Tokyo Notebook

-・- From My Everyday Life to Japanese Culture -・- Why don't you see the real Japan, not the typical foreigners' version.

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Posted by Kinakinw | --:-- | Comment [0] | TrackBack [0] | スポンサー広告

29 2013

Walking through the Rows of Blooming Trees


Before I visited Ueno, a district in Tokyo's Taito Ward, that is the home of Ueno Park known as a prominent cherry blossom viewing spot, I conceived private conviction that the park wasn’t so crowded because last weekend was the best time to view the blossoms. However, never underestimate cherry-blossom-loving Japanese. Yesterday, there were many people enjoying the blossoms. Since temperatures were cold at the beginning of this week, the flowers still bloomed.


Many people also love to have a party held under the cherry trees. These persons are holding a place for their colleagues and friends gathering coming together for a party in the evening.

Main significance of my visit was an exhibition of El Greco, a medieval painter born in Greek. The park is also home to some of Tokyo's finest cultural sites, including the multiple museums (Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Western Art, the National Museum of Nature and Science, and Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum) , as well as a major public concert hall.


The painter produced his mature works in Toledo, Spain. Many years ago I took a day trip to Toledo when I was in Madrid and saw his works. I was in the course of a trip with my friend by trains through Italy (Venice, Rome, and Firenze) and southern France to Spain (Valenciana, Andalucia, and Madrid). Though I was tired of religious pictures, I could enjoy his presentation of figures. The people that he drew are appealing regardless whether he or she holy or not.

Then I took a long walk through the rows of blooming trees along the Shinobazu Pond.


You know, in Japan, even cats watch cherry blossoms.


Just kidding. Someone living in the park takes care of the cat and set down it in its favorite spot with seasonal costumes. Now it’s one of the characteristic scenes in Spring.


You know, in Japan, even gulls ….



Posted by Kinakinw | 21:46 | Comment [0] | TrackBack [0] | Tokyo Life

24 2013

Who Can Enjoy the Sport?

Who Can Enjoy the Sport

It gets warmer in Tokyo, and cherry trees in Tokyo are in full bloom now!

Bring me up to date, I’m completely exhausted by watching World Figure Skating Championships 2013 on line on consecutive days last weekend. It was held in North America, so the games started late-evening and ended around noon in Japan. I usually skip most of pairs and ice dance, but this year, I couldn’t help but shifted my living hours to the games and watched all since I felt familiar with skaters in early groups of each category I actually watched at the Four Continents Championships in Osaka.

The reason why I’m exhausted wasn’t only the extended watching but also the spot-issue at the Sochi Olympics. Our national team skaters got in the lower positions in SP, so I was on the edge of my seat during the singles’ games watching each performance and counting their rank orders. As a result of their efforts, I'm glad we got three spots in both men and women. Good job, boys and girls!

Meanwhile, I had experiences of déjà vu through the competitions. While one experience was in men’s single, which was just like second coming of last World, and the other was in women’s single, which was just like recycled versions of Vancouver. Obviously their victories were results of hard work and should be celebrated. Frankly, however, I was severely bothered by the feeling toward the ISU (International Skating Union) judging system as usual, which had nothing to do with the skaters.

I cannot explain the controversial whole system in detail here, so I just focus on GOE (Grade of Execution) in the post.

Each nine judges decide GOE (an integer from -3 to +3) for each element (like jumps, spins and step sequences). Discarding the high and low value, the seven GOE values are averaged out, and then the average value is added to (or subtracted from) the base value of an element. The upper or lower limit of the value depends on the difficulty of elements. For instance, while if the average value is 3 for triple jumps except 3 Axel, only 2.1 point is added, if it’s 3 for 3 Axel and 4 jumps, 3 point is added.

Though the judging system is aimed at objective absolute assessment, in reality, it hasn’t been in operation in that way including GOE. Firstly, ISU has guidelines describing what “good execution” is, but they are ultimately arbitrary and might change in the future. Secondly, judges’ decisions of GOE are quite subjective. It’s always happens that one judge gives +3 for an element, while the other gives -1 for the same element.

That arbitrary and subjective GOE monster goes on a rampage. When judges decide prematurely that specific skaters’ elements without mistakes are well formatted to fit into the criteria of “good execution” and they bring all elements without mistakes, a total value of GOE would be laughably enormous. In the case of women’s FS in this World, the champion got 16.51 GOE points in total, which was more than twice the base value of 3 Axel. If you compare the extreme GOE award to baseball, it would be similar to that if judges prematurely think a player’s swing is “ideal” and “meets an arbitrary standard” decided by MLB, a team can get an extra score by someone’s hit while other players whose swing prematurely determined not ideal never has that benefit. Can you imagine that?

The ironic and tragic problem is that a massive margin between a champion and the others, mainly due to the GOE monster, essentially holds no concrete meaning. If a skater won by 20 point margin, the skater is superior to the others in that margin? NO. It’s just like a number of flowers thrown by judges.

Even so, the total GOE results in someone’s huge score that leaves the others far behind. In women’s single, it’s almost impossible to fill a gap created by the pile of gifts from judges if the others can’t deliver quad jumps.

It’s a good idea to reward skaters for good execution, but, I would say, it shouldn’t be a monster that enlarges a massive gap no one can catch up. Some people who see GOE as a problem claim that it should be reduced the width, for example -2 to +2 except falling. This is one way, and I think another way is that to put a ceiling on a total GOE score becoming a part of a technical score depending on a total base technical score. For instance, put a 15% ceiling on adding total GOE points based on the total of base values of elements.

This GOE problem has been left derelict many years, and ISU seems to let the monster go unchecked. I think people who love “sports” are never be able to enjoy watching this sport. Truthfully, this World made me feel that I had to cut my ties with the sport to a greater or lesser extent.

I’m really sorry for skaters who work day in, day out have been overrun by ISU Mafia. I think so sincerely.

Posted by Kinakinw | 17:05 | Comment [0] | TrackBack [0] | Figure Skating

10 2013

How Do You Pick Your Flight?

Pick Your Flight

When I updated the blog last time (it was just like a filler post, though), I reminded that I was thinking of writing this topic someday.

I constantly get on international flights every year, and I arrange a trip on my own each time as part of my hobby even though it’s on business. Among the key parts of traveling, picking a flight is the first thing to be done, and I have clear selection criterions for that.

I grade airlines from Group 1 to 3 on my own standpoints as below, for reducing various risks. I’ll talk about only the cases of the main frights arriving at and departing from Japan in this post.

Group 1: ideal choice (理想的な選択肢)
ANA, JAL, United, Delta, American, Air Canada, Lufthansa, British-Airways, Air-France, SAS, Finnair, Swiss, KLM, Austrian, Virgin-Atlantic-Airways, Alitalia, Qantas, Air-New-Zealand

Group 2: second best (次善の策)
Hawaiian-Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia, Cathay-Pacific, Emirates, JetStar

Group 3: airlines to avoid (避けるべき航空会社)
The other airlines that serve frights arriving at and departing from Japan including worst ones I don’t want to take at any price (SU, CI, MU, PR, GA, AI, PK ….).

I select a fright that meets my schedule and budget from G1 to 2. Naturally, there are exceptions. During the past decade, I used G3’s airlines (of course these weren’t worst ones) twice. I had to do so because, in the one case, an airline was the only option available for a flight award ticket and, in the other, there was only one fright that met our party of six people’ schedule and budget.

Though the grading includes my preferences, it basically reflects a safety and reliability rankings. I know that, whichever I chose, someone’s chances of being a direct victim of aircraft accident are extremely small. At the same time, whichever I chose, it’s difficult to escape perfectly from the accident caused by many factors other than airline’s one.

Even so, I basically avoid G3 because using them might increase the odds of having inconveniences and also incidents. Well, I do NOT trust most of the airlines at all. For instance, I strongly doubt the potential of their cabin attendants as security staff. I think the attendants scramble to escape leave behind passengers when a serious trouble comes (well, in that sense, some of G2 are also doubtful, though). Furthermore, I’m sure if I account for the accident on a G3’ airplane, not only I but also my family and friends would run into unpleasant experiences after the disaster due to those airlines’ unreasonable attitude.

In order of preference 優先順位
1. A direct fright of G1グループ1の直行便
2. A connecting flight of G1 and a direct fright of G2 グループ1の経由便か2の直行便
3. A connecting flight of G2 グループ2の経由便
4. A direct fright of G3 except worst ones 禁忌の会社を除くグループ3の直行便
5. A connecting flight of G3 except worst ones禁忌の会社を除くグループ3の経由便
 Insurmountable barrier - 越えられない壁
6. Any fright of worst airlines 禁忌の会社の全てのフライト

Posted by Kinakinw | 15:14 | Comment [0] | TrackBack [0] | Travel & Hot Spring

04 2013

Stingy Habit

haneda lounge

Which kind of airport lounge do you use?
Kinakinw who is neither a first or business class traveler nor a premium frequent flyer of a specific airline usually stop at one run by credit-card companies or affiliated with them for free before fright. It is an ancillary service of a gold credit card I have.

I don’t remember when and why I upgraded the card. Since I’m not interested in the honor to be a premium card holder, I once thought of the downgrading it to an inexpensive a normal one, but I held back that. Judging calmly, I felt I got my money's worth from the annual membership. There were two main benefits: (1) it includes overseas traveler's insurance that I bought each time, and (2) I could exclusive access to the airport lounges (limited to domestic airports). Adversely, there were only these benefits for me….

Now that wi-fi services are becoming more widespread, so the lounges have less advantage as internet access spots. However, it’s still nice to take a breather and check mails in a relaxed way especially at the airport when I arrived home.

Posted by Kinakinw | 21:42 | Comment [0] | TrackBack [0] | Tokyo Life

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