Thursday, October 29, 2009


I have been thinking a lot lately about my view of Japan before I came here and how I see the country now after living here for 3 months. I think my view of Japan when I was back in NZ would be pretty similar to what other people think of; a super technologically advanced nation with futuristic ways of doing things, a world leader in computers, cell phones and transport systems and so on. I didn`t think Japanese people would have pets, I have no idea why I thought this, I just did.
After being here 3 months I can now honestly say my perceptions were so wrong.
The best way to explain it is to imagine a person. One foot is wearing the flashest new shoes on the market, high tech bells and whistles, built in pedometer, lights, mini jet packs (you get the drift). The other foot is bare, nothing on, just a big hairy toe and 2 weeks of foot grime. That`s Japan (not the foot grime), a land of polar opposites and nothing like what you think. A country where old and new sit side by side and sometimes work well, other times fail horribly.
I actually started thinking about this while I was doing a number 2 (poo). I have the pleasure (!!???) of using a squat toilet on an almost daily basis as my school has no western toilets (I like to call them common sense toilets because why would you not have one!). In Japan you either have a super flash, heated seat, clean your bum for you (and do a damn sight better job) toilet, or an old school hole in the ground, one that requires the most painful yoga position to use properly and to ensure you don`t mess your work pants. Nothing in between. Either crap in a hole or poo in utter luxury. This is a fine example of Japan`s old and new.

I hate squat toilets, my legs tremble in pain, I have to perform a Cirque du Solei move to finish the job successfully and the only room you have to pull your pants up and do your belt is over the water filled hole, so for god sake don`t get it wrong!
Things here aren`t as super techno as you may think. It`s not a land of flying cars, super fast computers and robots that serve you food. The vending machines are pretty standard (although there are 10,000 of them on every street), I can`t wash my dishes using my cell phone (probably because 99% is in Japanese), there is no escalator up my hill to work and there are more pet cats and dogs than I’ve ever seen! Damn was my perceptions wrong or what!!??
So why am I writing this….I think I am slowly taking in what`s around me and looking at it from a different point of view. I am no longer a tourist. I call our apartment `Home`, I curse at the traffic lights, I know some locals, have my favourtie places to eat and I only need to walk down the supermarket isles we buy from.

I'm interested to find out other people's perceptions of Japan... so please comment!


fergies said...

yes Nathan! It gets to the simple realities of life sooner or later in travel blogs. Good piece of writing. Brings it back to my mind. Oh the agony! I hope you haven't put Lynda and David off though!! Keep writing.

illahee said...

...and for goodness' sake, don't have your keitai in your back pocket! ;)

i often ranted about health care...where i have a teeny tiny cell phone that can take pictures and send them around the world, and i can't find a nice clean clinic when i have a cold! *sigh* (OB/GYNs are generally good/clean clinics, though!)

fergies said...

Talk about make me laugh!! The circ du soliel comment was VERY funny!!!
Keep up the good work you two.Love D xx