Sunday, October 02, 2005

Kikai/Japan Idiosyncracies, Part One

First, I would like to say that OU won. Neato.

Second, I would like to say that I hope Alabama wins the national championship. I don't want USC to win (b/c USC has that annoying fight song). I don't want Texas to win, b/c Texas sucks. I don't want Va Tech to win, b/c that would mean two more years of hyping Marcus Vick. I want Bama to win b/c Bama might be able to, Mike Shula seems to be a very decent guy, and they've had a tough road.

OK, I am now beginning a series of posts on the idiosyncracies of life and related things here in Kikai. They could be about Japan in general or about Kikai (or, unbeknownst to me, both or one and not the other, since my knowledge is still quite limited) and are meant to be amusing/interesting/intriguing to the Western mind. So, if you don't like it, go to McDonald's and WalMart more often!

Here goes:

-Every day at 6:-something am, 10 am, 12 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm, and 6 pm, town-wide loudspeakers play these cheerful synthesiser songs. They are simple tunes, and they make Aubrey and me chuckle. When they come on, we sing, "Be happy, it's __ o'clock!" Incidentally, I was told that they are for the benefit of the farmers in the fields and (I am just assuming the latter) the construction workers that are constantly re-doing the streets around town. I have reason to believe that 10 am and 3 pm are coffee-break times (cold coffee, of course, w/o cream or sugar) and 5 and 6 pm are obvious. Still don't have any idea what the 6:-something am one is for. Occasionally, the happy music is followed by some announcements. We sometimes wonder what they're saying, but since almost nothing ever happens on this island, I doubt it's anything of earth-shattering importance.

-Speaking of construction workers, a Japanese man who may well be in the know told us that approximately 80% of the Board of Education's budget is spent on construction workers who tear up perfectly good streets whenever they feel like it and then leave them torn up, w/ only gravel and packed dirt, for weeks at a time. There are apparently about 22 of these companies (yes, on Kikai alone - I didn't think the island was big enough for 22 total companies when I first saw it on the map), and I would guess it's some political pork spending that keeps them "working" to "improve" the streets. There are a few things they COULD be doing, like fixing genuinely bad streets (of which I've seen several) or widening some others that are ridiculously narrow. Or they could work on fixing the big windmill that was trashed by the typhoon. Or they could repair the retaining wall near the high school that the typhoon tore apart. Or they could clean up the beaches that the typhoon trashed. But no, they're a reminder that politicians are the same the world over.

Be back later w/ more!

1 comment:

Ianbot said...

They had loudspeaker music like that in the Village on The Prisoner. You'd better start watching out for pennyfarthing bicycles and giant weather baloons of death.