Thursday, 1 March 2012

Things that Baffle, Confuse, Amaze and Annoy

Moving to another country, especially one as different as Japan was always going to present daily occurances of things that made my brain hurt a bit. There are plenty of one off things that I don't understand, but here is a little list of the things that I wonder and worry about on pretty much hourly basis.

In no particular order...

* Why, when 98.5% of the population are Japanese (and of the other 1.5% are nearly all Korean and Chinese), are so many signs and announcements everywhere in English? I am definitely not complaining on this point, it enables me to keep my head above water with my pitiful Japanese ability, but I just don't understand. Who is it benefiting? Well, me, obviously, but me, and other stupid Westerners like me, definitely can't shop enough to make it financially worth it for companies to pay for so much translation.

* Japanese toilets.
They do have heated toilet seats though, so I 100% forgive all the confusion.

* People who sit on a crowded train with their bag on the seat next to them, and deliberately stare out of the window/at the floor/at their phone to attempt prevent themselves having to move the bag to allow someone to sit there. Grrrr. And people who will stand for a 30 minute train journey when there are seats, because they are too polite/shy/stupid to ask someone to move. Does anyone really enjoy standing on trains? 

¥100 shops. I love them. How do they make everything in them for 80p? Detailed blog post about their amazingness to follow at a later point in time.

* Not having an oven. There's no space for one in my apartment, even if they were more common in Japan, but this still makes me sadder than anything else on this list. Roast dinners, cupcakes, sweet potato chips, date loaf, lasagne, smartie cookies....the list of things I dream about cooking if only I had an oven could go on and on.

Maybe they don't need to wish my brother Happy Birthday next time, but I want these! And, note to self, DO NOT look at all the photos of all the baking you've ever done, while currently unable to bake. It will make you sad.

* WHY IS THERE NO INSULATION? Double glazing is NOT a modern invention. Japan is NOT a warm country. Annoying English door to door salesmen need to move countries. Condensation on the inside of my window being ice in the morning is not cool. (Or is is very cool. ha ha ha.)

* The price of fruit and vegetables. I know it's because they are all imported but it still makes me sad to pay £1.30 for an apple, £2 for a lettuce and 60p for an onion, and to know that I'm not going to able to buy any delicious summer fruit this year without selling my body/my soul/John/my computer (delete as appropriate).

* Why Japanese food doesn't make me fat. It should. I eat like a pig, and there's a lot of fried food, tons of starchy carbs and too many tasty snacks, but somehow I still lose weight. 

As my students say constantly in my classes、 わかないい!(I don't understand!!)

PS - Sorry Dad, I know you told me on skype yesterday that the best thing about my blog was that there were lots of pictures and you didn't have to read too much, but I'd already planned this post. You'll have to struggle through!


  1. I miss my oven too. We've got a combi microwave/convection affair, but it's so small. Can't do a roast chicken and roast potatoes at the same time, and what's the point of a roast chicken without the tatties?

    Just to be pedantic, the fruit and veg are all so expensive because they're NOT imported. That's what the whole TPP kerfuffle has been about of late. Japanese farmers really don't fancy the competition.

    1. Wow that's interesting, thanks Kamo! I guess it makes sense if I'd thought about it: everything in England is imported from goodness knows where and is much cheaper than Japan!!

  2. I MISS MY OVEN TOO! I miss my whole kitchen! Heck, my kitchen was bigger than my entire Tokyo apartment! (Well. OK. Almost.)

    Fruit. Oh dear, fruit. I dissolve into a puddle of misery every time I think of fruit in Japan vs fruit in South Africa. I would be the happiest person in the world if I could discover a shop that sold non-perfect, non-standard, non-meticulously-packaged fruit at a human price. Sigh.

    1. Ditto. It must be even worse for someone who's come from a country that can actually grow most of these fruits!

      It's OK this week though because my local supermarket had strawberries reduced because they were going off. So I had a delicious, delicious smoothie. I was so happy!

  3. Even though you can't bake any, you could've at least 'shopped the cookies to say 22.

    1. Really, that's the best attempt at a blog comment you could manage?!

  4. There are ovens here, Susie, but most are about half the size of those they have in the western countries. The big ones cost around 70,000 yen and up. We have a microwave oven with baking oven functions which I use to bake cakes, tarts, and pies. I could fit in about 12 cupcakes in it to bake. It's around 30,000 yen.