In late-August, two weeks into suffering from a very serious condition I now refer to as “Blogger’s Withdrawal”, I had the clever idea to draft a few posts on the Notes App of my iPhone 6.
Well, it wasn’t so much a clever idea, as it was a last resort. Notes is actually an awful app to write with. But no one in Japan is tooting my horn, so I must do it myself. Toot. Toot. Toot.
Actually, a few weeks ago my student’s mother did tell a coworker that I look like a Greek Statue. That was pretty great to hear, I have to say.
Unless she was referring to this one. In which case, I’m insulted.
Anyway, the first draft inspired by my very deadly illness was titled: “Five Really Useful and Strange Things I’ve Learned During my First Month Living in the Land of the Rising Sun/Japan.”
Fun Fact: The first thing you learn at Blogging College is to use as many words as possible in a title. It really helps to draw the readers’ attention.
But, one trip on the Japanese subway and I had already gained enough material to write a thesis on the do’s and don’ts of the Japanese public transportation system. And, by the time my disease had all but stripped me of my will to live, I had compiled a list too long for Notes to accept.
Fun Fact 2: When an iPhone App rejects you, you’ve hit rock bottom.
Taking that as my cue to heavily edit the draft, I now offer you: “Living in Japan: Useful Knowledge”. The title is as fed up with this post as I am.
Let’s get started! Yatta!!
- Japan is a really green and really clean country (which I fully support). But it gets to be a bit excessive at times:
- OOOH! I like that this auto-formats bullets for me! cool!
- Plastic bags in stores cost money. The first time I went shopping by myself, I mistakenly took the 2 yen price of each bag to equate to 2 dollars. This led to my infuriating attempt of stuffing a quart of soy milk, two rolls of toilet paper and a massive peach into one of those Farm Fresh fruit buying bags barely big enough to hold three limes.
- Japan is super strict when it comes to throwing away trash. You use a special red bag for burnables, a blue bag for recyclables and a green bag for..for..well I don’t exactly remember, so it’s probably not that important. Regardless, no one has time to organize trash.
- But, don’t you dare throw an entire plastic bottle in the recycle bag. You must first remove the cap, then peel off the paper, wash it out, and donate a kidney just for the garbage man to take it.
- Also, as of the last few years, Japan has gotten rid of public trash cans, so you better bring some paper to spit that gum into.
- Stop signs are triangles, and No Parking signs look like Do Not Enter signs. I refuse to drive here, so that’s not much of a problem, but I still manage to almost get into accidents just walking across the street.
- On a positive side, the public transportation is incredibly easy to navigate. It is also extremely punctual. Do NOT Be Late.
- If buying a subway pass on a weekend day or holiday, check the machines for a discounted day pass. The savings add up.
- Stationary escalators aren’t usually broken. They have motion sensors – to save energy I’m guessing? Just don’t be the one awkward foreigner like I am who constantly forgets and begins running up the stairs while everyone behind me rides on up.
- The last train runs just before midnight. If you are staying out late, be prepared to spend a lot of money on a cab or hang out at an internet cafe until 5 am with all of the other drunkards.
- Tipping is insulting here. Don’t do it. I didn’t do it. Just a warning.
- If you don’t want to look suspicious, then don’t have visible tattoos. They are associated with the mafia. Also, don’t wear sunglasses. There is no reason; people just don’t wear them here. However, if you even lightly resemble a foreigner, and chances are you do, then you will look suspicious to the natives no matter what you do. So, fuck it.
- Restaurants will only give you one menu, even for a table of 10. The water glasses are the size of my toe, and good luck finding a napkin to wipe your mouth. We use tissues at work. I love when my lips chafe.
- Many people wear white masks out in public. Yes, It looks exactly this.
- Apparently it serves multiple functions. It keeps pollen and germs away. It helps hide emotions if you’re shy. It keeps you from getting others sick. And, it covers you if you forgot makeup. I’m going to wear one the next time I have a break out from eating to too much green tea ice cream. #Japanproblems
- Beware the green tea ice cream (macha.) You will become addicted.
- Japan is incredibly safe. A lot of nights I even forget to lock my front door. Don’t tell my mom. I’m lethal in krav maga though, so whatever.
- Assume that no one speaks English. But at least there’s Walmart.