Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Travel alert

I am, uh, going to Japan. In less that two weeks. For 11 days. With two teenaged girls and The Mister.

We will fly into Tokyo, stay there for 3 days, then travel to Kobe to drop the girls off for a 5 night home stay with their former Japanese exchange student's families, then travel to Kyoto with just The Mister, pick the girls back up, go back to Tokyo, and then fly home.

I am nervous. I do NOT speak Japanese, at all, other than Please, Thank You and You're Welcome.

Is it true that i won't need any kind of adaptor for my toothbrush charger? And my ipod charger? And my camera charger? These things are vital to my happiness, especially the toothbrush.

I have read that the three things i must NEVER do in Japan are:
1) Leave my shoes on when entering a home or temple.
2) Stick my chopsticks upright into my rice.
3) Blow my nose in public.

I wonder what they will make of a six foot woman with huge feet in their midst. I expect to feel like Godzilla tramping through the city.

53 comments:

thailandchani said...

Wow... what an awesome trip though!

Yes, you will probably need an adapter. :)

flutter said...

I think you will need an adapter, but I am more jealous that you get to go! That is awesome!

Franki said...

What an adventure! In Taiwan, the locals would come out to stare at my dad the American and the half-breed daughter. They were just curious.

Bob said...

of course, the Mr. won't have any problems finding you in crowds.

That sounds like a great adventure!

pat said...

I would be a bit intimidated..but what an awesome opportunity for your family!

Vanessa said...

And if we can get the camera, toothbrush and iPod all set, this will be a fabulous trip for you! I can't wait to see pictures!

liv said...

Yeah, remember not to blow your nose in public because the potential combination of your freakish height and that faux pas could undo the whole country.

tt said...

We lived on Okinawa, Japan for 3 years back in the late 70's. It was the most awesome thing ever!!! Of course we were military and lived on Base so we didn't have any issues with electric things...of course there really were't any to speak of back then. ;)
The Japanese ppl are very polite. the one thing that i do remember is not to go on or gush about something you see in someone's home. If you do, they will feel obligated to give it to you...and in order for them to not loose face you must accept it. Of course then you have to reciprocate and find something of equal value to present to them. And yes, do take off your shoes if you see shoes by a door. Don't ask for a fork....and most inportantly, have the time of your life!!!

tt said...

btw--I've got a lil something for you at my place.. :)

lu said...

You will have a wonderful time, You must report, post pictures and let us live vicariously through you,

Gah, How cool are you?

meno said...

chani, the man at the travel store swore we would not need one. I told him that if i could not charge my toothbrush, i would blame him.

flutter, it should be awesome! I will male it so.

franki, heh, half-breed. Imagine what they will make of me.

bob, that will be the advantage.

pat, i am a bit intimidated. But i will perservere and make it a great adventure.

pat, but mostly the toothbrush!

liv, i know. The end of Japanese civilization, and i will be responsible.

tt, i appreciate that tip. I will compliment carefully.

tt, i'll be right there to check it out.

lu, there will be pictures! Oh yes. I am as cool as you.

Stucco said...

Fuck 'em- they lost the war so blow your nose wherever you please. What- do they just fucking sniffle all day? The fork and shoe deals are easy enough to accommodate, but ya gotta breathe.

Wanna borrow my "I'm Huge In Japan" shirt?

Marshamlow said...

I somehow managed to live there for four years without knowing any Japanese. My husband is 6 foot tall and my daughter is 5 foot 11 inches, I loved that I could find them so easily in a crowd.

My recommendation is to smile and bow a lot. I came here and bowed to everyone for a couple of months, so embarrassing.

Sometimes you have to take your shoes off in a restaurant but you can tell because there is a big pile of shoes and they provide little slippers for you to wear. You always take your shoes off at someone's home or a temple. They have Buddhist Temples and Shinto Shrines, the Shrines have the red tori gates out front. Japanese people practice both religions in their own way. Buddhism for when you are born, die, at new years, or when you are sick. Shinto to celebrate birthdays, weddings, graduations.

The plugs in Japan are the same as American two pronged plugs, if your item has that third polarized round piece you will need some sort of adapter otherwise you will be fine. http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2225.html

Most public bathrooms do not have hot water or towels to dry your hands. Japanese women always carry a cute little hand towel in their purse to dry their hands. The toilet seats are warmed but there are no hand towels, weird. At restaurants and hotels they have towels just not tourist sites, train stations, rest stops etc.

We were just talking the other day about how much we miss the rest stops, the meat on a stick is so good.

Be sure to bring a present for people when you or your daughter visit their home, nothing fancy any little thing will do, they often give used stuff, it is terribly rude to enter someone's home without a gift. I never heard the one about blowing my nose. I hope I never blew my nose in public.

You are going at the best time of year, you will get to see the Cherry blossoms. I read that they were given to the Japanese by America, and then later a blight hit the cherry blossom trees in D.C. so the Japanese gave the Americans some grafts back from the original trees. They are all so beautiful and I love all the festivals during spring.

meno said...

stucco, HELL to the yes! I need that shirt! Or else a link to where you got it so i can get my own.

marsha, i knew you would have a lot to say. Thank you so much for that advice. I thought the nose thing was weird too. What are you supposed to do, wipe it on your sleeve? I agree about the time of year.

jen said...

shut up! i am already cracking up at your tallness in Japan.

seriously, hilarious. you better blog about it.

Jonas said...

Mata, atode!

Maggie said...

I'm so excited for you!

And for Em!

And for us - because now we'll get to see great pictures. :) There's always a way to bring it back to us.

Sinda said...

Barbara Kingsolver wrote a great essay about going to Japan in her book of essays, Small Wonders. Read it, if you can. And enjoy your trip!

Tink said...

How fun! I am insanely jealous. Be safe and take LOTS of pictures.

Dianne said...

Yes please take tons of pictures. This is such a great thing! what an adventure, I am so excited for you.

Mrs. Chili said...

I've never been to Japan (hell, I've never been out of the country, save for a week in Bermuda), but I've heard nothing but nice things about the people. You'll be treated politely and respectfully, and I'm betting nearly everyone you encounter will have at least SOME English. You'll be fine - take LOTS of pictures because a bunch of us are going to be living vicariously through you...

furiousBall said...

watch our for the helicopters and Mothra.

Princess in Galoshes said...

Hee! All I can think of is that time Big Bird from Sesame Street went to Japan, singing:

We're off to Kyoto,
Like Dorothy and Toto....

QT said...

OMG - now THIS is exciting! The only thing I know (an ex-bf lived there), which someone already mentioned, is that you need to bring little gifts to everyone's house, and they need to be wrapped nicely. Wait until you get there to wrap, as they have far superior supplies. Some things I remember - small boxes of chocolates (they prefer european style, like truffles, not Hershey's, and don't buy a box of 4 - unlucky), beef jerky, Nutter Butter individual packets (for kids), small books or calendars that have tourist-y photos of Seattle, Space Needle pens, coasters, those small bottles of berry syrups, packets of smoked nuts, small packets of Market Spice Tea bags, and any of those MTV Now This is Music CD's that have our current Top 40 music on it.

Also, a lot of times they won't open the gift in front of you, but display the wrapped gift somewhere in the house and open it later. This is why the wrapping is important.

I can't wait to read about these adventures!

Diane Mandy said...

My mother and husband have traveled there an really enjoyed it. I can't wait for your impressions. Have you ever watched any Japanese films? Before you go, you might want to see the original Shall We Dance. It's a delightful Japanese film and shows some interesting cultural aspects.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I'm so excited for you. And also jealous. I have always wanted to see Japan so much.

There is a saying "Never say kikko (beautiful) until you've seen Nikko" (a temple in Kyoto.) I think my heart would stop beating if I could see Mt. Fuji.

Have a wonderful, beautiful time and take lots of pictures, please.

Do you need a 5'1" woman with proportionate feet to carry your luggage?

Scott from Oregon said...

I lived there for a couple of years so I can answer a few questions if ya got 'em.

Let's see, you are taking the bullet train down?

Blow your nose in public all you want, just don't be gross about it.

Stick your chopsticks in your rice, it gets 'em all worked up and is good for a laugh.

"Takai ne? is the expression you'll hear a lot. Or okii ne?

Just smile. "You're tall! You're big!" is about all they're saying.

One of my nicknames while there was "baka no O ashi" (stupid Bigfoot)...

You might hear a version of that if you blow your nose into a bowl of rice with chopsticks sticking out of the middle of it while you kick your dirty shoes into the side of the clean counter...

The number one advice I can give you, is ask for help. Ask anybody and everybody. They will all help you if they can understand what it is you are after. In surprising ways too.

Sober Briquette said...

Wow! Damn, I am jealous.

A guy I used to work with moved over there with his wife and four children. they love it so much, they've stayed almost four years (it was a one year work assignment).

I recall that everywhere they went, people took pictures of them like paparazzi because they were tall and blonde. You'll rock the islands, baybee.

Candy said...

Wow, what an awesome trip!

While you're in Kobe, wouldja pick me up some beef?

Say It said...

That sounds awesome, Godzilla feet or no.

meno said...

jen, i will not be taking my laptop, but The Mister will be taking his and will let me use it, so, of course i will blog about it.

jonas, i will have to ask my daughter what that means. Then i will get back to you.

maggie, i am excited too. I will take lots of pictures.

sinda, I will! Thanks for the suggestion.

tink, Apparently Japan is one of THE safest places to be. So i should be safe.

dianne, you will be sick of my pictures, i promise you!

mrs. chili, i was there when i was about 2, but i don't remember much.

furious, i'm just worried about stepping on those tiny little twins who are always singing.

princess, i can't wait to sing that to my daughter.

qt, we will take some gifts. Maybe smoked salmon!

diane, i will check out tha movie. Thanks.

hearts, i think i do need you for carrying mu luggage. Think how much fun we'd have.

scott, thanks for the offer! We are taking the bullet train. And we already have our two week JR passes. Stupid bigfoot! That will be me.

de, maybe i'll take to wearing big sunglasses everywhere to avoid the photographers!

candy, if by pick up you mean eat, why yes i will.

Irrelephant said...

It's all been covered. Utterly cool. Wow. *g* I'm so jealous of your ability to just pick up and GO. I'd be catatonic.

Be sure and lurch around a lot when you get in big crowds, that'll be a sure-fire winner!

Lynn said...

Reading everyones comments to you make me feel like I'm going with you...I can't wait to hear about your adventure. I would bring an adapter (just in case...can't help it that's the mom in me). As far as blowing your nose in public...would it be better to pick or blow?

Mona Buonanotte said...

My daughter, who's eight, insists we go to Japan. So scope out some pre-teen stuff for us to do, m'kay?

And please learn some Japanese swear words. Why learn a language at all unless you can swear?

TTQ said...

You have to go to a crowded spot and stand in a sea of locals, (with you standing in the middle somewhere) and have the mister take your picture and we can play "Where's Meno?" instead of "Where's Waldo?".

peevish said...

What Tink said. SO jealous. Have fun. Post millions of photos.

capacious said...

My brother and father both stayed in Japan (separately, at different times) on business a few times and told stories about the many manners and how they could never get them all straight. I'm glad you won't have to attend any meetings.

Can't wait to see the pix and hear the stories. Lucky girls.

Dick said...

I have never been there myself but we did have Japanese exchange students in the past & I have friends & a son who have been there. They all liked the country, the people and their visits. I guess it is expensive, especially for accommodations & food that we are used to, but what the heck, it is a vacation, right? As to the question about power for devices, someone gave you what sounds like a good link to check that out. Most other countries use 220v rather than 120v power like here but I do not know about Japan.

Have fun and I will also be looking forward to seeing the photos and hearing about the trip.

sari said...

You know, I'm a huge Godzilla fan. I wouldn't worry.

Have a great time!

ETK said...

You've been tagged! http://how-rude.blogspot.com/2008/03/middle-name-meme.html

Mignon said...

Ahh, I'm so jealous. I was an exchange student in Japan for several months and I had an excellent time. Got hooked on Pockys and iced coffee. They're gonna love you. Everyone wanted to practice their English with me, which made for some disjointed and incomprehensible conversations. See if you can watch a traditional tea ceremony somewhere - Mr. might get bored, but I found it a memorable experience.

fiwa said...

Wow - what a trip! I would be a little nervous too, but what the heck, how many times will you get the chance to go? So, um... what happens if you have a runny nose, what are you supposed to do?!

Have a wonderful trip - can't wait to see your pictures.

lovins,
fiwa

urban-urchin said...

Please, oh please take me with you. I will help wrangle teenage girls.

ms chica said...

Doesn't the Mister speak Japanese? or is it attempt to speak Japanese?

deb said...

Hope you have a good time. I imagine you will get stared at and feel like a giant. I was in Cancun once, in a grocery store and there was a very tiny family there. The little boy was looking up at me, waaaayyyyy up and then he looked at his mom with a worried look on his face. His mom just laughed and I felt like a giant.

Biscotto said...

Look, this has nothing to do with your post. Truth is, I haven't read you in a while. I had you and some other folks on a reader, then something happened to the reader set up and I never set it up again.

Which isn't why I'm writing. This is: The first time I read you, it was because I found you when I googled my own site. (My name really IS Vanity.) You had a comment, what was it? "I don't even know if i like this woman, and i get the feeling that she wouldn't care." And you said some other things that let me know that you, as a kid, sat in the front row of the classroom and paid attention.

That was what, like, a year ago. It seems longer, doesn't it? So here's the reason I'm writing you: I guess I really want to know, DO you like me?

Even though I know, I'm not sure I do care. Okay, I do. But I don't think that my saying so would prevent you from being honest with me. Would it? You'll be a nice honest, anyway.

I can't help wondering if you've made up your mind on the question.

I mean, just because I'm not likeable doesn't mean that someone can't like me, right?

Of course, my not paying attention to your blog or failing to comment on the content of your own post might count against me in an at-large popularity contest, but I'm sort of hoping that you won't hold that against me. We both know I've got blinders on and don't see too far past the end of my own nose. But I think you know that if you were the horse next to me, we'd sure have a lot to talk about.

Wondering about this made me post a similar sort of general question on my blog today, but I still wanted to ask you, Meno, if you know now if you like me and, if you know, could you tell me?

Maybe like isn't the right word. Is there a better one?

Oh, and hey--have a nice time in Japan. To amuse yourself, you can pretend that you are Godzilla and the mister is Fay Wray. Oh, wait, that was King Kong. Gosh, anyway, the Godzilla entry in wikipedia.org is fascinating, you should read that. And, if you haven't seen it, see Lost in Translation.

This one isn't Japanese, but what the hell, you might also want to get your hands on a copy of the movie Lust, Caution. Because, um, it's got sex and politics in it. So much politics that it is rated NC-17, see. And it has some good acting, too. Really, I mean it. No, I mean I really mean it.

And, uh, drink lots of water on the flight. It helps with the jet lag.

meno said...

say it, those big feet will be carrying me all over Japan. :)

irrelephant, if by "just pick up and go" you mean board the cats, arrange for the mail to be picked up, stop the papers, buy some yen, get the Mister's passport renewed, find our luggage, get a railpass, etc, then yes, you should be jealous.

lynn, think i'll just pick. :)

mona, isn't Hello Kitty from Japan?

ttq, i think i will do that. Although it might be too easy.

peevish, your wish is my command.

anne, i am just going to give up on the correct manners thing and just hope i don't cause an international incident.

dick, your RV won't make it all the way to Japan?

sari, i love Godzilla movies too. Don't you think it's time for a re-make of Godzilla vs. Mothra?

etk, i'm on it!

mignon, really?? you were?? How cool! I will look for a tea ceremony.

fiwa, maybe you are just supposed to use your sleeve. that's what i'm going to do!

u-u, you are ON!

ms. chica, heh heh. It makes Em cringe when he tries.

deb, i will just stare right back!

biscotto, who hasn't googled their own blog? Better answer forthcoming, probably in your comments.

Nancy Dancehall said...

All I know is, if you go to someone's house and they tell you to feel free to use their shower, it really means that they want to have sex with you. After you shower of course. Because it's all about the clean.

crazymumma said...

This is going to be amazing!

egan said...

My wife leaves for a week in Tokyo tomorrow. She's not tall, but she does blow her nose in public. I will advise her against this.

sari said...

I would love Godzilla vs. Motha. We have Godzilla Destroy All Monsters for Gamecube, we love to just beat the living bejeebus out of each other as different characters from the movies.

Now that I think about it, we have most of the movies as well. But you knew already I was a geek so that's ok.

Carolie said...

Oh, Meno! I wish you were heading further south, as I'd love to welcome you all to Sasebo, and chauffeur you around my beloved prefecture! Please don't hesitate to write to me at carolie(at)wordmagix(dot)com if you have questions...I'd love to share my experiences as an American in Japan!

luckyzmom said...

My comment would be that, after his visit to Japan, my husband told me that it cost about $60 for a cantaloupe there. That was about 10 years ago.

Looking forward to hearing about and seeing pictures of your trip!