quick break to share with you some of what i learned while in Tokyo, both observed and told to me by my Japanese friends Yasuko & Kaoru.
- Straight men wear Uggs, and I like it. Truth be told, they might be gay, I didn't survey.
- Young children age 2-4 wear Uggs, ditto. super cute.
- Like me, Tokyo locals like Auntie Anne's pretzels. The line out the store was bonkers. I'm not ashamed to say it was my first food purchase in Tokyo. Sour Cream and Onion, the very best.
- Upon check-out, bookstores neatly cover your books in paper stamped with their logos. Win-win. Free advertising for them, nice neat cover and privacy for you. No one will ever know the sharp looking business man on the train is reading third grade level manga, or that I am reading a book called "Speak Japanese Today!"
- Though, abashedly, in place of speaking, I bow...a lot. Like, at least a hundred times a day. It works. the Japanese love to bow.
- There are designated Smoking Areas throughout the city, with a little box for cig butts. I observed one near the Ikebukuro station and there were these three men in shiny black long (past knee) down jackets with fur hoods lingering about. They looked shady right from the start, eyes peeled at the exit, checking out women head to toe almost constantly, not smiling, smoking. Their shadiness was confirmed when one of them approached a frankly slutty looking woman (short skirt, no tights, big jacket, black platform shoes, made-up). he was speaking quickly (and I don't understand Japanese, so) but it was clear he was trying to coerce her into doing something. What. I will never know.
- There is no such thing as the tooth fairy in Japanese culture. Instead, when they lose a top tooth, they throw it down to the ground. When they lose a bottom tooth, they throw it up in the air. This ensures the tooth that grows out replacing it, is healthy and straight.
- Like in the states, children write letters to Santa requesting a gift every Christmas. Unlike in the states, the gift is placed on the pillow by the sleeping child, rather than under the tree.
- That said, Christmas is a holiday celebrated with friends and significant others more than it is celebrated with family.
- New Year's Eve is celebrated with family. No clubbing at Myst. Just familial love.
- On January 9, every year, every 20-year old person in Japan celebrates adulthood. Each prefecture has its own designated spot for all the 20-year olds to congregate, women made-up in traditional kimonos and men in suits. It's a full day celebration. Twenty is also the legal drinking age.
- Kimonos are hella expensive. like, one million yen, which is in the tens of thousands range in USD. hm, i guess similar to wedding dresses. so, for special occasions, most girls RENT rather than BUY. in some families, there is a kimono that is passed down from generation to generation, but it is more for looking, safe keeping and ceremony, than it is for wear.
That's it for now. Tokyo, Day 2 on its way..and then, Kyoto! (which is where I am now)...