So lately I’ve discovered that Japan is not perfect. I’m reaching the point in my adjustment process where I’m starting to realize all the things that suck about this place. To get it all off my chest, I’ve compiled a list. I like lists. But to keep this from getting depressing, I’ve also compiled a list of things that are awesome and I love. Shall we?
TOP SEVEN REASONS JAPAN MAKES ME WANT TO PUNCH SOMEONE IN THE FACE:
- Banking. I knew from the beginning that banks were different here. They’re open from maybe 8 am to 3 pm? I could look it up, but I feel like that’s about right. So if I need to actually use the bank, I have to leave work. That’s fine; I hardly ever need to actually go to the bank. I do however need to use the ATM frequently. If you’ve been living under a rock, Japan is mostly a cash-based society. I wouldn’t even know how to get a card if I wanted one (it could be easy, IDK). So I have an ATM card. Here’s where it gets good. I learned my lesson with ATMs the hard way this past weekend. ATMs in Japan have only slightly better hours than the bank. I know, shouldn’t they be open all day? They aren’t. I think most close at 7 pm during the week, and of course, my bank closes its ATM at 6 pm on the weekend. So I went to Kagoshima City to shop, and like an idiot, didn’t bring enough money. By the time I ran out of money, it was too late to use an ATM. I have two bank accounts, but my other account had about 700 yen in it, which is not an amount you can withdraw. So if it weren’t for the kindness of friends, I would have been stranded in the city with an empty belly and way too many bags. Needless to say, I will always have money in both of my accounts, and I’ll probably be caring around the equivalent of $500 from now on. Don’t tell anyone.
- Driving. First of all, the speed limit on the roads I travel is ridiculously slow. Whatever the speed limit would be in America in miles per hour, it’s that in kilometers per hour. It takes forever to get to places that are relatively close. The speed limit, though, is just the beginning. A lot of people here are really scary drivers. In America, when the light turns yellow, most people slow down so they don’t run the red light. Here, people go faster. Here, people run red lights. All. The. Time. It’s not that scary, because the delay between a red light and the other direction’s green light is long enough, but at first it really freaked me out. The best part is that, although running red lights is second nature to people here, it’s illegal to make left hand turns (right hand in America). Actually, maybe that’s why people run the lights; it sucks sitting at a light when you’re turning left and NO ONE is coming. Another scary factor in Japanese driving is the fact that people will pull out in front of you and stop in front of you with no prior warning. It’s illegal to be on your phone in anyway, so when people receive phone calls or need to mail someone, they pull over. I use “pull over” lightly here, because most of the time they just stop in the road. Way to go Japan.
- Gas. Speaking of cars, gas is really expensive. And that’s all I have to say about that.
- Freakin’ futons. Okay, they don’t actually suck. I just miss my bed. (;_;)
- Cute couples. This makes me want to punch people in every country, but there are a lot of super attractive couples/families here. It makes me sick (obviously because I’m super shallow, duh). But good for them I guess.
- Stereotypes. They’re getting to me. Yes, I’m American. No, I don’t eat bread with every meal. Yes, we have soba and sushi and sake in America. Yes, there are Japanese people in America. No, I don’t drink milk with every meal. No, I don’t even like milk. Yes, dishwashers and clothes dryers exist in America, and more so than here. Granted, this mostly comes from my students who aren’t at fault for not knowing things about the world, but ya know, I’m allowed to vent, right? Also, no, not all Americans own guns. Just all Texans. Kidding.
- AKB48. And most other idol groups for that matter. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy gazing at Johnnys just as much as the next girl, but I refuse to acknowledge them as musicians. AKB48 and HKT48 and WTF48 are not singers. No one should be singing their songs at karaoke bars where I can hear them. Some idol groups have decent songs, but the principle of idol groups alone just upsets me. They’re entertainment slaves. They “act”, “sing”, “dance”, and appear on variety shows. They make commercials and endorse the most random products. They’re everywhere. Actually, I think I hate the fact that most non-Japanese people think that Japanese music is completely comprised of these groups. It gives the industry a bad name, I think. And I care about the industry. Educate yo’self.
Alrighty then, that’s enough negativity for one day. And actually, most of those things are not real reasons to get violent. I’m stretching here. But the ATM thing really does piss me off. Anyway, there are good things to come.
TOP SEVEN REASONS I COULD GET USED TO THIS:
- カラオケ. Boy do I love singing to my favorite songs in strange keys and tempos. Karaoke is super Japanese and it’s wonderful. Except when you pick a Korean song and it ends up being the Japanese version. I don’t speak Korean, but if you listen to a song enough, you can mimic the sounds enough for it to pass. When something bad like that happens, you just dance. Or try desperately to read the words on the screen. By the way, Japanese is hard to read quickly when you don’t read Japanese. Just saying. Lucky for you, every karaoke place I’ve been to has a crazy variety of English music. Some really random, obscure things too. Karaoke definitely gets the thumbs up. It’s cheap, fun, and even if you don’t know a song, you can read the lyrics and still be involved.
- Driving. Okay, I know driving’s on the naughty list, but there is one particular aspect of driving in Japan that I love. A lot of roads have one lane for each direction. This is fine, but some of these streets get a little busy sometimes, so turning across the oncoming lane can be difficult. However, almost every time I have to turn into a parking lot on the opposite side of the road, some kind soul will stop and let me pass. This totally holds up their side, but it keeps everyone behind me from completely hating my guts. And it makes me smile every time.
- Clothes. Eventually, I will write a post dedicated to fashion, but for now I will just say it’s wonderful. Of course you have your Engrish, but sometimes it’s endearing, so it can be overlooked. A lot of cheaper places sell the general frilly, fluffy, super girly crap, but there are quite a few good spots in the city. I’m mostly concerned with the humongous sweaters, printed tights and cute socks, funky sweatshirts, and skirts galore. I also really dig guys’ style here, mostly because guys here have style. Even the sometimes ridiculous use of leopard print and Hello Kitty are growing on me (for a visual, many otherwise “manly” guys have been spotted wearing HK track suits and matching slippers). I’ve been interested in Japanese fashion for a while, and I’ve spent way too many afternoons with my eyes glued to some Japanese street fashion blog. I really enjoy the crazy Tokyo fashion scene, but I also just really like the every day young person look as well. So naturally, being here has been hazardous to my wallet. And I don’t even live near a fashion-hub. I need a sugar daddy like whoa.
- Kids. You’ve heard it. I won’t bore you.
- Old People. Freakin’ cute. More on this later.
- Boys. Like legal boys. Not expanding too much on this, but I’m starting to think that dyed hair and clunky boots on relatively small guys is my type. I’m totally into guys that can be simultaneously cute and cool, and that’s not something most American guys can achieve. I’m also physically closer to G-Dragon in Japan, and the thought of seeing him in real life one day gets me through the week. (Side note: I don’t dislike my job at all, but Monday-Wednesday is filled with a whole bunch of creepy kids and awkward moments, so I always feel like I need a drink and BIG BANG by the end.) Anyway, my wonderful city is lacking in the attractive and available young man department, but the surrounding areas are not. Do want. (By the way, this is sounding more and more shallow isn’t it? Whatever, I’m young. I can say what I want.)
- Life in Japan (in general). I really truly enjoy living here. I’ve experienced so many wonderful things that I could write a Harry Potter sized book. I’ve met some awesome people, eaten some amazing food, and made a lot of great memories. All the bad things (OMG! I forgot to write about mold!) are totally made up for by everything else. And I promise I’m not (that) shallow, I’m just so often taken aback by the beautiful of this country that I get a little giddy and excited.
So there it is. Seven good things and seven not so good things about Japan. I’m sure more things will pop up as time goes on. See you soon!