Monday, February 04, 2008

japan part 2

i came across some notes i'd made and shoved in one of my books from japan-times.

this is a list i made, early on during my stay. there are two sheets of paper, with a line drawn down the middle. on one side, the heading "strange or bad things" and on the other "positives".

note how i somehow equalled "strange" with "bad". i don't think i think like that any more. now i like the strange, i embrace the quirky, i seek out the odd.

i guess i've grown up.

strange or bad things:
  • staring on trains, everywhere!
    rude to eat or drink in public
  • slow walking
  • banks, post offices, etc really slow, inefficient
  • sniffing and hawking
  • pissing on the street
  • women let men sit down on trains. men don't give their seats to the elderly
  • squat toilets
  • women laugh and eat behind their hands
  • no public affection
  • fruit and vegies so expensive
  • no birds (but they have crows)
  • crazy drivers, no footpaths
  • people don't give way on the street. Bump into people, don't say sorry.
  • 180% squashing on trains
  • no brown bread
  • pins and needles from sitting on the floor too long
  • cold showers
  • hard pillows
  • bikes ridden on pedestrian walk
  • so inquisitive, want to know everything
  • pollution
  • over-packaging of food
  • flowers expensive, $1 for a single stem (eg daisy)
  • tasteless toothpaste
  • newspapers expensive, ¥120-160 for flimsy 6-10 sheets
  • $6-7 for a beer in bars
  • long-staying gaijin turn Japanese
  • Cosmopolitan mag costs $15
  • no ovens
  • Tokyo suicide line
  • Japanese game shows
  • 1 yen coins - nuisance
  • no pepper in restaurants
  • sewer smells on street
  • only hair colour in shops is black
  • separate slippers for balconies and toilets
  • people sleeping on trains
  • gloved train stuffers
  • gloved taxi drivers with automatic doors and pristine white seat covers
  • vending machines (condoms, beer, wine, cigarettes, batteries, porn movies, hamburgers, hot and cold drinks. Beer open until 11, 11.30, midnight.
  • taped "I've been working on the railroad" soundtrack on the Hanshin train line
  • short ironing boards
  • tiny houses/flats
  • kids go to school 6 days
  • militant boys black school uniforms with brass buttons and inch-long haircuts
  • girls' bucked teeth
  • old men wearing pantyhose
  • alcohol stench on trains
  • cooking with gas only
  • if moving into a new flat, you give 3-4 neighbours white towels and soaps
  • take gifts if invited to a meal
  • suit system: begin a new job with a company, start with blue suit. colour graded thereafter.
  • men: affected speech where their intonation goes down saying "horrrrr" when responding to something amazing or interesting or unbelievable
  • women: affected speech where their intonation goes up saying "mmmmm" like a plane taking off, in the same instances as above.
  • family sleeping together eg. mother, father, 13-year-old daughter, all in one room.
  • all the men have a little wallet/carry bag
  • women carry one small shoulder bag and one large store paper bag with handles carried in crook of arm
  • women have amazing skin - so youthful
  • overstaffing in shops
  • tiny shorts on boys - hight-cut and horrible
  • taking shoes off everywhere
  • pandering to children, especially boys
  • 98% literacy but everybody reads comics on trains, even businessmen


  • tissue packs handed out on streat
  • trains efficient
  • clean
  • safe
  • food
  • cheap shoes
  • cheap cigarettes
  • companies pay for employees' transportation
  • gomi system
  • nice pastries
  • cheap ice creams (nice)
  • tap water okay
  • cheap spirits
  • food presentation in restaurants is superb
  • bentos
  • hot towels
  • heated toilet seats
  • mood lighting (3 phase, including candle light)
  • sliced bread is so thick, the equivalent of 2 slices at home
  • consumer society
  • everyone well groomed and nicely dressed
  • nice yoghurt
  • specially marked arrows, circles and triangles on platforms at train stations. Depending on which train is arriving, you stand at a certain symbol to line up. Everybody follows the system.

interesting how most of my positive points are to do with food, drink and other vices. i love the appearance of "cheap shoes" at number 6 on the list. and free tissue packs at number 1.

1 comment:

MelbourneGirl said...

i wish the bullet points worked in this post.

and that i wasn't the only one to make a comment.