Me Maintenance

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Thursday evening and I finally did most of the cleaning that I planned to do Saturday but was too sloshed to get around to it. I not only cleaned a bit but I also stuck my god awful couch in the closet. I know, I was surprised that it fit too. My living room has gotten significantly bigger. But I can’t wait until my new one comes! AH I’m so excited!!!

Nothing really interesting happened today….so I think I’ll finally get around to writing what I’ve been hording away for such occasions: Japanese culture tid bits.

1. They hire men to actually move bikes. At every major station (bus, train, etc) there are huge parking lots for bikes. Because there are so many bikes and the locks are usually these tiny little things that keep one wheel from moving much, they actually move them around so that they can get more in. When I go to Kochi this weekend, my bike is guaranteed to be in a new spot. Too bad I’m not the only pink bike. I’m going to have a hell of a time looking for it!

2. In the ladies bathroom (more so than in the mens bathroom, so I am told) it is becoming increasingly popular to have a little sound box next on the wall so that when you push a button or wave your hand over it, it starts playing the sounds of a waterfall so you can pee without anyone else hearing you. I never use it.

3. On the toilet point, I was very happy to find that the main Tosayamada ladies room has recently installed a new western toilet (complete with sound box). When I had visited before (both times) they only had eastern style toilets and I had to sneak into the gym (way in bfe) to use a regular one.

4. Another point about toilets, every now and then, usually in restaurants and bars, there will be kanji on the toilet handle indicating that the handle will pull in both directions. One side says “big” and the other says “small”. You push the handle in the appropriate direction so as to save water when possible. (personally, I can’t usually tell the difference in the amount of water that flows when I use the big side)

5. For some reason it’s really popular for books to have the first and last page stuck to the covers….I don’t know why.

6. There are a lot of restaurants that are based around the idea of sharing food with friends. It makes it very depressing when you want to eat…oh, say, yakiniku (my favorite) alone.

7. At restaurants, the tab/bill sits in a little compartment at the table. When you are finished, you bring it to the cashier and pay the bill. No tip (I so don’t miss that!)

8. Also at absolutely any place you want to buy something, the price that is showing is automatically included with tax. The price you see is what you are going to pay. It makes life very easy.

9. I don’t remember if I have mentioned this, but there is the tradition in Japan that other people will poor drinks for you. It makes you look like a glutton if you poor for yourself (this is strictly for alcohol as well). So I was told that if I was done drinking and really couldn’t take anymore then I needed to leave my glass full that way no one would offer to fill it up again. Unfortunately, in Kochi, there is the newer tradition that when someone offers to fill up your glass, if it’s not empty, you down it really fast. This includes if your glass is completely full. So much for the trick of staying sober enough to walk home.

10. Finally, this is a story when I actually got insulted about a sexist rule I finally found in Japan. But it’s not what you’d expect.

Purikura is Japanglish for Picture Crop. They are these booths in gaming centers where all the girls go. They take a bunch of pictures of themselves and then draw all over them, print them out and they get little centimeter sized stickers. They are about $5 per sheet which can be anywhere from 2 large pictures to 20 tiny ones. I love them personally and can’t get enough!

One thing that I always took note of was that there is usually a sign at the entrance to the purikura section of the gaming center that says that boys are not allowed by themselves. They always need to be accompanied by a woman. Most Japanese people that I asked about this either never noticed that there was a sign to begin with or really don’t have much of an idea as to why the rule exists except that Japanese men have a tendency of having strange fetishes.

I asked Adam about it and he too had never noticed. At the same time, he is a guy and it’s not very popular with guys to do purikura unless it’s with their girlfriends. It’s really a very girly thing.

So when I was in Tokyo, I was hanging out in Akihabara in my last few hours with Tomoe and Hiiro. We had a bit of extra time so I told them I wanted to do purikura. When we went up there, we started looking around for one that we liked (they usually have at least 10 to choose from) and at one point, a staff member came over and told Hiiro that he needed to leave that section of the purikura stalls. He was a guy so he was only allowed access to ones that were on the other side of the room. He didn’t seem to mind but I got really insulted. He was with two other girls, why couldn’t he stay? He didn’t even look suspicious! I’m not sure exactly why but it really irked me. I haven’t forgotten about it and it still get’s me a little upset thinking about it. What the hell?

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