I love Japan!

in reality, all of this has been a total load of old bollocks
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby never/ever » 01 Feb 2018, 18:22

Just for the record - excellent posts Matt.I picked up a lot of your experiences on Facebook (where Hotaru is An unmitigated star) but this is a great thread, especially since I have yet to visit Japan.
Ever notice that anyone going slower than you is an idiot, but anyone going faster is a maniac?."

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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Jimbo » 01 Feb 2018, 19:21

never/ever wrote: I have yet to visit Japan.


When you do my first bit of advice I give to everyone I know coming here is to wear loafers or any shoe easy to slip on and off. No hiking boots. You will be taking off and putting on your shoes a lot.

I get a kick out of seeing furniture movers lugging heavy cabinets in through the front door, the front guy kicks off his flimsy sneakers steps in holding his end up while the second guy does the same and then the proceed to the living room or bedroom in their socks. I've seen TV footage of cops busting into an apartment to arrest a guy but always kicking off their shoes before they go further than the front door.
Last edited by Jimbo on 01 Feb 2018, 19:43, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby never/ever » 01 Feb 2018, 19:43

There are some amazing hiking spots in Japan....





...or so I'm told.
Ever notice that anyone going slower than you is an idiot, but anyone going faster is a maniac?."

George Carlin

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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Jimbo » 01 Feb 2018, 19:45

never/ever wrote:There are some amazing hiking spots in Japan....

...or so I'm told.


Oh, there are, and miles of trails a short and cheap train ride from Tokyo.

So, yeah, pack some boots if you like hiking. Actually, I went hiking a couple of weekends ago and I wore my Merrill slip ons and my feet felt fine.
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby quix » 01 Feb 2018, 22:51

Jimbo wrote:I've seen TV footage of cops busting into an apartment to arrest a guy but always kicking off their shoes before they go further than the front door.

:lol:

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Re: I love Japan!

Postby savoirefaire » 02 Feb 2018, 04:42

What an interesting thread! I have been here 2 years, I have a lot to say and hope to get to all of it at some point. What I have found a little amusing is that Japan is one country where I have seen my white friends at the receiving end of racism, and when they do talk about it, my reaction is something like, "wow this is soo new for you! That's how it's been for me all my life, in so many places in the world, including my home country". I think I don't get the full brunt of "Japanese society" because I am in a city that's been known to have one of the largest South Asian populations in Japan, and it is a very old port city. That really helps with making me feel comfortable, but it's not without certain subtle observations that Matty has pointed out -- Chinese waitresses who only respond in Japanese if you talk to them in Mandarin etc. I think with living in ANY place, there is the good and the bad: Just as much as I can say wonderful things about having lived in Norway, which was very very safe, I will never forget the time this very nasty person saw me and spat on me (I was walking at full speed and stepped right out of his path instantly, but my flatmate was with me and was more shaken about the whole incident than I was at the time). I am maybe lucky that I have had no such experience here so far. I am completely okay with the fact that most Japanese people will never treat me as one of them, I like that there is no "pretense" for me to integrate other than to learn the language and to obey the laws. However, I can see how messed up it is for people who do end up marrying locals and having kids here. As for working here, I am in a very nice academic bubble where I am respected, so I don't feel the inequality as such, other than the obvious social codes that escape me (and I plan to keep it that way). I am lucky that I have an extremely flexible working schedule, and have a boss who's a French woman married to a Japanese (both scientists and I work with her husband more than her and he's super chill). I haven't been groped yet, but I think my blonde and blue-eyed female friends have a harder time than I do (my brunette friends seem to be "approached" less often). However, I have not seen an overly aggressive scene -- maybe it's more common in other places, Kobe is a sleepier city than most. In short, I don't love Japan but it's a beautiful country and certainly very special.
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Should have quoted SF

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Re: I love Japan!

Postby savoirefaire » 02 Feb 2018, 04:46

never/ever wrote:There are some amazing hiking spots in Japan....





...or so I'm told.


Yes, and it's terrible how little people talk about that. I am in a city where I can get to a train in less than 30 min and it's beautiful.
Kid P wrote:*Deleted*
Should have quoted SF

Sneelock wrote:I'm never bored. I'm boring. I think of it as a lifestyle choice!

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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Jimbo » 02 Feb 2018, 05:07

savoirefaire wrote:Kobe is a sleepier city than most.


Kobe is a beautiful city, my second favorite next to Tokyo.
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Jimbo » 02 Feb 2018, 09:00

savoirefaire wrote:
never/ever wrote:There are some amazing hiking spots in Japan....





...or so I'm told.


Yes, and it's terrible how little people talk about that. I am in a city where I can get to a train in less than 30 min and it's beautiful.


When hiking here be prepared to say "Konichiwa" over and over because cheerfully saying the greeting is hiking etiquette for hikers coming from one direction passing you the other. So if you are hiking up the mountain expect the family of four coming down to say "Konichiwa, Konichiwa, Konichiwa, Konichiwa," and you are expected to say the same back to each. I contrast this bit of culture with Paul Theroux's story when he hiked around England. On a long straight path through a large open meadow he spied another walker far away coming toward him on the same path. Closer and closer they came to each other and when they finally crossed paths neither uttered a word.
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Toby » 02 Feb 2018, 11:39

That's unusual in all honesty. If you're out walking in Britain it is considered polite to say "good afternoon" or whatever.

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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Jimbo » 02 Feb 2018, 12:12

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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Deebank » 02 Feb 2018, 12:43

Toby wrote:That's unusual in all honesty. If you're out walking in Britain it is considered polite to say "good afternoon" or whatever.


I'd agree with that in the UK you exchange pleasantries with everyone you pass when you're out walking. Keeping stony-faced would be the exception rather than the rule.
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby trans-chigley express » 02 Feb 2018, 13:21

savoirefaire wrote:
never/ever wrote:There are some amazing hiking spots in Japan....





...or so I'm told.


Yes, and it's terrible how little people talk about that. I am in a city where I can get to a train in less than 30 min and it's beautiful.

I’ve been itching to do some extended hiking trips in Japan but I always go there with my wife who is resolutely not a hiker. I did manage a few quick hikes up a couple of volcanoes on my last trip in January but certainly hope to do a lot more in the future

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Re: I love Japan!

Postby trans-chigley express » 02 Feb 2018, 13:23

Deebank wrote:
Toby wrote:That's unusual in all honesty. If you're out walking in Britain it is considered polite to say "good afternoon" or whatever.


I'd agree with that in the UK you exchange pleasantries with everyone you pass when you're out walking. Keeping stony-faced would be the exception rather than the rule.

Yeah I’d agree with that. Brit’s are always greeting one another on the trails. Then again Paul Theroux is prone to talking a lot of bollocks at times although I do enjoy his books by and large.

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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Jimbo » 02 Feb 2018, 16:41

Toby wrote:That's unusual in all honesty. If you're out walking in Britain it is considered polite to say "good afternoon" or whatever.


That is probably why he wrote the bit, that it was unusual. But no way could the Brits or anyone behave in a more friendly manner than the Japanese. Pro forma greetings are mandatory. Not just on hikes but there is a greeting you say as enter your own home, a comeback greeting welcoming you home, a greeting you say as you leave your home, a response to your leaving greeting. Businesses welcome you with Irrashaimase! The language at the register is the same in every store. If you give exact change, for example, they note that with an identical phrase in every shop. There is a robot-like sameness that runs through the society which makes it unique compared to the states, for sure, but that is one reason I have come to love the place. Whether good manners have been drilled into their skulls (which they may have replaced with a chip in 2003) I don't care. An overwhelmingly large majority of Japanese have good manners and that is a good thing. Predictability is guaranteed in Japan. That is why the place is predictably safe, people are predictably honest, the food is predictably safe, the goods are predictably well made, service is predictably good and so on.
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby never/ever » 02 Feb 2018, 17:04

trans-chigley express wrote:
savoirefaire wrote:
never/ever wrote:There are some amazing hiking spots in Japan....





...or so I'm told.


Yes, and it's terrible how little people talk about that. I am in a city where I can get to a train in less than 30 min and it's beautiful.

I’ve been itching to do some extended hiking trips in Japan but I always go there with my wife who is resolutely not a hiker. I did manage a few quick hikes up a couple of volcanoes on my last trip in January but certainly hope to do a lot more in the future


There's an idea for a Jolly....
Ever notice that anyone going slower than you is an idiot, but anyone going faster is a maniac?."

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Re: I love Japan!

Postby savoirefaire » 03 Feb 2018, 01:39

never/ever wrote:
trans-chigley express wrote:
savoirefaire wrote:
Yes, and it's terrible how little people talk about that. I am in a city where I can get to a train in less than 30 min and it's beautiful.

I’ve been itching to do some extended hiking trips in Japan but I always go there with my wife who is resolutely not a hiker. I did manage a few quick hikes up a couple of volcanoes on my last trip in January but certainly hope to do a lot more in the future


There's an idea for a Jolly....


I am in! MattyRedSox is also quite the hiker!
I am setting my sights on doing one of the Kumano kodo trails this spring/summer. The possibilities are endless!
Kid P wrote:*Deleted*
Should have quoted SF

Sneelock wrote:I'm never bored. I'm boring. I think of it as a lifestyle choice!

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Re: I love Japan!

Postby never/ever » 03 Feb 2018, 01:59

Well, I am interested! Let's see if we can make it happen =
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby trans-chigley express » 03 Feb 2018, 02:39

If I have the time I’d be interested. I have several plans this year but not all will come to fruition so have to wait and see.

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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Matty Red Sox » 04 Feb 2018, 15:50

I agree about the slip-on shoes part.
The hiking can be filled with konnicha on the weekend - on a weekday you might find the more solitary folks.
I don't find the robotic responses to be manners, because it's often meaningless. I do find that folks in the bubbles are either happier or the least happy - depends on the person. I wish I could do it. My situation doesn't let me. I have many local friends due to this, but I deal with a lot of bullshit too.
As for being on the receiving end of racism, thirty years ago it was new... and I thought "wow" I could understand how black folks in the US felt. Years of Japan, as well as working in the Bronx and Brooklyn have taught me a lot. I can always "go home", I'm a white male, educated, and well off, I don't get to complain about my situation really, and I shouldn't. This doesn't mean that there's no racism here though, it means I get off easily. I don't know how people of color feel in the US, although I can try my best to check my privilege.
My kid, however, doesn't get off easily, and racism in Japan (as elsewhere often) is death by a thousand little cuts, a constant flow of micro-agressions, which build up. I watch this and marvel at the resilience of kids. She's Japanese, by birth and law, but she's also been made to understand frequently enough that much of Japan doesn't want/accept her. At five she knows this, yet she also loves Japan, it's a real paradox.
Around age twenty, she will have to choose one of her nationalities legally. Japan will not accept dual citizenship for adults. As it stands, I'm pretty sure she'll choose the US, not because she's lived there long, or out of any sense of love or patriotism, but because Americans accept her. She may deal with harsher more direct racists, Nazis, Klan, typical Trump supporters, and the like, but the average American just accepts that everyone has a backstory and that it is different from everyone else's. Japan wants everyone to be the same, and bury the differences. She's too different, on the surface, and in her heart.
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