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The Heat Is On In Japan August 6, 2007

Posted by Mitch in General, Life in Japan, Travel.

Well, hello from Japan. I am currently sitting in my hotel room having spent a day wasting time listening to seminars that consisted either of common sense declarations or ridiculously mind-numbing lectures about how lucky we are to be here and how much fun we’re going to have. Oh, if only this mythical fun would start.

However, please don’t for a minute confuse me for someone not having fun. I’ve met a lot of people who will be stationed in the same prefecture as me and tonight we went out together. Admittedly most of them were lame and cried off, but a brave few ventured out with our prefectural guides, into the heart of Tokyo (actually, not the heart of the city at all, seeing as it seems much too large to even contemplate!) for a proper Japanese meal. Now, I did go out for a proper Japanese meal last night as well with a group of guys (some of whom I’m sharing a room with). This included sampling such delights as fried chicken gristle and sea urchin in a box. Doesn’t that all sound very appetising?

Tonight we had ‘proper’ Japanese food which consisted of lots of raw fish, some deep fried, fatty pork, noodles, rice, vegetables and beef that you cooked at the table, shrimp and a whole lot of beer. We then went in search of one of Tokyo’s answers to Picadilly Circus but were thwarted by the fact that we had no clue where we were going. We ended up in the hotel bar just chatting to some Americans.

Onto Japan itself. We landed at 3pm on Sunday to heat that was uncomfortable but bearable. A two hour bus journey followed in which we saw lots of things in between Narita Airport and Shinjuku (the area of Tokyo that we’re staying in), including Tokyo’s Disneyland. We then had time to unpack some of our stuff and head out for a dinner of the delights mentioned previously. Whilst walking through the streets of Tokyo, one of the guys I was with managed to knock an old man off his bike and as we passed a massage parlour, the old woman who was standing outside yelled at us “No sex! Massage only!”. We then wandered into a pachinko arcade. Pachinko is basically the only form of gambling allowed in Japan as all things like that are strictly illegal. However, one doesn’t play for money, but for silver balls that are exchanged for a gift – therefore this is tolerated. This gift can then be exchanged outside the premises for money, but this is overlooked, seeing as these entertainment joints are normally run by the Yakuza. The Yakuza are the Japanese mafia who “do not exist at all”. We have be told that they should never be brought up in conversation with a Japanese person and so, not wanting to piss anyone off just yet, I’ve decided to take that advice.

Japanese toilets – when they’re westernised, they’re a little different to English ones. First of all, the moment there is pressure on the seat (more often than not this heats up as well), water is sprayed into the bowl in order to hide any other noises that may be being made. One can also choose to play music through the lavatory. There is then a high powered spray to help…cleansing, as well as a less vigorous bidet option. I’ve not ventured into trying these, but they strike me as a little weird, especially seeing as I know that a lot of Japanese places still use squat toilets. It seems the two extremes meet here! Oh, and the flushes go the other way. I don’t mean the whole “it’s in the Southern Hemisphere and the water moves differently”; the flushes generally lift instead of being pushed.

People are polite. Way too polite. They also seem so impressed that you can mumble “good evening” in Japanese. And their food is weird, but I’ve decided to try as much as I can in the vain attempt to find something I’ll like. I know I will, but at the moment, they seem to like fried fat a lot.

I’m trying to think of more things that I can tell you about Japan, but it’s almost 1:30am here and I’ve got to be up early tomorrow for breakfast (today we had toast, scrambled eggs, chips and boiled broccoli…) and then another day of seminars. However, the evening is capped off by a party at the British Embassy. What could be better than that? I hear you cry. The Americans don’t get one.

Till next time!



1. Wendy Wilson - August 6, 2007

Mitch – have passed your details onto Les, Jan, Rupesh, Gina & Carol, Sue & Steve & June – let’s see if they comment!


2. Les Burtenshaw - August 7, 2007

Mitch – The only time I’d heard of a “blog” was on the Chris Evans show on Raio 2 – I know, I’m showing my age.
I envy you the experiences that you will undoubtably have, but I don’t envy the feeling of being so far from home, so I thought the least I could do was to let you know that we’re rooting for you here in Telford.
I share your mum’s fears of you sparking an international incident, but never fear, we’ll be here for you when you’re looking at life thru the bars of some dim and dank Asian prison.
I for one am very proud of the path that you are travelling and wish you all the very best.

Les – watching U

3. jackpoint - August 7, 2007

Good evening..
So interested to read you are doing Musical of Musicals t. m. I saw it twice in London, and thought it was so clever.
Have you performed it yet?
If so, damn for missing it.
Hope you have a wonderful time in Japan.


4. Gareth Coffey - August 16, 2007

I haven’t read this blog post yet, I got as far as the title, and just had to “big up” the Miss Saigon reference in the title.

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