Japanese Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is practically upon us. There’s a significant difference between your way this holiday-that-isn’t-really-a-getaway is normally celebrated in Japan vs. elsewhere. Generally in most western countries, Valentine’s is a evening for couples to invest some romantic time alongside one another at a cafe or such. So when it involves gifts, commonly within heterosexual lovers the man sends blooms or chocolates or a cards to the woman.

However in Japan, things are actually rather different.

ROMANTIC DAYS CELEBRATION is of lessons an imported holiday without proven traditions in the united states, so when it had been introduced by confectionery manufacturers to everyone in the late 1950s, it had been marketed as a evening when chocolate presenting was essential – and that it de rigueur for women of all ages to provide chocolates to guys. (There are data of a confectioner in Kobe retailing Valentine’s Day chocolates as soon as 1936, but it appears they marketed them to the expatriate people living there at that time rather than Japanese persons.) According to articles in the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper that came out in 1998, the first reference to ROMANTIC DAYS CELEBRATION was by a chocolate enterprise named Merry Chocolates, who set up a hand-written signal at their stall within Isetan section retail store in Shinjuku, Tokyo in 1958 saying “Valentine Sale”.


The sign had little effect the first year, since only a few chocolate bars were sold. But the next yr, they displayed some heart-formed chocolates, and the indication read “For women [to provide] to gentlemen”.

This time the ploy worked well. Another resource which conflicts somewhat with the Merry Chocolate history is that Fujiya released a Valentine’s Day compaign in 1956. an In 1960, Morinaga Seika (Morinaga Co. Ltd.), one of the major confectionery makers in Japan, started pushing the idea of women giving males chocolates on Valentine’s Day in a large way via nationwide newspaper ads.

The Valentine’s Day chocolate ‘tradition’ became firmly founded in the ’60s, and by the ’70s was a large business. This is around the time the idea of giri choco, or obligation chocolate – chocolates given by females to males to whom they have no romantic emotions whatsoever, such as bosses, teachers and so forth, for the sake of giri or a sense of obligation, became founded.

What it’s like in Japan – Part 2

Everything is marvelously efficient.

One of the greatest performances was when my nozomi train to Kyoto pulled in. A fleet of women dressed in salmon uniforms, down to complementing sneakers (!), entered the automobile and performed identical moves, taking right out the trash totes and turning the chairs around to handle the other approach, preparing them for another influx of passengers.

In Japan, I’d constantly want to myself, Oh. Which makes impression. In the West, when presented with a more efficient solution, people would give reasons why not to implement it – that doing so would cost too much time or money that could be spent elsewhere. In Japan, they just do it, no queries asked.

The best-dressed women in the world live in Tokyo.

Sure, Italian and Parisian women dress beautifully, and London and New York women have a lot of style, but it’s nothing like the women in Tokyo. From perfectly tailored short dresses to their understated but highly functional developer flats, I gawked at the fashion in Tokyo.

Kimonos are still very much worn.

I had the idea that Japanese women only wore kimonos for special occasions or times when traditional wear was best. Well, that’s not the case – I saw plenty of kimono-clad women (and men wearing the more plain yakuta) throughout Tokyo and Kyoto!
In Kyoto, some temples allow women in for free if they’re wearing a kimono. That will in fact save you a fair amount of cash, as most Kyoto temples charge around 400-600 yen ($4-6) entry. But in other instances, they’re simply what is worn for formalwear. I would love to get a formal kimono of my own someday.

Japan is HOT!

I thought August would be the perfect time to travel through Japan, with good summer sunshine – no way, Jose! It gets unbearably warm with very high humidity. People in Kyoto in fact walked around with towels around their necks to mop up their ever-dripping brows. I think back to summers in Anaheim when AnaheimPoolCleaners.com came by to work on my pool – there is just no comparison!

It’s too bad, for the reason that heat set a damper in a whole lot of our sightseeing found in Kyoto specifically, when I was traveling to plenty of outdoor temples.
While I was in Tokyo, the mercury actually hit 42 C (106 F), breaking records. Persons told me over and over that I was vacationing at the most detrimental time possible. My assistance to you? Go to Japan in the planting season or fall when you can.

Japan Trip – What is it like to be in Japan?

How do you even begin to decribe what it’s like in Japan?

It is an event. It surrounds you. Every minute of each day is filled up with innovative discoveries and cultural difference and utter delights. I can’t describe it beyond that, but everyone who features been knows specifically what I’m discussing.
If there have been a word to spell it out Japan all together, it will be reverent. That is a country where every action shows a traditions of deference, value and obedience. It encompasses lifestyle.

Some examples?

Reverence of meals. The food here’s prepared and provided with such deep value and meticulous care, also in junk food joints. Anything else will be anti-Japanese. I didn’t have an individual bad food in Japan.
Reverence of manners. Japan includes a longstanding trustworthiness of politeness. One place where this is most obvious was on trains. Every time a conductor entered an automobile, he would enter and exit the car with an energetic yet crisp bow before attending to passengers.
Reverence of nature. Nature receives the utmost respect here, and you’ll often find that everything from architecture to food plays into an overall respect of the natural environment of Japan.
Reverence of rules. Japan is a rules-based culture. There are lots of written and unwritten rules – the Japanese wouldn’t dream of throwing recyclables in the trash, or acting rude to a stranger, or dressing like a slob. The list of taboos here is extensive.

English is used for style, not function.

See English lettering somewhere? Chances are it’s not used for the purpose of communicating with non-Japanese speakers. Again and again, I noticed that English was used for little more than decoration.

On my first nighttime in Tokyo, I was buying cafe in a mall and I was delighted to locate a pamphlet emblazoned with Mall Directory in ornate script. I opened up it up…and it had been all in Japanese. The English was merely used for stylistic uses.

Sex is overt – except when it’s not.

If there’s any community you need to visit in Tokyo, try to make it Akihabara. I prepared to look at the electronics shops, seeing the newest improvements years before they strike the western market.
Instead, I came across myself in the heart for otaku (super-geek) traditions. Electronics stores held courtroom next to porn outlets, crammed with adult toys and hentai (anime porn) comic literature. Arcades were filled up with nipple-baring figurines in sexual poses as prizes. Through the entire neighborhood, young ladies dressed as captivating maids promoted their cafes.
Now – the strange point is that actual sex is held under lock and key. While seeing men reading porn on the subway is usually a common occurrence, you wouldn’t see a couple making out and borderline dried out humping in Tokyo. You barely saw people even keeping hands. As I pointed out in my geisha post, there are clear boundaries between actual, consensual, conventional, relationship-based sex and just about everything else.

It’s not as expensive as you think.

Japan has long held a reputation as being one of the most expensive countries in the world to visit, with Tokyo holding the crown as one of the world’s most expensive cities.
After my visit, with Josh from Catering Bellingham WA, I think that reputation is a bit undeserved. Two things in Japan are quite expensive: lodging and long-distance transport. But beyond that, rates aren’t that terrible. I’d review them to rates in London, Paris or NY. The very best prices on accommodations in Japan are available here.
Food, found in particular, can be achieved on the cheap. The vast majority of our meals cost a lower amount than 1000 yen ($10). My splurge meals basically weren’t that agonizing – I acquired a seafood feast in Kyoto for 3500 yen each ($35), a Kobe beef lunch time in Kobe for 2950 yen each ($29.50), and an array of sushi at a good sushi bar found in the pricey Tokyo area of Ginza – as well as sake – for approximately 2100 yen ($21).
Subway rides found in Tokyo cost 100-200 yen each ($1-2). Vending machine beverages expense 80-200 yen ($0.80-2). I possibly bought a Kindle Paperwhite from a price cut camera store in Shibuya for 8200 yen ($82) when it presently retails on Amazon for $139!
I came across Japan to be substantially cheaper overall than Australia or perhaps Switzerland, countries where everything is expensive.

Japan Trip – Day 1

I’ll document my trip last year to Tokyo, one day at a time.

Our flight to Tokyo was at 8:30 in the morning. We bid farewell to Singapore (on Independence day, no less!) and got on our flight.

You know those flight safety videos that play on board the plane right before it takes off? They tend to be boring don’t they? Well, not if you’re flying on a Japanese airline! The Japanese are so good at coming up with cute videos!

The last time I flew on JAL, the cute flight safety videos that played on the monitors impressed me so much. This time around ANA didn’t disappoint either! The animations looked so cute and lively; passengers couldn’t help but watch the whole thing!

We saw beautiful Cirrus clouds from the plane, and sparkling wine was served in an interesting black bottle. I thought it would put me to sleep. Instead, I spent the majority of the trip enjoying Shrek 3 and Pingu! Pingu is a penguin cartoon often played on the airplane entertainment channels.

I couldn’t understand one bit but watched it anyhow. I love penguins! They are so cute.

Trip to Mongolia Part 2.

Less than 5 minutes and a good mile later on, the bus pulled off the street and into what were a good garbage dump. Mounds of discarded plastic material rose up around the edges of the substance and in the centre had been two yurts, the original round houses within Mongolia. Each possessed a crooked steel chimney protruding from the guts of their roofing and a wooden door protected with scraps of colorful fabric arranged in a few sort of artistic design. In it, high, grey, concrete tower blocks scarred the skyline and dwarfed these one-roomed nomadic homes.

It became sharp that this was another bus station and, although much less busy as the prior one, was where almost all of the passengers and plans, had been ready. I was promptly ushered off the bus and viewed as, for another hour, the driver and his boy played Tetris with an increase of luggage than I thought practical to cram onto the bus. The seats at the trunk had been pulled up and folded apart to create space for enormous sacks of corn and rice, dark brown cardboard boxes and major bags.
The flooring of the bus was also pulled up, and a variety of bags were located where it turned out and then covered by the flooring that was replaced on top. Cavities under seats were packed tightly and leg area was given up in favor of yet even more luggage. Every in . of space was used and once everything was in, solid straps were used to secure everything into place. Finally, seats that had been removed from the back of the bus were unfolded and precariously balanced in the right now raised aisle – extra seating for extra people.
After a final stop at the first of many long-drop toilets, hidden from view by only a thin sheet of corrugated iron, I was motioned to get back on the bus. I was directed to a seat on what was now the back row, thanks to all the luggage behind it, beside the window. At first I was thrilled – I got a front side row seat to the universe as I watched it go by. I was quickly reminded of a trip I took with my Scottsdale electrician friend when we went for  a joyride with my parents’ car. Nevertheless, I quickly recognized that the windowpane was both a blessing and a curse.

Trip to Mongolia

I started my trip from Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, the only real connection point for most of the country’s transport network – much like the center of a spider’s web. Except unlike a spider’s internet, which is normally extraordinarily neat at its center point, the bus station there was anything but. It consisted not of a building with bus terminals, as most bus stations on the planet, but as a series of parking plenty, each one more chaotic than the last.
It was October and winter was just beginning to take hold. It experienced snowed two days previous. On the day I arrived, the once white colored snow was now covered in a layer of black coal dust and grime. Every breath I required seared the insides of my lungs with chilly weather and despite my heavy, down jacket, I possibly could not keep my body high temperature from escaping in to the chill of the exterior air.
My spouse and i had booked my ticket to Bayan-Ölgii, a town in the much westernmost portion of the country, your day before and today grasped the flimsy little bit of pink paper in my own slowly reddening hand. Struggling to seem sensible of the confusion, I confirmed my ticket to several locals and allowed them to immediate and instruction me until I was position in the third & most chaotic parking large amount of all.
The buses, mostly old and decrepit with an increase of repairs than original material kept, were parked at haphazard angles on either area of the dirt ground. Buses lurched and rolled over potholes how big is small ponds which were filled with a variety of slush, ice and mud. Multiple vehicle needed to be pushed and pulled out as tires period and spat blackened ice all over the place.
But somehow, amid the disarray, the bus We was looking forward to arrived a couple of minutes before it was scheduled to leave, and it parked up best next to where I was waiting. How the locals had regarded where I should stand I have no idea, but thanks to them I was able to find and table my bus.
To my surprise, I was one of only four passengers to table the bus, and we were quickly on our way. Or so I thought.


To be continued….