Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pondering America and Japan

As I sit here in the airport, waiting for my delayed flight to take off, I have been pondering Japan and America. This list is not complete and I'm sure I'll update it! I promise to upload my final Japan blogs in the next few days (probably about two more blogs?) and then back to The Joy of The Joy of Cooking!

Things I love about the US:

1. When a smallish 27 year old woman is struggling to get about 140 lbs of luggage down her stairs and to the taxi, someone in the US would stop to help. I refer to this as the "Emily's couch" effect, such named, because when Emily asked how I thought we were going to get her new couch into her truck and out of the estate sale, I said, we are going to struggle with it, and some guy will come to help. And that's exactly what did happen.

2. If someone fell down the stairs in the US, people would ask if they were okay. They might snicker, but they'd ask. I'm not confident of that in Japan (not that I feel down the stairs--although mom almost did). It could be because they don't want to embarrass you by pointing out that you just fell down the stairs--but I would still rather someone ask if I was okay!

3. If you are even close to the correct word or sentence in English, people can understand. If you aren't exactly correct in Japanese, nobody has any idea what you are saying (unless they've spent a lot of time with Westerners--then sometimes they can "interpret").

4. Apparently, I like "American" food because I missed it. Foods I missed include: Loaded baked potatoes, Chimichangas with queso blanco and guacamole, Steak, Oven-roasted potatoes coated in garlic, Heinz ketchup, various soups, and Americanized Chinese food like Hot and Sour soup and crab rangoons. This is not a complete list, of course, but a short list of things I wish I was eating right now.

5. Americans are friendly. I like smiling and striking up conversations with strangers.

6. I've never been body slammed in America. But it's happened to me about a hundred times in Japan. Shoving=extremely common.

Things I love about Japan:

1. It is bizarrely safe. People leave their Gucci bags on the table at a McDonald's (to save the table) and go to a different floor to order. And nobody steals their bag--or their table! In the US, the purse would be stolen and people would be sitting at the table when you got back.

2. People are so helpful with directions. In fact, sometimes I felt like I was in the Amazing Race, as people would walk me to the address I was looking for. That was great.

3. Even with no tipping, the salespeople and waitstaff in Japan are still a billion times more friendly and efficient then they are in the US. Even at high end stores, where I would get ignored in the US, people were willing to help me.

4. Tokyo's public transportation is spectacular. Just amazingly great. Clean, safe, cheap. And you can get ANYWHERE for less than three dollars. I can't say enough about it--they should be really proud.

5. Grapefruit sours. The best mixed drink ever.


  1. I would have to say ditto on the things I like about Korea (well minus the grapefruit sours). Good luck with the delayed flight and getting over the jetlag!! Safe travels.

  2. I found your lists much more interesting than I even anticipated! I'm surprised at a bunch of the things. We're going to China next month and I'm anxious to see things that I find the most different from the US.


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