Tag Archives: living in Japan

July 09

Why Are Tattoos Still Taboo In Japan? (Spoiler: It’s not because they think you’re a gangster)

So, everyone knows you can get kicked out of hot springs, public swimming pools, and water parks in Japan if you’ve got visible ink, even if it’s a teeny, tiny, adorable Hello Kitty. But why? The usual excuse is that nobody wants their nice business infested with yakuza gangsters, which is the only Japanese group […]

April 24

Japanese Invent A New Way For VIP Visits To Annoy The Populace

You know how it goes when a VIP comes to town: streets unexpectedly blocked, swarms of shifty-eyed men in dark suits with little curly wires in their ears, cavalcades of unnecessarily long dark cars swanning through the streets? Annoying, right? Well, in Japan, everybody takes the subway, so you’d think these irritating VIP visits would be […]

February 14

Why Do Only Men Get Chocolate On Valentine’s Day?

So, you know how in Japan, women don’t get any chocolate or roses or 600 carat diamond necklaces on Valentines Day? On the contrary, they’re supposed to fork over chocolate to men, even male co-workers who might erroneously take it as a sign that the woman wishes to receive the gift of sexual harassment in […]

December 27

Streets That…Clean Themselves?

I’m walking down the little shopping street in my neighborhood on my way to catch the train and I see something weird in the gutter up ahead. What is that, strewn all over the street? I get closer. It’s cigarette butts. Terrible! Like someone tossed  their car ashtray on the fly! In the otherwise pristine […]

September 27

Elvis is Alive and Living as a Bonsai Tree in Ōmiya

Yesterday I was out at Bonsai Village with my friend Robb (who runs the great website bento.com) and I got to puzzling over the explosion of “no picture taking” signs in Japan these days. The photo above, for example, was taken at the Bonsai Museum from the tasteful bamboo-fenced corral in which we were allowed to […]

August 19

Failing at Putting Out The Trash

Foreigners are legendary at garbage fail in Japan, but anxiety about Doing Trash Right runs deep here, even among native-born Nihon-jin. In a Japanese soap opera I watched recently, one housewife mercilessly bullies her neighbor by sneaking The Wrong Kind Of Trash into her bags once they’d been put out at the curb, causing them […]