June 18th, 2007

Derek in Japan

The continuing adventures of my friend Derek in Japan. He is there studying Japanese for the summer.

Well, I think I'll take this time to talk about some of the things that have surprised me while I've been here. I'll add more as I think of them in later posts. びっくり!

* Store clerks yell "IRASHAIMASE!", which means "welcome," super loud even if noone is around.
* There are no street signs. Your guess is as good as mine as to which street I'm on at any time.
* Every restaurant sells noodles almost. There is little variety with Japanese restaraunts.
* Bus drivers turn off their buses and headlights at every redlight.
* There are no stop signs. The occasional signal light at big intersections can be found.
* No one tips anywhere. Apparently it's sometimes ok to tip the taxi man.
* If you ask for a drink with no ice, they only fill up your cup half full.
* The way they drive bikes around here, I still haven't seen anyone get slammed.
* You never hand anyone your money when you buy things, you always put it on a designated tray.
* Japanese businessmen are adamant comic readers.
* Japanese businessmen have some of the craziest hair I've ever seen. Mohawks, spiked, colored, everything and anything.
* Every girl wears high heels.
* Every girl who is riding a bike is usually riding it with high heels on.
* People take baths here after they clean by way of shower. However, the whole family uses the same bath water. No wasting!

My brain isn't working right now. I can't think of all of them, as there are many. I'll try to do a "surprising things" list 2.0 sometime. Farewell!

p.s. There are some things that aren't surprising. McDonald's is just as bad here, and there's a Starbucks at every corner.

Too read more of his adventures and check out his pictures, go to