Yurie Omi

Yurie Omi

According to Wikipedia, "Yurie Omi  (born July 27, 1988)  is a Japanese female announcer, television reporter, television personality, and news anchor for NHK. Omi is one of the hosts of NHK morning news show NHK News Ohayō Nippon. She is also the co-host of NHK television series Bura Tamori aired from April 2016."

I've been a big fan of Yurie Omi since the beginning of this year when I sat in front of the TV by chance at my parents' house and watched her for the first time in Bura Tamori (I had rarely seen it before, though). This program is a travel show where NHK's broadcaster strolls Japan's particular town or area with Tamori, one of Japan's renowned TV personalities, and a geophysicist, a local historian or a curator, to investigate the place's topics such as terrain features, history, culture and civil engineering.

Why do I think she is so attractive? I think the reason is three-fold. Firstly, she sometimes shows goofy behavior in her TV programs, although she is actually very smart and good-looking. She wore her dress back to front in the news show. In Bura Tamori, she read the thermometer incorrectly. (She said the temperature of hot spring water was 940 degrees Celcius while it really pointed 94.0 degrees.) Such slight weaknesses mean imperfection, which is what Japanese people value in tradition. This mentality makes the Japanese regard her weaknesses as charming. Secondly, she acts or speaks less highhandedly than average so-called "joshi-ana" and TV personalities. They often show off, but she doesn't. They often speak aggressively, but she never does it. Her attitude like this gives a favorable impression to many Japanese viewers. Thirdly, most of her personality looks so similar to mine that I find something congenial in her. I don't think she is such a personality that is good at thinking on her feet and speaking off the cuff with a ready wit. Rather, she looks genuine, and she can only do diligently what she has to do with simple honesty. Such characteristics of her is just like mine. 

For those reasons, I got fascinated by her. I watch every TV program she appears in. I get up at five in the morning on weekdays to watch NHK's morning news show she hosts. In Saturday evening I watch Bura Tamori to see her traveling with Tamori.

In addition to watching her on TV, I had a chance to see her with the naked eye. One day I got the information that she was going to hold a lecture presentation at Nagoya on September 30 and was requesting for audience. I applied for it because it might be my once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet her up.

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Japan’s northernmost end

Wakkanai dome

Wakkanai dome

Though it was almost half a year ago, I visited Wakkanai, the northernmost end of Hokkaido. Since it was the beginning of January this year, it was extremely cold outside with plenty of snow and the streets were very slippery.

Field of Hokkaido

Field of Hokkaido

Wakkanai Station

Wakkanai Station

The northern end of Japan's railway

Wakkanai is deeply related to Russia, since this city is just 40 kilometers away from the southern end of Sakhalin. When Sakhalin was part of Japan in the beginning of the 20th century, the city of Wakkanai played an important role in  connecting to ports of Sakhalin by ferry.

Wakkanai Station

Wakkanai Station

Street of Wakkanai

Sign at Wakkanai

Russian food at Wakkanai

Russian grocery store at Wakkanai

Defense is also important since it is very close to the border and there is such a risk to let illegal immigrants in and to let foreign ships invade this town.

Coast Guard ship

Wakkanai is one of Japan's cities symbolizing tragedy of the WWII. When the USSR began invasion to the southern half of the Sakhalin Island after Japan's surrender in August 1945, nine young women were working at a telephone exchange in the island. They were encouraged to escape from the island to flee to Hokkaido as it was going to be a dangerous place very soon. They refused to do it and chose to stay there because they wanted to do their job until the last time. At the time when Soviet Union's soldiers came to where they worked, they took their lives as they didn't want to be captured and molested by the soldiers. The memorial monument for them is build on the hill of Wakkanai city. I was eager to see this monument, but I couldn't do it since the hill was closed due to the heavy winter snow.

Wakkanai Park

With one more day I could've visited the Cape Soya and see the Sakhalin Island over the Soya Channel. This would be a good reason for me to visit Wakkanai again this summer.

Crab meal

Cape Noshappu

Wakkanai ramen

Wakkanai Airport

The end of globalisation

When I started my career in the late 1990s, my employer encouraged us to have a global mind to cope with Japan’s recession so-called “the lost decade”. By 2000, the words “global” and “globalisation” were used as the keywords — and sometimes buzzwords — for surviving the upcoming new millennium, followed by the dot-com bubble. My coworkers and I were pressured to raise TOEIC scores, to learn SWOT analysis, MECE, and other terms of logical thinking, to abandon obsolete Japanese work style and get accustomed to global — in many cases American — way of thinking. 

In 2006, those ideas were changed. Seeing the Livedoor scandals and accompanying downfall of dot-com millionaires, Japanese people found out that the American way did not work. Instead, they began taking a second look at their own country and reviewing the good things of it. The company I worked for focused on the products for domestic customers rather than overseas ones, with “the Japan quality” as its corporate philosophy.

Starting 2010s, people’s inward-oriented views were changing into global again. Japanese enterprises were going out overseas, not only to the United States at that time but to the Third World such as India, China, Russia, Brazil and Southeast Asian and African countries. I had more and more opportunities to get involved in the services offered to such customers going to those countries in order to meet their needs and demands.

The first half of 2010s was the years of transportation. Low cost carriers helped people fly abroad at low air fares. Everywhere you can see people travelling to and from all over the world on a regular basis.

Yet you see that people’s favour of the global-oriented mind or the local-oriented one swings from side to side every five or six years. That being the case, such a globalised world will come to an end shortly. The event that happened this week in the United Kingdom showed that the most symbolically. The referendum determined the UK to leave the European Union it had joined in 1973. Other European countries like France, Italy and Spain begin the preparation of such referendum whether they should leave or remain the EU by some people tired of enormous numbers of immigrants from the Middle East and accompanying terrorist attacks occurring inside Europe. 

Likewise, in the United States, Donald Trump, saying that a wall should be built on the border to shut out Mexicans and Muslims, has the enthusiastic support by the conservative and relatively poor American population. Even Hillary Clinton, one of the rival candidates of Trump, says that she is against the US to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In Japan, some nationalistic extremists carrying patriotic flags with them are making a hate speech on the street, saying that the people from neighbouring countries should get out of Japan and go back to their own country.

I think that now is the turning point of the era and there will be no more “globalised World” from now on. People of each country will pay attention only inside their own country. A dispute or, in some cases, an armed clash may begin between some countries. Such an era will last five or six years, at least Trump or Clinton’s presidential term. What we can do right now might be to look on such the World and to have as many options as possible to be able to cope with the future fluctuation of circumstances.

Taco Bell in Japan

Today I went to Taco Bell at Shibuya, which had opened last Tuesday as Japan’s first Taco Bell store and hundreds of people had waited in queue for more than two hours in front of the store on the first day only. Today there was a long queue, too. A staff member standing in the end of the queue said that I had to wait up to two hours to be served from there. It was a bit tough for me to wait such a long time, but it couldn’t be helped to do it to enjoy the American taste I’d ever had at New York where I had travelled for a business trip.

A long queue in front of Taco Bell Japan

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Today falls on setsubun. On this day we grill sardines, which means to drive out devils by their smoke. We eat an eho-maki roll as well. It has been our custom since old days, biting into a big sushi roll looking at the annual lucky direction without speaking any words until finish. Besides, we eat parched soy beans. We eat one more beans than our age counting in the old Japanese way according to our hometown’s rule.
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