Silk Road Murat: Uzbek Food in Saitama

I’m a huge huge fan of Uzbek food. Actually, I’m a huge fan of all food that has a lot of lamb. I’m a big lamb lover. Unfortunately, the Japanese don’t share my fondness for the meat that is often described as ‘gamey’. BTW – it’s only gamey if you don’t know how to prepare it. Cooking lamb well is an art form. And the Uzbeks are brilliant at it.

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Tokyo to San Francisco: savouring suburban solitude

Everywhere I turn, people are speaking Spanish – America’s unofficial second language. I’m surprised that I can still understand the language fairly well – considering that I haven’t spoken it in some four years. I learnt a lot of new languages in my twenties – but Spanish is my still my favourite. I hear a whole plethora of other languages, too. Some I recognise. Others I don’t. I breathe in and out. It’s my first time in San Francisco, but I feel at home for the first time in a while. 

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The Dysfunctional Senpai Kohai Relationship: when the hierarchy fails

Navigating the complexity of the Senpai Kohai relationship is one of the stepping stones of working in Japan. Senpai = senior. Kohai = junior. In theory, this is a two-way street that has its roots in Confucianism. The elders pass on their knowledge and experience to the younger ones. Seems fair, doesn’t it? Those with more experience and knowledge lead the way for those with less experience and knowledge. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that these things are often determined by age and rank – not by ability, intelligence and capability.

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Banking in Japan for Foreigners: JP Bank vs Shinsei Bank

Despite incredibly advanced technological advances in robotics, the banking industry in Japan is painfully traditional. Japan is still largely a cash-based society, so be prepared to walk around with a wad of cash to buy things. Paying by credit card is only available at major department stores and at some restaurants. Most people pay their bills with cash at a convenience store or at the post office. If you can’t be bothered with that, direct debit is also available. Now onto the banks…

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Six of Cups: Back ‘home’ in Japan (Part 2)

Japan is probably not a place where most foreigners would ever truly feel at home. But after three years here, I can safely say – it’s not exactly ‘home’, but it’s become very very familiar. After five weeks on the road for both professional and personal reasons, I’m back in my messy apartment that I never quite have time to clean. What an anticlimax…

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Tokyo: an unexpected love affair

I was hell bent on never living in Tokyo. I’d heard in the grapevine that people here are rude, that it’s overpopulated and that people are racist towards foreigners. Now that I’ve spent a lot of time in Tokyo for both work and pleasure – I must say – that the rumours in the grapevine are false.

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Kobe Indians: Four Generations as ‘Gaijins’ in Japan

In 1904, my great-grandfather moved to Kobe. He had three kids. My paternal grandmother was one of them. She grew up in Hyogo Prefecture. She wasn’t Japanese – but the Kansai dialect of Japan was her first language. It’s rare to find born-and-bred ‘gaijins’ in Japan now. It was even rarer then. Since coming to Japan, I’ve been curious about grandma’s life here.

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Ms. 9 of Pentacles: Commuter Heaven in Tokyo

I’m riding the Green Car. It’s unbelievable that this train is so empty. There’s legroom. Empty seats. Food on sale. A tray table to eat my bento. Would I truly be able to enjoy this if not for the slow and steady ascent I’ve had? I was Mr. 8 of Pentacles not so long ago, packed into commuter hell; sharing my midnight misery with the masses. I didn’t like it – but I accepted that it was part of my journey from the ground up.

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Top 3 Indian restaurants in Tokyo: recommendations from an Indian ‘Gaijin’

Don’t you dare put anything on my plate that my mum won’t approve of. Food that is heavily catered to the Japanese palate is not for me. I’m also not a fan of the greasy takeout type restaurant. I want soul food. You know what I’m talking about. I want a meal that takes me back to my thousands of years of heritage with that first bite.

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A ‘Gaijin’ Woman’s Love Affair with Japan

Japan’s ageing population is always spoken about with a certain sense of doom. I don’t think it should be that way. The senior citizens have all the knowledge, all the experience, and all the time in the world to mentor the younger generations. We should be tapping into that wisdom and all that it can offer.

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