[The American Years]

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Greetings from Japan, a land with the natural resources of fish and… and …. gimme a minute. There must be something else here to maintain the worlds second biggest economy.

Some recent photos to get us started.

Kathleen's Japanese cooking is really getting better....


A couple of friends over here on a business trip saw this and took the pictures. I wasn’t there but I’ll try to explain. One of them noticed something interesting in the scene below.

Look closer.

Yes, the person in the pink wig and skirt is a man dressed as a woman.

This picture begs to have funny captions put to it. Please post a comment.

I was going to say that it’s not something you see every day in Japan, a place where most people want to fit in. Their preferred ‘homo-’ word is homogeneity. People are driven to not stand out. In America we have the phrase. ”The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” In Japan, the similar phrase goes ”The nail that sticks up gets the hammer.”

Back to the pictures. I was going to say that it’s not something you see every day here. But honestly maybe I see it everyday and don’t notice. There are not huge body differences between men and women in Japan. You put a dress and some make up on a Japanese man, and you’re way more than half way there. It’s like the whole country is made up of people who haven’t hit puberty yet.
They must view American body types as exaggerated and probably disgusting. Especially the ones they see on TV.
This discovery of a seemingly alternative lifestyle in Japan raises a question that I’m just crass enough to ask. How does someone speak with a lisp when your language has no ’TH’ sound?


Full service gas is more the norm here. Though self serve has made big gains here in the last 5 years. Especially when gas is over 130 yen per liter. Please do the conversions on your own. I prefer not to know what it is in dollars per gallon. Having someone to pump gas for you used to be a 'necessary' luxury here. Full service here includes washing the windows (even when it's raining) and two attendants to facilitate your exit. One to stop oncoming traffic, and one to wave you out. Then they both give a waist level bow that you can watch in your mirror as you drive away. I've decided it's worth the 130 yen per liter.

Here's the story on driving long distances. There are no free expressways in Japan. It’s all toll roads. And the cost is about $20 for every hour you drive. We drove to Kyoto on July 1 weekend. 2 hours and about $40 to get there. It’s cheaper to take the train if you are traveling solo. (Of course, parking costs have to be factored in.) But with 2 people or more, the car is almost always cheaper.

But a toll road in the states? Better be a good reason for it. We want our driving in the states to be free. Or to seem free. Just spread the taxes over everyone so that you don’t think you’re paying for your traveling. Maybe it makes better sense to pay for what you actually use…. Hmmm. Freedom of choice, where if you use it, you pay for it, and if you don’t use it you don’t pay for it. Is that more "American" than the method we use in America now of taxing everyone across the board no matter whether you use it or not. Great question.

The toll roads do serve to preserve regional differences between places. There are dialectic and food differences across Japan that have been preserved. Maybe the food availability has been falsely preserved in order to have a tourism appeal across regions. But the language differences are surprising given a country this small… Maybe if they traveled more.

Japanese Proverb:
After victory, tighten your helmet chord.

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