“Free tour of Peace Memorial Park at 10 am – meet in the lobby.”
Hmm..I pondered the sign. I like free. I like tours too. Peace memorial park was on my list. Truth be told, it was the whole reason that I was in Hiroshima in the first place.
I asked the receptionist, “How long is the tour?”
“Three hours. You’ll want to bring lots of water – it’s hot out.”
Psh, don’t need to tell me twice! Japan, being an island, has been one big sauna everywhere except the miraculous Tokyo.
With a bubble of immediacy bursting inside of me, I signed up for the tour. I then headed up to bed. Tomorrow was going to be a long day.
Welcome back! In this series, we are confronting 10 Japanese stereotypes. Part 1 featured stereotypes 1-5, and we’re now going to tackle 6-10! Buckle up, kids!
6. Slippers for every occasion – True!
If you’ve ever watched an anime, Ghibli movie or other Japanese based film, you may have noticed that they often take their shoes off before entering the house. While in the house, slippers are worn. Sometimes even multiple pairs!
Change into your house slippers when you come in, and then make sure to change into your bathroom slippers for when you use the bathroom. When you’re done, back to house slippers. There’s a lot of slipper etiquette happening over here!
If you ever visit Japan, make sure to pay attention to the slippers and honor their purpose. Also be prepared to laugh at yourself when they are 4 sizes too small for you!
While traveling through Japan I had the opportunity to get a “Geisha Makeover”.
This was one of the things at the top of my list. I’m a huge fan of Mulan (I know, I know, that’s China but it was my first exposure to Geisha) and would love to get my makeup done in that way and get all ‘brided-up’.
I did some research and found a boutique called Miaca in Kyoto, Japan. Miaca offers the Geisha and Miako experience. If you’re a dude, you can still opt for these, or the Samurai experience!
What’s the difference between a Geisha and a Maiko?
I admit, I had never heard of ‘Maiko’. I thought there was just Geisha, Geisha and Geisha. Maybe a super Geisha even since we’re in Japan and everything is all fantastical.
I began to do lots of research on Geishas. How does one become a Geisha? What does a Geisha actually do? Are there still Geishas in modern day Japan? The answers were very interesting.
I was so lucky to celebrate my 28th birthday in Japan!
This will certainly go down as one of the birthdays I never forget. Like my 7th birthday when my mom gave the head of the unicorn on the cake to my childhood friend instead of me. Even though I was the birthday girl.
No, not like that though. This birthday was W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L! See how I spelled it all out in caps like that? Must be true.
As a sushi-loving-fanatic, I had decided that I would of course get some sushi for dinner. Japan can be crazy expensive though so I was only going to do something small, but nice.
A few days before my birthday, I was contacted by one of my readers – her name is Erin. I know Erin through a company we both used to work for. Our time overlapping there was short – only a few months. Erin worked in another department too, so we didn’t interact too much but when we did she was always so bright and positive. She’s actually always this way with everyone (even though she’s going blind).
I just attended my first Japanese Festival!
Attending a Japanese festival was high on my list, and I’m so glad I got to do it! Festivals always hold amazing wonders. Great people watching, performances, often times art and always food. Oh, and women trying to net some lucky fish.
Origins of the Gion Matsuri Festival
Just like most Japanese festivals, Gion Matsuri has ancient origins. Developing as a purification ritual to appease the gods that caused fires, earthquakes (popular in Japan), and floods it dates back to the early 500’s. While it is still hoped that those events don’t occur in Japan, the festival is now more about remembering those ancient times.
Gion Matsuri runs through the entire month of July, ending with a giant parade to end all parades. Unfortunately, I won’t be here for that part of the epic-ness, but I did manage to attend today. Events on the docket included live performances and the wide availability of traditional Japanese metaphysics. Oh, and the amazing food – have I mentioned that yet?
The internet has manifested tons of Japanese stereotypes.
Japan pops up on the web a lot in headlines: “crazy X thing in Japan” “freaky X thing in Japan” “awesome new technology in Japan”. I admit that when I came to Japan, I had a few stereotypes in my head floating around. I was curious to see if they were true or not, and now I’m going to share my findings with you.
DISCLAIMER: This whole article is based on my own experiences, research, and speaking with various, completely random, natives. I am not the Mythbusters team and don’t have millions of dollars to extensively test all of these – and I doubt a conclusive yes or no could satisfy all of these anyway.
1 The Japanese are creepily polite. TRUE!
One thing you immediately notice in Japan is how freaking nice everyone is. Seriously, it’s sometimes to the point of feeling fake. Everyone smiles, waves, bows and tries SO HARD to help you if you need it.
I’m walking the long trek to the hostel from the train station with my backpack on – and it’s pouring. Whatever, I’m so hot it’s refreshing and my laptop safe. A woman stopped me and tried to hand me her umbrella. I shook my head and put my hands up “kekko desu, no thanks” but she shoved it at me, insisting. I took it from her and she had a huge grin on her face as she turned and walked away. I felt like I was in Totoro!