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How to visit a shrine
Behave calmly and respectfully. You are not supposed to visit a shrine if you are sick, have an open wound or are mourning because these are considered causes of impurity.
At the purification fountain near the shrine's entrance, take a provided ladle, fill it with fresh water and rinse both hands. Then transfer some water into your cupped hand, rinse your mouth and spit the water beside the fountain. You are not supposed to transfer the water directly from the ladle into your mouth nor to swallow the water. You will notice that quite a few visitors skip the mouth rinsing part or the purification ritual altogether.
At the offering hall, throw a coin into the offering box, bow deeply twice, clap your hands twice, bow deeply once more and pray for a few seconds. If there is some type of gong, use it before praying in order to get the kami's attention.
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The fortune telling paper
Omikuji are fortune telling paper slips found at many shrines and temples. Randomly drawn, they contain predictions ranging from daikichi ("great good luck") to daikyo ("great bad luck"). By tying the piece of paper around a tree's branch or rope, good fortune will come true or bad fortune can be averted.
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More on the cell phone,
Refrain from talking on the phone in the train and subway, it is impolite to talk on the phone loudly in Japan, besides, it will effect the pass maker to the patient of heart illness.
New trendy for almost all young people, no one talking on the phone but almost everyone using cell phone sending massage to their friends as showing in the photo. This we call them `fingers fellows'.
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Blaming others for own faults. Not in Japan
I am asked or almost on daily basis about how is like to live in Japan? "Two extremes!" I 've been told, regarding my "Latin culture" and the Japanese ways.
Well , it is not that different if you pay attention to the details and forget a little bit about the many times digested predjuices you could have about Far East and "Latin Culture". But there is, indeed, a big difference in how the regular Japanese citizen tackles certain problems. In case of failure or accident, the Japanese would never automatically blaim others to save face and responsability. Perhaps, very innocently, it will make an introspective analysis of his/her faults and will come up with a more balanced view. If it has to accept a degree of responability, or the whole responsability, it will.
I have learned a lot in this in 20 years, but I do recognize that I still get very upset when I have to deal with western people that automatically blaim others, and happily call name others, when failure and/or accidents occurred because their own faults.
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Costumes make Life Fun!
From my research and also what I observed, the Japanese love to dress up. The men and women are very well-groomed and can be seen in business suits everywhere, even when riding their bicycles!
However, another interesting thing about the Japanese, is that they love to dress up in costumes! For example, I noticed people of all ages participating in the Asakusa Samba parade & festival (Aug each year). Here's a picture I took at the Asakusa temple groups immediately after the parade. Notice, both the young and the young-at-heart getting into the spirit of things!
Where to buy: At an ordinary supermarket near this temple, there were groceries, kitchenwear, alcohol, ubiquitious household sundries, electrical items and last but not least, party favours and costumes of all kinds for adults and children. With costumes, life is so much more fun!
(ahem, ahem, apparently some people find it sexy too...)
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School Uniform Obsession
It seems that I spend most of my day telling children to wear their school uniform correctly. They hit the age of 13 and the shirt must be untucked, the tie skew-wiff and the blazer adorned with a silly badge.
It therefore comes as something of a shock to see thousands of well turned out school children in Tokyo. They really do seem proud of it, even wearing it on their days off !
Ignoring the fact that it must have been designed by middle-aged men with a middle-aged men's fantasies in mind, and the fact it has spawned a vast pornographic industry - it is ceratinly a feature of Tokyo life.
The ruffled up socks really do look a bit dated though - very Olivia Newton-John in a pink leotard.
The homeless of Ueno Park
Opinions are very divided about the homeless who live in such places as Uneo park. I must admit it came as something of a shock to find so many older men, in suits, who were homeless. Their neat rows of turquiose coloured taupaulin tents in the park seem to give them some kind of dignity.
When you learn that many helped re-build Japan after the war years and are now seen as useless to the heartless economic machine you sympathy is aroused.
In comparison to the "got 30p for a cup of tea, guv" merchants of London or the varoius smackheads found in every other large city across the world, it seemed to speak volumes about the values of that particular generation of Japanese.
On the other hand I came across a very sourbugger on the internet indeed who described Uneo park and it's homeless thus :
" Japan's ugliest park is filled with homeless people, illegal phone card venders, and drug dealers. The grass is sparse and sickly, and there is too much concrete. Although it is home to the excellent National Museum, you go there in spite of its being in Ueno park, not because of it. There is also a zoo, whose animals are said to be unhealthy and depressed. If you live in Tokyo, there is a good chance that someone will invite you for cherry blossom viewing in April. Unless you like looking at mountains of garbage, listening to portable karaoke machines, and stepping over drunks passed out in their own vomit, give it a miss. "
It made me feel quite fluffy in comparison!
Female fashion !
I'm not exactly the best person to write about female fashion. However when it involves high heels, even if they are platforms and miniskirts then I'm your man.
In Tokyo we came across several Ganguro's - an attempt to look 'western' in a weirdly sterotyped way - with very non-japanese dark make-up, high platform heels (to make up for the Japanese lack of height), girlie type clothes and strong make up. I thought the attempt to stand out was fine, as they just looked like 24hour party girls - good luck (or look) to them.
The more punky / gothic style of the Yamanba (or Japanese witches) was perhaps less appealing asethetically - but at least they are enjoying it !
A democracy is a form of government in which the people, either directly or indirectly, take part in governing. However, the term is also sometimes used as a measurement of how much influence a people has over their government, as in how much democracy exists. The word democracy originates from the Greek "demos" meaning "the people" and "kratein" meaning "to rule" or "the people to rule" which meant literally: "Rule by the People."
A modern democracy implies certain rights for citizens:
* right to elect government through free and fair elections
* freedom of speech
* the rule of law
* human rights
* freedom of assembly
* freedom from discrimination
Verbatim form the web. But at least, i say it!!!. (-;
Give me a machine any day
Vending machines seem to be in breeding overdrive in Japan. I heard one source say there were over six million and still going strong.
I think they would only work in a society that is on the whole very law abiding, like Japan.
As a visitor it is the vast range of products that is available that amazes. Whilst soft drinks seems to account for about half of the the range, the selection of wierd concoctions available is suprising. It makes dandelion and Burdock look somewhat tame.
We saw machines for coffee in a tin (not as bad as it sounds), beer, food, Johnnies,manga and porn.
The illusive one was the machine that sells used schoolgirl panties - do they really exist or is it an urban myth?
Golden Week may be the best, and worst time to see Tokyo. It comprises four holidays, and is one of the busiest times of the year for tourism. Most Japanese tend to get up and get outta town during this week. As a result, views from the Tokyo tower are better, and traffic is less congeted.
There is a downside though. Many of the local attractions and businesses are also closed. So whatever else is left to see, isn't going to be much. If it is open, and it is outside of town, you can even forget seeing it. Trying to get to Mt Fuji is going to be impossible.
If you have to travel to Japan, it is best NOT to travel during golden week. But if you are there already, try to enjoy what you can. In 2005, Golden week falls on April 29th, to May 5th. But this tends to spill over onto the weekends too.
Ask for direction
Pick up a copy of the map in both English and Japanese, when ask for direction, Often you get better result by just point to the Japanese characters and speak English slowly. With the combination of sign language, as least you get the general direction of where you are going.
Tokyo is a very busy town. It...
Tokyo is a very busy town. It can once and a while be too much, but it also might enchant you how one tries to do everything as efficient as possible. Buildings are erected in no-time and cityscape is changing almost from day to day. Japanese culture is (more and more 'was') one of 'serving society' and 'together we're strong'. Work was important and unemployment is/was low. The level of industrial belongs to the highest in the world and there is an amazing process of descision in which all employees wishes and statements are considered. The time before a discision can take very long, but if it is made ... seldomly changes need to be done along the way in realising things. This and many other things might be strange for the average foreigner, but look closer ... at least you will see the benefits of being a little less selfish or privatised. we can learn a lot from eachother, that's for sure and I enjoyed my Japanese lifelessons to the fullest.
Picture (Ueno-zoo, where you can see real panda's!).
How to meet girls in Tokyo~~
It seems easy.. just walk up to a girl and talk and you might get a date with her... !! That's how Japanese guys date girls...
It is really amazing to see how guys try to date girls on street... especially at night in Kabukicho, those guys would gang up and approach girls and ask them to go out and have a drink.. or have a date with them~ and its like some very normal practice that the girls would talk to them and actually go out with them or exchange phone numbers~~!
If you want to keep those guys away from you, just reply in English and they will vanish away~~~~~
As I got back to Kyoto, I...
As I got back to Kyoto, I realized that the thing that made this trip so special, were the people who shared it with me. Though I didn't take any pictures of them, they were there guiding me along at this corner, to this subway, to that 'spot'!! This was such a wonderful experience. However if you do not speak Japanese I wouldn't recommend it!! Tokyo is BIG!! Bring a guide book and a map!!! :)
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