Friday, April 24, 2009

dinner party conversation topics: japan edition

i've come to realize that i ( like most people who have lived in a place) possess a wealth of facts about life in japan, and to keep them to myself would be a crime against my country, my blog, and my current place of residence. but they're mine if i'm ever stuck in a rut during a dinner party.

  • ask any Japanese person over the age of 10 and they'll be able to tell you the weather forecast for the next week (generalization). surprising for me, and likely most southern californians, who can barely muster the strength to look out the window before deciding on shorts and sandals (again.)

  • fortunes (based on blood type) are included daily in TV weather forecasts

  • punishment in the japanese education system involves more school, not less. (for american punishments, see: suspension, explusion). additionally, parents are required to drive delinquent high schoolers to and from school during the punishment period. AND their homeroom teacher visits them at home every day they're not at school, just to make sure they're not having any fun.

  • *downer alert* in japan, the most popular form of suicide is jumping in front of a moving train. april is the beginning of japan's fiscal year, which means businessmen are working extra hard (my student has worked 10+ hour days, with zero days off the entire month), which means increased desperation, thus more suicides. there have been four that i know of on just one train line in the past three weeks. these suicides obviously throw off the train schedule (which is usually insanely accurate), costing transit companies millions of yen and possible lawsuits for missed flights, etc. who pays these millions of yen in damages? as if it wasn't already bad enough, the families of the deceased do.

  • most japanese people consider america the land of obama, disneyland, and people who want to shoot you.

  • every major japanese area is know for a famous food. try me.

fukuoka: mentaiko (fish eggs... lucky me)

hiroshima: okonomiyaki (egg, flour, veg, grilled)

yamaguchi: fugu (poisonous puffer fish)

osaka: takoyaki (octopus, etc. rolled and grilled)

the first thing someone says about visiting place references the food. now i do it too! "you went to nagasaki? did you eat champon??"

you might wonder why i think this is interesting, considering every country has famous foods... but when was the last time someone said "i went to philadelphia" and you said, first thing, "oh shit! did you eat a cheese steak?!?

Monday, April 20, 2009

i'm coming home

i put in my 4 months notice this week. it's required if you want to leave after the year's up, and although my plan has always been to stay a year and then move on, i must say i am a bit sad to be leaving this beautiful country. my dad was in town the past 2 weekends for work, which was lucky, and i took him to all my favorite places in fukuoka. in doing so i reminded myself how good i have it here.

shrines. hot springs. gorgeous scenery. nice cafes. good friends.

reverse culture shock should be interesting, too. so far i think i'll be "shocked" by the ability to eavesdrop, the inability to have anything gift wrapped, driving, not speaking Japanese with friends, English media, English menus...yeah, English everything.