Sunday, January 14, 2018

Does Having Fewer Material Possessions Actually Make Life More Expensive?

Digital nomads who roam the world working on their laptops often makes an interesting claim.  Yes,their wages may be much lower, but by limiting their materialistic needs (including houses, cars, excess clothing, among others common to more sedentary life), they not only can survive on less income, but also set aside enough to travel the world in the process.  The basic conclusion of their tried-and-tested nomadic lifestyle is that fewer material possessions lead to a less expensive life.  Over the past years of traveling the world for different jobs, the author has come to agree with such digital nomads in the basic conclusion.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

What is the Logic behind Academic "Inemuri"?

Japanese salarymen are a hardworking bunch.  After hours of toiling away in the corporate cubicles, they often have to put up with hours more of semi-mandatory drinking after work "officially" ends just to build necessary (?) camaraderie with coworkers to make sure work goes smoothly.  With sleep time taken away by the drinking and the drunken stupor afterwards, it is no wonder that many salarymen feel exhausted during the day, at their corporate cubicles.  Thankfully, corporate Japan is also highly forgiving of its workers' tiredness during the day, allowing them to openly take naps at their workspaces.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A New Year of Changing PhD's Perceptions

As a Master's student, the author did not consider himself to be the intellectual type.  The days of "studying" in London was spent mostly on the road, "studying" by observing Europe and its sociocultural realities on the ground firsthand.  That only new year spent in Europe, for instance, for instance, happened to be in Sarajevo, far from the libraries and study rooms of LSE where he was supposedly preparing for exams.  He felt that the greatest opportunity granted to students is having plenty of free time, useful for personal explorations that need not to be immersion in books. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

How Can a "Seasonal" Town Become More "Permanent"?

Karuizawa is best described a seasonal town.  The town, situated deep in the central mountain range spanning the length of Honshu, Japan's main island, is known primarily for its cool temperature and secluded nature.  In the winter, snow covers the mountains surrounding the town, making it a base for skiing among both the Japanese and foreigners.  Yet, given the frigid (at least by the standards of warmer Pacific coast of Honshu where Japan's main metropolitan areas are located) temperature, Karuizawa town itself seems half-deserted, with most of the shops closed until way past the new years, and few pedestrians walking about.

Friday, December 22, 2017

On Quick Changes of Cultural Affinity

The main Koreatown of Shin-Okubo in Tokyo has, unsurprisingly, a neon-washed main street.  Shops advertising the latest hip new trends from the world of Kpop, combined with seemingly endless lineup of Korean street foods and restaurants, draw in customers from across the metropolis to experience "cool Korea."  Yet, just a few steps away from the neighborhood's brightly colored main drag lies a completely different side.  Dark little alleys, home to hundreds of mundane residences, extend away  from the main street, at the first sight no different from any other residential area in the Japanese capital city.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

What is the Logic behind Donating Money to a Foundation that Gives Money to Essay Contests?

Japan is a rather small country with an efficient public transport service, so moving across half the country, and then back, in a few hours within the same day is quite doable.  And the author did exactly that today on a trip to Kyoto for an essay contest presentation.  However, just because it is fast and easy does not mean such a trip is cheap.  The four-hour round trip between  Tokyo and Kyoto easily cost up to 200 USD without seat reservation, which is equivalent to more than 10% of what a corporate newbie earns in a fairly decent company here in Japan.