, and a house that was there yesterday is gone without a trace, and you don't blink. Yes, among the things the Japanese are especially good at, making buildings disappear almost overnight seems to be one of them. The other day I was driving by our favorite sento (public bath), which had unfortunately gone out of business a couple of months before. The building had disappeared, as if it had never stood, replaced by a perfectly flat empty lot that will hopefully not become yet another pachinko parlor (we've got plenty of those in our city already). Another time a Seven Eleven that had been located up against a large road was suddenly moved back 40 feet or so. The company had apparently bought the parcel of land behind their store and somehow moved the entire convenience store back to leave more room for parking in the front -- it was kind of scary, actually.
When you are fluent in two languages, there are some interesting things that happen to your speech. First, bilinguals will generally engage in what's called code-switching when speaking to other bilingual people, mixing both languages sometimes randomly, or sometimes using words from whichever language seem to fit that situation better. This can lead to another phenomenon, linguistically known as interference, when grammar or pronunciation from one language interfere with the operation of the other. My wife often peppers her Japanese with English words, throwing in terms like arrange and organize and situation instead of the corresponding Japanese words, which causes confusion by her Japanese friends, who aren't always sure what she's trying to say. Her English vocabulary invades the Japanese side of her brain, creating minor confusion.
The Japanese have an interesting sense of things sometimes, which never fails to impress me. A balding man with a comb-over and lines of hair on the top of his said is said to have "bar code hair," which is certainly an interesting way to look at things. On one Japanese TV show I caught, they touched a bar code reader to men's hair to see what amount came up on the register, then they gave that amount of money to each man.
J-List sells dozens of great English-translated dating-sim games from Japan, a genre of product we think is a fun way of interfacing with Japan. During the convention, we're having a special $1 shipping sale (US/Can.), for those who aren't fortunate enough to be here at the show. This means it's a great time to pick up some of the titles you've wanted to get, but only for the rest of the weekend!
Lupin...kissing Jigen. This puts a whole new layer on the Lupin the Third thing for me.
A respectable Char Aznable, one of the coolest characters in a suit from the entire anime universe.
There's lot of this kind of action going around at any convention these days. Always fun to take pictures of pretty girls.
The Brothers Domo.
And now for something...really different.
Okay, my friend Josh is riding on the train to Baltimore from New York. He is sitting near a hot girl who has tall leather boots and who is obviously going to the anime show, listening with much mirth to her complain about all the geeks getting into anime these days, especially all the Narutards, as she said. She feels so old, she says -- and yet she's only 20. Considering that I am 37 and have been into anime since she was the literal glint in her father's eye, we were very amused by this. Here is a picture of a Narutard, in case you wondered what they looked like.