May 23, 2004

Konnichiwa Neko...

We're back in Japan now, and I'm slowly typing away on this Japanese keyboard and trying desperately NOT to hit the button that switches to kanji/hiragana/katakana/whatever that pictographic language is. Not an easy thing to do since the button is right next to the spacebar!

Anyway, we've been here for a week now, and as soon as we get ourselves to an Internet cafe with a wireless connection, Toli will upload yet another gigantic batch of log entries. This is the kind of place where there is SOOOOOO much to share that is weird/funny/touching/interesting that he has been up late nearly every night trying to get it all down. I, on the other hand, have been a lazy bum, letting him do all the work and sleeping instead. Since you will all be deluged with data from him on everything we've been up to, I thought I'd spend my 300 yen sharing some imponderables about this country that have been occuring to me throughout our travels. Such as:

* Hello Kitty is a Japanese creation, so why is she given an English name instead of being called "Konnichiwa Neko"? And on that note, why is it that I run into Sanrio stores everywhere in the States and Hong Kong but have not yet found one in which to pay homage to her and her friends in the half dozen cities in Japan I have already visited? (By the way, there is plenty of Hello Kitty merchandise here in all the shops, just no Sanrio shopping paradise. Maybe they have concentrated it all on Puroland, the Hello Kitty version of Disneyland in Tokyo.

* Japanese people live in these tiny little apartments with barely any room for a bed, as many families have to roll up their futons for the day. Yet, how is it that they can shop so much - both here in Japan (the department stores are monstrous, rivalling KaDeWe in Germany) and when they travel abroad. So where do they have the space to put all their stuff?

* I read in my tour book that the Japanese find it terribly rude of you to blow your nose in public, especially at the dinner table. This is fine, and I can respect that, but what a funny thing to come from the country who invented wasabi. I find it impossible NOT to want to blow my nose while eating sushi here. How do you deal with that?

That's not the last of it, but because I can't type any faster and continue to hit this dang kanji button, I've quickly used up all my internet time. If I can wrest the laptop away from Tolstoy, I mean Toli, I'll share some more of my observations about being here, but no doubt you will find a lot of humor in what Toli will share as soon as we have a chance to put it up.

Anyway, despite my constant puzzlement, I really do love being here and exploring what Japan has to offer. If it weren't so darn expensive here, I could actually see myself planted here for a little while to live and experience as much as possible. I finally can see why so many people I know are so crazy about this country and its culture. All countries, cultures and people are unique of course, but Japan in such an extreme way. Maybe because it is so modern (the subways, the highways, the cars, the malls) so it seems familiar to a Westerner, but then there is that highly bizarre Japanese element injected into everything that skews the picture. Even though we have so many funny stories and observations, there is a lot about Japan that is impossible to describe in words and can only be experienced in the country itself. We'll do our best to share, though!

Posted by Christine at May 23, 2004 09:03 AM

Dear cousins
you can imagine my huge surprise when i - totally accidental- tried the word "lerios" to google!!
Its been a long - long - long time since we exchange some words and too long since we even glanced to each other.
Me and my wife Mania will be thrilled if we started a comunication
Sorry for my poor english but to tell you the truth i have not use it since Athens College!!
Also, comparing to you guys I am completely computer illeteral, so spare me!!
Much regards

PS By the way, please send me the email address of your sister

Posted by: angelos at August 30, 2005 05:37 AM
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