Monthly Archives: February 2012

Unfortunately It Is Possible to Get a Bad Meal in Japan

Even though I spent many years living in Japan every time I visit I still find random, fascinating aspects of the culture and country that I hadn’t noticed before. Instead of creating one long blog post I’ve decided to turn it into a series where each week I share one or two observations from my most recent trip. 

It pains me to admit that but it’s true. I’ve been guilty of hubristically proclaiming that it’s nearly impossible to get a bad meal in Japan. And while I will say that your chances of finding good food are higher than many other countries, it doesn’t hurt to do a little research beforehand. Here are a few things I’ve learned.

Read more…

Advertisements

It’s Possible to Order at a Restaurant in Japan Without Speaking or Reading a Lick of the Language

Even though I spent many years living in Japan every time I visit I still find random, fascinating aspects of the culture and country that I hadn’t noticed before. Instead of creating one long blog post I’ve decided to turn it into a series where each week I share one or two observations from my most recent trip. 

I attribute this to three factors. First, many restaurants have plastic replicas of menu items outside their establishment, making it easy to see what they serve just by browsing the window displays. Once you spot a plastic model of something that looks good walk in, get a table and order it. Think of it as buying an outfit right off the mannequin.

Second, food photography in Japan is ridiculously good, prevalent on menus, and the food comes out looking pretty damn close to how it did in the photo. This goes for fast food joints as well. The lettuce is just as green and frilly. The beef patty is just as shiny. Everything is assembled with such exactitude you would think all the employees carried rulers.

Read more…

Technologically Advanced Toilets But Sinks Dispense Water The Temperature of Melted Ice

Even though I spent many years living in Japan every time I visit I still find random, fascinating aspects of the culture and country that I hadn’t noticed before. Instead of creating one long blog post I’ve decided to turn it into a series where each week I share one or two observations from my most recent trip. 

Japanese toilets are notoriously difficult to use with intricate, complex instructions (written solely in Japanese of course) attached to the wall of each stall. Frankly, in a country where you have about a 50/50 shot of hitting the button for “bidet” instead of “flush” I’m surprised we don’t hear about more foreigners bursting out of toilet stalls, arms flailing wildly, their half soaked pants wrapped unceremoniously around their ankles. In Japan you would be hard pressed to find a toilet seat that isn’t electronically warmed. Not hot, just a comfortable temperature that spares your butt cheeks that initial shock of a stone cold throne. Hotels, restaurants, dive bars, even public restrooms on the street—all warm. However, once you exit your technologically advanced toilet stall your hands will be greeted by water so cold you may be tempted to rush back to the toilet push the “warm pulsating wash” or “blow dry” button just to bring back the blood to your fingers. I couldn’t help but think that instead of spending all that scientific manpower on figuring out the ideal distance between vulva and anus jets or the preferred temperature for the pulsating butt wash, they could look into adding a hot water faucet to the bathroom sinks.

But then again, maybe my priorities are just different.

Looks simple enough…

But open the panel and tad da… don’t read Japanese? Good luck!

A very uncommon sight, I found this extensive English user manual in a department store bathroom in Kyoto. Could a past unfortunate experience with a foreigner have prompted the posting of these detailed English instructions?

Pillow Girlfriends Really Do Exist: Random Observations about Japan

Japan is a country that caters to the fantasy and even the fetish. Hostesses pour drinks and entertain businessmen in bars. Young waitresses wearing French maid outfits or dressed up like popular manga characters serve food and play games with customers at Maid Cafes. There are even bars where the female hosts wear suits and act like men; their patrons are not gay, but mainly straight women. In light of all that, perhaps the fact that some men enter into relationships with body pillows adorned with the image of their favorite anime, video game, or manga character isn’t too surprising.

Read more…