Perspective

Well I'm back from my vacation and made it through the holidays. I didn't mean to neglect my blog but that sort of just happened while I was in Japan. But now that I'm back hopefully I'll be able to pick up a regular schedule again.

The thing about changing your environment for a while is that you see a lot of stuff that you normally wouldn't. Hopefully the change of perspective will be useful and you can learn or takeaway a few things from the experience. So here are some things I noticed while in Japan, some things I will miss, others I hope to learn from, and some I hope to avoid!

My new kigurumi pajamas
Almost every night I had had PJ's laid out for me at my hotel. I will miss this part of Japan. I didn't expect that to even be a part of my whole trip but it's just something that happened that I appreciated. BUT, on a side note I bought some new kigurumi pajamas while I was there so even if they aren't laid out for me every night, I will still remember the weirdness of Japan when I put these on before bed.

Speaking of appreciation, one of the things I enjoyed about my vacation was the bathing experience in Japan. It truly was an experience. I did go to a few onsens (traditional Japanese baths) but even in the pod hotel I stayed at bathing was something taken much more seriously than in the United States. Back at home the goal of bathing is to get clean as fast as you can and get out (perhaps the drought in California is to partially blame for that). In Japan cleanliness is still the goal, but the process seems more meditative. I'm not sure if that's my own personal bias on it since I was vacationing, but soaking tubs seem to be more of the "standard" there. The takeaway I see from this is learning to take time each day to unwind and just appreciate something.

One more bathroom related item, seat warmers! While I was travelling a warm toilet seat seemed inviting. The bidet features took a little adjusting but I appreciated that as well. But back at home seat warmers are not the usual, so if the toilet seat is warm I begin to wonder who was there before me, then I immediately try to forget what I was thinking about. Kind of like learning about your girlfriends exes. (There is no take away from this, just something I will miss)

Everyone in Japan also seemed extremely polite, sometimes too polite, "Sorry if my English is not perfect." - No need to apologize about your English, my Japanese goes about as far as, "Domo arigato Mister Roboto." The takeaway is being more appreciative/welcoming/helpful towards strangers since it's really nice to be received that way.

Though I did hear a few backhanded compliments while I was there too. But I'm pretty sure they didn't intend them to come off that way. A few separate conversations about my failure to know any Japanese naturally led to them trying to find something to praise me on instead of pointing out my failure, "At least you can use chopsticks well!" Ummm... Well, yes, thank you. I'm officially one step above infants that lack the dexterity to feed themselves in the manner that this culture is accustomed.

Not being a picky eater. I used to be a very picky eater, but this has changed as I have gotten older. I've branched out more and generally disproved what I thought about certain foods from when I was younger. But when I travel I take this to a new level, I simply just eat whatever comes because that's my punishment for not learning the language of the country I'm travelling in. For the most part I enjoyed everything, though I couldn't tell you a lot of the stuff I tried. Takeaway, I should try more stuff at home rather than waiting for a vacation to force me.

Japan is a consumer culture. This was one of the things that stood out the most to me. They have so much stuff in their stores that you didn't know you might need and they buy it all! I've traveled a lot but usually when I travel places it's the tourists that I find buying stuff everywhere. But not in Japan - they are excellent consumers there, no wonder they are a sandwich generation culture. Because no one can save to retire and live on their own! The takeaway from this one is that people are materialistic and avoiding unnecessary stuff might be the key to getting ahead.

4 comments:

  1. Hi Zee, thanks for sharing your experiences of your trip. Sounds like Japan is very much like Hong Kong, ie a huge consumer culture - I know my family always seem to be buying stuff all the time. Funny, it's the little Japanese goods they sell in HK that I'm always tempted to buy, like you say, things that you didn't know you needed (or even existed!) and often, in very cute micro/mini size!

    Anyway, all the best for 2015!

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    1. I think that some of the most interesting stuff was seeing all the weird things that I didn't even think I needed or even existed. So much random stuff that made me think, "wait, there's a thing for that?" or "How is that even an issue you need to make something for?" But amazingly interesting none the less!

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  2. I'm intrigued to hear about the consumerism in Japan! I thought the US was tops in consumerism, but it sounds like Japan is similar. Sounds like a great trip! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Yeah, Japan had so much stuff. Lots of vending machines for everything. I remember when I was growing up there were always vending machines with toys inside of those little plastic bubbles at the grocery stores. You don't really see those these days anymore, I'm sure the space could be better used for something else, but in Japan they are everywhere and full of so much random stuff. I guess they must be more profitable there!

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