☆ i heart japan,  ☆ life

Living Tall in Japan, part 8

☆ Continued from part 7.
☆ To see all of the parts in this series, click here.

I went to see my dad today. He is in prison, and (news to me) it’s not his first time. I don’t know what to think about that, or what to say after the things that I heard him say today. He barely seems like the dad that I grew up with. How can a child be so disappointed in her own father.. It’s a good thing that I have my blog to talk to, and you guys behind me! I will never, ever allow myself to become like him. Not using drugs is, of course, a good start. It makes me sad to see him in such a sorry state, though. Especially when there’s nothing that I can do.

Well, like I said, blog! Blog! I’m glad that I can lose myself in this story for a little bit every night. It helps me clear my thoughts, and go to bed rested. ^^

Actually, tonight’s post is pretty simple, because I have more observations to share from my first days in Japan!

September 19, 2004
Mmmm.. more observations about Japan…..

– Humidity sucks. (I wasn’t used to it at all, having come from Arizona, with 4% humidity, to Tokyo, which is cooler but unbearable with 98% humidity)
– At most supermarkets, when you check out, you don’t bag your own things.. you take them to a separate place and bag them. O_o (Wait, this isn’t normal? I totally forgot!)
– There are almost none of our favorite sodas from America. I’ve only seen Coke, and Pepsi Twist. Most Japanese soda is clear and varying tastes. And there are no 2-liter bottles of soda ANYWHERE. I found 1-liter bottles of coke finally, but they were freakin’ 300 yen! O_O (Now I’m surprised because the bottles of soda are SO HUGE here, and they’re so cheap! No wonder America is out of shape!)
– I was seriously surprised at this one– anime is hard to find here… at least anime-related things. You’ll find little things here and there, but my only real exposure was at Animate today. Oh man, but the store is a mecca.. I’m in looooooove.
– “Boys love” (in English) is big here with the female anime crowd. I knew this, but it wasn’t so obvious until now.
– I spent 1500 yen in a UFO catcher machine trying to get a Prince of Tennis doll out of it, with no success.. T_T I’m sad. I wanted that Eiji! They also had PoT teacup sets and coin purses in different machines!!!!!!!!! <3 I wanted them all, and got none. T_T These arcades are dangerous for my pocketbook. (Why would I have wanted Eiji? I didn’t even like Eiji all that much…)
– Disney is BIG with the schoolgirls. I saw a Disney store in Shinjuku yesterday, and I’d say that 75% of the schoolgirls I’ve seen with bookbags have had some kind of Disney character attached to it somehow. (I hadn’t yet noticed that Disney characters are also big with men in suits!)
– Heheee, even the businessmen read manga on the trains, and practically every kind of store having magazines or books carries some form of manga. (I want to make manga this ubiquitous in the US!)
– Duuude.. the walls here are thin. With my windows closed, it’s so loud that I keep thinking that they’re still open. O_o (Why did I write “dude” so much back then?)
– The Japanese seem to be immune to the sun. They don’t wear sunglasses, except the select few. O_o (I still find this strange, especially given how strong the sun is in Japan)
– Kimonos, business suits, school uniforms, guys that look like girls, all standing next to each other. It’s rather common. Wow.  (Love this. Actually, American small-town fashion (sweats, dirty t-shirts, jeans) makes me depressed now.)
– I bought too much stuff.. bad me. =P I can’t find wall scrolls anywhere, either. (All of those wall scrolls that I bought at anime conventions in high school? I think that they were from China)
– The sun rises very early and sets very early. It’s usually dark by 5. (Because Japan doesn’t do Daylight Savings Time)
– Stores close too early. It seems the average time for a store to close is 7 or 8. Except grocery stores. Most of those are open 24 hours. (I still dislike the “grocery stores that close” thing. Boo Japan for that.)
– Bikes, they’re EVERYWHERE! Little kids, couples, teens with short skirts, businessmen in suits, they all ride them! ^^; (Ladies who ride bikes with spiky high heels are hardcore. I look up to you!)
– Vending machines are EVERYWHERE.. even on the tiny streets. (America seems to strangely lack vending machines. This is annoying.)

September 21, 2004
More random observations about Japan:

– It’s a myth that all Japanese are short. I’m 6’1″, and while I haven’t seen a single girl that comes close to my height, I’ve seen several teenage boys and adult men that are taller than me. There’s not many, maybe 1 in every 50 people that I see, but it’s a decent ratio, really. (I still was taller than most people, and I never met a girl who was taller than me in 9 years in Japan, but there were guys here and there)
– Sleeping on a futon on the floor is actually more comfortable than many beds that I’ve slept on in hotels. Not that that’s saying much, but the point is that it’s not too bad. (This is only because the futon was squishy and hotel beds are sometimes hard. I hate hard beds!)
– The downtown areas often REEK. I’m talking pee and other waste products.. it comes in waves, and it’s disgusting.. (I hear that New York smells like this, too. And this was only true in the Summer when it got hot.)
– We went in a restaurant, and they made us take off our shoes.. ^^;; In a public place, that seems weird, and they had thongs that we had to wear if we wanted to go anywhere in the restaurant while we were there. (I MEANT THONGS AS IN SHOES! You know, flip-flops… haha. And now that seems normal)
– The street advertisers are really persistent.. even if you don’t know japanese, they’ll still try to get you to come up and eat there. (That’s how we ended up where we did) (This is mostly true with Izakayas and Karaoke. I hate izakayas because they’re full of smoke. And drunk people. Otherwise, the food was always yummy!)
– Food is expensive… especially fruit. OMG and jams and jellies run about 800 yen each, and they’re TINY jars. >.> I heard that the peanut butter is weird, too, but I haven’t tried it. (I eventually realized that homemade peanut butter tasted better anyways, and what my roommates eventually told me was peanut butter was actually a nasty, sweet fluffy spread called “peanut cream.” It’s gross.)

Wow, it’s so weird to look back! And this means that I get to tell you tomorrow all about my first time shopping for food all by myself. It wasn’t super-embarrassing, but I still panicked a little bit! And my orientation for Nova, where I was almost late because there was one crucial thing that nobody had explained to me about the trains.

It’s as if we were expected to just know on our own. And yet, I am the only person that I’ve ever heard complain. Maybe that’s because I’m the only person that I know who likes to travel and just jump into things without really knowing what I’m doing! XD;;;

See you tomorrow! I feel better already. 🙂

(363 geeks have read this)

Hi! This is Jamie Lynn Lano! I am a Washington State (USA) native who: ☆ Holds a Bachelors of the Arts in Media Arts & Animation from AiPx. ☆ Worked as an assistant mangaka in Japan for Konomi Takeshi on The Prince of Tennis. ☆ Was an essay columnist for Asahi Weekly from 2008-2013. ☆ Was the star of Asahi Pop'n Press on Asahi TV (Japan) from 2009-2013 ☆ Was a write for Metropolis magazine in 2010. ☆ Has kept a blog foreeeeeeeeever! First and Current blogs.


  • zoomingjapan

    My observations are different. I don’t think Japanese are immune to the sun at all.
    Or did you just talk about their eyes?
    Because that’s one of the things that freaked me out at first! Most women covered up their whole body with long gloves and hats and blah in summer!
    Now I do that, too, as the sun is just too aggressive. *g*

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      Yep, I’m only talking about their eyes. ^^ It’s like the intense brightness doesn’t bother anyone. I wonder if they never teach you the dangers of UV exposure for your eyes while growing up. I always have and still do think that it’s odd to physically cover up so much from the sun. An umbrella helps with the heat, and staying out of the sun in the middle of the day, but covering your arms is not only ugly, it seems really strange. I had heard over and over that the reason was to have beautiful un-tanned skin. But you look so ugly and idiotic with big black sleeves pulled on in the summer that beauty can’t be the real reason…

      Anyways, If I wore anything more than a t-shirt in the summer, I would die from overheating. Even in a tank top it’s too hot sometimes!

      • zoomingjapan

        The gloves surely look weird, but there are cute “arm wrappings” … no idea how they’re called. You won’t sweat at all but it protects your arms from being burned.

        I need it because I travel a lot in summer and am out in the burning sun all day long! ^^;;;

        • Jamie Lynn Lano

          Oh, I think those are ugly, too! XD;; But if you need it, then don’t mind what I think. Most women seem to think that they’re fashionable in Japan anyways! 😀
          I burn very easily too, but I like a little bit of a tan, and I just put on sunscreen. 🙂

          • zoomingjapan

            I’ve been in so many bad weather situations while travelling all through Japan and trust me at those times I give a shit how I look as long as I can get out of that situation more or less “unharmed”. 😉

            I always put on the highest sunscreen level I can find in Japan and yet I get a tan like WOAH! I don’t mind at all, but that just shows how strong the sun is and when driving in a car for hours in the sun (where you can’t run away) you NEED to cover your body or you’ll literally burn. ;__;

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