I was thinking the other day about how we have adapted (or not) to all the unconscious things that the Japanese do and want to blog about it before it becomes second-nature to me.
I have never had so many different shoes for different rooms. I could have more but I haven’t found the right ones yet. So, let’s talk about Alan’s since he does have a lot. He has outside shoes which are tennis shoes, and his hiking boots and such. Then he has shower shoes. He also has kitchen shoes. Now our ‘genkan’ (the sunken down entryway) is the ‘house’ for our outside shoes which leads directly to our small kitchen. Rooms are divided by ‘fusuma’ which are traditional sliding doors (not rice paper). The next room leaving the kitchen is the mysterious ‘tatami’ room. NO SHOES allowed is what we have heard and the room right next to the ‘tatami’ room is our bedroom which is wood floor. Houses are measured by ‘tatami’. The ‘tatami’ room is also our everything room where we read, watch TV (if we do), eat, have English classes, etc. So, you have to either break the heels of your new shoes or get slide-on ones, which is what I have thanks to a garage sale at Nancy Edwards’ before heading to Japan!
Food is of course quite different and not so different. I eat a ton more of rice here than I’ve ever eaten in the States. I also eat raw stuff more often though not sashimi or sushi everyday but I definitely could eat sushi every day. I love the ‘nori’ (seaweed) it’s encased in. You can even pick up a ‘bento’ (lunchbox) at any supermarket or convenience store. The bread though looks like Texas Toast that’s not toasted (sliced kind) but Alan says it’s just ok tasting. Eating out can get super expensive-especially if you go in groups. You are almost always offered an appetizer and can’t refuse it but the meal is served in small bowls, like Spanish tapas. Some of our favorite dishes here are hand-made French Fries, Suki Yaki, Kaiten Sushi, sushi, some sashimi, all the yummy fish, Oyakudon, Niku Jaga, Okoge (Chinese dish), and my personal favorite, Keihan. Chopsticks are definitely second nature even more so than in the States. I would say that we eat with them quite regularly.
Sitting properly at the small tables has been a real challenge for me. I have runner legs, which means a little more muscular than most, and the women usually sit on their feet for extended periods of time. We can sit sideways but it’s better to sit on them. Guys can sit Indian style. Funny how I noticed the other day that I was sitting in the ‘seiza’ (sitting on my feet) unconsciously for longer than normal before my knees down went completely numb.
Tea and drinking tea is an understatement in Japan. There are tons of kinds of teas -both hot and cold- canned, and in tea bags. People love their tea. At first, they chided me in Japanese (I could tell by their face but now I know what they said about my ‘wanting sugar’) about wanting to put sugar in the Green tea. That’s like putting sugar on your ice cream; it just sounds weird. Now, I’ve gotten used to that. Regular teas still get my sugar treatment though.
Doing without CHA has been more of a challenge than it was in Europe or Mexico. Even though we live on an island, sitting in front of a space heater is not my idea of getting warm. I bundle up to go to school and anywhere else (while it’s winter) because there is no space heater at school and moving is the best way to stay warm. However, they do have ‘hot carpets’ which are nice. It’s like an electric blanket except thicker and used on the floor. We usually put it under our ‘everything table’ so we can sit on it when we have company and while we are eating or studying.
And people do have cars here, and we could too but we don’t. We bike everywhere. We don’t really NEED a car here though sometimes we want to explore other parts of our island by ourselves and not by bus or bike. It is kind of cool to bike everywhere except when buying groceries and when it rains. People’s cars look like small Hot Wheels autos. Some are boxy and others are fancy. I think that a lot of people’s cars are actually nicer than their houses. Some people have DVD players too and can drive around during the typhoon (when one’s electric will most likely be knocked out) and watch movies to kill time…that seems odd to me.
And there are a ton of other things that I wanted to note, but I have already written bunches so I’ll stop for now.
And if there's anything else you want me to write about, just leave a comment and I'll write. Thanks!
--Posted by Aubrey