Skip to main content

Winding Down, or So I Thought

Down to 23 days now (yes, I am keeping a countdown). Winter break is over and it's back to school as usual. I thought my work would be over and I'd be enjoying my last weeks here with my friends. Apparently, I was severely kidding myself. I have been assigned three speeches to write and present in front of large groups of people, all within a week of each other.

One of them you already know about, my speech about rock paper scissors that I was toying around with. I did decide to go with it, and over winter break I spent an obnoxious amount of time trying to translate the version I wrote in English. Here's what I wrote in English:


                There is a saying that goes “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. It can be applied to books, of course, meaning that you shouldn’t judge the quality of a book based on the quality of its cover—or, things are not always what they seem—but it can also be applied to other, everyday things such as rock paper scissors (RPS).

                RPS is a game that is known around the world by many different names. Here in Japan it is, of course, “jan-ken-pon”, while in English the three symbols mean “rock”, “paper” and “scissors” [show gestures w/ meanings]. There are even more meanings for these three symbols, for example, in Vietnam and Indonesia the ‘fist’ represents a hammer, rather than a rock. The frequency RPS is played was one of the things that surprised me about Japan. In America, RPS is used for the same purpose from deciding who should use the bath first to who should partner up for a project—but in Japan it’s used much more frequently than in America. Even more surprising was that it wasn’t just for kids: adults played RPS as well without batting an eye.

                All of the RPS I have played to play brought to mind one of my classes from last year, Game Theory, which essentially combines statistics with psychology in order to achieve the “optimal result”. Obviously, Game Theory can be applied to bigger issues, but RPS is also an example of Game Theory, albeit a simpler one. In RPS, the “optimal result” is achieved by being completely random in what you throw. However, the “optimal result” in a series of RPS games would be an equal amount of wins, losses, and ties, but the goal isn’t to lose or tie, it’s to win. Humans in general are also terrible at being truly random. That’s where the psychology comes into play. There are several strategies that—while not perfect of course—increase the chances of winning.

1.       Beginners and men are more likely to use rock on their first throw. Why? Rock has a powerful and strong connotation, which appeals to men. So if you are playing with a guy or a beginner, you can use paper to counter them.

2.       Strategy two is to lead with scissors. You do this when you assume that your opponent is also trying to play a step ahead. I.E. you assume that they know you would counter their rock with paper, so you play scissors. That way you are guaranteed a tie at worse and a win at best.

3.       Strategy three is to be aware of someone using the same throw twice in a row. When they do, you can be sure that on their third throw they will change. The reason is that humans in general hate to seem predictable, so in order to be more “random” they will change their throw. That way, you can eliminate one option and use what would give you either a stalemate or a win.

4.       Strategy four is, when you have no idea what to do, use paper. You do this for two reasons; one of which being it beats rock, the most common throw, and also because scissors is the least used of the three options, by a few percentage points.

When you look at the simple example that RPS provides of analyzing your opponents, making predictions about what they would do based on your analysis, and then acting on that knowledge, it’s easy to see how the mindset of RPS can be applied to larger things: such as in business, when trying to outsmart a rival, or in war, when trying to outmaneuver your opponent. The latter is an extreme example, of course, but the principles remain the same just on a larger scale and with more at stake than not getting that last slice of pizza.

                So the next time you need to use RPS to decide who gets that last cookie, or the order for using the ofuro, with a little extra thinking, a victory is within the palm of your hand.
The title is pronounced "aikodesho" and you say it when you have a tie--it means something along the lines of "one more time". I'm quite aware that I could have gone much more indepth with the strategies (there are loads more) and some of the analysis, but this is already bordering on too difficult for me to translate as it is. The ideas are so techical that I had a hell of a time figuring out how to express them. And by all the red my teacher put on the first page of the translation, I still have a ways to go. But I'm not upset, I took on a challenge, so perfection was not expected.

The second speech is one AFS asked me to do, talking about "My Experience with AFS Japan" and partially a thank you to my host family. That is also supposed to be 4-5 minutes and I have to say it at the farewell party on the 22nd in front of AFS people, exchange students, host families and probably some other people as well. Slightly easier topic, which I finished writing yesterday and had my host mom look over. Not too many edits, just a few phrases that I'd written awkwardly were corrected:


去年四つのAFSの出来事は私にお気に入りの思い出になりました。その出来事はJenesys FestivalとDisneylandとおせんべいを作りている工場と銭湯に行ったことです。そのイベントはすべて日本の文化がありますからそれらは私の日本の経験を表します。






Honestly, I'm rather proud of it.

The third speech is my school asking me to write a brief goodbye speech which I have to say in front of my school year. I kept it short...two paragraphs, mostly just saying what a wonderful time I had, thank you, I won't forget you and other general mushy stuff.

So now that they're all comes the practice, because my reading lacks flow. *Sigh* More work for me...why couldn't I just get to relax?


Popular posts from this blog

Taking a Breather

Sometimes when you're in Tokyo, as wonderful as its bustling atmosphere is, you just want to forget you're in the middle of Tokyo.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a guy from Sweden who regularly came to Japan on business and he said that despite how much he loved Tokyo he could never live here because of the lack of green space. Tokyo has its parks, of course, like all major cities, but if you want unspoiled greenery you have to be willing to head at least forty minutes outside of the sprawling metropolis limits. In winter this desire to surround oneself with greenery might not matter as much, but now that spring is seeping into the atmosphere and the upcoming sakura season is on everyone's mind (NHK even puts out an annual "forecast" for sakura!) the neon lights and concrete jungle start to feel a little oppressive.

That's when little hideaways like the Sato Sakura Museum and Kohmeisen come in handy.

The Sato Sakura Museum is a small museum in Nakameguro…

Short Hair, Don't Care: Model Behavior

I like to think I have a wide range of accomplishments under my belt:

Accidentally over-caffeinated myself conducting ethnographic research--check
Read 3+ books in a single day--check
Never (yet) pulled an all-nighter--check
Sung at Carnegie Hall--check
Published a poem--check

But now I can add a decidedly interesting item to that list:
Been a hair model in Japan--CHECK.

It's a bit of a long story.

It all starts with coffee, actually, like many of my adventures here in Japan do. I was checking out a coffee shop in the too, too cool area of Daikanyama (no, seriously, that entire neighborhood is just Too Cool for me, I don't even know why I was there). There I met stylist Yusuke, who asked if I wanted to appear in a PR photoshoot for the opening of his salon brand's newest branch, boy Tokyo, Harajuku. They're (wisely!) making a site to appeal to foreign clientele--it's a smart move because it's really hard to find a place that has stylists who truly are comfortab…

100K Announcement


Thanks to everyone who has read and followed my journeys in Japan from 2011 to 2017. Your support of my adventures and observations means the world to me.

In celebration of Riceandramen finally hitting 100k views, I am pleased to announce that I will be running a giveaway!

I will send one lucky person a custom box of goodies from Japan that could include (but isn't limited to): snacks, stationary, character goods, traditional Japanese crafts and more. The only limits are weight and size and your imagination (I'll be keeping everything small and light to keep the shipping costs down).

Without further ado, the details and rules of the giveaway are as follows:


The giveaway will run from today, February 25 2018 JST/ February 24 CST to March 11, 2018 JST/ March 10 CST.You don't have to be in Japan to enter: since almost all of my readers are international, this giveaway will be, too. The winner will be picked at random and notified via p…