Sunday, April 20, 2008

Things you probably didn't know about Japan-miscellaneous are some more interesting things I have observed while living here.

1) Applying makeup on while on the train. I don't mean just a little touch of powder or lipstick! I'm talking about pulling out a huge mirror and a huge bag and starting from scratch! This includes using tweezers to remove things!! Ummm...hello!!

2)Japanese can sleep anywhere!!! I don't know about you but I never slept on buses in Canada (didn't take the train or subway much). I remember being shocked at seeing Japanese sleeping while standing up on the train. It took me 3 years before I could close my eyes on the train. I do kind of get it Tokyo or during rush hour anywhere, you are literally on top of other people so closing your eyes (not sleeping) gives you some space.

3)Buses....In Japan the bus driver must tell us what they are doing ....for example..."turning right" , "stopping" etc. They also tell you what stop is next (ok this is kind of handy).

4)Starting around age 27 people start getting worried that they are too old to change jobs. Sad but true!!! Lots of job ads will state that they are looking for people under the age of 30. A friend of mine works at a nursery school and is 30 and thinks she can't switch jobs. CRAZY!!

5)Presents....Japan is interesting in that they don't give presents for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas etc (unless for kids) but they will go out of their way to buy "omiyage" (souvenirs) for all their neighbors/friends/families etc when they go away. Now by "going away" I'm not even talking about travelling to another country....I'm talking about going to another state or city. Like....say you are from Toronto and you go Elora (small cutesy artistic place in Ontario) would buy many people presents. Japan has the "omiyage" system down to a fine art. Most places (even the train station in the big city near me) have shops/kiosks etc where you can get beautiful boxes of food or a local specialty (paper, kokeshi dolls, cell phone straps). You just pick up boxes of the local cookies that come in a very pretty box and when you go home, you go to your neighbors house and give the present (with both hands) and say the equivalent of "this is a cheap little present for you". I'm not kidding. That is what they say. They never brag (I found a great present for you) or mention how great they are at something etc. Now...why do they give souvenirs? I'm still not sure but they have gifts like "girichoco" which basically means "obligatory chocolate" that you give your boss for Valentine's day so I really believe that a lot of the time it is not from the heart but rather because that is what should be done. As in you will be seen by those around you as a good person. Appearance and other people's opinion is VERY important here. Now I know that I sound like I don't like the system...which I don't because I like to give and receive gifts from the heart....but on the up side of this...almost any store you go to will ask you if what you are buying is a present. If it is...they wrap it for you.For free!! I love this!

6)I remember growing up and always going to the neighbors' houses ...not for a special reason but just to chat. To just stop by. Sometimes we would ring the bell and then walk in. If we were thirsty, we would go and help ourselves to a drink. We had parties....sleep over parties, birthday parties, neighborhood gatherings etc. This kind of thing almost never happens here. You rarely just "stop by" and even if you have known someone for 30 years, you would NEVER go into their fridge and get a drink. I remember when my co-workers from my nursery school came over to my place for a cooking class, 1 girl (who had lived in the States) walked over to my fridge and opened it....all the other girls where shocked!!! When I said it was ok...they all went over to check out what I had inside. They said it was their first time to do so. And parties....never. Ok...I know one family who has a Christmas party every year with their friends but they lived in Belgium for many years so they had been exposed to the whole "party" culture.

7) Japanese (contrary to popular belief) LOVE coffee, beer and meat. They do not live on just fish, green tea and sake!

8) It is super hard to be a vegetarian in Japan. I have known several and they said it is really difficult to eat here. I'm sure Tokyo has vegetarian restaurants but not sure we have any in the big city near us. Indian restaurants can be the best place for vegetarians.

Okay...I could go on and on but I will stop here for now. Of course, my stopping could have something do with the sushi that is about to be delivered!! ^__^


missfire said...

I LOVE the hot coffee that comes in cans from a machine!! And I love that rest ares in Japan have places to eat and shop. Great blog!!

sofia said...

Hey missfire! Thanks for reading my blog! I too love those machines! Those vending machines are everywhere too!! Gotta love grabbing a can of hot "milk tea" while sitting at the station waiting for a train on a cold winter day!

Anonymous said...

i love these posts, they're so interesting! :D

Anonymous said...

Me too, these blogs are great! I'm going to Japan this summer for the first time, check by my blog ne ^^

Anonymous said...

This is hilarious - in Britain you would not just walk in to a neighbour's house and help yourself from the fridge! This is a weird american custom which probably doesn't work anywhere outside the states - so it is not particularly notable that you can't do it in Japan!!!

Lissa B said...

I have to say - I HATE that people in America (and yes, I'm an American) feel free to just stop by unannounced and to help themselves to food. To me, it's terribly rude and inconsiderate. It's a reflection of our entitled attitudes here. It always seems like manners and etiquette are dead here :(


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