Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Signing up for Barbri

For reasons I'll explain in greater detail in a future post, I'm taking the bar exam in a new jurisdiction this February. Someone else is footing the bill for my exam preparation, and that someone wants me to take Barbri's course. Problem is, I don't know much about Barbri because I took Kaplan's complete course to prepare for the California bar exam.

To the other attorneys out there: do you think it's necessary to supplement Barbri with the PMBR course or any other material? I have foggy memories of folks complaining about Barbri's multiple choice practice questions, but maybe that's just the KaplanPMBR kool aid talking.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Baseball in Tokyo

Generally, Japanese people love blending in and being part of the group. In the Japanese company that I worked in, we were encouraged to wear dark suits with white shirts (no bright colors or bold shirts lest you stand out!), and we went to lunch together (daily), ate dinner and drank together (often), and even did a little group cheer at the end of a night out (seldom). It's so different from American culture, where many of us are raised to try to stand out, be unique, and deserve a gold star.

A byproduct of the focus on supporting the group is that (generalizing again) Japanese people make amazing fans. At baseball games, I'd heard that the fans sang songs and had special coordinated cheers. It was something I wanted to see.

So I went to a Yakult Swallows game. The team is named after its owner the Yakult Corporation, which is known for selling probiotic dairy products. Baseball and probiotics strike me as unlikely bedfellows, but they make it work: one of the swallow mascots runs around with a big yogurt container strapped to its back (I thought it was a jet pack at first, but that doesn't make sense... why would a bird need a jet pack?).

Swallows swag!

The game was at Meiji Jingu stadium, in Shinjuku. They started building the stadium in 1925--Babe Ruth played there in 1934! Check it out:

Meiji Jingu Stadium

On this particular night, the Swallows were playing the Yomiuri Giants. The team is named after (you guessed it) its owner the Yomiuri Group, a media conglomerate. Both the Swallows and the Giants are based in Tokyo so this match up was a bit like the Freeway Series or any other crosstown rivalry in the US.

The fans were as diehard as I hoped. There were self-organized brass bands in the stands; but the best part was when the Swallows scored a run, all the Swallows fans got out their umbrellas and waved them around while singing a song.

There was a lot of food and drink for sale. Beer girls in short skirts with kegs strapped to their backs hiked through the stands. There was ice cream, BBQ ribs, pizza and a substantial sausage platter.

There were cheerleaders too although their uniforms were much more tame than what we see at pro sporting events in the US.

After one of the innings, these ladies in full kimono took the field:


To announce the fireworks:


It was a lot of fun watching the spectacle. The actual game wasn't too bad either!

PS: You can buy your tickets from the copy machines or ticket machines inside 7-11 or Family Mart.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Omiyage

Bear with me, guys. I have a handful of Tokyo posts left in me.

This one is about omiyage, the gift of food that you're expected to bring back for your coworkers when returning to the office from a business trip or vacation. You can read more about it in this WSJ blog aptly titled "Thinking of Work While on Vacation."

During a typical week at the Japanese office where I was seconded, I would receive two to three omiyage. There are about 100 attorneys in the department and our practice was not only to bring omiyage upon return from vacation or business trips, but also to bring omiyage on our last day of work. Given that the company is constantly rotating permanent employees to and from other departments or subsidiaries, and that the secondees (roughly 1/4 of the department) are always coming and going, there is cause for lots of omiyage.

Here's a picture of my favorite omiyage from the entire year, a chocolate in the shape of Mt. Fuji (or Fuji-san, as they call it).


After a trip to the US, I brought the team Reese's Peanut Butter Cup minis because they are one of the few American sweets I've never been able to find in Tokyo. Turns out they aren't sold in Japan for a reason--my Japanese coworkers didn't seem to like them at all! If I were to do it over again, I would just pick up some Japanese sweets from the stores that carry omiyage boxes in the airport.