I Think I'm Turning Japanese
I am not feeling very inspired to write today, but I am slightly bored and my teaching time is over, so I have until 2:00, when I leave to pick up my health insurance card, to fill up my time. I want to appear super productive, but the reality is I have the next 2 weeks already planned out and I don't have anything to do right now. So I decided to compile a list of things that I love in Japan (so far) in an effort to both appear to be insanely productive and record all the things I love now before I head into the dreaded Stage 2.

Efficient trains
At home, BART can be pretty efficient, but even they are prone to breaking down and being delayed. BART workers also seem to be fond of going on strike, which I don't think the Japanese would even think of doing. It seems everyone is pretty content with their lot in life here. The train system in Japan is always always ALWAYS on time, and even though they can sometimes be crowded, at least you are guaranteed an air conditioned car, and although the seats are upholstered like they are on BART, here in Japan they actually appear very clean. And never smelly.

Sweat rags
Since it is still summer, it is still incredibly hot, and it is perfectly acceptable to drape a towel around your neck or carry a rag specifically for the purpose of mopping up sweat. Normally when I see this being done (which I don't think happens too much in California, even on hot days), it kind of looks gross, but since everyone here is into accessories, the sweat rags are always stylish and cute and, best of all, clean. So you can wipe up that disgusting perspiration with class.

Contrary to what I'd anticipated, I have only had sushi once since being in Japan. I thought everything would be all about sushi, but there are so many other things to eat that sushi eating kind of fell to the wayside. Now I love soba. It is amazing. See here.

You can bow for any reason and the person at whom you are bowing will always bow back. I love the bowing. It is awesome. It also reminds you how darn respectful everyone is in this country. After a baseball game, the players run out on the field and line up to bow at their fans. My coworker Alisha noted that the train workers even bow at the trains when they pass by. There is just a level of reverence and appreciation exhibited by everyone in Japan that is simply lost on most Americans. Sad.

I recently found out there is also a Daiso in the Bay Area, but since I didn't know that before I came here, I can say that Daiso is a reason why I love Japan. Also called the 100 Yen store, it is a wonderland of useless items juxtaposed with things you absolutely can't live without, and it is easy to confuse the two. I once filled up an entire basket with random things (most of them very useful, others may have been questionable), and I ended up spending only 3,500 yen. That is roughly $40. Weee!

The strength of the yen
Right now the yen is very strong. I hope it stays that way!

Everything is so clean. I am not going to like coming back home to a dirty city. This is partly due to the fact that they are really anal about their garbage systems, and people carry around trash for miles until they can find an appropriate bin. (In case you were wondering about littering, it seldom happens, since I think you might get a huge fine, or at least a nagging tug on your conscience, and the Japanese seem to be a very polite and conscientious people.) Being in Japan is like walking around my parents' house before company comes over. Like fancy company.

Offensive American rap
For a country that can be very conservative, I find it awesome that they play vulgar rap songs in the strangest places, like, say, the sauna at the YMCA. The naïveté of this is just as endearing as...

Affinity for sporting marijuana paraphernalia
People have pot leaves hanging from the rear view mirrors and wear t-shirts with pot leaves on them. But it doesn't mean they smoke weed. In fact, most people aren't even aware of what it is. This country is so drug-free that the common citizen simply associates the image of a pot leaf with the carefree rastafarian lifestyle... Minus the cannabis. It's like sporting a peace sign to them. Totally harmless, I swear.

Children in hats
Japanese mothers have a tendency of putting silly hats on their children. Particularly the little boys. But the best part? The kids wear it like it ain't no thang. Oh, this silly looking straw hat with the blue ribbon with white boats tied around the brim? Yeah, this is my too-cool-for-school look. Adorable.

Why am I walking everywhere? I hate walking! Oh, wait, I have to walk because I don't own a car or a bike. But guess what? I have actually begun to enjoy walking places. I like walking leisurely to observe my surroundings, I like walking quickly during my morning commute to get where I need to be (and I take pride in passing the slower walkers, cuz I am usually the slow one with my short little legs, but in Japan my legs are the same length!), I like walking home after the gym at night and feeling the breeze cool me off after my workout, I like walking around my complex while talking on the phone... I have been converted to a walking nut.

Or, socklets. Every woman in Japan needs a pair or ten. At home, I always wore my flats with no socks, and then would get home and air out my stinky sweaty feet, and curse any blisters I may have accumulated through the day. But the Japanese wised up and use little socks under all their flats, and although I hated the look of them at first, it has grown on me, and now I have a pair of black lace sockies that have a padded sole. Goodbye blisters and stinky feet! I love that these are sold everywhere for really cheap, including convenience stores. Which brings me to...

The combini is just what you call a convenience store. Except it should be called a convenience superstore, or a convenience better-than-anything-in-America store. We have 7-11 here and Am/Pm, but the one I frequent the most is the Sunkus by my house, which I think is owned by Circle K. You can get anything at the combini at any hour of the day. And, like everything else in Japan, it is always clean. Never has that weird sticky florescent smell. (Yes, there is such thing as a florescent smell... Think of all the common public places that have florescent lighting: DMV, hospitals, libraries... All have that weird smell...) Plus, you can pay your bills there. PAY YOUR BILLS AT A CONVENIENCE STORE! How apropos.

Vending machines
There are vending machines on every corner! Quite literally! And they are stocked with delightful beverages of all kinds: juice, cola, coffee, milk tea, water, ion water, chocolate milk,etc. Americans, take note. Home would be a much better place if I could conveniently buy my drink the seThere are also vending machines for cigarettes = not as awesome, but if dealing with that means I can have my beverage machine, too, then I'll take it!

Ok, those are the things I can think of for now. I will no doubt find more to write about.


Hooray for Japan!
Dan V.
9/9/2010 06:12:37 am

So many cool things! This was one of my favorite posts.

9/9/2010 05:32:23 pm

I've always admired the strict discipline of the Japanese people. I wish we, in the USA, could be as considerate and respectful as they are. I believe it all stems from good education.


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