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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

VIEWS FROM THE STREET

The best of Views from the Street

A pick of some of best —and the rest — of the vox pops over the years, in chronological order:

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Melanie Burton: What was your impression of Japan before you got here?

Mathias Gunz (dishwasher, 24): I heard that Japanese girls have their legs lengthened. They go to the doctor and he cuts their legs apart and puts more things in there. Also, lots of girls have their eyes made bigger. I think I read it in Playboy. (Sep 23, 2003)

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MB: What was your worst holiday trip?

Gillian Clark (teacher, 27): My purse was stolen in Beijing. When I reported it, the police just laughed. When I said I was an English teacher in Japan and needed my gaijin card, they stopped. The next day my wallet arrived in a taxi with only my gaijin card in it. (Dec. 2, 2003)

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MB: What's your idea of the ideal work environment?

Naoki Daisho (samurai student, 22): I want to be working with cool people in Rome, to be able to smoke cigarettes, be somewhere near a soccer stadium, and surrounded by music — without drugs. (Feb. 17, 2004)

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MB: Do you feel that Japan would be secure against a terrorist attack?

Blain Armstrong (teacher, 29): Anyone with a foreign face who looks like they might try something is going to be hounded so badly that they won't even try. (May 5, 2004)

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MB: How do you save money in Tokyo, one of the world's most expensive cities?

Paul Soprano (performer, 33): Don't buy alcoholic beverages from a bar in Japan. Instead, carry a backpack with budget supermarket drinks, and pour them into a glass inconspicuously. (Sept. 7, 2004)

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MB: Is the word "gaijin" offensive to you?

Makiko Okawa (video editor, 29): I always use the word "gaikokujin." The word "gaijin" can have a negative image — like foreign men trawling bars in Roppongi for women. (Oct. 19, 2004)

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MB: Should Japan compensate Korean "comfort women"?

Genni Williamson (military, 26): No. War is an evil, not a necessary one, but it's part of life. I don't think people should be compensated for things that happen naturally. I know that sounds messed up, but that's the world we live in. (Dec. 14, 2004)

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MB: What are you carrying with you today?

Thurston Moore ("sculptor," 46): I have my record store map — it's published annually. I only have the 2002 version, which is a bit out of date. I have subway and train maps, toothpicks, tissues, a bottle of water and "royal milk tea." (March 15, 2005)

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MB: Are women-only train cars a solution?

Mari Kaneko (student, 19): It's good to separate the cars because women feel insulted when they get touched, but women also have to take responsibility when they wear very short skirts. In summertime, some are almost naked. (May 17, 2005)

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MB: Do you believe in extraterrestrial life, and which film director has depicted aliens the best?

Hiroshi Hashimoto (office worker, 26): Yeah, I hope so. Maybe they look like us. I think they have already made contact with some people — some Americans. It might be like "War of the Worlds." (Aug. 9, 2005)

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MB: What would you do if you were Prime Minister?

Katherine Garner (English teacher, 23): I'd enshrine in legislation an order that dogs are not allowed to wear coats during the summer — essentially "Cool Biz" for dogs. And for big dogs, they are not to be adorned with pretty ribbons — it's simply demeaning. (Sept. 6, 2005)

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MB: Do you care about the issue of imperial succession?

Daisuke Senzaki (engineer, 24): It's a Japanese institution, so it's necessary. We hope the Emperor's family will continue forever. But it costs too much. If we stopped having royalty, we could use their land to make good buildings like the World Trade Center. (Nov. 29, 2005)

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MB: What are the best and worst things about Japan?

Anja Flower (student, 18): The best thing about Japan is the extended feeling of community around here. Either that or the ready supply of porn. The worst is the oppression of women, or the severe lack of garbage cans when you need them. (Jan. 10, 2006)

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Thomasina Larkin: Is Japan a good country to raise kids?

Elliott Samuels (editor, 32): The cost of raising kids here would make me think twice. If I'm expected to shell out loads of cash on health and education, I'm going to make damn sure my kid gets something in return, and doesn't end up thinking like (Tokyo Gov.) Shintaro Ishihara. (May 16, 2006)

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TL: Would you pay more tax to stop whaling?

Masakazu Hirose (fish delivery, 44): I agree with whaling because the number of whales is increasing and we have to keep them in check to keep the balance. Also, recently a big ship hit a whale and caused an accident. If there are too many whales, it'll be a big problem. (May 30, 2006)

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TL: Have you ever had a racist experience?

Toru Ishii (HR worker, 30): In Texas, I was walking on the street and some guy came up to me, said "f—-in' Jap" and punched my stomach. Once at a Nagano onsen, the entrance guy said "gaijin dame." I told him "I'm Japanese!" and he apologized and let me in. (June 27, 2006)

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TL: What's the best gift you've ever given?

Kevin Sheft (architect, 24): It would have to be a subscription to the Jelly of the Month Club. It's the gift that keeps on giving. You get a different jelly every month of the year delivered to your home. (Dec. 19, 2006)

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TL: What's your most dreadful joke?

Priscilla Berg (fashion designer, 34): On a crowded train, one man noticed that another man had his eyes closed. "What's the matter? Are you sick?" he asked. "No, I'm OK. It's just that I hate to see old ladies standing." (Feb. 06, 2007)

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Stephanie Hannon: Do people work too hard in Japan?

Masahiro Takeshima (PR account executive, 28): I work up to seven hours unpaid overtime a day. As part of your duty to a company and society, it's expected. It's been part of our culture since our parents worked long hours to rebuild Japan after the war. (May 08, 2007)

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SH: Do you think the Japanese police are effective?

Hiroki (student, 20): In Japan, only about 20 to 30 percent of criminals are caught. In cases where it's reported the criminals haven't been caught, the press stop covering the story and people forget. (May 22, 2007)

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