Αιτώ δ’ υγείαν πρώτον, είτ’ ευπραξίαν. Τρίτον δε χαίρειν, είτ’ οφείλειν μηδενί.
[Featured image: The closest thing to a beach atm – Omotesando station]
The situation with big supermarkets in Japan is the following:
- You buy what you want and put it in a basket.
- The cashier scans the price tags and puts the products in a differently coloured basket.
- You pay, the cashier gives you some plastic bags, you go to a counter nearby and tidy up your stuff.
- You are good to go.
But what happens if you bought female products like sanitary napkins? As soon as the cashier notices it, puts it in a non-transparent dark coloured bag, and even closes the top part with a sticker, so that the contents are visible in no way. The cashier’s hand movements were so spectacularly quick, avoiding a single glance from other customers was of utmost importance.
When I got back home, I expressed my surprise to my Asian roommate and her answer was: “But it is obvious that it should be hidden, I want no one to know! Why would anyone?”. I tried explaining my logic to her, but she was persistent on her opinion, so we reached no conclusion.
OK, I get that the female private parts are a sensitive topic that most women are not comfortable talking about. I get that all of us don’t want to vaunt about it either. But is it that big a shame that even at the super market we should completely hide it? Every woman has it, that’s where the mother functionality derives from. When you have to deal with the menstruation cycle, sometimes it may be hard, uncomfortable or even gross. But every woman has it, every grandma had it and every girl will have it. Fear of buying tampons etc is an emotion close to the fear of buying condoms. However, if we don’t accept it and don’t learn to talk or ask questions about our sex’s private parts, we may come across much more serious health-related issues, far exceeding in importance some trivial social shame.
Buying tampons or condoms, wearing no-sleeved blouses, wearing no make up: everyday things like that are no a norm for females in Japan and such a behaviour will probably give you some weird looks. I am ok with that, because as a foreigner I usually attract the attention just for existing. But what about a rebellious Japanese girl who got bored of all those rules and norms ?
Today I tried karumeyaki (かるめ焼き) randomly for the first time. Gosh, I should have filmed my reaction at the first bite! As soon as I saw the fluffy outside, the foam-like texture full of cracks was reminiscent of hazelnut or semolina cookies that bakeries in Greece usually make.
But when I tasted it… SOoooooo sweet! And then I realised ‘Hey, that’s pure sugar’ . And that was indeed, as this wonderful video kindly explains:
I bought it along with a pack of Kokutou Karintou (黒糖かりんとう), from an amazing store in Yokohama called 銀の杵 横浜中山店. I’ve been there more than once, the couple who owns the place are adorable, plus the ojiisan speaks perfect English.
Next stop: 100yen shop. It had olive oil shampoo made in Greece. Obviously, I was intrigued about who the hell exports this stuff here, so I checked the label in the back. Ingredients, usage, blah blah – Ah here it is , production location – where now? >>>>>> Only a plain useless ギリシャ(Greece). I bet you , it’s fake af, Japanese (olive?) oil baptized as Greek to attract customers!
You probably already know that karaoke places are everywhere. Karaoke + live music? Hmmm, maybe it will be cool. But what about awfully designed posters of people with fancy 80s colourful suits, that look exactly like greek summer panigiria posters? Yeah, come to wagamama, it has the proper vintage vibe. Though people gave me strange gazes while I was taking the pictures. Maybe it’s a creepy place? Strictly for locals? I will never know …
Finally, as I was returning to the station, that weird Japanese way to promote political parties made it’s appearance. I have no idea what they were saying, even though I am an intermediate Japanese user, but they kept waving with their white gloves and sure seemed happy and confident. However, no one seemed to pay even the slightest attention to them, one could argue that this kind of promotion is completely worthless.
PS. (From my visit in Hase-dera temple in Kamakura last week) :
What age NOT to have during 2017. Left for boys, right for girls. Red colour indicates absoulute-super-ultra-mega-dangerous age. As for black colour, ehm, there is a slight chance of surviving. In any case, a generous monetary offer to the temple will cast out all bad luck, for sure (#screw_them19yo). As you can easily notice, there is no bad luck for women after their forties. That makes sense considering that if you ever ask a woman how old she is, paradoxically the maximum age is 38.
: It’s super strange to see a map where the center of the world is not Europe, but I guess – it is what it is ..
Hello there !
I’d like to share some strange/paradox things I came across in Japan recently. Nothing too fancy, just enough to make you smile a bit (I hope!)
I think the basic point of considering something funny is the use of English. Correct grammar, correct spelling, but the meaning is chotto…. Not quite as a normal person would have expresses oneself.
Featured Image: Night sea in Kamakura, the foam on top of the waves was glowing with an awesome electric blue hue. No camera could capture that view.
You know, my main goal since I came here, is to try every silly food that exists. It’s the country of infinite possibilities! Also, after a quick experimentation session I decided that (apart from maccha that will always have a special space in my heart and stomach) my favourite flavour is kurogoma(黒ゴマ － black sesame). Subsequently, I started using kurogoma oil in pretty much every dish I cook at home.
Also, I tried to cook a traditional Greek dish with green beans the other day, you know? Ah, didn’t work out well. The beans that I bought at the supermarket had the correct colour, correct shape, correct texture – but they were not the normal green beans! It was soy beans, the ones that Japanese grill and eat while drinking alcohol. You cannot eat the outside part, so my whole dish was ruined, it was a disaster. Meh, they do say that ‘as long as you live, you learn’.
Finally, let’s hear what Yotsuba (from Yotsubato!) has to say about Taiyaki.
I personally conclude that the only reason the taiyaki shop went bankrupt was because of bad management – Taiyaki is soooooo much better than pudding.
What about this week’s stuck song?
Hydrogen Sea – Beating Heart (Always thankful to Suicide Sheep for the music he introduces us to)
[Featured picture: Ookayama campus of TokyoTech]
I just recently moved to Japan, and the only thing that can describe life here is that everyday is completely different (Please read the Yotsubato manga). The people are truly kind, they may not now English at all, but they will do their best to help you.
- The stories about drunk Japanese salary men? True. 2 Parties in my lab and 2 Shibuya night outs later, I realized that the do get drunk easily and that they are super funny with their expensive suits and drunk yelling at the same time.
- The stories about train employees pushing you to get inside the train during rush hour? True. Been there, seen than, not so funny. Luckily, I get of just as soon as that strange custom starts.
- The stories about too many old people here? True. Really large percentage of people over 60. And everyone here is aware of the dropping birth rate problem, they talk about it and seriously try to solve it.
- Discrimination issues? True. I am a Caucasian white woman, I don’t have it as hard as an African or a Vietnamese person, but still, I stand out and the Japanese notice it. For me it’s a good think, because that way I can easily struck up conversations. For many others I agree that can be a bit problematic. As soon as you walk inside a non-tourist izakaya or food place, they will notice you. In my case I made japanese friends that want to get out and have drinks together every week, in order to help them improve their English. Also trust issues. I, a white Caucasian female eventually am more trustworthy than a Vietnamese woman. At the same company, for the same contract, she was asked to deposit money upfront, while I wasn’t.
- English and Japanese knowledge. Yes, Japanese people usually don’t know English, nothing at all. But, they are willing to learn, mostly young people. So, they will try to speak to you in English in order to practice, even if you are speaking to them in Japanese. The bad side: in tourist places like Shibuya, if you look like a foreigner they will ignore you if you speak Japanese. They will try to communicate in English, even if the don’t know how.
- It’s quite difficult to find what you want in the Supermarket. All the labels are usually in Japanese only. JUST GO FOR THE KITKATS. Oh, and it surprised me so much that the ‘International stores’ here are those that sell cheese and other western products.
- It’s the first time that I’ve seen so many people with mental disabilities to actually work and help the community. My previous experience in Europe was not so positive.
- They have actually implemented a system with red, green and red points awarded for every meal at the university campus, in order to encourage young people to eat healthily. Actually, I’ve only noticed a handful of overweight people in japan, they are so conscious about healthy eating habits. (And cleaning and saving energy)
- Most Asian people around here are either married around their 25’s or are going to do it soon. Many of them already have children that want to bring here. One of the first questions to be asked usually is “do you have a husband/wife?” . If not, they will usually try to find you a partner, especially if they are drunk. Some Indian guy even stopped me in the middle of the road to ask me if I have a husband, and after my negative reply he asked me to marry him. So easy!
That’s it for today. I will return soon with more interesting facts.
[Above: View of Mt. Fuji and Lake Ashi, in Hakone]
Featured Image: From 茶庭 然花抄院(Zenkashoin) @Hikarie Mall in Shibuya. (Top) Roasted tea float (with agar, ice cream and stewed sweet japanese chestnut, (Bottom) Maccha chocolate terrine (from Uji, Kyoto)
Q: What’s an adult’s sweet taste?
Hey there! I moved to Japan about a week ago and everything is SUPER different here! The first big difference: food! As a European, the first time I went to the super market, I didn’t know what to buy, because I didn’t know what all these products were! However, I am getting used to it and I am starting to like japanese food, even though up until now I’ve only tried cheap dishes from the school cafeteria or the convenience store. Of course I have many pictures of landscapes etc. but food has priority. Enjoy the foodporn!
P.S. I would just like to boast about the univ. internet connection. ABSOLUTELY no comparison with my home country.