Friday, October 5, 2007

Even more random things about Japan

What I learned on my summer vacation. The list continues:

  • All schoolgirls in Japan wear uniforms. Many straight men in Japan have a fetish for schoolgirls and their uniforms. A lot of the popular pornographic comic books feature uniformed schoolgirls. I have no idea what the age of consent is in Japan, but it has to be fairly young.

  • Pornographic comic books sometimes feature sex and romance between young men, but these are only read by heterosexual women! There is a special comic book genre just for this called yaoi. (The reason for yaoi's popularity with straight women is complex and deserves its own post.)

  • It is socially acceptable to look at pornography on a train or bus in Japan.

  • Bicycles are common, but there are no helmets to be seen in Japan.

  • You take a shower before you take a bath. Really.

  • Fish and pickles are breakfast items, as are pungent, fermented soybeans.

  • Many toilets have automatic water jets to clean your bum. They even include blow driers. Ladies may push a special pink button on the control panel. Electrically heated toilet seats are everywhere.

  • Pancakes in Japan contain shrimp and squid instead of blueberries, are covered not with maple syrup but with mayonnaise and thickened Worcestershire sauce, and are topped not with butter or whipped cream but with seaweed, pickled ginger and dried fish flakes. I cannot tell you how tasty they are. Truly delicious.

  • Riding in a car with an infant in your lap isn't the capital crime that it is in the U.S.

  • The Japanese postal service is amazingly efficient. Most streets are not named. A special block numbering scheme compensates for the lack of street names.

  • There's a lot more to shoe etiquette than just taking them off in the vestibule. Slippers are sometimes provided, sometimes forbidden, and special shoes are required while using the restroom. (I made a few innocent mistakes and was quickly corrected. Shoes matter in Japan.)

  • You can sometimes see vending machines next to rice fields. Vending machines are everywhere.

  • Traditional Japanese men's underwear (called fundoshi) is really sexy. Google it if you dare. I'm not going to corrupt your morals by providing a hyperlink. Okay, maybe just one, but I'm not asking you to click on it.


C. L. Hanson said...

I've heard about gay male comic books being marketed to straight women in Japan. If you have a post's worth of cultural explanation about this, I'd be curious to read it...

iwonder said...

I LOVE okonomiyaki! Seriously sooo good. And gyoza, and edamame. Probably my favourite Japanese foods, besides sushi of course. mmmmm Maguro - that's my favourite by far.

J G-W said...

"You take a shower before you take a bath."

Well, stops you from having to soak in your own dirt. Makes sense to me.

"Traditional Japanese men's underwear (called fundoshi) is really sexy."

Yes, Göran and I each have a pair. I never wear mine because they tend to bunch up when I'm wearing normal trousers. They're great (and very comfy) if I'm wearing non-Western clothes though.

Post-It Boy said...

I actually got the list of 13 questions from your blog... well, I guess I thought I write my own after reading your answers and then linking to the other blog...

... Our answers are pretty different. But I thought it was good to get different views out there. :)

Dhave said...

I'd like to clarify a few things on your post.

The comic books aimed at young straight women that feature gay romances do not contain "pornography" -- they may contain "erotic scenes" between two "men" (who are drawn with very pretty, feminine features), but I'd hardly call it "pornography."

It is NOT socially acceptable to look at porno on trains or buses in Japan -- the Japanese just don't say anything about it. It doesn't mean they accept it. The Japanese are hard-pressed to make social commentary on anything, but it doesn't mean they endorse the above activity.

We cannot say there no helmets to be seen on bike-riders in Japan. That may have been true, but it was true in the US as well until a law was passed. There are "helmet heads" in Japan, but it's most likely a "fashion" statement, as opposed to something they think might actually protect them.

You do not "take a shower" before you take a bath in Japan. However, you do "bathe" at a small bathing station with a bucket, faucet, and soap. But that is only in public bathhouses or saunas; if you live in a modern Japanese building, you just take a shower like everybody else (but you have the option of bathing before showering).

Fish, pickles, natto, etc. are breakfast items... in some Japanese homes, but many Japanese people eat Western-style breakfasts, and you can get "morning sets" almost anywhere in Japan (toast and coffee) for breakfast.

Many toilets have automatic water jets to clean your bum. They even include blow driers. Ladies may push a special pink button on the control panel. Electrically heated toilet seats are everywhere.

Your comments about the toilets are correct, and if Western countries would get with the program, we'd all feel a lot cleaner. As for the "special pink button" -- I'm not sure about that, but women have the option of pushing a "bidet" button, and, in some public restrooms, have the option of pushing a "white noise" button to "cover up" "offending sounds."

Okonomiyaki, the "pancakes" you describe, are just a "different" kind of pancake. The Japanese eat regular pancakes as well; in fact, the best Western pancakes I have ever eaten in my life have been in Japan (not to mention: not everyone uses blueberries in their pancakes).

Your comments about shoes/slippers are generally correct, except that there are special slippers, not shoes, used for the restroom. It's easy to make a shoe/slipper faux pas, but the Japanese will help make it clear to you.

Yes, vending machines are everywhere (even next to other vending machines or shops that sell the same things that are IN the vending machines).

Boxer Briefs said...

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Anonymous said...

Stumbled across this, and yes it's old, but I thought I might as well leave a comment. Just thought you would like to know, since in your very first bullet you didn't seem aware, but there is no age of consent in Japan.

Anonymous said...

I am new to blogging and just started my own blog. Its about me, being bi or gay or whatever and being in a sometimes good, sometimes bad relationship with a gay Mormon. Hope I hear back from you. I have no clue what I'm doing except I hope doing this helps me and helps other. My blog is called FINDING MY WAY DAY BY DAY and its on Blogger. Not even sure what the link is... maybe its