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Typhoons Hagibis and Jebi in Japan

On October 12th, typhoon No. 19 Hagibis struck central Japan and the Kanto region. This was the second big typhoon I’ve experienced but luckily, it did not hit Hamamatsu hard. It was not as scary as last year’s big typhoon, No. 21 Jebi. I will describe my experience of both typhoons.

What Happens During Typhoons?

The skies turn grey and the rain pours. Then, strong winds arise. Rain drops strike windows like bullets. The heavy rain can cause landslides and floods. The winds fell trees, blocking roads, and hurl any object from roof tiles to bicycles into the air.

When a typhoon is announced, people rush to grocery stores and convenience stores. Bread, onigiri (stuffed rice balls), bento (traditional Japanese pre-packed meals), various drinks… all foods ready to eat disappear from the stores and shelves are left empty.

Warnings are broadcast on the media telling people to stay home and prepare for black outs and lack running water. People are also advised not to leave objects such as laundry racks and toys outside.

Tape to protect injuries from broken glass.

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Kyoto Robot Buddhist Priest

In the August edition of the Japan Times, a group of Buddhist priest from Kodaiji temple in Kyoto presented the first ever robot Buddhist priest. It can memorize sutras and recite them in Chinese and Japanese. It can give sermons. The priests state that the robot cost $1 million and will attract young people because the robot is not an old “fuddy-duddy” like them. Was the robot worth the money?

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NJPW G1 Climax in Hamamatsu

NJPW G1 Climax 29 ring

Growing up, I’ve always watched American Pro Wrestling such as the WWF (now WWE) and WCW. When YouTube was invented, I started seeing my favourite North American wrestlers in a whole different setting: Japanese pro wrestling. Since then, I had dreamed of watching Japanese pro wrestling. My dream came true when I got tickets for the 15th night of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) G1 Climax 29 tournament in Hamamatsu on August 7th.   I could not help notice the differences between American and Japanese pro wrestling, and pro-wrestling on TV and live.

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Description of Japan: A New Series

Egypt and Japan: the two countries that stole my heart away. When I was hired against all odds as an ALT (Assistant Language

"Welcometo Japan" at Narita airport
“Welcome to Japan” at Narita airport

Teacher) via the JET Programme (Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme), my boyhood dream of going to Japan finally came true. Now that I’m there, I would like to do something  Napoleon did.

When Napoleon invaded Egypt, he wanted to know everything about this country to better dominate it. That is why he had his scholars write an encyclopedia called La description de l’Égypte (The Description of Egypt). It would be impossible for me to write an encyclopedia on my own but I will try to understand Japan and explain my discoveries to the best of my abilities.

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Canada: A Botched Mosaic (Part 6)

Editor’s note: This story about Canadian multiculturalism was originally a single 3,600 word article meant for a British magazine. I decided to turn it into a mini-series. It tells the story of Peter, a Lebanese-Canadian youth and his experience of Canadian multiculturalism. He meets different people through his life who influence his thoughts. Although this tale contains many true elements and anecdotes, it is a work of fiction. Read part 1 here, 2 here, part 3 here, part 4 here, and part 5 here

I finally get to the door of my apartment building. What a day! I had come across Didier, Saulo and Saeeda on my way back home. I hadn’t seen them in five years.

Didier complained a lot a year after I had originally met him. Now, he complains about the same things, but this time, even more. He complained about how white Canadians are cold and wary of black people. He complained about how he, a holder of a Master’s degree, could only find small part time jobs such as grocery store clerk or delivery boy. He complained about political corruption. He complained about

A Botched Mosaic

how hard it was to get Canadian citizenship. He complained about Canadian winter. He complained…and complained… But did he consider leaving Canada? No.

Saulo and I crossed paths in a metro[1] station. He was doing all right. Although he had to work some menial jobs to support his wife, he finally got a job as a programmer. His wife also gave birth to a baby girl. He was ambivalent about the fact that his daughter was born Canadian but he tried hard to look happy about it. He hasn’t been back to Brazil and doesn’t plan on returning. He said, with a bit of disappointment, that he doesn’t feel Brazilian anymore and that he doesn’t feel Canada is home. With the same disappointed tone, he said he had it good here in Montreal.

Read moreCanada: A Botched Mosaic (Part 6)

Canada: A Botched Mosaic (part 5)

Editor’s note: This story about Canadian multiculturalism was originally a single 3,600 word article meant for a British magazine. I decided to turn it into a mini-series. It tells the story of Peter, a Lebanese-Canadian youth and his experience of Canadian multiculturalism. He meets different people through his life who influence his thoughts. Although this tale contains many true elements and anecdotes, it is a work of fiction. Read part 1 here, 2 here, part 3 here, and part 4 here.  

The Brazilians were very friendly. They easily opened their hearts to people who took a sincere interest

Flag of Brazil
Flag of Brazil

in Brazilian culture and the Portuguese language. Because I knew some Spanish, I could understand some of their conversations and I would try to answer them in Portuguese. Although I did plenty of mistakes, the Brazilians were very happy to correct me. They also taught me about their literature, their customs and even taught me some dirty jokes in Portuguese[1]. One of the Brazilians, Saulo, was very interested in learning French and kept asking me to explain to him some French words and French grammar. I recall one of our conversations:

Read moreCanada: A Botched Mosaic (part 5)

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