Week 2 Edition of Only in Japan…

After the second week of work and being in Tokyo, there are some random things that I’ve learned about this country and had to share:

  • That annoying iPhone shutter sound you hear when trying to take a secret photo of a funny sign or moment at work…well, it’s restricted from disabling in Japan. Why you might ask? I found out that the Japanese society has a very strong sense of protecting privacy issues. This rule was implemented as a result of a problem of voyeurism, which was a rapid rise social issue so-called up-skirt photography, snapping pictures while aiming up a woman’s skirt.
  • Last name only, please! It’s all about addressing others by their last name here. Whether in email or person, you must address co-workers, bosses, and even people in the community that one would interact with by last name. The address book at work, email addresses, badges, put the last name first and in all CAPS so people know how to address you. They will always add -san at the end for formality (equivalent to ms. or mr.) With the foreigners, they try to adjust by calling us by our first names but they still add -san at the end (e.g. Jennifer-san). My full name in Japanese katakana: ジェニファー アゥ
  • They don’t waste any space and make good use of any surface area that can be used, whether in store or in the layout of an apartment.
  • Serious Lack of trash cans. You may wonder why. I heard that there was a case of poisonous gas bombs being left in trash cans in the subway platform where there was high traffic. After those incidents, they removed trash cans almost everywhere. Yet the city still remains decently clean – do people here just hoard their trash in their pockets!?
  • Even when trash cans are found, the city is really strict about sorting out your garbage correctly. At work, there are different containers for us to place cups, combustibles (napkins, paper, etc.), plastic bottles, knives, forks, chopsticks, and spoons.
  • Calling locally is super expensive unless calling same carrier
  • They’re tight on energy here. There is actually a limit on how cold a/c can get and times where it will be shut off completely. At work, they try to control the A/C to around 25C, shuts off by 6pm everyday, and requires a special request to turn on during weekends.
  • There are women only train cars until 9:30am on weekdays. Apparently this is because of all the shady passes guys were taking advantage of when trains were so packed with people.
  • Suicide rates are quite high in Japan, so much that there are actually famous sites of where this happens. The metro is another common area to “jump into” – as a result, they have put in blue lights around the platform which is meant to calm one down and ease stress. There are also mirrors put up so that people can see themselves before they make the decision to jump.
  • The young crowd preferred mode of communication is called LINE, similar to whats app, for instant messaging on the phone. With a slew of real fobby cute stickers and themes like this, it’s no wonder LINE is used here:

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Second edition of Only in Japan…

This doesn’t make any sense to me…I like sauce and everything but, maple sauce and cheese?!?

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They love their sweet potato so much that there is a special container made for it that is the same exact look:

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And there’s also a special setting for that sweet sweet potato:

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I didn’t dare eat this carbo load but I saw this at a market and was confused by the combination:

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Most Costcos sell bulk lunch meat in the form of ham, turkey, salami, etc. but in Tokyo, you get…tongue!

Speaking of Costco, there are a few in the surrounding areas of Tokyo (took me one hour to get there!) so naturally, there’s tons of people packed in there. Long lines for the cashier, understandable, but even longer lines for the freebies, what!?

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I know they’re all about the cute little shaped rice balls/triangles, but a perfectly shaped tupperware AND lunchbox?! Can we say overkill…

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Using Hello Kitty and cute animation to lighten the fear of going to a dentist…I think I would be more scared by the blood smeared on the tooth with a painfully terrified look next to Hello Kitty

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In America, we get pizza, Subway sandwiches, or some other fast food take out during training or lunch meetings. In Tokyo, you get a fully equipped bento box with who-the-heck-knows-what-half-of-those-items are!

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The newer apartments in Tokyo are well-equipped with a security system where anyone trying to get in from the lobby of the building or even outside of the apartment door, can be seen from a video screen from inside the apartment. It also saves the video clips of each visitor entering your apartment. We found this so cool, we had to take a picture of ourselves from the video panel. hahaha

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So I have found that one great way of exploring the many different neighborhoods in Tokyo is to jog through the different areas.

Here are a few pictures I took running from Roppongi to Tokyo Tower:

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Tokyo Tower at night from a co-worker’s apartment. Sweet view!

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I also joined a meetup group for people who want to discover the Tokyo shitamachi area while jogging as a way of meeting new people outside of work. This past weekend’s run was originally a 5K but a few of us pushed on to run through several more neighborhoods for a total of 14KM (8.89 miles). The path we ran: Sumiyoshi to Sumida to Asakusa to Yanaka to Ueno Park to Kita to Komagome station. Please excuse the poor quality photos – I literally took these on an iPhone 4S while running.

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Among other things, I’ve had to go to several furniture/appliance stores to attempt furnishing my apartment:

Nitori (the Japanese version of IKEA, slightly more expensive):

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Thank goodness Costco in Japan sells Churros as well, phew. And somehow Chicken bake got replaced by Bulgogi bake. Pizza and hot dog remain the same here.

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Shibuya had several more contemporary but expensive stores like Franc Franc, Loft, and LABI (appliances):

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A visit to the famous Hachiko statue. Hachikō was an Akita dog (bigger version of the Shiba breed that Mochi is) remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner, while waiting at the same train station, even many years after his owner’s death.

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