I love Japan, however....
By TOM DIEDERICH
Blast Tokyo Bureau
I've lived in Tokyo for six years now. I love Japan: my wife is
Japanese; I'm studying the language; I work for a Japanese company. But
it's time to vent. This is an age-old practice I started way back in 1993
during the year I spent reporting for a daily newspaper in Lake County,
Calif. But that is another story.
Japan is a strange but wonderful country. It is also, at times, very
frustrating. Case in point: A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I took her
parents, brother and his two children to the beach in nearby Chiba
Prefecture. The hotel was nestled into the side of a mountain that
overlooked the Pacific. The beach was great, but the hotel was so nice that
it was tempting to stay inside.
The view was fantastic and meals were included in the package. And the best
part: it was an onsen, or hot-spring resort. Perhaps that is why we
had to pay $200 per person to share one suite.
The downside As with all hotels in Japan, check-in was at 3 p.m.,
but check-out was at 10 a.m. And amazingly, despite the high rates, the
onsen didn't open until 10 a.m. Want a relaxing morning soak before
checking out and hitting the road? Too bad.
While I'm venting, I might as well get a few other grievances off my chest.
(The following are all in good fun.)
Tips for getting along in Japan
- Put salt on watermelon.
- Put corn on everything, especially pizza.
- When walking down a corridor or hallway with a group of people, make
sure everyone walks abreast, thereby blocking other pedestrians in both
- When walking along a crowded sidewalk or passageway, move slowly and
zig-zag so no one can pass, periodically stopping suddenly for no apparent
reason when someone is right behind you.
- When waiting for an elevator and the door finally opens, rush right in
without waiting to see whether anyone wishes to get out. (Ditto with trains
- When sitting on the train, pick your nose and then discreetly roll the
boogers onto the shoes of the person seated next to you.
- When sitting in the section reserved for the elderly or disabled on the
train, pretend like you're asleep when someone comes along that deserves to
- If you are a middle-aged man, make disgusting sucking and slurping
noises while seated on the train even though you are not eating anything.
- If you are a young woman and lucky enough to get a seat on the train,
act like you're asleep so you won't see the dirty old men who are staring
- When driving along a narrow street with no sidewalks in a crowded
neighborhood full of children and old people who have a tendency to wonder
into the middle of the road, drive at a high rate of speed especially