Wednesday, February 2, 2011

On why Japan, why?

Why is everything from marshmallows to raisins individually wrapped, within larger bags?

Why does the loud speaker announcer use different pronunciations for Japanese names when speaking English? I get that Japanese people have problems with the pronunciation of Rs and Ls because the Japanese language doesn’t distinguish between R and L-sounds. But what I don’t get is how the Japanese version on the metro clearly states Roppongi, while the English version is Loppongi. Surely, when it’s a Japanese word you just say it as it’s supposed to be pronounced?

Why are there no trash cans anywhere? Granted, there is also no trash, so perhaps the system works?

Why does the mobile sweet potato seller sound exactly like a Muslim minaret, calling to prayer? “Sweeeeet potatooooo! Buy sweeeeet potaaaaatooooooo!”

Why are there dried mini-fish placed next to chocolate in the store? Is this a devious trick to make me lose my appetite for chocolate? Dried mini-fish is NOT candy!

Why do bookstores that don’t carry a single English book bother putting up a sign in English, announcing that it is a bookstore? If you cannot read the sign saying “Bookstore” in Japanese, chances are you cannot read any of the JAPANESE books inside either… (Why don't the bookstores carry any English books, by the why*?)

Why do shops and restaurants do their best to give the impression that they are closed when they are, in fact, open? Do they not rely on customers for income?

Why is it many places forbidden to smoke on the street, but it is allowed inside most restaurants and cafées?






*Why can't I just say "by the way" like normal people, instead of trying to be clever by adding an extra why? Why, Cruella, WHY?!?

23 comments:

Jen Daiker said...

This makes me question many things.

This also made me laugh.

This is was a great post :)

Summer Frey said...

Maybe they really are candy fish!
But probably not, so I wouldn't risk it.

Amie B said...

this makes me realize why japan is NOT on the top of my list as places to visit.

Georgina Dollface said...

A new grocery store from Japan just opened up here awhile ago and I was stunned by all the wrapped in wrapped wrapping wrapped stuff! I think the indoor smoking would make me barf. We haven't had any indoor smoking for close to 20 years now and so it is strange to hear that it is still allowed in some parts of the world.
Hope you are doing well and settling in. I haven't been here much but I am looking forward to catching up on your posts! - G

LL Cool Joe said...

Ha, ha this made me laugh!

So it's ok to smoke in restaurants but not in the streets? Now that is weird.

Liz Pezzuto said...

This post makes me miss Tokyo all the more.

I miss the melodies of the Yamanote...

Hope everything is going well for you there!

Michelle Gregory said...

i'm with Amie. i've never had the desire to go to Japan. Russia was hard enough. best wishes for you to not go crazy.

ViolaNut said...

If there is a massive superfluity of wrappage... how is there no trash?!?

This is the one that boggles my mind... not that it takes much at the moment. ;-)

Angela Felsted said...

lol. This made me laugh.

Pat Tillett said...

Oh man, that is so funny! I truly know what you mean about wrappers inside of wrappers. Why?

I do have an answer about public trashcans though. It's because if a Japanese person does "generate" a piece of trash in public, they put it in their pocket and take it home. But... even though there are a million vending machines on the streets, did you notice that you never see anybody eating or drinking what they bought out of that machine? They take it home or find a place to eat or drink it in private...

you have to admit that some of the funniest signs in the world are the attempts at english in Japan. Or "Engrish" as they say...I have a bunch of photos of those signs and engrish on products. I should post them. As you know, I'd move there in a second if I could...

The Golden Eagle said...

Shops and restaurants give the impression they're closed? That doesn't make sense . . .

Great post.

Kelly said...

I guess they can't smoke in the streets because there's no where to dispose of the butts!

Pat Tillett said...

I forgot to comment on the smoking! While they do ban smoking in some public areas, you can smoke on the street. But, you never see a cig. butt on the ground, because when they put them out, they put them in their pocket or back in the pack until they see a trash can. If they don't see one, they take it home. Seriously, aren't the streets spotless there?

Jan Morrison said...

This is a brilliant post, Mari! I think the wrapping thing is so curious - isn't wrapping an art form in Japan? Something about so many people in such small spaces need lots of layers between this and that. fish treats next to chocolate - ooh. not good. The way you chose to write this is wonderful. Treasures wrapped in individual layers...

welcome to my world of poetry said...

A great post and very thought provoking,

Yvonne.

Jemi Fraser said...

Love it! Sounds like you're enjoying all kinds of cultural surprises.

And I agree - chocolate should never, ever be beside mini-fish!!!

Jules said...

Maybe the mini-fish are for the drinks and the candy is for non-drinkers :)

LOL, love this post. My kind of humor :D
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Shaharizan Perez said...

Wow! I do want to know where they keep their trash though since this is not the first time you mentioned it. It's like a Sherlock Holmes mystery, girl.

Loved the post!

Cruella Collett said...

Tee hee, glad I could make some of you laugh, and all of you ponder a little this strange, wonderful country I've landed in!

Jen - thanks! Japan definitely offers plenty of blog fodder (though sadly not nearly enough time to handle it all)

Summer - nope, I'm pretty sure those are actual, formerly live fish... Yikes!

Amie - that wasn't my intention at all. Japan is actually surprisingly practical to visit - it's safe, clean, and everyone goes out of their way to provide excellent service (if not always excellent English..)

Georgina - the indoor smoking definitely gets to me too - it's been years since it's been allowed at home, so it's so unfamiliar to me know (frankly, it brings back not-so-pleasant memories of when I was 17ish, the only time of my life when I've been anything close to a party animal..)

Joe - not all restaurants, and definitely not all streets. But yes, certain places have non-smoking signs outside, while people are doing their best to suffocate inside..

Liz - I do believe it one of the places I've been that probably will stick for the longest time. So many things that make me think "I just got a memory for life!"

Michelle - I'd LOVE to go to Russia! I still risk going crazy, though, as all the impressions are rendering me speechless most days...

Leanne - yeah, we all wonder... (Actually, Pat under here has some really good answers to that...)

Angela - good! Mission accomplished ;)

Pat - I'm amused that share many of my observations. Like you, though, I consider many of these good or at least charming things about Japan, and I can definitely see why you'd want to come back. As for the trash and the smoking - you're right of course. That is peculiar about the vending machine purchases, though. People actually stare at me when I attempt to drink my hot coffee immediately after having bought it...

Kelly - you're right there. I actually think I can count on one hand the cigarette butts I've seen on the street here - though I couldn't begin to count the smokers!

Jan - it certainly is! I've received many gorgeously wrapped presents in and from Japan. And my guide book tempted me about a giant store that apparently in its entirety is dedicated to wrapping...

Yvonne - thank you! :)

Jemi - definitely. Though it is easy to get lured into the bubble that is the diplomatic community. I must make sure to get the best of both worlds! (Which in no way include dried mini fish...)

Jules - *snort* In which case I think I'd stay sober for the rest of the stay.... So far I haven't seen any fish in drinks, though ;)

Chary - again I must refer to Pat as the Sherlock in this case (totally unrelated, but I SAW Sherlock Holmes the other day. Seriously. A man had the cloak, the hat, the PIPE for crying out loud, and he even had the accent. Hilarious!). They take their trash home. But it sure seems inconvenient!

HulaBuns said...

Ooooo fish-trickery! That's just evil. Also, I don't think I'd buy the chocolates next to them in fear they would be fishy. Anyways, great post! I'm slowly getting back to blogging. Since I moved to the Antarctic (aka Wisconsin) I've gotten a little behind in my reading. :)

Hart Johnson said...

We regret to inform you that we cannot answer your questions. In fact we really are only able to generate more questions, but we hope these new questions are on a higher plane and lead to greater understanding. *shifty*

Kal said...

You could do a whole book on things that are strange and different in Japan. They borrow from other cultures but put their unique twist on things. It works because it's the only way it can work in that society. You have to train people well to not litter or to be annoyed by the crowds and petty annoyances that westerners find when visiting there.

I do like the octopus chips though.

Cruella Collett said...

HulaBuns - yeah, no can have fishy chocolate. And I hear you with the moving taking over blogability - I've been mostly out of the loop for ages too. I need to figure out a new pattern for my new life. Hope the move went as smoothly as can be (and that the winter hasn't taken you over)

Tami - we regret to inform you that your answer has not been processed since the previously asked questions are still demanding all of our brain capacity...

Kal - so true (and many books have been written about that, yes?). Octopus chips...? Uhm... I think I might have to pass.... Yikes!

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