Things I Didn’t Know Until I Went to Japan…
- Throwing away trash can be stressful. In Japan, sorting trash is taken very seriously. You must separate your trash into one of five different categories. In order to do this properly, you must sometimes take apart the particular piece of trash. Tea bags were particularly confusing: paper, tea, string, yikes! If you mess up your trash sorting, the trash man will leave your trash with a nasty note for all of your neighbors to see. Each day of the week belongs to a different ‘type’ of trash. But, at least the trash man plays a nice little tune from his truck as he drives down your street.
- Heated toilets…amazing. Why hasn’t the U.S. thought of that? Yes, there are heated toilets and lots of special buttons to press. Think bidet but fancier and more useful.
- Japan has gorgeous beach towns. Rob and Alden live in Hayama, and their house is a 5-minute walk from the beach. Even in December, you can find people fishing, scuba diving, and wind surfing. The people in the town do have an odd obsession with Hawaii though.
- Extra-hot skim latte, please. There’s something comforting about enjoying Starbuck’s in a foreign land. (I know that’s terrible, but I have to admit it.)
- Emperor Hirohito loved fish. The man responsible for the bombing of Pearl Harbor was obsessed with classifying fish and sea life. You can visit his old palace and see some of his own finds.
- Carp are huge and ugly fish. I think they’re the squirrels of the sea.
- Japanese love Patagonia and puffy jackets. Even though it was a balmy 60 degrees in December, you would have thought we were gearing up for a blizzard based on what people wore. In Hayama, Patagonia seemed to be the hottest trend. Shoot. I left my Patagonia gear at home.
- Tokyo Traffic=no fun…traffic is traffic and no matter what country you’re in, it still totally stinks. The scenery might be different, but it’s still traffic.
- Convenience stores make for a great lunch spot. Sure, we’ve all seen the 7-11 “All-Beef Big Bite” but we don’t typically seriously consider getting a pre-packaged lunch at a convenient store. Lawson’s, a popular Japanese convenient store (ignore the fact that the name is English), sells delicious lunch options: Rice balls, sushi, and mini Haagen-Das.
- I am a giant. Pretty much everyone and everything in Japan(well, except for the huge Buddha in Kamakura) makes me feel huge. Even the grocery store shelves only came up to my shoulders.
- American children have rockstar status: Going anywhere with my adorable nephew, Chip, meant that he would get oohed and aahed over. The Japanese love him. (I love him too!) Japanese people are always prim, proper, and silent, especially when on public transportation, but the minute they see Chip, they light up, smile, and chatter away.
- Ovens are overrated. Since Rob and Alden live off base, they don’t have an oven, just like their Japanese neighbors. We ate delicious food during our trip, including noodles, chili, beef stew and other yumminess. Who needs an oven? Alden has even learned how to make skillet pizza and lasagna. Very impressive.
This is just a glimpse of my amazing trip to Japan. I have more details to share with you. Unfortunately on Day 1 of our trip, my camera decided to go on the fritz. It was heartbreaking. Fortunately, my mom is a professional photographer, so I’m ‘borrowing’ from her photo collection from the trip.