You can view the world in many ways, from the standpoint of history, politics, the arts, or if you're like me, comparative popular culture. Or if you like, you could focus on taxi cabs. Although we all take taxis for granted, they're often an interesting symbol of each respective country, from the iconic Black Taxis of London to the multi-cultural mish-mash that are taxis in New York City. When my son went to Malaysia he was fascinated to see that all the taxis there were vehicles made in that country, apparently required by law, which caused us to start paying attention to taxis whenever we went somewhere new. If you ever come to Japan, be sure and take a lot of taxi rides, as it's a real treat. Just as taxis in Germany are usually well-apportioned Mercedes Benz vehicles, 90% of Japanese taxis are the Toyota Comfort, made by Japan's most famous automobile company specifically for the industry. Japanese taxis are extremely clean, and when they're not driving someone to a new location, taxi drivers are usually lavishing care on their vehicles to keep them spotless. The most interesting aspect of Japanese taxis for foreigners are the passenger side doors that open and close automatically, using a hydraulic mechanism the driver can control. It's the ultimate in convenience.
One issue of living in Japan and running an international company like J-List is dealing with the time difference between here and the rest of the world. Japan is 16 hours ahead of California, which means that when people on the West Coast of the U.S. are sitting down to dinner, we're all just starting our morning the next day. Being ahead of everyone else has several benefits, including the ability to forget birthdays or Mother's Day without penalty, since you can be a day late but still be in the zone. It's a benefit for Mac users, too: I got to get Leopard, Apple's new OS, 16 hours ahead of most of the world. Although people grumble about having to remember to set their clocks for Daylight Savings Time, it's not a problem here since Japan never adopted the system. While not having to spring forward or fall back is nice, having it get dark at around 4 pm then going to bed while the morning sun peers through my window is kind of lame.