Since I have been in Japan, I`ve seen tons of great sites, but those are really secondary interests to me. I am, and always have been, a people person--watcher, listener, interactor. I`m completely fascinated by human behavior--hence the psychology/counseling grad program. So here is a comprehensive list of what I`ve seen in Japan that has interested me. Much of it is very surface level observations as it`s hard to have in depth conversations when you don`t speak the language...
- For Japanese women the desired appearance is "cute", not sexy or hot, but cute. And it seems that cute is equated to "little" and "young." So fashion is interesting. Very fashion forward, but lots of catholic school girl looks, with short skirts, knee socks (often coming over their knees) and high heels--frills. The most interesting part though, is they walk very pigeon-toed... on purpose. Apparently they believe it makes them look young, unassuming, innocent.
- To continue with the cute theme, everyone decorates their cell phones with little charms. As I`m sure you`ve seen, Hello Kitty is big here, so lots of Hello Kitty charms.
- Japanese women wear the most uncomfortable looking shoes ever. I feel like even if they were running a marathon they would be in heels of some sort.
- Many men tweeze their eyebrows (yes, straight guys)
- No one talks on cell phones in public places, like the train or bus. It is considered rude. But they text message non-stop, I guess that's not rude.
- There are 40,000,000 (yes, MILLION) vending machines in Japan. On every corner there is a drink machine, selling everything from Coke to juice to water to beer. But you could walk for miles without finding a trash can. So they will carry the trash around until they get home. However the streets are incredibly clean.
- Japanese children could quite possibly be the cutest kids on the face of the planet
- Every restaurant takes pictures of all of the food they make, and post them on boards outside--that's usually how I order, by pointing at a picture. Same even goes for Starbucks
- In Tokyo there is a word for literally working oneself to death called Karoshi. Dropping dead from total exhaustion from working non-stop.
- Men go out in packs after work, most often without wives/significant others, and I think they spend more time doing their hair than the women. There are a lot of Rod Stewart circa 1979 haircuts here.
- Everyone seems pleasant all the time. It`s like New York except there are no pissed off, grumbling, rude, loud people. (Ok, so maybe it`s not like NY afterall) But seriously, are they really this happy?
- The westerners don't seem to assimilate all that much. Maybe because the language is so drastically different, or the culture. But it makes me think of the US, when you see large groups of foreigners together--makes more sense now. Its just easier I guess. But they do all mix with each other--Americans, Aussies, Europeans, etc.
- Most of the men I`ve met are dating Japanese girls. And when I see them together I can`t figure it out, because conversing looks painful. Ohhhhh....it just dawned on me...No wonder men like the language barrier--less talking in general! And probably very little of the "So where is this relationship going? What exactly are we? Where were you till 3am?"
- Animation is hugely popular here, all kinds of comic books, video games, people dressing as comic book or video game characters...
- You don`t top off your own drink
- At the BBQ the women did the grilling
- Technology is everywhere.
I`m sure there are a ton of things that I am leaving off and as soon as I step outside I`ll see something that is unusual to me.
As I was sitting at a coffee shop this morning listening to my iPod and watching people go about their day, I had a bit of an epiphany. Yesterday I spent the day and went to dinner with my roommate, Mei (the one from Singapore). We spent 3 hours just drinking tea and talking--and it made me realize that THIS was one of my main goals of this trip. Seeing the temples and shrines are nice, but connecting with people from all over the world is what I love most. Talking to her, I realized that even though we couldn't live farther away, we have the same fears, joys, worries, senses of humor, etc. And each person that I can connect with makes the world just that much smaller--and that much better. Everyone has a story, and taking the time to hear them is what is most meaningful to me. So sure, I`ll write about the sites to see and things to do, but what is going to make this trip unforgettable for me is the people I meet.