1. Toilet Paper
When you first arrive in Japan, you will undoubtably be completely impressed by their systems for recycling and how clean their trash is. Your first impression is “Wow! These people are really working to help the environment!” Then, after you’ve lived here long enough, you’ll begin to ask yourself, “Where is all that unused food going?” and unwrapping your billionth individually wrapped toothpick, you start to think, maybe we’re not so efficient and earth-friendly after all? One of my biggest aggravations is going to any public restroom and finding toilet paper that practically disintegrates in your hands before you can get it where you need it. It’s hard enough trying to make sure your long scarf and purse don’t touch any surfaces while your quads are on fire from biking all day. I don’t need to wipe myself with confetti.
I ‘ve seen Chihuahuas and similar dogs. But, you have never seen so many dogs, so tiny in one place. There are dogs that will fit in the palm of your hand! I have more to say about this in a future blog, but just be forewarned. There is no limit to the level of pampering these pooches receive here.
3. Leaving Old People in the Forest to Die Revelation
(Try to read this part with your best movie announcer voice in your head)
Long ago when people reached the age of 60 and were unable to do anything, they were thrown into a mountain canyon… This was known as “Sixty Mountain Abandonment.”
[I read this part of the "legend" to Cliff out loud.
- Cliff: Was that back in samurai time?
- Kathryn: I'm sure it was. Then it makes sense.
- Cliff: I'll bet that samurai work was hard.
- Kathryn: Don't worry, I think you've got a couple more years before Chase throws you on his back. You work at a desk.]
If you will recall, in a previous blog I talked about an emergency drill I used to make Chase practice with me should I ever lose the use of my legs. Since then, I have discontinued this exercise and have purchased a large stick to beat him off of me if he ever hears about this custom.
4. No Eating on the Street
It took me a little while to notice this one, because, well I was eating. Eventually, I finally realized, no one else eats walking down the street. There are even trash receptacles located next to vending machines because they want you to stand there and drink and trash there. It isn’t strictly enforced, but one time I was eating a banana in a convenience store and the clerk got mad.
5. No Tipping!
This policy is held pretty much everywhere you go in Japan. Probably because a lot of it is incorporated in the exorbitant price of what you buy. It has been refreshing to live in a tip-free environment. No more judging or being judged. I didn’t realize just how liberating it could be. What makes it really wonderful is the customer service is STILL top-notch. Anyhow, every Christmas, Cliff and I like to show a little extra gratitude and provide a Christmas “bonus” for the people who do the little things that add up to a lot. This year, I hit my massage therapist, my helper, our concierge, and our maintenance man. Since we were in Niseko for Christmas, Chase gave Mori-San and Kitamura-San (concierge & maintenance) their envelopes. When we returned, there was a very sweet note from them along with their gratuity envelops saying basically thanks, but it wasn’t necessary. I basically had to pull my Korean sassy card and insist that they take their money back and have a Merry Christmas.
6. #4 Means Death
Number 4 is pronounced “shi(or yon)”（四）in Japanese, so people in ancient days had a tendency to link 4 to death that is also pronounced “shi”（死） in Japanese. In other words, 4 means “death” to them. Often times you will notice hospitals and hotels will not have a room 4 designated:
7. Blonde Asians
What the heck? I’m thinking in a few years, I’ll be blogging about the new trend of female bald heads or bleach scarred scalps.
You’d think Japanese women would notice that on the really light hair colors there were no human models on the boxes.
8. Rakes are Good Luck and Size Matters
Next year Chase says, “We’re going all out!”
9. Love Hotels
Love hotels have a legitimate place and purpose in Tokyo… so I’ve heard. Living in a crowded city where you are living in cramped quarters, no wonder there are so many single child families and so many people renting a room by the hour to get a little. Thank goodness I don’t have any reason to go… we have a spacious apartment
10. Wine in a Juice Box!
Until next time…