I'm addicted and I just can't get enough... of Japan.
So... you may or may not have noticed my penchant for lists. I love them. They keep me organized, help me put things in order, and generally keep me happy because I know what is left to do/buy/ignore. I thought about starting this particular collection of words a while back but I didn't think I could make a good sized list out of it. Well, now that I'm a seasoned veteran of Japan (a whole 6 months! What! What!) I feel competent enough to put together a reasonably decent list. Hrm, "decent" may not be a good word for this list... maybe I should just stick with calling it a "list" with not other descriptive terms. Anyhoodle, thar she blows.
Things Japan has taught me/ What I've learned since I moved here:
1. You can fit much, much more than you think you can into a 5foot tall fridge. (No I'm not talking about me climbing in it... this time) All I'm trying to say is that when you have to compact your life a bit, it's easier to go ahead and either work around it (i.e stock the pantry better) or just deal without (do I really need two jars of mayo?) than to wine and moan and get nothing settled.
2. If you are dumb enough to reply with "Mr. Roboto" to a Japanese person who just says "Domo Arigatou" they will not laugh. They will probably shun you and then talk smack about you later because you are a dumb dumb gaijin. I watched in terror as some dumb dumb kid said this to a sweet old lady and she seriously just huffed and turned and walked away.
3. Toilet seats can and should be heated. I don't feel like this one needs any additional explaining.
4. There are piss-poor drivers in EVERY country, in every area, and in every city. Bad drivers are not specific to one race, culture, or religion. The jury is still out on gender differences. Japan has just as many buttheads on the interstate-type-thing as North Florida. Which leads me to my next point:
5. Roombas will pick up an entire bag of spilled rice if you give it long enough.
6. If you want to dry something in the Japanese dryer, you better only put 2 things in it. Those two things better not be denim. It will take forever. And it will take longer if you're in a hurry to rush out the door in an outfit that's currently in the dryer. (It's like watching water boil.) You're better off hanging things out to dry. Which involves not only hanging all your stuff up outside but also involves watching the weather to make sure you don't come home to even soggier clothes than when you left in the morning.
7. I really hate the cold. Yes, I do understand that I've always said this... but now that I've lived somewhere that gets legitimately cold in the winter, I can OFFICIALLY say that the cold and I do not get along one single bit.
8. Hurricanes and typhoons are the same thing. (Wait, I may have forgotten that I learned that in middle school... meh.) The only difference between the two weather thingys is the hemisphere they are located in (I think). Also, hurricanes go from Category 1 to Cat 5+. Typhoons go from 5 on down to 1. It's backwards... much like many other Japan things.
9. The best pick-up line to make new Japanese friends is "Do you all want me to take your picture?" The girls travel in packs just like US girls... and they always want pics taken.
10. Driving on the left side of the road is way easy. Now, I don't recommend you go out and try this in the US. For one, you will probably get a major ticket if not carted away by the po-po because they think you're whacked out of your mind. But driving was one of the easiest things to adjust to over here. I drive on the right side of the car on the left side of the road. I dig it. When I went back to the US for 2 weeks after the earthquake... I was afraid to drive on the side of the road I learned how to drive on. Weird.
11. If you go to unlock the house with your key... you turn the key the opposite direction that you would in the US (for most homes). I turn the key clockwise to unlock the door and counter-clockwise to lock it. Try it on your own door, you'll see how difficult it is to try and master.
12. No matter how amazing you were at recycling back home in the states (not saying I was... I was horrible at it), you will not be good enough for Japan standards. When I say they attempt to recycle everything, rest assured that I mean EVERYTHING, not just the bottles, cans, and paper. You have to take each of those categories and divide it up multiple times. Glass or plastic bottles? Are the plastic bottles PET? Paper? Is it cardboard, printed on office paper, or a paper milk carton? Cans? Well you have to take the paper off of them which will obviously go in one of the 82 paper categories. Don't even get me started on non-PET bottle plastics. Holy hell. I'm making a great effort though. My favorite days are Monday and Thursday... burnables days. Stuff that I cant fit into any other category goes away on this day. You'd be surprised at how much doesn't fit into any of the other 9,000 categories.
13. I said I would never get Twitter. Now I'm a full-blown twit. I said I didn't need Skype. It's always up on my MacBook. Never thought I would write a blog, but I'm doing that now too. Thing is... when you're away from the people you love so much, you do random things to keep in contact with them. Some of my friends aren't on Facebook or Gchat... so I got Skype to instant message them. I got the Twitter because I could follow things from back home AND get all the Japan earthquake, nuclear plant, typhoon, tsunami, and volcano warnings ASAP. I blog so people know what I'm doing. I really want my friends and family back home to know I'm doing better than okay and that I miss them on a regular basis. And despite how much fun I do have pretty regularly, I still do hold down a full-time job, work out 5 days a week, teach conversational English to two students, try and study my Japanese, and explore Japan. Moral of the story: I miss my peeps. You all should visit. It's worth it.
14. I never want to live anywhere with crows again. You laugh? You try living with these devils. Try taking out the garbage while they give you the stink eye from a fence post 8 feet away. They can and do attack. Ask the kid who stuck tree branches in his bike helmet because his friend got attacked while riding his bicycle one day... *shudder*
15. There is no rhyme or reason to Japan fashion. EVERYTHING goes. I can walk out of the house in thigh high socks, combat boots, a men's tee shirt, volleyball shorts, a beret, and 55 watches on my wrist/arm... totally kosher. I could also walk out in a full ladies suit and no one would give me a second glance. The Harajuku girls are just like in the videos. No holds barred fashion. I use the term "fashion" very loosely because 1) I am a horrible judge of it and 2) I don't even know what it really is. But whatever "it" is... "it" is accepted fully in Japan. I love this place.
Well, that's my list for now. I'm sure it will need to be updated soon. I'm continuously learning things here... not only about Japan and it's people but about myself too (that's pretty deep for a Tuesday night blog lol).