Dec 24, 2012

Christmas in Japan

Christmas is celebrated differently around the world (well of course they do it differently). We have Christmas in Japan, it is very different from Canada. Here is how Christmas goes in Japan.

First of all, In Japan there is no days off on Christmas.

The 24th is usually considered Christmas. In reality there is no official day in Japan, so most people consider 24th to be special. It is the special day where people may participate in a variety of events. Christmas is a fun decoration time with small events that take place during that time. In the reality, its a time where companies have a chance to make money.

In Japan, サンタさん SANTA SAN (Santa) still comes but he usually only gives a gift to children or couples. And the biggest difference is you only get 1 present.

クリスマスケーキ KURISUMASU KEEKI (Christmas cake). In Japan, we eat cake on Christmas. This is probably the biggest part of the holiday in Japan. When people think of Christmas in Japan, they think of Cake. People spend big bucks on cake the cheapest cake runs at around 20$ and people spend anywhere up and over 100$, just for a cake. Cake is needed.



If you don't know, Japanese people love their sweets. Foreign people are stereotyped as loving sweets, but Japanese consume way more sweets. There are cake shops and special cookie shops everywhere.


ケンタ KENTA (Kentucky fried chicken) is another thing that is popular on Christmas in Japan. Trying to get chicken on this day can be impossible for some if you didn't make a reservation. You will see people lining up for a piece of chicken.

NOTE: The menu changes on Christmas as well, You can't get regular crispy chicken. It is Christmas prices and Christmas style BBQ chicken piece.


Grocery stores also start selling Christmas plates of special foods that are common at Christmas. Which are usually Chicken and vegetable bento boxes with a nice Christmas design on the box.


Outside you will see イルミネーション IRUMINEESHON (lights) around Japan. Japan goes over-board with the whole Christmas lights thing. It is almost like a festival or a competition.

They can be found outside regular malls and stations, but there are designated areas where huge demonstrations are.


When it comes to decorations, almost every store and shopping mall will be full of Christmas themed stuff. Some people decorate their house on the outside (not usually the inside). Even Christmas trees are put outside. You can see them on someones front porch.

Love hotels (hotels where you go to have sex with your bf/gf at) are usually packed around Christmas time. It is seen as not only a kids holiday, but a couples holiday.

For this reason many theme parks such as Disney land have special Christmas time themed stuff. You will see lots of nice commercials for nice date spots for Christmas.

As for Christmas songs, You know its Christmas time when the number one Christmas song plays Last christmas.   If you live in Japan, this song will be the only song you can think of at Christmas (because it plays everywhere).


So enjoy Christmas in Japan.
With your one present, Christmas cake, KFC and you can sing Last Christmas. You can do it all at once even. Why not go to Christmas Karaoke?


Heres an Extra video about how My christmas was in Japan, and video that I took around Japan on Christmas

 


Dec 15, 2012

Crazy Christian Japanese Power English Mom

What a insane title.

I had no other way to put it other than that so you can understand a general summarization of this crazy person.

This is a story of 1 year ago that I had just recently remembered and decided to talk about now.


((NOTE ABOUT RELIGION IN JAPAN))

Most people in Japan are atheist. Japan is a Buddhist society, with cultural customs based on Buddhism. However, as for actually believing in a heaven or god, they do not. Most of the people do nothing and believe nothing. Understand the world was created by evolution etc. blablabla. (btw I am also an atheist)

((NOTE END))


I once got offered a English babysitting position, as a private tutor for a young little boy.

The mother told me the little boy is named Micheal....

In Japan, Japanese people usually have Japanese names. I thought this kid was either a white kid, or a half Japanese kid. If you don't have a Japanese name in Japan I think all Japanese people will suddenly think the person is either a foreigner or a half Japanese kid.

Me and the people I was living with at the time (my ex family in law), all discussed the possibilities as to why this kid doesn't speak English or why his parent doesn't teach their own kid English (after all he has a English name). They also thought it was strange that he had an English name.


The day comes to meet them, I meet them in a Rich area of downtown at the station. To my surprise a woman and a little Japanese boy approach me.

I was a little surprised that the boy was full Japanese, not half, yet he has a English name....that is so strange in Japan (this kid must be bullied).

We walked towards their house and the mother kept talking to her son in English trying to get him to introduce himself, but he didn't talk. I guess he was shy. I didn't think anything strange of them at first.

When we got to her house I tried speaking to him in English but he didn't repsond at all. I thoght he must have just been a shy little boy til finnaly he yelled to his mom,

""母ちゃん意味が分からない""  Mom I can't understand!!!

She then said in Japanese to him, "It is time to learn English so go play with the new teacher". 

It turns out. The kid doesn't even speak a word of English, AT ALL! . She explained to me what she is trying to teach him English but he doesn't understand it. She said she has had multiple English teachers for him, but he doesn't like learning English with them.

In her house she had a spare room used to teach English. She told me to go in there and play English games and basically do whatever as long as I was speaking English.

I tried. But really. Like I said, the kid doesn't understand English. I tried to play games with him and he just didn't understand what I was saying, nor did he look interested at all. He wante to play with me, but he wanted to play speaking Japanese. He really seemed like he hated English.

I understood that in the first 5 mins, She was forcing him to learn English, and he didn't want to (poor kid).

He would get so frustrated and he would get up crying and start saying to his mom in Japanese ""I hate English I just want to pay in Japanese"".

It was so awkward to me, I was left alone in a room while they fought for about a hour about him having to learn English.

After the lesson time was over we ate lunch. Again the mother was pressuring the boy to speak English words, he clearly had no idea what she was even telling him to do. He didn't understand anything except for the colours and numbers. Even with English colours and numbers it seemed as if he had just learnt them (even though he had been studying for 2 years).

This is a sign that someone just doesn't want to learn, Has no interest at all.


Before it was time to leave I asked the Mom,


""Was he born in America?""

""No he was born in Japan. Why?""

""Oh why is his name Micheal?""

""We are Christian""

"".............""

""Micheal is a Christian name, what is your Christian name?""

""......!!""


I am sorry. I have nothing against someone who wants to believe a religion. Go ahead. But to name your child a English name because you think it is so special in your religion...is just strange. It is even more strange to do this in Japan. You might find it hard to believe if you come from a place like Canada; where any name is OK and if you have a strange name people might think it is cool.

In Japan, this kid is probably bullied. He is not a half Japanese, but every time someone hears his name they must ask him if he is a gaijin every time. It is so normal in Japan to want to fit in as much as you can. If he has such a non-Japanese name he must be bullied. My friends said it, and my friends parents all said it. When he gets older it will follow him everywhere he goes. He will be thought of as a half Japanese or a non-Japanese and when they find out he is Japanese, Alot of people might think its weird. 

Poor kid.

The next 3 lessons after that it was the same thing. The kid would tell me in Japanese ""I hate learning English but my mom makes me learn"". After that she stopped making me come there because she thought I was not a good teacher and went off to find another one (I was the 5th teacher she has had for him).


Dear parents:  Don't force your kids to lean crap they don't want to learn. If people don't want to learn, they wont learn.

Dec 11, 2012

Surviving winter in Japan

As you may know, I come from Canada, which is world known for being the large snow covered cold Iceland north of the United states.

You would assume, A Canadian coming from such a cold place would have nothing to do but complain about the hot weather in Japan (which every other gaijin complains about) and then you would assume that being Canadian, winter is not so bad, right?

Wrong.

I have lived and been all over the place between Sault ste Marie, Ontario all the way down to Toronto and I can say, Toronto is way colder.

Even though the actual temperatures in Ontario, reach much lower numbers than in Tokyo, It still feels colder in Tokyo.

It was only 11C outside yesterday and I felt like my hands were going to fall off.  This is the kind of weather that in Ontario, people only wear a sweater or a light jacket out.  I believe the reason why it appears colder in Tokyo is; it is so dry.

The wind is so cold, the air is so dry so it feels painful on your skin when you go outside.






If you are coming to live in Japan there are some things you need to know about winter. The weather varies from north to south (duh). Hokkaido gets lots of snow. Okinawa gets no snow and is always hot.  Other regions of Japan from Tokyo and south may never get snow, or only get snow once or twice in the winter.


Another thing that I found interesting that happens in the winter time in Tokyo, it doesn't even rain. It is sunny every single day. Last year it was 32 days with no rain or snow, then it finally snowed.  This is why it is so dry.


Houses in Japan do not have a central heating system (except for northern areas)


So that means fellow Tokyo-jins will be relying on your best friend all winter, the heater. In Japan, air conditioners are also built with a heating function.

If you are lucky you have one of these already installed and you wont have to pay thousands of dollars to buy one.

Even more lucky is if you have a timer set on it (this way you can turn it on and off without having to actually be around it)


In Japan, another popular type of heater is the kerosene/gas or oil heaters. These will probably be the most scary as they could explode and they give off a strange smell. They are however still used (often by older people).


Then there is the Electric heater, which is just as dangerous and visually scary. If you have never seen one, it is basically like a stove element glowing hot red magma colour.

If you have any heater in Japan that doesn't have a turn off timer you MUST TURN IT OFF BEFORE BED!


The number one cause of fires in Japan is due to forgetting to turn off a heater, or leaving the heater on at night time while you are sleeping. It is so dry in the winter that if a house catches fire it can easily burn.

So what you do before bed, is you turn off your heater and freeze till morning. Then you can turn it back on again. Its important to sleep with a lot of layers of clothing and blankets to make sure you don't die get too cold.

Another thing that is very common and useful in the winter are カイロ KAIRO  which are hand warmers.  A popular brand is ホカロン HOKARON.
These hot pads work wonders at night. What Japanese people usually do is stick one of them on their belly to keep it warm at night. You must stick it on your clothing because it is too hot to stick directly on your body.


((RANDOM JAPANESE MYTH - Many Japanese people believe that if you don't keep your stomach warm while you sleep, you will get diarrhea. For this reason you may notice many Japanese people sleep with a hot pad or a blanket covering their belly (even in the summer time).))


Last thing I am going to talk about is the 炬燵 kotatsu. You might have heard of it, it is the table with a blanket that hangs over it that has a heater under it to keep you your legs warm.

Similar to the fire ball of death electric heater, the underside of most models appears like this. A lot of gaijin seem to enjoy this invention and praise it. I however don't see the meaning of it.

It only warms your legs (so what about the rest of your body).  Spending all that electricity just to warm half your body doesn't seem very logical.


People should realise that if you put your legs under a blanket that your body heat will get trapped under there anyways and keep them warm (without the need of any heat source).  Aside from that, it seems extremely dangerous that at any given time, you could accidentally move your leg the wrong way (especially if you are a fidgety person like I) and burn your self.

Well guys, what do you think?

Dec 3, 2012

Japanese steak....yeah its just yakiniku

Some Japanese people are surprised hearing that I am a westerner and have never had steak before. I mean, I have seen steak and watched other people eat it. I just never remember ever trying it.

Steak is something in Ontario that usually only people eat on a special occasion. Its also usually only classified as a mans meal, something I picture a man eating for dinner with his boss or man friends. Its also really expensive, so no wonder why its reserved for special time. Hey what about you guys? Do you eat steak often?

Anyways, A few days ago I went to a very famous steak restaurant in Japan, sorry I forgot the name. It is extremely expensive, high end and fancy. Since it was steak I figured it would be just like western steak (Waiter walks over and plops down a plate with a large hunk of meat placed on it, small sprinkles of pepper and steak spices).


 The first thing they brought us was Salad and Tofu in soup. It was SO GOOD!. I was extremely surprised at the quality of ingredients. The soup even had Yuzu in it. The salad had some raw lotus root in it, which I also love very much.


 One thing that can be pretty common in Japan is they usually cook the food in front of you. This is something some westerners find strange but its one of the best ideas. Now you can see actually what they are doing with your food and make sure they don't spit on it




 The chef comes to your table, asks you how you want your food done and then prepares it right in front of your eyes. We asked for medium rare steak and he began to prepare it. He asked us of we wanted bread or rice (In Japan everyone eats either bread or rice with EVERY meal, If you don't eat one of these its seen as strange).

After the steak was done cooking the chef cut it into small pieces and divided it into 3 (there was 3 people) and he put it on our plates. He then gave us two kinds of sea salt (French and German) and pepper to put on our steak. As well as dipping sauce? to dip it.  As soon as this happened I started to think....This is yakiniku.



 Yakiniku 焼肉 is much cheaper meat that is prepared over a fire instead of a fry pan. and is in small bite sized pieces. You dip it in different kinds of dipping sauce and its really good. This steak was made out of the same meat and tasted the same. Except the only difference was the cost of the steak...  8000円(80$!)