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.)

Even Chip likes trips to Starbucks.

Even Chip likes trips to Starbucks.

-       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.

Daibutsu: At least he was bigger than me.

Daibutsu: At least he was bigger than me.

-       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.

chip 2

Chip's pretty darn cute.

-       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.

That may look like an oven, but it's not...

That may look like an oven, but it's not...

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.

  1. Anne Steib says:

    I love this post. I love reading about he fun things we never think of about other places. Really interesting about the ovens…maybe as a result, they don’t bake, so they all stay so slim. And funny that I never thought Japan would have tons of beach towns, but really it makes sense, since it is sounded b the sea. glad you had a great time.

    I have to admit as well…I am also a secret fan of Starbucks ;)

  2. Taylor says:

    Post more! What an amazing trip.

  3. Patrick says:

    The scary part of this dish for our fearless blogger is not that it might have wheat in it:

    Glad you had fun in Japan!

  4. moxie says:

    I actually HAVE thought of heated toilets, and they sound amazing. Jealous you got to experience one first…hand? Great post, Betsy!

  5. Wade says:

    It was great to get an update on how you are doing, Betsy. And your nephew is getting big! Keep the posts coming.

  6. Chili T. says:

    you GIANT, you…

    Can’t wait to hear more about Japan, and by the way, your little nephew Chip is AMAZING. What a little doll!

  7. Kate Mabry says:

    All quite interesting! It sounds like I’d fit in with my love for Pata-gucci. And, needless to say to his adoring Auntie Betsy: Chip is precious!! Way to go, Rob, for producing such adorable offspring!

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