Thursday, March 30, 2006

"Cherry Blossoms... too Cold!"

I'm always happy to see the cherry blossoms come out as an early flag of approaching spring, in spite of their often luring me out to see them at night when it's still quite cold - leading me to catch cold under the flowers, street lights and stars....

So, I'm intending to limit the time I spend out in the cold night air this year and just enjoy the glimpses of them I catch from train windows and some other areas I regularly go to anyway.  One example being Akihabara, which is not exactly renown for cherry blossoms, but there are a few nice trees near Ochanomizu Station and they actually look better in a way than the places where there are large numbers of them.

....... as I typed the ending of the paragraph above, I had a flashback to one of the most popular places for them in Tokyo, near one of the moats of the Imperial Palace... uh-oh... I might end up going there after all.  Or maybe not... I've already got a little bit of a cold and so I better take care of my health first and not go out and freeze myself into worse condition.

Well... time will tell!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"(More) Boso Peninsula Images & Computers"

Boso Peninsula
I've been working on a series of pages covering the Boso Peninsula, with the latest one posted here:

Pages one through six can be accessed from each of the Boso Peninsula pages, so check them all out if you're interested in how the Boso Peninsula looks.

I did it again - I bought another (used) computer.  At least I decommissioned an old one this time before buying it, which I might not have done except I needed to in order to create space in which to put a replacement!  Interestingly both computers were the same price.  The decommissioned Micron was an even Y10,000 and the Fujitsu I bought today was Y9,800.  The price was the same, but not the specs.  The Micron (bought in 2002) was a P-I 200MHz, 128MB RAM & 4GB HDD machine and the Fujutsu (bought today) is a P-III 933MHz, 128MB RAM & 40GB HDD machine.  The memory is the same, but I have memory from an old and out-of-use computer (a Dell Dimension-C) that I can put in.  The design of the machine seems good, with easy access to the CD-ROM drive and hard drive, so they can be easily changed.  Any experience with Fujitsu computers out there?

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

The shortest way home is the longest way 'round....

Saturday, March 25, 2006

"Mexico & 21st Century JW-Bipeds"

The cherry blossoms are just coming out in Tokyo, but it's still a bit cold (which is usual - by the time the weather is actually warm, the cherry blossoms are gone), so I was sitting in my semi-warm apartment in my inside-use-only down coat when I received an e-mail from Mexico from a US e-pal living in California (who used to live in Tokyo) in response to an e-mail I had sent....

LHS: "I've forgotten exactly when you said you'd be visiting Tokyo, but it's soon isn't it?  I remember you said you would be staying in Daikanyama and I happened to be there yesterday.  Very nice scenery, if you know what I mean - JW-Bipeds here spend so much time and money on their appearance, and several of the places that help out (for a hefty fee) are around Daikanyama Station.  The passing bipeds I saw last night were quite easy on the eyes...."

SCJ: "I am in Mexico now and have been travelling to other Carib islands... wow, I am so disoriented, but in a good way.  I was just smoking cigars on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, the water was warm, the beer was cold ... and no kidding, it was nice.
     I am going to try to go to Japan in a couple of months if I can, but I might have to sacrifice that trip for this one. If only I could travel all of the time ... heh heh.
     Glad to hear you were able to enjoy Daikanyama.  I would trade this beach for Tokyo in a microsecond... but for many reasons, I just can't be in Tokyo long term right now.  Uhhhgg.
     On a brighter note, I just witnessed the best live jazz jam session ever ... simply incredible."

LHS: "That warm water and warm weather does sound quite nice!  My housemates are strangely happy with no heat in the winter - if I attempt to warm up the apartment in the dead of winter beyond about 15 degrees (Celsius), one of them complains about the "heat" and throws open the balcony doors.  I survive the winter by wearing a down coat inside all the time - it's the only way to prevent falling ill from the cold.  I think my housemates have antifreeze for blood or something... good thing there are down coats, or I'd bloody well freeze!
     Anyway... the weather is beginning to warm up and - at the moment - everyone is out, so with thoughts of warm Mexico dancing in my mind, I cranked up the heat to 27 degrees and am happily sitting here with no down coat on!  Warm weather never comes soon enough for me and right about this time of year I think 'Whew... I've somehow managed to survive another long and unpleasant winter!'.  There's something very stressful about working on the computer through the winter months with frost-bitten fingers....
     Daikanyama... yes, the scenery there is mesmerizing....  In a similar way, I was on the Yamanote Line on Thursday, going from Akihabara to Shibuya (I should have taken the Ginza Line, but it's more pleasant riding above ground) when one of those moments that stay with you forever happened.  I was sitting in a corner seat at the end of a train car when I looked across and saw a stunningly beautiful JW-Biped sitting there - our eyes meet for a second and then I looked out the window behind her and saw the evening sky over the rail yards of Shinagawa as we zoomed towards the station....  Earlier in Akihabara, I had looked up from the street to see a train coming into the station - and the sides of all the cars were perfectly straight without even a hint of any rocking.  At this point, they've gotten the rails into the kind of condition you would expect in a precision watch... and something of that same feeling came back to me as I looked again at the 21st century woman and the 21st century scene in and outside the train as it glided smoothly and speedily into the station.  From there, a crowd got on - blocking out the view of the other side of the train, the view out the window, and cutting off the never-to-be-forgotten memory video clip.
     Good music, good weather, warm ocean, cold beer, stunning scenery... what we're alive for my friend!"


Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Friday, March 24, 2006

Boso Peninsula - Pages 4 & 5

Boso Peninsula - Tateyama Sunset & Beginning the Journey Back (Page-4)

Pictures taken up on the hill that Tateyama Castle sits on, watching the sun set into the Pacific.

Boso Peninsula - Another Trip, Driving Down the Pacific Coast this Time (Page-5)

Another trip - continuing down the Boso Peninsula by car.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Monday, March 20, 2006

"Answering Machine? What's That?"

In the past couple of years I've noticed an irritating thing with my phone.  If I'm busy working at home, I don't answer it - leaving the answering machine to take messages... which it could very easily do, but more and more people are hanging up as soon as they get the answering machine, and - worse - some of them call back every 30 seconds for a burst of five or six calls, hanging up each time without leaving a message, saying their name, or even saying "Ah..." "Ugghh..." or "Yabba-dabba-do!".  Not leaving a message doesn't bother me too much, but the barrage of calls from single callers trying to bully me into picking up the phone is really irritating and nearly feels like harassment, especially when they repeat the barrage every 30 minutes or so.  Sometimes I have to set the phone to sleep mode so I can get some work done (in which case the phone can still take messages, but doesn't audibly ring).

It's all due to cell phones I suppose.  People are now so used to getting in touch with anyone almost immediately that the idea of leaving a message on an answering machine never seems to occur to them.  In the situation of calling a cell phone and getting someone's voice messaging service (when their phone is off), then hanging up doesn't disturb anyone.  So, no problem there, but the people calling my regular phone should at least say their name and they shouldn't call so bloody often in a short period of time.  Yeah, I know.  I should just tell them, and I have told one person, but what can I say to the rest?  Maybe this:

"You know, your barrage of hang-up calls every 30 seconds is really irritating!  Would mind not doing that?  Why don't I answer the phone?  Because I'm busy you dolt!  If you would leave a bloody %$#%#%# message, then I could call you back when I wasn't busy!  Is that too hard for you to comprehend!?"

At which point I would either succeed in ending both the friendship and the calls or create an enemy who called even more often to "get even" for my "rude" (honest) words.

Why don't I make use of caller ID?  I do with my cell phone (when it's switched on) but my answering/fax machine is an old one that doesn't display numbers.  Why don't I get a new one?  Why should I?  That wouldn't solve the hang-up call barrages - it would more precisely identify exactly who was being a rude idiot though.

Okay.  Rant over.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Thursday, March 16, 2006

"Time And/Or Money"

When I have money, I don't have time and when I have time, I don't have money.  I hope to eventually (someday-someday) have both time and money, but it's no easy task.

Raining... and didn't bring an umbrella with me today.  Do I buy yet another umbrella to add to the crowd of them at home or get wet walking in the rain?  ........

So much to do... do little time... and money needed for new cameras, etc.  Blimey - well, hardly anyone says that life is easy.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon
The shortest way home is the longest way 'round....

"Vicious Cycle..."

I was exchanging some ideas on racism with a Chinese-American e-pal and after rereading it, I thought it would be interesting to see what other people think of it, so... here it is. - LHS

Re: "I don't know that you and I mean the same thing by "race-conscious".  By that, I don't always mean overt racism in particular, but rather, a recognition that the way I grew up as an Asian person in the U.S. is markedly different from the experiences you grew up with in the U.S. as a white person, and the fact that those experiences shape us in different ways."

Yeah - I do know what you mean.  I didn't know for the first 23 years of my life though.  I thought I was cool, open minded, fair, and not racist.  That's what I thought, that's what I believed, and then I began dating a Japanese-American woman and I saw smiling white people with the small hairs on the backs of their necks standing up - and I began to think about those smiling faces with normal words coming from their mouths but very strange broadcasts coming from their subconscious minds.  I was to see that over and over - there was the restaurant guitarist who smiled at me when I complimented his music (by the cash register as I and my Japanese girlfriend were leaving the restaurant) but then he caught sight of the Asian woman by me... the smile stayed on his face, but he seemed to stiffen.  On the positive side, I found - for the most part - that African-Americans seemed much more friendly when I was with my Japanese-American friend than when I was alone.

And that was just the first step.  Then I emigrated to Japan and WHAM!!!  I was given (to date) a 21-and-a-half-year intensive course in what racism is when you're a member of a minority and not the majority.

Sigh...  I feel like I should focus and write about the things that have happened to me over here, but I suddenly feel tired and not up to it.  Just I want to tell you - I DO understand, I really do!  I'm a bloody minority my own self, how could I not understand after being a minority for over 21 years?  Among the many-many things I learned about being a minority is that you don't get used to it - you get touchier and touchier and more and more sick of it.  Thus what I saw before as being overly touchy African-Americans I now see as people who have had about all that they can stand of bloody racism!

Re: "I apologize if I don't know how to explain myself very well, because this is always so hard to talk about.  I'm also, for the purposes of this discussion, just talking about race in America, which is probably much different from race in Japan."

No.  It's the same thing at the core.  Yes, there are drastic surface differences (people here are more subtle about it, but it's no less real), but it's the exact same disease of the heart.  Shut down the mechanical words and *feel* the situation and - I'm telling you - it's the same issue.

Re: "When another American person meets me face-to-face, there are a bunch of assumptions that s/he makes because of the way I look - Asian.  I can't tell you how many times that I've been asked if I have an accent, or how long I've been living in the U.S., even though I was born in San Francisco and speak and act like a typical American person."

Yeah, I know!  It's the same thing over here!  Okay, the questions are different, but the issue of the heart is the same.  The type of thing I get is "Oh!  You can use chop-sticks!" (It takes at least 10 years of strenuous exercise to use them; it should be an Olympic event [said with extreme sarcasm of course - they're bloody easy to use]), or "Your Japanese is so good " (often said in insulting English).  But never mind the specifics - the real issue is mental broadcasts that you feel as the victim, and those defy words and thus discussion just spins like a top with no progress towards understanding.  Anyway, there are different kinds of racism - there's "attack-dog racism", "ignore racism", "insult racism", "standing-neck-hairs racism", "barely-tolerated racism" etc. etc.  I try to draw the line between people who are trying to be human and those who relish inflicting damage....

Re: "I don't think it's necessarily racist of other people to think that way; it's just that they, because of the way they've been raised, have been trained (whether they realize it or not) to make those assumptions about me and people who look like me."

Not so much "trained" as formed by circumstances and example.  Actually, a huge issue here is the English language, and I don't mean whether it's spoken well or not, I mean its horrible deficiency when it comes to putting fuzzy concepts into words.  The English language contributes to people's sophistry and stupidity when it comes to issues like this because it doesn't include proper vocabulary for feelings and so it's nearly impossible to put so much of the human experience into words with it!  English as a first language countries really should put more effort into teaching *everyone* in the country (to some degree) a foreign language.  Being mono-lingual is bad enough, but with an ice-cold language like English, it's a disaster when it comes to pre-word thinking.  The words stop people from thinking and when it's over-discussed, it spins into a vicious cycle where the more words are spoken, the deeper the mystery and misunderstanding becomes....

Re: "So that's what I mean by race-conscious.  I hope I explained myself okay."

Back to the term "race-conscious".  If what you mean by not being race-conscious is the typical blindness and insensitivity of the majority and you wonder how that feels....  Well... I would honestly have to say that it feels good - in an "ignorance is bliss" kind of way!  It feels like your way is the right way - the sun rises in the east, sets in the west, and the only real and correct culture is your own.  "When are those whacky foreigners going to wake up and convert to the only correct way to live?" is in the back of people's minds.

So... there is a huge difference between you and I in that regard.  You were born into racial intolerance, whereas I was born into religious intolerance (I was unlucky enough to be born in a city with a cult-religion majority).  After moving to cities without a cult-religion majority, I was able to partake of the "joys" of being a part of the racial majority (my high school was 99% Caucasian), but man - it was boring!  I felt like San Francisco was some kind of beautiful (if initially scary) oasis after living in a desert for far too long!

Anyway, I'm telling you... really... I do understand racism!  I'm a victim of it myself.  I may have had a few years of ignorant bliss as a high school student, but I think you're lucky to have been born into the Bay Area!  If it isn't one thing, it's another!  Ah!  I just remembered something!  I used to do this thing after meeting a particularly vicious racist - I would imagine their face and think to myself "Alright... you're feeling damaged and like a victim, but how would you like to look in a mirror and have that racist's face look back at you?" - which would cause me to recoil in horror and realize that the real victim was the victimizer....  (Me too of course, but even more so the blind fool.)



That old buildings often have character is an obvious thing in most cities, but in Tokyo, things are torn down and rebuilt so rapidly that there isn't much of anything very old here.  Never mind the devastation of WW-II, vast numbers of buildings put up since then have been taken down already.  There are old buildings of course, including per-war buildings that managed to get through the war years undamaged, but the number seems to be less than in most other cities in the world.

What prompts me to write this is the demise of a string of concrete apartment buildings in Jingu-mae (between Harajuku and Omotesando stations), that were put up with international financial assistance right after the 1923 earthquake that destroyed most of Tokyo and Yokohama.  By the time I came to Tokyo in 1984, the buildings were comfortably sitting among large old trees and some of the apartments had been converted into art galleries.  The area felt quite relaxed and comfortable to walk through, and I thought how nice it would be to live there....  That was then, and before I even realized it was going to happen, they were all torn down and an ultra-modern complex of shops and very expensive apartments (on the upper floors above the commercial space) was built on the land where the old apartments and trees had been.  While the main street still has its row of large trees along the road, the other plants were cut down to make way for the long & large structure that is now Tokyo's newest "trendy spot".

Hearing that the complex was open, I went over for a look and to take some pictures - feeling a very deep sense of a lost opportunity regarding not having extensively photographed the old buildings while they were still there!  The new complex, called "Omotesando Hills", is pretty much what I imagined it would be - modern, with nice shops, cafes and restaurants, and with many strolling young couples.  The inside will be better with age, but is a little weird now, as it smells like new-construction-chemicals, so as you walk about inside listening to the recorded bird sounds, the contrast between the slightly toxic air and the sounds of a forest - where the air would be so radically different - is a little bizarre.  Once the chemical smell is gone, the atmosphere will improve no doubt - by this summer?

If you're interested in how it looks, I posted some photos of it here:

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Sunday, March 12, 2006

"Working Freelance & Wearing Sunglasses"

I received a letter today from a friend who is also doing freelance work from home - among other things, he reports:

"The job was supposed to have been finished by Friday, but I missed the deadline... so the editors probably won't hire me again, but it's their fault because they always ask for impossible deadlines.  I tried to tell them the quality of the artwork would be compromised with so little time but they don't care.  Everything is expected to be speedy and well done, with very heavy emphasis on 'speedy'!"

It's the same problem here with freelance translating and rewriting work.  I was recently offered a freelance rewriting job (they called it "checking", but that was disingenuous - most of the sample I saw needed to be completely rewritten!) of some really horrible English in a huge PowerPoint file.  Good thing I demanded to see a sample of the text, or I would have ended up getting stuck with an impossible project at a ridiculously cheap rate and with too little time to do it in.  I told the company that I would do the job *if* the rate was much higher and *if* I could have access to the author of the difficult-to-decipher English in the report in order to talk with them (in Japanese) and discover what they were trying to say.  The intermediary company refused (not surprisingly), as they would never want the cheap worker (me) directly talking with the client - they could end up being cut out of the loop that way... which they probably should be!  All the intermediary company does is: take the job, call or e-mail someone, dump a pile of work on them, and then send the result back to the client.  For this, they take half (or two-thirds) of the money!

Re: "I have to take pain pills because my eyes hurt from looking at the screen.  I'm definitely taking a small vacation after this!"

Ouch!  Be careful with your eyes!  Have you tried wearing sunglasses?  Seriously!  Especially when working late at night, the white light from a monitor is very bad for the eyes!  What you could do is take the sunglasses off for detail work, and then put them back on for other things.  Recently I don't watch much TV, but when I used to watch it late at night with the room lights off, I wore sunglasses!  It sounds a little weird, but after the first minute or two, it felt comfortable and then I could watch TV for an hour or two and not experience the eye strain I got from watching TV without the sunglasses.  I wonder... does anyone else do that?  The difference between direct light and incident light isn't something people seem to think about, but they should - looking at a white sheet of paper (reflected incident light) and looking at a white computer screen (direct light) are two rather different things!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Saturday, March 11, 2006


It's full of stuff from the end of 2005, but... LL-336 has been posted to the LL-Letters page, here:

The Pollen count this year is high again, but at least it's reported as being slightly lower than last year - which I'm glad to hear.  I had a pretty hard time last year with pollen allergies.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

"Sweet? Okay... But Not For Me!"

I called a friend in California today and talked for a bit, and I asked him about modern usage of "sweet".  He demonstrated its usage on the phone and it didn't actually sound so bad.  After hanging up, I'm beginning to realize how cut off I am from this sort of thing.  I read a lot, so I'm probably as up-to-date as most people in vocabulary, but reading a word like "sweet" and hearing it are two very different things!

So - to my "sweet" using e-pals out there - sorry for the fiery rant about that word!  In hearing it skillfully demonstrated, I don't think it sounds so bad... but I still don't think I want to use it myself!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

"'Sweet'? - Yuck!"

I guess it's hip to use the word "sweet" now, but the problem for me is that it's not something new and cool, but something old and disgusting!  I still remember my older female relatives who would refer to anything insipid by saying "Oh, now isn't that sweet?".  Uggghhh!  Yuck!  It makes me sick to remember it!  So every time I get an e-mail from someone in their twenties now and they use the generational code word "sweet", I have a gag reflex and see visions of old women with too much perfume cooing about how "sweet" kittens and babies are!

But wait a minute - I get it - it's the twenties again!  The bored "opinion leaders" and "fashion" writers probably dusted off some old magazines from the twenties and figured:

"What the h**l, most people who were alive in the 1920's are dead now - so they won't/can't complain if I steal their fashions, 'trends', and vocabulary and call it something new!  From the other end, people in their twenties (now... they can't stay there) haven't a clue about the nineteen-twenties, so they'll think they're being hip as they use the old dusty words and fashions, and - best of all - they'll make me rich in the process!  Ho-Ho-Ho!! Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!!!"

I mean... let's be honest here.  Every old person was once young and every young person who doesn't die young will get old.  100% of us die sooner or later - there is no eternal youth and - the "We're in the same group, ho-ho!" usefulness of generational code words aside - words are only tools and... and... wait a second... this is degenerating into sophistry....

Well - I just wanted to complain about that really horrible, disgusting, insipid, nasty word "sweet".  Man I hate that word!  I guess that makes it a perfect generational code term - "Say it and watch middle-aged Lyle gag! He-he!", but if I could only bring those old relatives of mine back to life to blast the ears off those in their twenties now with the insipid version of "sweet", they would cover their ears in horror and run away screaming when they heard the word!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

"Nine Year's in a Trunk..."

Yes, that trunk - the trunk of my previously written about 1984 Honda Prelude (R.I.P.).  At some point back when I was still driving the car on a regular basis, I changed out of a pair of dress shoes into running shoes and the dress shoes ended up staying in the trunk.  They weren't originally forgotten... I think I just left them in there thinking that they might come in handy some time if I needed to dress up while out on the road somewhere.  But after a few years, they were very much forgotten and they didn't resurface until I completely cleaned out the trunk just before paying to have my old Prelude friend scrapped (such is the fate of old cars in Japan - they don't go into garages, they go to the scrap yard to be shredded).

Looking the newly resurfaced shoes over, they seemed to be in reasonably good condition and when I tried them on, they fit comfortably enough and looked okay, so I put them in the shoe closet by the door and determined to use them again in the near future.  That near future came today, so I put them on and - looking at my watch and seeing I was running late - I ran to the station, contemplating how strange it was to be wearing shoes that I had last worn some nine years ago.  Once on the first of two trains into central Tokyo, I forgot about the shoes and looked out the window - thinking of something or other... until I noticed a man standing next to me looking at my feet.  I looked at his feet and saw a pair of shiny black shoes... "Hmm?  Is he happily noticing that his shiny black shoes are newer than my older dull-brown shoes?  What's up?", thought I, but once off the train, I again forgot about the shoes.

On the next train, I was able to sit down, so I read the Japanese version of Botchan half way into town and the National Geographic for the remaining half.  Standing up at my station, I walked to the door, and as I waited for the train to stop, I looked down and noticed that there was something sticking out from the side of my right shoe... "What the...?", thought I as I lifted up my right foot and tilted it sideways - "!!!!! Wow!  Look at that!!!", I thought as I saw that the heel was disintegrating and bits of rubber were coming out the sides!  Same thing with the other shoe!  I walked off the train, suddenly feeling a bit like a character in a comedy movie with bits of rubber falling from my shoes with every step!  Seriously!

>From there I went to work and was horrified to see that the rubber leakage was getting worse - I was leaking so much rubber on the carpet, that I couldn't pretend nothing was happening, and so I had no choice but to apologize to people at the company for making a mess and then make the best joke I could of it - "This is like a comedy movie or a comic book story!  Ho-ho-ho!", etc.

Work eventually ended and I headed for the station - trailing rubber all the way.  By the time I got to my transfer station, the heels and front section of the right shoe had come off and it was painful walking on only the middle section of remaining rubber, so I stomped and scrapped my feet a little to knock off the middle section.  Once that was done, the height of the two shoes was different, so I stomped and scrapped my left foot a bit to knock the remaining chunks of rubber from that side off.  As I walked home, more bits fell off, and by the time I got home, I was wearing moccasins.

The moral of the story?  If you find an old pair of leather shoes that has been sleeping in a car trunk for nine years; bury them in a deep hole, put them in the trash, put them in a glass case, whatever - just don't ride the trains into the center of Tokyo with them on your feet.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Friday, March 03, 2006

"Rampaging Monkeys"

The monkey problem here - as in too many of them - is an ongoing problem that resurfaces in the news from time to time.  Yesterday I saw a report about a town somewhere (forgot the name of the town - somewhere in Japan in any case!) that was having town hall meetings trying to decide what to do.  The town is divided between those who like the monkeys and don't want them harmed, and those who want to kill some of them off.  Tempers flared at one point and a couple of people were telling each other to get out of the meeting, and then others were interrupting each other as they gave their opinions to the town leaders and television crews.

Apparently there's been a progression from the monkeys only coming out when people were not around, and then coming around in front of people, but staying away from them and running when approached, to being unafraid, and recently they are stealing crops in the fields, making off with shopping from the hands of people walking down the street, and even biting some people.  There was a video of a bunch of monkeys chasing away a camera crew, and then discussion about the different monkey groups.  Apparently one group in particular is causing most of the trouble.

I must admit, when I watched the monkeys ganging up on the camera crew within the city, I imagined myself being in that position and images of baseball bats and flying monkeys came to mind.  I like animals, but seeing them come threateningly towards the camera in the middle of the city set off some primal survival thing in my mind that predates civilization.  Eating or not eating, and being physically challenged on your home turf brings out base instincts....

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Blue Skies Bank?

There's this bank in Shibuya called "Aozora Bank", which probably prompts you to say "So what?", but "Aozora" means "Blue Sky" or "Blue Skies" in English (there's no plural in Japanese), so that basically makes it the "Blue Skies Bank".  Cool name, but do they really mean to say that it never rains on them in a financial sense?  I like the name so much I'm tempted to open an account there, but the banking industry in Japan has been going through so many changes, you have to wonder where is a safe place to leave your money.  Just in case you're interested, the bank began life in April 1957 as the The Nippon Fudosan Bank, Limited, changed its name to The Nippon Credit Bank, Ltd. in 1977, and then changed its name to Aozora Bank, Ltd. in January of 2001.

Blue skies... nothing but blue skies... happy, happy future, blue skies.  Maybe I better get an account there just so I can get cheered up every time I go to the bank!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon