Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Tokyo International Forum

I went shopping at Ito Yokado (Japan's largest half-department half-supermarket store chain) in my hometown Koiwa. For some reason, my hometown is a better place to buy socks and men's underwear. I also bought hairstyle catalogues for Yumiko-san, my hairdresser, to help her catch up the latest trend in Japan as well as to help myself to find a new cool hairdo. Yes, there are men's hairstyle catalogues on sale in Japan. Young Japanese men are probably the most fashionable men in the world if you talk about casual style. (As for formal style, we probably lag far behind Europeans.)

Took a train to Yurakucho Station, where I met up with Mihara, a good friend of mine since our college days. We had lunch at Mansei (a restaurant chain specialising in meat dishes)'s pako ramen, Japanese-style Chinese noodle soup with deep-fried breaded pork. Delicious. Whatever I eat in Tokyo is great - and cheap: a bowl of ramen costs 750 yen, or 3.75 UK pounds. I don't wanna go back to London... (How many times should I say this during my stay in Tokyo?)

As ramen restaurants are not a place to stay long, we walked to La Mer Riche, a cafe inside Tokyo International Forum. (The cafe itself wasn't impressive.)

Mihara is a wicked guy. He's been studying for an exam to become an accountant since he quit a consultancy. But as he couldn't stand being isolated from society, he set up his own company, catering for a nonprofit organization run by, and serving for, the physically handicapped. He used to work as a volunteer for them, and his working experience as a consultant and his study on accountancy help the not-for-profit company to be organised more like a for-profit company. It gives him an incentive to study accountancy, he said. He's cool.

Talking to Mihara is always stimulating. His deep thought gives me food for thought. This time we discussed how to get rid of our deep-thinking mentality when we talk to people who don't like thinking too hard.

Mihara and I are similar guys: when we talk to someone, we tend to ask a reason for what they say, or an example for what they say. We are too logical to make people feel comfortable with talking to us. So we agree that our resolution for year 2005 is to become a person who can manage to talk in a more relaxed way.

He also talked about his newly-acquired respect for women. When he was troubled psychologically, he emailed his friends about it. Obviously, the message was really "heavy" (a Japanese English phrase for 'very serious'). His male friends didn't reply. It was too serious to respond. But his female friends did reply, which helped him a lot.

We've got older, in our late 20's. I don't know whether life has become tougher or we've become weaker, but living as a singleton certainly has become tougher and tougher. Girls have some quality men can never acquire. They are therapeutic to guys who are trying to achieve something.

We shouldn't overstretch ourselves by being single.

After saying good-bye to Mihara, I took a walk through Tokyo International Forum. The Glass Hall Building, designed by Rafael Vinoly, is magnificent. The shape of a ship is said to be a motif for this building; but to me it's like the bone structure of a whale. Crazy.

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