Days 20 and 21: "Culture experiences" and shopping

Thursday we did some calligraphy after school.  It was pretty hard to do it right, as expected.  In the end, we each put one kanji of our choice on a paper/plastic fan.  Mine was 雪 (snow/yuki).  It was either that or 炎 (flame/honoo) for me.  Snow implying cold, because you use the fan to cool off, or flame implying heat because you use the fan when it's hot.  I decided I liked snow better.  Unfortunately, it looks kind of childish, because I'm just not that good at calligraphy, and I got the proportions all messed up.  Oh well.

Friday we got to try on yukata.  They had enough for the girls, but not the boys, so I only put it on for about 5 minutes or so, and didn't get any pictures on my camera.  A few other people got pictures of me, but I don't have them yet.  In the end, all the girls (and two guys) wore their yukata for this group picture, with the rest of the guys who didn't have one standing in the back.

Very colorful and flowery.
That night, I went out grocery shopping with Yukie.  First, we picked Ranmaru up from his school, so I got to see that (I didn't bring my camera) and he came along.

We ended up buying a couple small frozen pizzas, and all the ingredients for tacos and "eggs in the basket" which probably has some other more official name somewhere, but is basically just bread with a hole cut out and an egg put inside, fried together, with cheese put on top.

For dinner, I fixed (with Yukie's help, since I don't know my way around her kitchen) soft-shelled tacos.  They tasted almost exactly like they do back home, which made me very pleased.  Everyone liked them, so I guess Yukie has another recipe to add to her collection now.

And now, more random observations:
  • The most common color of umbrella here seems to be transparent.  White and pale flowery colors are also common, as is black.
  • I don't know if I said this before, but basically everyone uses cash and coins instead of cards.  Most places don't even accept cards.  Stores, and even vending machines, will often accept 10,000 yen bills (roughly $130), which seem to be pretty common.
  • Most store and restaurant prices include tax.  Occasionally, it will list two prices, one before and one after tax.  It makes it a lot easier to see how much you'll have to pay in advance, which is especially useful considering the reliance on cash.
  • Women in general wear their hair short far more often than they do in the US.  Probably at least 50% have neck-length or shorter hair.
  • Longer hair is often tied in some way.  Ponytails are common, and among the middle school girls I've seen on all my trips, twintails seem particularly popular.  Twintails refers to two ponytails, one on either side of the head, like in the picture.  These can be anywhere from an inch and a half or so to about a foot long.  It seems like a good 25% of the girls in that age range wear their hair like that.  I also saw two today (Saturday) who each had one ponytail, but sticking out opposite sides in the back (one to the left, one right).
  • Instead of napkins, people use small wet washcloths, or nothing at all.  Occasionally tissues serve the function of napkins if washcloths are unavailable and someone makes a mess.
  • Japanese McDonald's is very similar to American McDonald's, with some added menu items such as McPork and Teriyaki Burger.  I had the McPork, which while not bad wasn't anything special.  I also had a plain hamburger so I could compare with the US, and it tasted identical as far as I could tell.  McDonald's was also the only place so far that I've seen a real napkin.  One.  They didn't give multiple with my order.  Not that I would have used more than one, but they always give way more in the US.
  • I have confirmed that there is no "correct" side of the path to walk or bike on.  The very concept of there being one is foreign to them.  Instead, people and bikes just sort of weave in and out of each other's ways.
  • Lots of people seem to be employed to stand there.  Supposedly they direct traffic, but they spend the vast majority of the time standing there nodding to pedestrians as they go by.  Their actual job seems to be mostly to stop cars from running into people passing by by instead standing in their way themselves until everyone else is out of the way.
  • People give out lots of free flyers, free food samples, and tissue packets with ads stuck in them.  Stores also often have someone standing outside to call customers in, shouting "irasshaimase!" (welcome) whenever anyone comes close and yelling about their various goods or special deals.
  • I will amend my previous statement about number of people into anime.  While I haven't met very many into anime myself, it must be more popular, as there are whole stores and stands dedicated to it.  Still, it doesn't seem to be a very universal interest (except One Piece, which, again, is absolutely everywhere).
  • Gachapon machines are common.  I don't even know what they're called in the US, but they're those things in stores where you put in some coins, turn the handle, and get a random toy out the bottom.  Capsule machines.  The variety of goodies is much wider in Japan than the US, though.  Still haven't actually bought anything from one yet, as they generally cost 200 yen per try.
  • Vending machines are all over the place, even along the middle of the street in my suburban neighborhood.  Most sell drinks, such as tea, coffee, fruit juice, sometimes soda, water, and milk.  Some sell cigarettes, and require a special card that proves you're over 20 before you can buy from them.  Others sell ice cream or similar snacks.  I don't think I've seen any for the more typical chips, cookies, crackers, pretzels, or what-have-you that they put in them in the US.
  • Pachinko and slots are both apparently very popular.  There are tons of signs for them everywhere, especially when you go downtown to one of the shopping arcades, but even just around the city.  They're usually advertised with famous anime characters on the signs, so it always catches my eye before I realize what it is.
That ended up being a lot longer than I expected.  I think that's enough for now.

No comments:

Post a Comment