Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Random Japanese-isms

The skies have opened. Yes, that's right, another typhoon is coming through. If not for God's promise to Noah, I would have to seriously wonder if the world was not about to be washed away. Thank goodness it started after I got home from work. I have nothing profound or exciting to say tonight, so I will just share some random observations that you may or may not know about Japan:
*Japanese people don't say "bless you" when someone sneezes. In fact, I believe proper etiquette dictates that the sneezer actually apologize when they sneeze.
*Stuff is expensive in Japan. The exception to this rule is a little thing we call the "100 Yen Store," which is a store where everything costs, you guessed it, 100 yen (which equals a little less than a dollar).
*I believe the most spoken word in Japanese is "sumimasen," which is the equivalent of "excuse me." It is an attention grabber, a greeting, an apology, and I think anything else you want it to be. You usually bow while saying it, too. So don't be surprised if you see a Japanese person bobbing up and down in bows saying "sumimasen, sumimasen, sumimasen." The Japanese are ridiculously apologetic. Oh yeah, another use of sumimasen is in a restaurant. In the states when you want your waiter's attention you just catch their eye, but here you shout out "SUMIMASEN!" I still can't get used to that.
*I have heard rumors of police actually working in Japan, but I have actually only seen a policeperson once in my month here.
*Japan is a cash-driven society. Debit cards are virtually non-existent, and credit cards are rarely used. I don't think they use personal checks, either. Always have cash.
*The city buses here actually use a schedule that they follow very closely. That means they area actually predictable and reliable! (that is for all my Brazil buddies) :)
*Japan has a lot of stairs. Ugh. I am about to have a stair freak out one day. Who needs a stairmaster when you go up and down about 300 stairs per day?
*Never trust a Japanese who says maybe. When they say maybe they are trying to politely but firmly give you an answer (which is usually no).
*It is a big no no to start eating before saying "ikadakimasu" or drinking before toasting and saying "kampai".
There's a start to learning some of the strange ways of this strange land. :) Just think, you learned 3 new Japanese words in this post. If I keep throwing in new words, then when you come to visit me you'll have no problem communicating and getting around (she says as though she has no problems communicating... ha!). ;)

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