Aug 31, 2013

A fork? Because I am white right? :/

This blog is something that often other gaijin complain about when moving to Japan. Receiving a fork in a restaurant when you are not supposed to.

Its a simple thing, but its rather stupid. Its not some big discrimination that is worth suing over, you could hardly call it discrimination, but rather bad business.

Now some would say, "why is this bad business, its just a fork, just ask for chopsticks".  Yes. That is true. However.

The fact still remains, all the customers should be treated the same and it is rude to judge a customer based off their race and assume what they will eat with. It doesn't make people feel happy or feel comfortable when they are judged by what they look like.

Its just as ignorant as a racially Asian looking person walking into a Canadian restaurant, ordering a salad and out come some chopsticks. WTF?


In Japan, Chopsticks are used to eat many things, not just Japanese food. Chopsticks are not used to eat everything though. Instead of listing off the stuff they use chopsticks for I am only going to talk about some important stuff.

In Japan, when you eat a salad, you eat it with chopsticks. It is the most normal tool to eat a salad with.

There are some exceptions, certain western food restaurants ONLY have fork and spoon to eat with. However, in general, especially at a convinience store, Salad is eaten with chopsticks.

I have been buying food at convince stores for over 2 years now, never having a problem that some people think of. Many people mention being automatically given a fork for their food. I haven't experienced it till a few days ago.

Just a normal day I bought my Wakame and bean Salad at the Convince store and brought it to school. When it came time to open it I was shocked to find a plastic fork.

I was shocked because I felt at first, Did that person even see that I ordered a salad?? I thought this person didn't even notice what I bought, how can they not see it? I didn't order spaghetti....

It is so normal to get chopsticks when you get a salad, just like you would get chopsticks as you get soba or sushi, pretty much any food at the conbini except for friend rice (spoon) or spaghetti (fork). I didn't think "racism! racism!" right away because I assumed that the person didn't see that I got a salad.

Now sometimes this happens to non-Asian raced people. Which is rude and annoying. And sometimes people will get very offended.  Its not the worst type of discrimination, but not a lot of discrimination happens in Japan, so the little things bother you. If I was at home, I could have just tossed the fork aside and grabbed some chopsticks in my kitchen no problem. But I was at school so it caused a little bit of a inconvenience for me.

I went to the teachers room quickly at school and asked to borrow chopsticks. Wasting over 5 mins of my eating time. Even the teachers were a little surprised that they gave me a fork and said 'you can't eat salad with a fork, strange'.

Now I know what you might be thinking, "JUST SUCK IT UP GAIJIN AND EAT WITH FORK".

Wrong.  1. You CAN'T eat this salad with a fork. I mean its more hard than with chopsticks.

What?

Yes.

As you can see in the picture above, there are beans, and if you can see there are small little black lines that probably look like worms to you, but that is called HIJIKI. This isn't something that you can pick up easily with a fork.  Forks involve stabbing your food. If you stab those beans, it breaks them in half, or they slip away. Its much easy to pick them up with chopsticks (unless someone wanted to pass me some tongs). Even a spoon would make things more easy.

As for the hijiki, it is too small to be stabbed with a fork, so the only other good way to eat is to use a spoon (which I wasn't provided). Of course picking up the Kabocha and lettuce and other large items would be easy to get with the fork, however the small things, no.

People might say to just suck it up and deal with the fork but its not something I would do and its not something other Japanes would do either. I have seen many times at an actual western style restaraunt where they do give people by default, a fork or spoon to eat with. I have seen customers ask for chopsticks. So if these people don't just "deal with it" why should I? It is what I find more easy to eat with, it is what I need to eat with.

This is the reason why Japanese people eat salad with forks, the ingredients are different often and its just easier to pick it up with chopsticks. You would think that salad is considered western food, but its not. Salad is eaten in Japan just as it is in many countries, though in Japan a lot of times the salad ingredients are much different. There are some things that Japanese people only eat with a fork (Spaghetti), but Salad is something that you eat with chopsticks, it is just more easy that way.

Even easier is using your hands though.. (Guess I should go on a trip to India ^^)

Aug 30, 2013

Japanese LOVE bread

Before I moved to Japan I never knew that Japanese people had some kind of stereotype that western people eat bread at every meal. I also didn't think that Japanese people view foods such as pasta, bread, potatoes and rice as just starch, not food.

In Japan, you NEED rice, or some other starch in order to be considered eating a meal. Otherwise a lotta people will just think you are weird.

In Canada, there is no such thing as such rule, food is just food and its not strange to go without it.

I learned how strange people thought I was when my ex husbands family would eat with me and since I couldn't eat rice (because of benpi), I always had nothing, but they were always confused when I didn't even want bread.

I cooked for them one night and they even complained they needed at least bread, because without it they would die.

Anyways.

In Japan, there are more bakeries than McDonald's. Bread stores are MAD popular in Japan, Its like its unofficially considered Japanese food.




Not just plain bread but there are many different sweet breads full of chocolate, sugar and many other things. So many different kinds and you can buy it anywhere. I have never seen such thing in Canada.

In Canada, the only time we eat bread is usually sandwich, toast or garlic bread.

In Japan, bread is snacks.

Not only that, they have crazy types of bread that I could never even imagine eating.

Such as Yakisoba bread, Butter filled heart attack bread.


Interesting.

What I really like is the stores that have bread that really takes a lot of effort into the art behind making it.



If you come to Japan, I really recommend you check out a bread store.

Aug 18, 2013

Fruit is expensive in Japan????

This is something I will also one day turn into a video, because I LOVE fruit  (thus I love to talk about this).

I don't know what the prices of fruit are like in your country, every country is different. I come from Ontario Canada and the price of fruit depends on the type of fruit (duh)

Anyways.

Speaking from a Ontario-villian perspective there are some fruit that is more expensive and more cheaper in Japan.  One thing that pisses me off is the constant complaining about how expensive fruit is and how people apparently have to pay 200$ to get a watermelon (which do exist).




One thing that is important to know about Japan
FRUIT CULTURE!

The number one reason why fruit is expensive in Japan, Fruit is given away as gifts in Japan. There are expensive fruit stores and so called brand name fruit that is sold at higher prices depending on the brand, season, appearance, where it comes from, the farm and occasion.  I could walk into a expensive fruit store, pay 50$ for some oranges, and give it to someone as a gift and WONT look like a cheep idiot. 



In Canada, if you gave fruit to someone as a gift, it would seem weird (unless that person is like me and ASKED for it for Christmas XD)

In Japan, giving fruit away as gifts is acceptable, (however, people don't give away veggies).

In Japan, Fruit is not as casually eaten as fruit in Canada.

For these reasons you CAN find expensive fruit.

But I don't think people pay too much attention to the difference of brands, where it came from when they look at the price and see that peaches are 8$ for 2, get shocked and go write about it on the net.


One thing you can't go wrong with, is TASTE. Japan ranks in the taste of fruit. In Canada, its a guessing game, Fruit aren't usually competing with brands like in Japan, rather grocery stores. In Japan people know which areas have good fruits, and certain fruit brands are well known to be really good tasting. In Canada, its not cared about so much. Sometimes you get a pack of really good peaches, sometimes you don't.



Anyways. Back on topic.

Another thing you have to take into consideration in Japan, some grocery stores will REALLY rip you off. Some grocery stores have INSANE price differences compared to other grocery stores. To mention one 'Livre keisei'  is almost double or sometimes triple the normal price of what food should be. If you move to Japan, check out the prices of a few grocery stores, I like to use the prices of the frozen bento snacks and fruit to compare grocery stores. Bento snacks shouldn't be over 200 yen per pack, if you are in Tokyo and its over, you are in a expensive grocery store area and should move right away

Anyways. So grocery stores will vary ALOT. I mean a lot! 


BEAUTY OF THE FRUIT

Japanese people usually don't buy fruit that is half rotten, looks not nice, not perfect to the shape, has a scratch on it. For this reason it takes a lot of money into making the fruit perfect. Stores wont sell the fruit that is almost expired or doesn't look presentable, thus they lose lots of money in the process of selling.



To help people, I will give you my experience in Tokyo as a DEAL list of how much you should be looking at fruit, anything higher, its either a really yummy special brand, or a expensive grocery store. and you should run




BANANA - 100 yen

PEACH - 300-400 yen (for 2 or more)

STRAWBERRYs - 300 yen

MIKAN - 300 yen (for pack)






NASHI  - same as peach




WATERMELON SLICE - 200-350 yen

APPLE - 100-170 yen (per apple)

MANGO - 200-350 yen

GRAPEFRUIT - 100-200 yen





DELAWARE GRAPES - 200-250 yen  
(Some stores sell them for 900 yen WTF!)


Aug 14, 2013

Crazy people who punch doors on trains

This post is to mean no offence to people who have mental illnesses.

Crazy is a word used to describe people who are not sane, however some people agree it is used wrong. Yes. It is. However, without using this word, you wouldn't be able to simply understand what I am talking about without a big explanation.


Anyways.

Everyone has had this experience (and if you didn't please let me move to the country/city you live in)

You are on a train (usually this happens on a train/bus) and suddenly someone starts talking to themselves, or screaming at the door. Theres nothing you can do but just sit there and mind your own business. After all we are all human, and not every human is....all there in the brain.

Nothing is wrong with these people, but it can be scary for those riding on the train.

This story is inspired by events that happened today.

I was riding random popular train line here in Tokyo. A man walks on the train and stands by the door. I am sitting down. The man starts making noises which I can only describe as ...haunting ghost grudge sounds? at the door. Which I thought was kind of strange, but I thought at first he was listening to music and singing some heavy metal song quietly.

But my thoughts were wrong, his voices got louder and I realised he was not listening to music that he was just...different from other people.

No hate. No issue. A little strange, but its all good. Continuing my ride sitting down and enjoy watching the train pass stations and thinking about all kinds of things.

Then.
BAM!!
He punched the door.

This is the moment where my calm self turned into FKING SCARED! heart beating fast, palms began to sweat.  Occasionally a crazy person freaks out in public, I am sure I am not alone, I am not the only one who gets scared. I hate when this happens. It is so scary.

BAM!
He kicks the door. And then punches it again.

At this point in time I was so scared I thought he was going to kill me. I was so scared he was going to punch me. He was very tall and large he could have broke me in half.

BAM. BAM. BAM.  He beats the door and kicks it. He walks in circles and does the same thing again. People looked, but nobody moved. One person standing near him walked away. The guy who was kicking the door looked at the guy who walked away like he was going to kill him. And actually started to walk in his direction but then I guess gave up and turned back and punched the door again.

I have no idea what this persons story is. But all I know is I was scared and I hate when this happens.


The train stopped and I got up and walked all the way to the other end of the trains doors as fast as I can to get off and as soon as I got off quickly took off hoping he didn't pick me to punch instead of that door.

I wonder what the likeliness of a person who is punching the door, to actually come after a random person who is sitting down on the train?

Aug 6, 2013

I just needed to pee! (Japanese 100円 toilets!)

This is a short story that happened the other day. I actually had no idea that these existed in this world till I came across it (at the worst time to find out too)

It was Sunday morning, I had woke up early to catch the train to meet my friend. I had to pee before I left my house, but I couldn't because I would miss my train and be late for meeting my friend. So I held it.

I got on the train, went 20 min train ride to Shinjuku station, got off the train and hurried to Starbucks where I would meet my friend for a drink and talk for a bit.

I arrived. Everything was fine. Since I was holding it, I forgot I had to go and we had a short conversation for about 15 mins before I realized that I had to pee.

I asked my friend if there was a bathroom in that building  (NOTE: We are in a office building)
My friend said go into the basement, using the elevator and I will see a bathroom on that floor.

I hurried out of Starbucks, down the elevator to the floor. I saw a sign that had the little toilet icon on it and followed it.

It was kind of far from the elevator, maybe a 3 min walk through the stores and office areas in the basement. When I got to the toilet I approached and this is what I saw.

 
 
This toilet costs 100 yen to use ($1). You either need to put in a 100 yen coin, or a coin I guess that you get from the building in order for the door to open. Otherwise you are locked out and forced to pee your pants.
 
 
I didn't bring my purse with me to the toilet because I thought I would just run in and out. Nope. So I had to run all the way back down the halls, to the elevator and back to my friend saying. OMG you have to pay, grab my purse and now I am on my way back to the elevator.
 
At this point in time, I really gotta go!
 
I get to the toilet, rip open my wallet and what do I see? No 100 yen coins. CRAP! Actually, I really said MAJI DE!?  out loud in Japanese, which means 'REALY?!?!' or 'Are you fkin serious!?'
 
 
I ran to the convince store where I asked if they had a toilet, and the lady said sorry only pay toilets.
I bought a 10 yen chocolate and grabbed change and hurried back to the toilet.
 
When I got inside, this is what it looked like. It was very clean, smelt very nice and was pretty fancy. The toilet doors automatically opened and closed with a sensor. It was the toilet from heaven ^^.

I wonder how much money they make per day off people using this? I also wonder how much the staff get paid to clean this toilet, they sure did a good job.
When I walked into the actual toilet stall the toilet lit up inside! and looked like this as it sprayed some kind of water on the seat. and cleaned it for me.

It looked like a normal toilet, but it was actually super powered. It had a spray washing function, like most Japanese toilets do. Except this function also had a dry button, which I have never seen so far. The dry button was, well as you could guess, your %"#% being blown on with a fan.

When the toilet flushed it flushed with mad extra sucking power! I almost got sucked in too!
 
Anyways, today I learned that these toilets exist, so a word of advice to all you readers, always bring your purse. Just in case.