Random Observations #1

(This post has several never before seen, completely mundane pictures- Enjoy!)

Since I’m far too lazy to do a post with any real value, I decided to write down a few (possibly interesting) things I’ve noticed in my time here so far.

1) One of the biggest (aka most painful) things I’ve noticed is It seems that everywhere uncovered, offensively bright, fluorescent bulbs are the light fixture of choice. This is absolutely brutal for my headaches- Whenever I enter a classroom, I turn them off in the hopes no one will care (And I talked to my sensei about it- And they are pretty cool with keeping them off) . If anyone does question why I do it, I’ll just say it’s to save “electorcity”- Yes, the signs in our bilingual school encourage us to save“electorcity”…

2) It gets dark here wayyyy too early. Seriously, by about 6:30pm, its dark. I was talking to my family about it and apparently in the winter, that time winds up getting closer to 4pm. This sucks pretty bad when you don’t get out of school til 7pm- you feel tired so early and then, if you stay up, enjoy the sun kicking your ass out of bed at 5:30am. As controversial as it is, I miss Daylight Savings Time….

3) The customer is god in Japan. Walk in anywhere, and you’ll be greeted by cascading, obscenely peppy shouts of “Irashaimase!” (Welcome!) from nearly every employee in ear’s range. Even at places that no one in their right mind should be happy working at (like McDonald’s- sorry to you ex-employee readers out there- I’d rather become a hobo than work there), you’ll be greeted by the most saccharine smile possible- and the difference is it’s real (or else they are masters of hiding their misery). Regardless, they will try their best to help you find anything you are looking for and bend over backwards to try to make you happy. Recently, when I went in to have my oh-so-loved phone replaced, they gave me a micro-SD card and reader for my trouble- I should totally complain more often…

4) Some Japanese people speak English quite well and others speak no English whatsoever. This may sound a bit haughty but I think it’s pretty accurate- people could be of the same age, with the same background, and schooling and still have completely different levels of fluency (though I guess this a problem in American schools too). What’s a little bit different though is that there is quite a bit of English around- Inside the train, the announcements and displays are in both English and Japanese, many stores, restaurants, pachinko parlors, love hotels etc. have plain English names- and most of it is coherent! And many things that aren’t in English are katakanized into Japanese with their English pronunciation (more or less) intact (basketo-booru, furaido chicken, suupa- remon souda)

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(As most drinks here, it felt like I was punched in the face with lemon goodness- See that Peach Fanta in the background there too? That stuff is on par with that other joy of my life, Pocari Sweat- beverages in Japan kick are awesome)

5) Anything electronic, appliances etc. here tend to be overly complicated or niche. Case in point, the washing machine-

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I still don’t know what most of these buttons do. You have to let it fill up about halfway with water and then close it to let it mix the water and detergent and then and ONLY THEN will it allow you to put clothes in- otherwise it will beep angrily at you and make you fear for your life. Next, one of the coolest niche products ever…

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The foot massager. Yes for the low low price of 29,800 Yen (About $300), you can have this lovely machine break all of your toes without you having to do a thing! It felt kind of good and kind of incredibly painful at the same time- There were ones that went up to your knees though that legitimately felt amazing (as they cut off circulation to the lower half of your body). Fridges have a multitude of buttons on the outside, the bath will fill itself and yell at you when its done, etc. I’ll try to get more pictures of such things but they are very common…

6) Bikes are legitimately the most convenient and important forms of transportation you can have- they are essentially a necessity in suburban(ish) areas like Musashino. Roads are too narrow for cars and parking is obscenely (3rd time using this word- thesauruses can bite me) expensive. As such, bikes are integrated pretty hardcore into the culture-All the roads all have bike markers, there are designated whole shared streets for pedestrians, cars, and bikes, they are parking lots solely for bikes etc. And because they are Japanese and are awesome, they have bike locks on the bikes themselves. You can either lock your back wheel with a key (my bike has this) or you can put up this kickstand/lock that raises your back tire off the ground, making your bike useless for travel (but excellent for anyone who wants a big paperweight). Also, all bikes have headlights on them that are powered by the momentum of wheel. Seriously! Why can’t we think of such logical things?!

6) In public, Japanese people are both surprisingly rude and surprisingly polite. When you’re riding your bike around town, do not expect anyone to be bothered to move out of the middle of the sidewalk for you. Furthermore, don’t expect them to apologize as they nearly ram you into a pole or accidentally bump into you. However, it’s the trains where this interesting (and highly amusing) dichotomy really shows.

While waiting for the train people are the epitome of politeness. Regardless of how busy it is people will line up single-file to get onto the train (My friend has a picture of this- I’ll need to get it. It’s truly impressive). The second those doors open up though all bets are off- prepare to lose all claim to personal space and potentially get touched in places you don’t want to be touched. The orderly line of people becomes one big blob of people with only one mission: to get on the train- no matter how full. You will get shoved by other people and you will be crushed, and you will be crushing others. At every stop, you’ll go through the process again as people shove you off and then back onto the train. The one convenient thing about it is that you don’t have to hold on to anything as the mob of people will keep you in one place. It’s also nice in that you can up close and personal with some “hottie hot hotties”- (Before anyone says it, No, I don’t actively grope anyone on the train but as I said, you will wind up unintentionally touching places you do (And definitely do not) want to, and you will wind up feeling a bit violated yourself). The last few times, I got lucky to have my face shoved into people’s cell phones as they were watching anime- Pretty sweet.

Well, I’m sure I’ll have more to comment about soon. I’ve already gotten pretty used to these things already but I know this is just the tip of the iceberg. Japan surprises me (in mostly good ways) everyday and there’s much more to come in the next year.

(If I can’t think of a clever closer, from now on I’ll just do a random potentially related song lyric- this one’s a cop out because I’m tired though)

“She’s just a small town girl. Living in a lonely world!” (I think you can figure this one out…)

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~ by evokerhythm on September 19, 2009.

2 Responses to “Random Observations #1”

  1. I would rather be a hobo than work at McDonalds as well. Hence me screaming at my manager daring her to fire me!!!! ^_^

    Also, that was easily the gayest blog ending I’ve ever read. 😛

  2. yay updates! i saw you on aim last night nor you this mornin for me but i had to head off to an exam… T.T anyway, glad to see you adjusting well. i understand how you feel about random observations, i would just be wandering around noticing the differences. its fun! good luck in your classes always and i hope to read more so i can experience japan again through you vicariously. though i am considering studying abroad next year in kobe…

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