So, this is it. Officially my last week in Japan. We moved out of our apartment two days ago and are staying in a service apartment. It’s got all the comforts of home… but it’s not home. I better get used to this ‘uprooted’ feeling fast because it’s going to be like this for a couple of months until we settle down in Bintulu. Okay, I shouldn’t get ahead of myself (it’s a bad habit of mine).
Anywayyyyyy…. in honor of my last week here, I decided to list down some of the things that I found to be wonderfully weird about Japan.
It looks like this:
Okay, it may not be that strange to most of you and even I have eaten stranger things (uhm, balut anyone?), but this bun that’s available easily in convenient stores just turns my insides.
Onsen with Family
When you come to Japan, try not to miss a trip to the onsen. Do the whole shebang, okay? Sitting on a stool and showering with a roomful of people (same gender), chatting with a stranger next to you in the pool, etc. Did I mention all of this is going on without a stitch of clothing? But I was always under the impression that taking a bath at an onsen was like a holiday event. You know, sort of like how we go to the beach. It was only a couple of months ago that I discovered that soaking in a warm bath is part of everyday life here, even at the scorching height of summer. As if that wasn’t enough to amaze me, I then found out that parents and children of the same gender bathe together.
When I explained in my culture we shower standing up and no, we don’t share that time with anyone else – I was the weirdo.
Standard Operating Procedure for Shoes
In Malaysia, as with most Asian countries, we remove our footwear before going indoors. It’s not uncommon to see a jumble of slippers and shoes at the doorway of anyone’s house and sometimes we spend a few minutes hunting for a missing pair. That is because we don’t do this:
The first time I noticed this arrangement was when the washing machine repair man came to fix my broken machine. I’m so used to grease-stained repair guys kicking their shoes off and me having to clean up after them that I was absolutely flummoxed by this guy arranging his shoes meticulously pointing outward and bowing before entering.
- Sniffle and Slurp
It’s perfectly okay to sniffle and slurp your food.
But don’t make the mistake of eating while you’re walking. It’s a guaranteed way to attract stares – trust me, I’m speaking from experience.
When my cousin arrived fresh off the plane in Japan, she asked me, “Where are all the weirdly dressed people?”
It’s true. Even I wondered the same. I was expecting a whole lot more people to be dressed like Anime characters walking around. But in fact, everyone looks like they’re dressed by elegant stylists, wearing similarly muted colors and you’ll be hard pressed to find a woman showing her armpits on the street.
If you wake up one morning and feel feisty, wear a red tank top.
Japan’s sex industry precedes itself in reputation for all kinds of kinky stuff. Love hotels are the least of it, offering rooms for people to stay or… rest.
Every spring, Kanamara Matsuri is celebrated at a shrine in Kawasaki. It’s quite simply, a penis festival.
So, you have to forgive me for laughing in disbelief when I learnt that private parts are blurred out in Japanese porn.