Hi there! So, I know it’s been a very long while since I posted. I swear I will try and improve. Sometimes I really get caught up in these long hours that I work here in Japan. My two bosses, Gus-san and Mack-san, are so demanding. When I want to quit my workday, they are adamant that I continue working all.night.long. I mean, I know that the work days are longer here but these two turd bosses just take up all my time. Honestly, they are a pair of honey badgers. Oh, you’ve got cool stuff like blog posts to do? They don’t give a care. But I am going to be better at getting posts out anyway. I just might have to be quick about it. The little one is probably already eating a cobra as I type…
Anyway, I am thinking, every once in a while, that I am going to post a bit I think I will call ‘Tokyo Tidbits‘. This is a section where I will post random, unique, and interesting things that are decidedly Japan/Tokyo. Now, I have only just now reached the 9 month mark, so I am not an expert, but there are some really amusing things I have noted since moving to Tokyo that I would love to share with you. Let’s expand the Asian-knowledge part of your brain, shall we?…
Topic 1: Tattoos
Did you know that tattoos in Japan are kind of taboo? I took my towhead kids to the public swimming pool this past summer and turns out that most, if not all, public swimming pools make sure you don’t have any tattoos before you enter the pool? Same goes for fitness centers. We joined a club and one of the questions on the application was literally, “Do you have any tattoos?” From what I understand it has to do with mafia members here and people feel uncomfortable when they see tattoos as they are associated with said gangsters. Interesting, isn’t it? I personally don’t have any, but many of my friends and family do. I just thought this was unusual when I was checked at the pool for ink. If you do have them, you have to hide them with a coverup or tape. So, if you are this guy…
…and you want to come visit and swim, you might want to pack a burka…
Topic 2: Clicking Cameras
You know that one time when you saw a Justin Bieber lookalike and you secretly wanted a picture of him so you could post it on your Facebook page and write all sorts of witty comments about hoody vests, combovers vs. pompadours, and the art of staring all sultry-like into the camera.
Alas, Tokyo makes this oh-so-fulfilling past time a little bit harder to participate in. Because that shutter sound your well-practiced spy skills have taught you to silence, well, it just can’t be done on a Japanese phone. There is no silence option on your camera settings. Each and every picture you take will blare that shutter sound every time. Honestly, it doesn’t bode well for those who appreciate a good stealth shot, but it actually has some really great intentions behind it. This is so that sly pictures can not be taken without someone knowing. For example, it makes taking an uber-creepy upskirt pic on the crowded train that much more difficult and noticeable. I can get on board with that!!
Topic 3: Men’s Handbags
Guys, if you tell me you wouldn’t benefit from carrying a MANdbag, I won’t believe you. I can’t tell you how many times the towhead hubby has asked me to carry his keys, his wallet, and the odd inhaler during allergy season in my purse. Think about it. You could put all your man articles in your own shoulder bag and have it at the ready! But, I know better than that. A lot of western men would not want to carry around what they deem a “purse”. However, here in Tokyo, the mandbag is embraced and commonly used, and there is a real market for them. Whether they range from a sharp shoulder satchel to a full-on, two-handled, snake-skin leather handbag that would make any Coach-devotee jealous, they are all over the place in Tokyo. At first I just thought it was the chivalrous move of carrying your gal’s handbag while her hands were full. But, nope, it was kind of surprising to discover everyone has their own 🙂 I do like how fashion-forward thinking the men and the women are here. Could I imagine my hubby carrying one? Well, I think he is more of a backpack guy, but if he ever decided to throw caution to the wind and give the mandbag a try, he would fit right in.
Topic 4: Swip-Swapping R’s and L’s
Remember that scene in “A Christmas Story” where they are at the restaurant and the wait staff is singing “Deck the halls with boughs of horry. Fa ra ra ra ra ra ra ra ra.”
This was a Chinese restaurant as opposed to Japanese but still, they pronounced the R’s as L’s and vice versa. We all get a kick out of it. Hollywood possibly even plays up on this stereotype. Well I am here to tell you, it’s totally true. They are swip-swapped! But, here’s the interesting part. It’s not just the accent or confused elocution like people may assume. Within the Japanese alphabet, the ‘R’s truly ARE pronounced as ‘L’s and the ‘L’s as ‘R’s! So it isn’t bad pronunciation, it is phonetically the correct way to pronounce those letters according to the Japanese language. (For instance, the character that is associated with the sound “ra” should be pronounced like “la”). So really, they are pronouncing it correctly according to their language rules. I try and switch them when I remember, but it’s easy to forget since that’s the way I’ve been saying them since I started yapping. Funny how the tables have turned. Guess who sounds goofy now? Araina and Lodney.