Friday, August 22, 2008

Complex about USA

English first/日本語は英語の後

I feel that many countries including Japan have a sort of complex about their relationship with USA. Although they try to point out weakness, problems, downside, and even ugliness of USA, they are somewhat attracted by the US lifestyle. And, Portugal is not an exception, either. As a matter of fact, while they are saying "American foods are junk.", "we have healthy lunch at a restaurant", etc., I saw McDonald, KFC, and Burger King in a suburb of Lisbon, whose advertisement sign even says "I'm lovin' it". Isn't it a contradiction? :-)

Another discovery is that English may sound really buzzy to young Portuguese and encourage them to long for American lifestyle. I saw many English signs in Lisbon: "life has its moments..." in a jewelry advertisement, "teen academy" in a prep. school sign, and "cheeky faces" on show windows of a cloths shop for kids. This trend can be seen in Japan, too where many English phrases are unnecessarily embedded in Japanese messages.

How about their fashion? Girls wear a little overexposed cloth quite resembling the Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch fashion. Did they mimic these American brands? Or, did these brands follow South European/Latin American fashions? And, I saw many men wearing a western checker shirt (a.k.a. a cowboy shirt).

日本を含む多くの国が米国に関してある種のコンプレックスを持っているように感じま す。人々は、米国の弱点、問題点、欠点、醜い所など根掘り葉掘り見つけようとする一方で、米国の生活スタイルに何となく憧れていると思います。そして、ポ ルトガルも例外ではありません。事実、「米国の食べ物はジャンク(くず同様)だ」「こっちは昼飯はレストランで健康な物を食べている」など耳にしますが、 リスボンの郊外には、マクドナルド、ケンタッキー、バーガーキングズなどがあるのです。そして、その広告看板には、大好きって書いてあるのです。矛盾では ないでしょうか。

もう1つの発見は、英語がポルトガルの若年層に取って本当に聞こえが良くて、米国の生活スタイルを勧めるのにもって来い という感じがします。リスボンで見かけた英語の看板には、人生にはある瞬間が存在する(宝石の宣伝)、ティーン学院(塾)、おませな顔(子供服のショウ ウィンドウ)など。この傾向は日本でも見られます。英語が日本語の宣伝に不必要にちりばめられているのです。

ではファッションはどうかと いうと、女性はホリスターやアバコビに似たちょっと露出気味の服を着ています。彼らがアメリカのブランドを真似たのか、それとも、アメリカがラテン系の ファッションを真似たのでしょうか?では、男性はというと、これが結構ウェスタン系のチェックのシャツ(カウボーイシャツ)を来ているんですよね。

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ruins in A1 Community

English first/日本語は英語の後

Many travel guidebooks mention about Lisbon's uniqueness where historical and modern buildings are crowded to each other. How about suburbs of Lisbon? Marisol is an A1 community located 10+ miles south from Lisbon and 3-miles inland from the beach. Many residences are surrounded by their huge, well-maintained yard and facilitated with a personal swimming pool. Some of them are even the 2nd houses where their owners stay only over a weekend. However, (as usual in my blog), I saw many ruins like every 10 building lots. They are generally for sale, vende in Portuguese as you can see my attached pictures. Some of them even seem for sale for more than 10 years, because trees have grown up quite high in their lot. Their walls are fallen in decay. So, if you focus on just such ruins, you feel as if you time-slipped in the Middle Ages. Then, the next question is how about non-A1 suburbs? Almada is the largest city on the south side of the Tejo river. Many new buildings are under construction. Railroad tracks for streetcars are being extended. So, the city is still growing rapidly. But, notable (again) is that those under construction have been already graffitied and are even waiting for being a slum.

リスボンは、歴史的な建物と現代的な建物が乱立するところがユニークだとよく旅行案内本に書いてあります。では、リスボン郊外はどうなんだろう?と思う訳です。マリソルは、リスボンから南に16km, 海岸からは5km程のところにあるトップクラスの住宅地です。多くの住宅が広々とした手入れの行き届いた庭とプールを持っています。それらの幾つかは、週末にしか使わない別荘ですらあるのです。しかしながら、(私のブログではいつもながらですが)、10軒に1軒程度の割合で、廃墟と化した宅地を見ます。その廃墟は、添付の写真にあるようにベンデという案内で、大体売りに出ています。その幾つかは、10年以上も売りに出ているようにすら見えます。というのは、宅地内の木々がそびえ立っているからです。外壁も朽ち果てています。だから、こういう廃墟だけをみると中世に迷い込んだかのように思えるくらいです。では、トップクラスではない郊外はどうなんだろう、というのが次の疑問になる訳ですが、テージョ川南の最大都市にアルマダというところがあります。結構な数の建物が建設中で、しかも、路面電車の線路も延長されてつつあります。そういうことで、この町はまだまだ急成長しています。(またまた)、しかし、注意すべきところは、建設中の建物がもう落書きされていて、スラム化を待っているかのようにさえ見えるのです。

Pictures: ruins (廃墟)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Beer heaven in the winery country

English first/日本語は英語の後

Everyone knows that Portugal is famous for its delicious wine. Wine would be essential for their meals. I am not surprised to see them drinking wine even at lunch on a weekday, because I heard about it. What actually intrigued me was that I saw more people drink beer rather than wine at lunch. Maybe, they might be thirsty because of the hot summer season. However, of more interest is that there are a lot of advertisement signs of beer I can see in particular at quite many bus stops. (Look at the attached pictures.) And, they are almost all associated with some beach image, (e.g., fisherman's beach hut, stock at beach, etc).


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Everyone likes beach at Lisbon.

English first/日本語は後

1. People: The majority on Japanese beaches are definitely those in 20's plus just families. You hardly see senior people. Moms in general stay in a T shirt under a parasol and thus don't show their body line, while dads still do not care about showing off their beer-barrel-like belly to take care of their kids. The key idea is that the beach is a place like a fashion show, and so people don't want to show their ugly body lines as they get aged. The same philosophy might be applied to US, in particular Californian beaches, yet many people want to go to beach. That's the reason why they attend 24Hrs Fitness really hard to keep their proportion against their age. The difference from Japan which I noticed was that senior people in US seem like enjoying a walk on beach much more frequently. Now, you can imagine what I would like to say about Portuguese beaches. Yes, I saw many sea lions loafing on the beach. Of course, they are actually not sea lions but people having a large amount of excess flesh (the definition from the MacNote dictionary.) I was just surprised to know that such big swimming suits, particularly bikinis are available to purchase in Portugal. Why don't they care about showing their chucks to the public?

The other day on a bus, a senior lady helped me transfer from a bus to a train. Although I didn't understand 99% of what she said, she kept talking to me in Portuguese. When the bus passed by a beach sign, ("praia" in Portuguese), she wanted to tell me that there is a beach in that direction, using her gesture of waving and wading with her hands. She seemed really happy. Now, I got a hint to my question! Beaches to Portuguese are just like hot springs to Japanese. Regardless of age, sex, and of course body shapes, everyone would like to enjoy getting relaxed on the beach as Japanese want to soak themselves in a hot spring.

2. Building: Restaurants and service facilities on the beach in Portugal seem permanent like US, whereas Japan only allows those facility to be temporarily built every high season, (i.e., July and August). Houses nearby the beach in Portugal do not seem well-maintained unlike US and Japan. I thought the closer to the beach the more expensive and better maintained houses would be, because people always look for an ocean view and a water-front life. However, as you can see my pictures, those houses in the Telha beach, 10+ miles south from Lisbon could even seem like a refugee camp. Miguel told me that they were all illegally built without purchasing and thus owning a land. Good houses are built back a little far from the beach, actually behind a pine-tree barrier to prevent beach sand from shifting to them.




Photo 1: Anyone welcome to beach (ビーチは誰もが行きたい)

Photo 2: Permanent beach house(永久的に建てられた海の家)

Photo 3: Telha Beach (テリヤ海岸)

Photo 4: Ocean-front houses with low quality (質の悪い海辺の民家)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ar condicionado

English first/日本語は英語の後

When I stepped into a bus for my first time here in the Lisbon area, I saw the sign "Ar Condicionado", (i.e., air conditioned) written on the bus. It was obvious since all the windows of the bus were closed and passengers inside seemed comfortable. But I quickly realized that there might be non-air-conditioned buses. And, my inference was correct. So far I rode such buses twice. In the near future, signs of "strongly air conditioned" and "weakly air conditioned" might appear like in Japan.

Yesterday when I walked on a sidewalk near the office, I felt a liquid drop on my head. As I quickly thought I got bird s??t to look out to the sky, I noticed that water kept dropping off from an air conditioner placed outside of the building probably on its 3rd or 4th floor. I wondered if no one knew it was leaking water. Then, I found that air conditioners of the buildings I checked didn't have a hose to pump out water to a gutter (Picture 1). To believe or not, sidewalks were wet here and there because of free water drops from air conditioners (Picture 2). Today, on our way to lunch, Rui, one of Miguel's company colleagues got a water drop on his head. Okay, let's be aware of water drops from now on.


昨日オフィスの近くの歩道を歩いていたとき、頭に冷たい物を感じました。鳥の糞かと空を見上げたら、ビルの多分3階か4階に取り付けてあるエアコンから水滴がしたたり落ちているのに気付きました。誰も水漏れに気付いていないのかと不思議に思ったのですが、どのビルもエアコンに水よけのホースが着装されていません (写真1)。信じようが信じまいが、歩道はあちこちでエアコンからしたたり落ちる水で濡れています(写真2)。今日、昼飯を食べに行く途中、ミゲールの同僚のルイという人も、水滴を頭にうけました。よくわかった、これからは気をつけないとね。

Picture 1. Air conditioners placed outside of builds

Picture 2. Sidewalks wet with water drops from air conditioners.

Monday, July 28, 2008


English first/日本語は英語の後

My BA flight's booklet listed "go to a restaurant at Madrid before 9pm" as one of "don't" items. So is Lisbon. Since I came here, I've never had dinner with Miguel before 10pm. Pictures 1, 2, and 3 were all taken at the 2nd largest shopping mall in the Lisbon area, which is actually located at the other side of the Tejo river from Lisbon. Focus on the time when I shot those pictures. Yes, it was 10:20pm. People enjoyed shopping and dinner. Of more surprise is that kids were still playing! It can't happen in Seattle and even in Japan. Two years ago when I drove back to Seattle from Portland with my wife and son, it was 11pm and we were too tired to cook dinner then. Of course, almost all shopping malls and restaurants were closed in the Seattle area. Only the exception was Denny's, where we felt we were bad parents to bring our kid to a restaurant late at night.

Then, I spontaneously got a question: what time do Portuguese wake up and go to work? As far as I look at Miguel's housemates and colleagues at work, they start their work around 9am or slightly later than that. So, here is my conclusion: they are the creature capable of surviving with the least sleeping time over the world.



Picture 1: The unique architecture of Almada Forum, the 2nd largest shopping mall in the Lisbon region

Picture 2: Kids playing in the mall at 10:20pm!
写真2 夜10:20分にモールで遊んでいるガキども

Picture 3: Yet dinner and shopping hours at 10:20pm. Let's go to see "Badman".
写真3 食事もショッピングも最高潮、これからバッドマンを見に行くところ

Friday, July 25, 2008

Kingdom of Dogs

English first/日本語は英語の後で

At the first night when I stayed at Miguel's house, I heard dogs barking outside annoyingly. As I commute repeatedly to Lisbon, I've realized that there are many dogs straying unleashed everywhere without their owners. They are not wild, because they still wear a leashing band on their neck. I heard that this is one of the problems which suburbs of Lisbon are facing: although many people want to own puppies in their house, they tend to unleash the dogs as the puppies grow up in particular if they get babies, (i.e., human babies) where many families think that grown dogs and human babies cannot get along with each other. Where did their responsibility of owning pets go?


Super-Aggressive Driviners

English first/日本語は英語の後

For these three days after I started my commuting to Lisbon, coincidently or naturally I saw a car accident every day. Car drivers here are quite aggressive. They drive very crazy like honking without hesitation, changing a lane frequently, breaking into a line sneakingly, and stopping suddenly. As compared to Portuguese, Washingtonian drivers would be driving considerably slow like turtles. However, on the way back to a suburb of Lisbon, I saw a car going safely or a little irritably slow. He was a senior driver, which I think would be common everywhere.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Flying to Lisboa

English first/日本語は英語の後

The weather at Seattle was so beautiful as seeing Mt. Rainier clearly (Picture 1). Now I'm aboard on British Airways #48. While the aircraft is flying to the direction away from the sun and it's already 10:30pm, the outside of the cabin is still bright. Look at Picture 2. Yes, the aircraft is flying on the edge of the day light and the night darkness. Presumably, I'm experiencing my first midnight sun as flying over Canada and Greenland. This doesn't happen to a transpacific flight between Japan and US because of a lower latitude.

After a half-hour delay, BA48 landed at London where I transited from terminal 4 to 1 as following purple signs of "flight connections" and "terminal 1 & 2". It took 20+ minutes. At terminal 1, I bought a very small box of Asian noodle salad and again a very small bottle of water that cost 4.88 in total (Picture 3). Be careful of the currency unit which is £ but not $. Given £ ≥ $2.00, it was approximately $10 or ¥1070. Excuse me, how much do people in UK earn salary? After 1 hour delay, I arrived at Lisbon (Picture 4). While I got prepared for anticipated Q&As (like "nada declarar") at the passport control with a letter from the UW vice provost regarding my sabbatical and an invitation from Miguel, an immigration officer simply got my passport stamped as saying "kon'nichiwa" (i.e., hello in Japanese). I like his easy-going way. :-)


30分程の遅れで、BA48便はヒースロー空港に着陸し、ターミナル4から1へ "flight connections"と"terminal 1 & 2"の紫色の看板に従って移動しました。20分以上はかかります。ターミナル1で、中華風やきそばサラダと小さな飲料水を買ったんですが、合計4.88でした。(写真3)通貨単位はドルではなくポンドということを考えると、10ドル、または1070円もする訳です。すみませんが、イギリス人の給料ってのはいくらなんですかね。一時間遅れで、リスボンに到着(写真4)。入国に際して、予想される問答例(申告する物はありません)や大学の副学長からのサバティカルに関する手紙、ミゲールからの招聘状を用意していたにも関わらず、「こんにちは」と言って、パスポートにスタンプを直ぐさま押してくれるほど、乗りの良い入国審査官ってのが良いですね。

Picture 1. Mt. Rainier from SeaTac

Picture 2. Flight to London

Picture 3. $10 Lunch

Picture 4. Lisboa

Sunday, July 20, 2008


English first/日本語は英語の後

Now, it's time to fly to Lisbon. The first event didn't wait so long but rather came quickly right before my departure from the hotel. I reset my suitcase's combination to 000 and tried to make sure if it worked. The suitcase couldn't open with 000! How about 001, 999, 002, or more other combinations? Nothing worked. Anyway, my wife and son's departure time was noon, and we had to go to the airport. While they were checking in, and furthermore while I was seeing them of at a security point, I had to keep moving my hands to check different combinations all the way to 999. So, no sentimental atmosphere to say good-bye to them. I finally dropped by an information desk, then visited a bag storage, and at last asked a TSA agent for a help. He took me to an over-sized baggage check-in desk where another TSA agent opened my suitcase quickly as saying "oh, that's easy". The right combination was 008 which I actually tried, but he pointed out that I had to keep locking the side keys when changing a combination.

Honestly, it was my first time to appreciate TSA and respect them as professionals. But at the same time, I've felt that breaking suitcase combinations is really easy to them like Japanese sayings: a job before breakfast or twisting a baby's hand.

いよいよ出発となりましたが、それほど待つことなく最初の出来事がやってきました。ホテルで自分のスーツケースの組合せ番号を000に戻して、ちゃんと開くかどうか試してみたところ、鍵が開かなくなってしまったのです。001, 999, 002と試してみたのですが、駄目です。カミさんと息子の出発がお昼なので、とりあえず空港に向かいました。彼らがチェックインする間も、手荷物検査所で見送るときも、ずっと私の手はスーツケースの組合せ番号を変えるのに必死で、センチメンタルな気分でさようならを言うにはほど遠い感じでした。結局999まで試した後、案内所に向かい、次に手荷物預かり所に行き、最後はTSA(手荷物検査の係員)をつかまえて助けを求めることになってしまいました。大きい荷物の預け口にいた別の係員が、これは簡単と言いながら、すぐにスーツケースを開けてくれたのですが、番号は008でした。自分でも試した番号なのですが、係員が言うには、両脇の鍵を施錠しながら番号を変えないと上手く行かないのだそうです。


Saturday, July 19, 2008

One day before my departure

English first/日本語は英語の後

There were a lot of things to do before starting my sabbatical: changing my address, suspending/terminating all services, moving all furniture to a storage, etc.. And the very last thing was to drive my Honda CRV to Kingston, a 30-minute ferry ride from Seattle/Edmonds, (see Picutre 1), where Dane , my former student and now my friend (Picture 2), will take care of the car till April 1st. It seems like most passengers aboard were tourists, in particular campers and hikers headed out to the Olympic NP. To people outside of Washington State, Seattle may be a base for outdoor activities.

Now, we are done with all those things. We left our apartment, (Picture 3) which we thought was a temporary place for our transition from the previous condo to a new house but eventually resided for nine months. The last dinner before our departure was Kisaku (Picture 4). My wife told that it is only one restaurant where she can feel that she had a good dinner. Agree.



Picture 1. Going to Kingston: still a winter-like weather under the temperature 52F.

Picture 2. Dane who is the first person in my blog

Picture 3. Leaving our unimpressive apartment

Picture 4. Kent using chopsticks for his first time at Kisaku

Friday, July 4, 2008

This is my very first blog posting

I created a blog for my first time.
My plan is to write interesting experiences I've had during my sabbatical (7/20/08 - 6/30/09).

サバティカルリーブ(7/20/08 - 6/30/09)中の面白い体験談などを書き下して行きます。