Saturday, December 20, 2014

Stories for Back Home: Japan

It took me a month to decompress from my trip to Japan, but I don't have a month back home. Instead, I'm going to have to zero in on some choice tidbits to tell family and friends about. Let's see what we can do.

The onsen, railgun sushi, $5 coins, McDonald's, beef bowls, restaurant etiquette, karaoke, meeting a hero. I think that ought to do it. There's a couple of experiences in there, some cultural differences, new food, and a thing that's both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.

The onsen is still one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. I could go on and on about that multi-story bath house. I'll probably just describe the building a bit, how the whole things worked, the relaxation lounge, the foot bath on the roof with a view of Mt. Fuji, the photo booth that makes you beautiful, the adorable waitress who was too shy to take an order from foreigners, the private bath, and my newfound love of walking around in a yukata.

Although I'm not a big fan of sushi, I think people would be interested in hearing about that sushi place we went to where you order things on a screen and it gets delivered on a belt system. Special notes would be how cheap the food was, how apparently good it was, and how annoying it was that I could only seem to get either tea or soda rather than just plain water.

I can also tell them about how yen works, how credit cards are rare in Japan, and how easy it can be to spend 500 yen thanks to the 500 yen coin.

I'm a little sad that I didn't have a burger at McDonald's while I was there. I'm sure people will be interested in hearing about the 100% beef burgers, though, and the interesting toppings, like how everything can have egg on it if you like.

There's also the proper Japanese fast food: the bowl of beef and rice.

I can also talk about how there's no tipping, and how rather than having your server hovering around to check on you there's simply a button you press when you need service--no waiting for drink refills, no waiting for your server to remember you to bring you a check.

I can also talk about the awesome karaoke systems they have there, since karaoke is a very popular pastime in Japan. Far moreso than here, anyway. What a shame.

And, of course, I can talk briefly about meeting Shigesato Itoi. Of course, for most people that would require a bit of a primer on who he is in the first place, why I care about him, and how we got to meet him.

I'm sure I could embellish on these notes enough to get me through any conversation at home this year, but I'm going to work on some other conversations as well just in case.

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