Thursday, May 03, 2012

Four terrifying things that will happen while visiting Japan

Hello dear readers!

I've gotten really addicted to articles, and have found they're educational AND entertaining. Damn it, someone is sneaking knowledge into my brain, without my permission?

Well, a few weeks ago my sister and her six foot tall boyfriend Alex visited, and it was a pleasure showing them around. More of a pleasure for me, as I got to show them some... interesting things... and naturally, thanks to my good-hearted nature, smirk and feel superior when they squirmed in discomfort.

So, here we go, in true style, in no particular order, a short summary of what happened when they visited:

Four terrifying things that will happen while visiting Japan

1. You're a 1.25 height in a 0.75 world.

I hope you like doorframes. You're going to become close friends.

You heard me correctly. In Japan, unless you are naturally 5'6, or a maximum of 5'8, you will feel as if you have suddenly been enlarged, a Goliath in David's territory. A giant among men. But you, trying to fit in, will do your best not to crush the citizenry under your feet like an enraged gorilla, and will politely and quietly enter the buildings and hallways, forgetting your height and hence, neglecting to duck, every single time. *WHUMP*!!

"What was that?" voices below you murmur, until they look up, and see you in pain, and try not to titter.

Lucky for you, the lumps developing are on the *top* of your head, and they can't see there any more than they an see the far side of the moon.

The trains are no better, as the handholds are made for people six inches shorter than you, and now the flail in your face, swatting you in the nose as the train moves jarringly down the tracks.

But this is alright, as you are thrust face-first into the realm of the advertisements, where the bosom of a teen idol, normally far out of reach, and her bikini top is several inches from your now-steamy glasses. There have been worse fates.

Such as...

#2. Enforced public nudity

Hello, ladies.

You may think you're cool with your body. You have a healthy body image. Hell, you eat right. You excersise. And magazines be damned, you like the way you look.

But you probably don't know how others may feel about your nude-as-a-newborn looks, with good reason. In the US, you're not expected to share this personal information with anyone besides the occasional lover. Not in Japan, not if you're planning to go to one of the top tourist destinations!

Onsen, or hot-springs, are a national treasure. If you dare to bare, you can enjoy a soak in the natural magma heated pools, filled with minerals of all types, different pHs, some scented, and many overlooking beautiful scenic views of rivers, oceans and ... what's that over there? mount Fuji? ahhh. So relaxing. Until you notice the guy next to you, casually taking a look at your junk. Just, you know, comparing.

Or if you're a girl, the women will look at your boobs, just a peek. A mental note. But hey, you can do the same. Not that you would do that, as you're not a pervert obviously, because then you would be hanging out on crowded trains with others of your ilk. See above. And here in the hotsprings, almost everyone is alarmingly thin. Soon you will realize this may be because of what's on the menu. Which brings me to...

#3. Your terrifying dinner

It looks at you accusingly the whole time you're eating.

As with any foreign country, there will always be a few suspicious things on the menu you'd rather avoid. In France it's escargo, in dubai, boiled goat head... well, Japan is no exception.

horumon-yaki? That's pig guts. Well, I'll get yaki-tori, that's safe right? chicken? well, you'd best be able to read the menu, because you might end up ordering nan-kotsu, or cartilage. Mm, chewy crunchy cartilage. Feels like you're eating someone's nose.

... not that I would know anything about that. :D

So, let's get some sashimi, then. I bet you think you know what sashimi means, that's raw fish. Piece of cake! I eat that back home all the time!
Oh no, ha ha, sashimi? Why, that simply means raw sliced meat. In any form.
You can get all sorts of things raw you would never dream of!
raw cow meat?? raw ... horse meat??!! Raw ... whale meat??!??! Raw... chicken?! Can't you get salmonella poisoning from that?

The answer, by the way, is yes. Yes you can.

Well, you can't go too wrong with fish. cooked or raw. I think I can take it, you think, randomly pointing at a fish hot-pot.

But wait...? What's that in my bowl!

fish heads, fish heads, rolly polly fish heads, eat them up, YUM!
You ordered this dish off the *english* menu, which should be easy to understand, right?


This brings me to my last, possibly most terrifying point.

#4. Your confidence in your own language will plummet like a dead bird.

Drink it or face the wrath of Godzilla.

You think you speak English? Well guess what. So does the whole damn world. Who cares if it's your native language? Other people can speak it too, adapting it to their needs, their pronunciation. Don't get all selfish with it, greedy.

As a result, people will try to speak to you, in your own native language, and you won't understand a damn word.
But that is really your own fault you know.
Once I went into an electronics store, asking for a blender. You know, for making fruit smoothies.
"burendah kudasai", I said, with the correct katakana pronunciation, like a good sport. See? I'm willing to compromise.

The clerk turns his head slightly to the side. 'Burenda-?' he is confused.

I go about describing the device, feeling stupider with every word. Finally he understands.

"Mikusah, ne." It is, to this man, a mixer. I had to ask another friend to confirm that we do NOT call this culinary device a mixer, nay, it is, as I suspected the first time, a god damned BLENDER.

But they have planted the seed of doubt in your mind, and the slope of language loss is a slippery one.


Dramatic chipmunk's Japanese equivalent