20 December 2005

A Few of My Favourite Things.

Some of the many things I love about Japan:

It’s winter! And, as a result,

Heated toilet seats - a visit to the bathroom has never been so good.

Heated train seats – I now have the hottest arse in Tokyo. Er, that doesn’t read so well, but I won’t rewrite it as it’s the probably the only time I’ll get to write that with any semblance of truth.

Bowing - I love this custom as it is so ingrained in Japanese culture although I’ve got bugger all hope of actually learning the etiquette. The rules are quite strict but, as I am a stupid gaijin, the Japanese do not expect me to understand them.
Two of my favourite instances are when the newsreader on TV bows at the beginning and the end of the news broadcast; and watching
salarymen having a bow-off at the end of a night out. Watching a group of drunk men bobbing up and down, with beautifully straight backs, each one wanting to be the last to bow, is just magic. Then watching them sleep on the train on the way home is pure gold.

White surgical masks - I am going to buy myself one and become a superhero -- the Masked Gaijin. This morning I counted 8 people in my carriage on the train wearing SURGICAL MASKS over their faces. The complete lack of self-consciousness of some Japanese both astounds and impresses me. Yesterday at work, I went downstairs to talk to the HR guy about something, but he was sitting at his desk wearing a white SURGICAL MASK over his face, so I quickly veered off to the left and pretended I was there to chat to the ex-navy dudes. OK, I admit I have an almost OCD-esque aversion to germs, but if you are that contagious that you have to wear a SURGICAL MASK over your face whilst sitting at your desk at work, you probably shouldn’t be out of bed, and I’m not going anywhere near you baby.

(Cheers to whose photos I pilfered.)


  1. Is that link really an accurate depiction of the life of a salaryman? Sounds terrible. Bowing sounds pretty cool though.

  2. It's not the buggers that run around with surgical masks, that you have to worry about.. it is the fellows that wear a condom everywhere.

    Here I wear a surgical mask because i don;t want to breath anyone elses germs in.. and it hides my devilishgrin when somone says somthing stupid..

    (where did the e go?)

  3. Hamish, the info in the link could be a bit of a generalization, but there is a completely different work ethic here. Long hours are the norm, and you work for the good of the company, rather than for individual acclaim. Quite the learning curve. Fortunately, I'm not expected to work these hours, but I do have some expat friends here who are working 12+ hour days.

    To the man with the devilish grin - er, which e?