Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Our Weekend Trip to Tokyo: the Details

Confession: I am actually writing this post in January 2012 and not November 2011.  Sorry about that.  Better late than never.

Here are some details of our trip that I really want to remember:

Christmas - oh man!  Tokyo had Christmas trees, Christmas lights, and a Christmas feel to it!  I was amazed how "Christmasy" everything felt!  Koreans do not put up any decorations until about a week before Christmas.  Here we are 6 weeks out and there are decorations everywhere.  It made the Christmas part of my heart SO happy.

European feel:  In Tokyo, you walk on the left side of the sidewalk, you drive on the left side of the street, cars have the steering wheel on the opposite side of the car etc.  I have never been to Europe before, but Tokyo seemed way more European than Korea.  The architecture was definitely Asian, but after living in Korea, it was easy for us to spot the hints of European influence in the buildings and design.  We were confused the whole weekend about what side of the street we were supposed to be on and why people were actually walking in orderly fashion. (Koreans just walk on whatever side of the street they are on.  If you are younger than the person you are approaching, it is your job to get out of their way.  Not organized at all in my brain - I digress.)
Thanks Google Images

$, won, yen  - my math brain was at work all weekend.  It is quite easy to convert US dollars to Korean Won (1,000 won = 0.86 US dollars - I just use a 10 to 9 ratio).  Converting from Won to Yen or US dollar to Yen is a nightmare for me (100 yen = 13 US dollars or about 15,000 won).  100 won is CHEAP 100 yen is NOT cheap.  Lesson learned.  One cool aspect about Japanese Yen is that some of the coins have holes punched in the middle of them.  If it is has a hole it either 5 yen or 50 yen.  And finding coins on the ground is jackpot (think of finding 6 dollars on the ground)

Reading Japanese: This was hilarious to me!  My amazing husband and I developed a way of reading the subway maps (that were ONLY in Japanese, thankfully we had printed off an English translation before hand.)  Our conversations went something like this, "what stop do we want?"  "the one that is like an asterisk, then a d in Korean, a window, and then a y in English".  Some of the symbols looked very Korean and some did not look like any letters I have ever seen before in my life.

Fat People:  I definitely thought that all Asian were thin.  In Korea saying that an individual is fat is the same as saying he or she has brown hair.  It is a physical appearance trait - it is not an emotionally charged, offensive comment.  Koreans are thin.  I can count on my hands how many times I have met overweight Koreans.  There are fat people in Japan.  I stared at them (I am SO Korean).  I was just surprised to see this.

Bathrooms:  Oh goodness!  The bathrooms in Tokyo were so confusing.  Case-in-point: The toilet has 14 buttons on it, but NONE of them are to flush.  The action of opening the stall door triggers something to flush the toilet.  (WEIRD).  Also, most of the toilet seats I encountered were heated.  God Bless Japan and it's heated toilet seats.  Asians do NOT heat their bathrooms all that much - which results in many a cold bathrooms trips for me.  Heated Toilet Seats are Great.  Korea  My school should invest in more of them.

Not the clearest picture, but just in case you have not experienced the 14 button toilets

And that is about it!  All the fun details that I rememeber from our Tokyo Trip!

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