Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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« last day | Main | lazy Tokyo sunday »
Sunday
Sep092001

typhoon!




Update 10:02 a.m.: Hey, Alison just called and said that apparently a typhoon is on its way! Pretty exciting...it's supposed to hit tonight or tomorrow.


For those who have not checked my Blatherings in a few days, be warned that I've done a number of extra entries as a result of my visit to Kyoto and Kobe. To catch up, you can start here.


Monday, Sept. 10, 2001 7:30 am, Tokyo time


Only two days left in Japan! I have to say, I love it here. Love the food, the people, how different the customs are, the challenge of the language barrier. I definitely want to come back someday.


Anyway, here are some collected random observations. To be honest, these are more for my benefit than yours, just because they don't really fit into regular Blatherings but I'd like them recorded somehow. I will likely keep updating this page as I think of more things to add.


I've also included some mystery pictures. I'm hoping some of you will be able to help me with some questions (see "Today's Blatherpics" section for questions). Please answer in Blatherchat if at all possible, thanks.





- It's difficult to find a wastepaper basket when you need one. Jeff and I have frequently carried around an empty drink container or paper wrapper for some time just because we couldn't find anywhere to toss it. Mental note: make sure I always carry around a spare plastic bag next time. I can't help but notice that Japanese women tend to carry larger purses or shopping bag type of bags rather than tiny purses. In fact, even stationery stores will often sell shopping bags made of a thin (perhaps disposable) plastic for pretty cheap.


- No one says anything (even the equivalent of "bless you") when people sneeze.





- Saying "sumimasen" a lot will help you get by even if you don't know a lot of Japanese (thanks to my friend Shane for this tip). For me, it also helps to then ask if they can speak English, because it cues the other person into the fact that I'm not fluent in Japanese. :-)


- Larger public washroom areas (and the shinkansen) will often have Western style toilets in addition to Japanese style.





- Bring my own indoor slippers. That way I'll always have a comfortable pair that fits perfectly.


- Don't bother bringing kleenex if I plan to visit a large city. It seems like every major intersection has a young girl handing out free packets of kleenex. At first I thought they were marketing a particular brand of tissue (and everyone needs tissue in Japan, since toilet paper is rarely made available in public washrooms). Then I realized that it was just the equivalent of people handing out paper flyers back home. Each packet of kleenex came with two cardboard inserts covered with a colour advertisement. Brilliant marketing, as far as I'm concerned. I'd turned down a paper flyer, but happily take a free packet of kleenex.





- Keep lots of change handy for the drink machines, and buy bottled water when it's available. Interestingly, it's much easier to find sweetened drinks than regular bottled water. We've gone by half a dozen drink machines before finding one that sells plain water.


- Things to do/visit next time I visit: more time in Kyoto, visit Hiroshima, try a public hot bath, schedule in more people-watching time (rather than constantly going from one place to another), investigate where to find shakuhachi flutes, figure out when major flea markets take place and spend a whole afternoon at one.





Today's Blatherpics:


- Weather warning about the approaching typhoon this morning.


- There were a number of these kinds of statues in Kobe. Each was of a human figure, often naked. The metal plaque on the stand had something in Japanese, followed by a year. All the years seemed to be within the past 20 years or so. Does anyone know what the significance of these statues are?


- These were on sale in the produce department of a grocery store. Any guesses?


- While exploring Alison's old neighbourhood, we saw an old cemetery in which many of the gravestones had long wooden sticks stuck nearby. Each stick had Japanese characters written on it in black magic marker. Anyone have any idea what they're for?


- Alison told me these were pork penises, and I believed her until I noticed her trying not to laugh. Does anyone know what these really are?


- Is this Prince Planet or Astro Boy?


Today's Poll:



Did you ever own a pair of platform shoes?

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