Japan is much more awesome than I ever imagined. It’s very crowded, but amazingly clean and the people are super friendly. Imagine the deep south with a different accent……oh, and cleaned up…..and you’ve got Japan!
Well, not really.
The travel days were long, I packed way too much work into one week, and I definitely have to pack lighter next time, but other than that it was a terrific week. Transportation is an issue over there and come to find out it’s difficult to carry a 50 lb suitcase through four train rides and one taxi ride all in one day. And that happened about three days last week. The first bus ride from the airport to the military base, which was 30 kilometers, or roughly 18 miles, took four hours. Crazy, huh? Well, I picked my visit to coincide with “Bon Week” (sic), which is the week long vacation for manufacturing plants in and around Tokyo. Yep, everyone was off from work, therefore everyone was on the roads. Poor planning on my part, but who knew?
And did you know they drive on the wrong side of the road? I had no idea and guess I only thought of that as being in England. And to match driving on the wrong side of the road, their steering wheels were on the wrong side of the car. “Wrong side” being a bit subjective, I guess. It’s just a good thing I didn’t plan on renting a car…haha.
I mastered the chopstick! Even ate ramen with them and am so proud of myself. Did you know they have Ramen Restaurants? Yes, you can get your favorite version of top ramen and it’s delicious! For some reason, I thought the Japanese restaurants in the US were Americanized and not at all like the real thing….well, I was wrong. It is amazingly similar, the only thing I would note here is that fried rice is hard to find over there, unless of course you venture over to China. Which I didn’t do And I’m pretty sure I ate some kind of tongue, maybe cow tongue? But don’t tell me because it was delicious and I just don’t want to know.
The words I learned were “arigota gozimas” (sic) which means thank you very much, and “suememasan” (sic), which means excuse me. I definitely need to hit up Rosetta Stone before I return to Japan because even the goodbye I knew was wrong. Most of us think “sayanara” (sic), but I didn’t hear that so I asked a local national working at an Army base and he said sayanara actually means goodbye forever, or goodbye I’ll never see you again. A bit harsh for “see ya later homey”.
Here are some very interesting facts on Japan:
20. Raw horse meat is a popular entree in Japan. Sliced thinly and eaten raw it is called basashi – it is pictured above.
19. Over 70% of Japan consists of mountains. The country also has over 200 volcanoes.
18. A musk melon (similar to a cantaloupe) can sell for over 31,473 yen ($350.00).
17. The literacy rate in Japan is almost 100%.
16. There are vending machines in Japan that dispense beer!
15. Japanese people have an average life-expectancy that is 4 years longer than Americans. Maybe American’s should eat more basashi!
14. Some men in Japan shave their heads as a form of apology.
13. Japan has the second lowest homicide rate in the world, but is also home to the extremely spooky suicide forest, aokigahar. One occupant of the forest is pictured above.
12. Japan has produced 15 Nobel laureates (in chemistry, medicine and physics), 3 Fields medalists and one Gauss Prize laureate.
11. Younger sumo-wrestlers are traditionally required to clean and bathe the veteran sumo-wrestlers at their wrestling “stables”…including all the hard-to-reach places.
10. Japan’s unemployment rate is less than 4%.
9. Japan consists of over 6,800 islands.
8. ”Tetsuo: Iron Man” (no relation to the comic book, or Robert Downey, Jr. film), a relatively popular, extreme, “Cyberpunk” film (a “cyberpunk” film is a science fiction film that involves technology – and the abuse thereof – and social unrest), was based on a play the director Shinya Tsukamoto wrote and directed in college.
7. A Paleolithic culture from about 30,000 BC is the first known inhabitants of Japan.
6. Prolific Japanese film-maker Takahi Miike made up to 50 films in a decade during the peak of his career.
5. Animated Japanese films and television shows (.i.e.: Anime) account for 60% of the world’s animation-based entertainment. So successful is animation in Japan, that there are almost 130 voice-acting schools in the country.
4. 21% of the Japanese population is elderly, the highest proportion in the world.
3. In the past, the Japanese court system has had a conviction rate as high as 99%!
2. Japanese prisons (as of 2003) operated at an average of 117% capacity.
1. Raised floors help indicate when to take off slippers or shoes. At the entrance to a home in Japan, the floor will usually be raised about 6 inches (15.24 cm.) indicating you should take off your shoes and put on slippers. If the house has a tatami mat room, its floor may be raised 1-2 inches (2.54-5.08 cm.) indicating you should take off your slippers.
And now with all my lessons learned, I can’t wait to go back and have an even better experience!!
Happy Bloggin’ Ya’ll!