One last rambling column from my on-the-road Macworld Tokyo, then I’m heading home.
Between my meals at the Prince Hotel restaurant, small cafes around the Makuhari Messe Convention Center, and the nearby CarreFour shopping center, I’ve sampled Japanese, Chinese, Indian, and American food. I’ve eaten everything from sushi to steak to Indian curry. Most of it has been darn good.
However, I did almost laugh at loud at a couple of local English names for their dishes. One nice restaurant served something called “rice gruel,” which doesn’t sound especially appetizing to a Westerner like me. And a sandwich vendor promised “big Texas sandWITCHES” (the caps are mine).
But I’m not mocking the folks here. I greatly admire them, especially their courtesy and sense of community. Courtesy and bowing are ways of life here. Almost certainly I’ll be bowing for days after returning home.
I’m also very impressed with the Japanese sense of order. The subways are well run and very clean, as are the aboveground trains. All the stores and shops run smoothly as employees work together like a well-oiled machine. No wasted motion, no wasted time. And I’ve learned a lot about business etiquette. If you’re “anybody,” you hand out — and accept — business cards. And the shop and workers don’t accept tips. In fact, it seems to be a minor insult to offer them.
And a few other general observations:
1) The Japanese also place the good of the community above the good of the individual.
2) Everyone — and I mean everyone — has a mobile phone.
3) Many more people smoke than in the States. And no-smoking areas in restaurants are much rarer than back home.
Finally (and if not an “X-Files” fan, you can skip this next part), many people have e-mailed me to explain what happened to Mulder’s sister, as I wondered in a previous “Reporter’s Notebook.”
Jake Tenenbaum explains it as thus: “When Fox and Samantha were young, she was abducted. Well, the project that the Mulder children’s father was involved with is the very same one that the CSM [Cigarette Smoking Man] is involved with today. Every member of that project had to pick one family member to be ‘abducted by aliens,’ and these people were used in various experiments, many of which are still unknown. Fox’s dad picked the sister because he felt that Mulder was the one more likely to be able to uncover the conspiracy, which he didn’t like being a part of (which is why he was murdered, so he wouldn’t tell Fox what he knew.)
“It is believed that Fox has NOT actually seen his sister since her abduction. We know that on several occasions, he came face to face with clones of his sister, and hybrids made partly from his sister’s DNA. And, as you know, he’s seen these at various ages, young Sam, older Sam, 20-something Sam. So, most probably, Fox has ONLY met clones, etc.”
So is his sister really dead? Says David Gostisha: “Fox Mulder’s sister weaves into and out of reality in the series. Fox gets going on the X-files to find out what happened to his sister, who he thinks was abducted by a UFO when they were kids. This is her story for a while. A couple seasons later we find out Fox’s dad was involved in the big UFO/Government cover-up, and as part of the deal with the aliens, her dad (and Fox’s) sent her off to be used for testing by the aliens. Fox’s dad was in cahoots with the smoking man, who also had kids, rumors of one also being taken by aliens, and one shows up a few seasons later. Mulder’s sister pops up as possibly being alive, or killed as a child depending on if you think these are Fox’s dreams, leading on by the smoking man, or reality.”
Thanks, guys. That helps though I can’t lie: I’m still confused.