*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Well and truly Japanned. Exception - Hakuba?

Not that!  More like this:
And these:

Well and truly fucked.

I'll eschew my usual rant about poor service in the world's only international language, for money-dropping tourists, much less residents.  If you've been here for any time, you don't need me to recap.  From hotels to tourist-agency websites, English is not available as it is in any other country with a fraction of the money or the tourists.

But this posting is about an exception, of a sort.
If you want to go skiing in Japan, and not have to learn kanji, take a J-lover, or beg a J-co-worker to aid you: Hakuba, and Niseko, are where you want to go.  (If you want to go hiking, or much of anything else, you are still on your own).  There are even restaurants which do not make hamburgers of pork, cafés where you can get properly pulled coffee, and real-estate agents where you will  not need a word of Japanese.  You can find accommodation that is heated, charges by the room (not the person), desk staff who can communicate with you, and do this through English websites.  If you can afford a second home, you can get one in Hakuba just as easily, using only English.  However, though English language realtors will list only homes which have insulation, central-heating, and are built better than a kennel, for these reasons the prices are multiples of 'The Bubble' era besso.

Why Hakuba and Niseko?  Aussies.  Instead of flying to Whistler with money to spend, or using a work-holiday visa in Canada, the Nagano Olympics got the word out to Aussies there was somewhere half as far away as Whistler, with women half the avoir du pois and twice as GGG, and a culture who drank like Australians, but aren't as false as Canadians. Great for Hakuba's tax-base, and the Australians who've put money into inns, restaurants and bars, the Japanese married to them, and the rare Japanese entrepreneur who meets the foreign market.  About that...

There are damned few Japanese meeting the foreign market.  Sigh.  It's separate sets of tourists and establishments, apart from the ski-hills (where I might add, the English signage is bad enough I got burned buying the wrong ticket - next time I'll read the Japanese).  I am sure there are exceptions, because I came across one, but they are few.

I was very happy with the Japanese owned and run Mimizuku Onsen, because they do everything right:
- most signs are in Japanese, English, Korean and Chinese
- even the sign telling how to bathe is also in Japanese - classy
- the lady on duty came out to help me with the ticket machine, even though it had English*
- 'internationalization' was managed without changing any of the charm of a good local onsen

The twats in Kasumigaseki and Marunouchi should, but never will, learn much from this business.

*I do not remember what language she started to help me in, as we talked later in Japanese, but she was certainly willing to help me in English.


  1. Hey, be careful how you use the word "bogan"! Bogans don't ski... well not unless they are "cashed up bogans" - a whole other concept.

    I met a guy on the plane who owned a ski lodge in Japan. Spent half the year in Japan, half in Australia. Pretty sweet life, well if you like winter that is.

    How do you do that shit if you aren't married to a Japanese woman, is what I want to know.

  2. I think the World needs a common language as well. So which language should it be? The British learn French, the Australians study Japanese and the Americans prefer Spanish.

    Yet this leaves Mandarin Chinese out of the equation.

    A neutral non-national language is needed and we have it with Esperanto :)

    Only a few people know about Esperanto, but their language course http://www.lernu.net is currently receiving 125,000 hits per day. That can't be bad :)

  3. Yes, 'kathrynoh', you are right: I apologise and have changed it. Besides being poor humour, it also confused the paragraph. In Whistler BC there are a lot of Aussie ski-bums working the lifts or the bars, and like young people doing that job anywhere, including 'hosers' from my country, their behaviour is not a shining exemplar of their nation.

    As for the visas for those not married, sponsored by work, or on a work-holiday, I am as curious as you. Maybe Japan has one you can buy, like Canada has for the cost of a $100K 'business investment'. That does not explain the Canadian I met, pulling espresso in the Aussie-owned cafe linked above, who has lived in Japan for fifteen years unmarried, unless he had an inheritance.

    1. I live in the heart of the bogan belt :)

      Maybe the Canadian is on a "cultural exchange" visa!

  4. Brian, from sometime around France's 'Sun King' to sometime after the Revolution, the common language of 'the West' was French; before that, Latin. From the nineteenth century until sometime in the future it has been English, and the Japanese need to effing deal.

    It will never be Esperanto. Maybe it should be, although Esperanto's creator did not take into account languages outside of Indo-European. It is inevitable that it will be the language of the dominant culture. Dominance may be by culture, trade, military power, prestige or a combination, but we humans are a simple lot: power.