Discoveries and Rediscoveries

Feel trapped and a bit cabin feverish with this continuing heat: a bit like winter in a manner of speaking in that its quite unpleasant to go outside.

As I posted in a comment to my last post, its gotten so ho here that yesterday, a wheel of an aircraft parked at Reagan National Airport actually sunk a bit  into the tarmac and was for a while, stuck.

Getting back to Japan after a 7-year absence showed me now things and things I needed reminding of again.

The old stuff:

o   There are very few Japanese who one could call truly obese.  Saw one mother and daughter combo, but aside from middle-aged men and the paunches no really overweight people. Why?

§  Food portions. There is no super-sizing anything (though some restaurants do offer all-you-can eat specials.  Portions if anything are smaller. For example a small Starbucks coffee is about a 3rd smaller than its U.S. counterpart.

§  Japanese get more daily exercise.  Usually this is walking. Walking from  your house to a train station or bus stop, then walking to change trains etc., which also involves a lot of stair climbing.

o   Taking pride in one’s job, even if the job sucks.  From buying a burger at McDonalds, making a purchase at a department store or disembarking from the plane. There is not I’m-too-good-for-this-job attitude showing.

o   Surface transportation is down to a fine art.  Son unit & I in one day (it was a long one) traveled from the island of Shikoku to the central Alps with just 2 train changes and not much of a wait between them, all without using a bus or taxi.

o   The cities are crowded, even perhaps more so than before and patience is defiantly a must in navigating around.

New Stuff:

                Multilingual signage such as shown below.


 When I asked about this, I was told Japan is now a major tourist destination for Koreans and Chinese, flush with Won or Yuan, thus the signage.  I even heard recorded announcements at Narita before we boarded for the flight back home and remarked to son unit that I never thought I’d see the day when Korean was publicly broadcast in Japan.  Also son unit & I both noticed who much more English-language information is provided on the train in Tokyo, and that train station are now numbered so that the Kanji/proper pronunciation challenged foreigner can be accommodated.  This will lead to a bunch of wussies.

o   Japan I guess has enacted its own version of the ADA as most train stations now have elevators and escalators on the platforms: which helped us a great deal as we schlepped our bags between city to city.

o   Greater foreign corporation presence.  Seemed in large cities, around the next corner was a Starbucks.  Also Lawson’s has a presence in the hyper-competitive convenience store market. Krispy Kreme can be found in large cities. And of course MacDonald’s has been around forever.  Goes to show that if one has the right product and willing to make the effort, a place can be found in the Japanese market.

o   The unfortunate now absence now of public telephones as even small children seem to come with a cellphone.

o   The last I suppose is the downsizing on vehicles.  There is a greater percentage of what are called minicars, cars with an engine displacement of 800cc or less, in the general vehicle mix.  Due to downsizing in economic hard times, but also with a greying population needing vehicles not as large as they had owned before…




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2 Responses to Discoveries and Rediscoveries

  1. So if I understand the picture correctly they use dogs as wifi hotspots, now? 🙂

    Very interesting that you write about the changes. I remember reading a book for foreigners living in Japan which pretty much has the same points (aside from the last one, which I suppose could be put also on the aging population).

  2. Had an interesting insight as to how japan is greying. Son & and were on a bus coming back into central Kyoto and at nearly every bus stop to where we got off, all the passnegrs gettig on were elderly.

    As to dogs and WIFI, have I gotta something to say on that!

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