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Published: September 6th 2007
Trouble with my tour to Japan began early on when I decided that I didnt want to visit shrines or temples. With that taken out of the equation, well, it didnt leave a lot left to do except shop. Having underestimated the extent of shopping (and the Japanese ability to pry money out of your hands by any means)... my credit card now has a serious dent and has gone into hiding. Its back to shrines and temples... but who really wants to read about that...
Back to my Reading between the lines guide to Japan
. Bicycle Mittens
(As noted by Albert) - If the hi-tech UV blocking accessories for your bicycle are out of your price range. Fear not. Step 1. Go to nearest 100 yen store. Step 2. Buy a pair of kitchen mitts (preferably metallic in color. Step 3. Cut hole in top of mitt. Step 4. Attach to bicycle handle. Step 5. Insert hands while steering bike. Looking like a local
Advice on how to blend in fashionably in Japan (note this will most likely be outdated as soon as its published):
woman: Step 1. Go to nearest drug store and purchase
bottle of hair dye preferably in light brown color. Step 2. Go to 109 in Tokyo and purchase stilletto 3 inch heels. Preferably the glitzier the better. A minimum of three layers are required even in the summer.
Note: any attempt at minimalist fashion or color coordination will render you automatically un-fashion savvy.
man: follow step 1 as above and grow out hair so it can preferably blow lightly in the wind. step 2. Head to accessory store and purchase the largest man bag they have. If you get into a tug-of-war over the bag with a woman... the better.
If you are a non-Japanese asian man looking to blend in...
Step 1. Stand in convenience store over your lunch hour/after work and peruse manga for several hours without paying for a single one.
Step 2. After repeating step 1 several times, purchase one manga and read it on the subway while facing the nearest wall or closed door. Baskets o Fruit
(As noted by Camille): Fruit seems to be ridiculously expensive here. Curiously enough, I dont see a lot of laxative supplements flying off the shelves. If you are entertaining an Asian person
at your home (in home country) and they bring you fruit, dont assume that they are perhaps the laziest guests that stopped off five minutes before at the local Safeway. Do keep an eye on them at dessert to note how hands down, fruit will be chosen over a delicious cheesecake and how quickly a fruit platter would disappear like a five year old kid with candy. Customer Service
For a proper Japanese customer service voice, make sure you speak in at least 6 octaves higher than your normal voice. Add a touch of nasal and the voice you used when you were 3 years old and you didn't get the candy you wanted. Follow up with speaking in the most polite japanese while using technically incorrect but acceptable grammar.
Please note for comparison, the North American service voice is approximately 2 octaves higher than normal. Japanese Minimalism
If you couldn't find this elsewhere... look no further than Japanese public washrooms. With no toilet paper, no soap and no paper towels, its certainly Japanese minimalism. If you loathed the cutesy cartoon character face towel previously, you'll be instantly converted to carrying it around for
Vintage farm equipment
gently used of course.
those encounters with bathroom minimalism. Magic Awake
Despite the bad rap that Japanese salarymen have for being drunken and disorderly on late weeknights, they do have an amazing gift to be envied: Waking up on command.
I'm not sure how they do it but they can instantly fall asleep sitting or standing moments after getting on the subway and waking up, miraculously, moments before the doors slide open at their stop.
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