A New Year
Thursday, December 20
I moved into my new apartment. I am now living in Tokyo. As opposed to before when I was just over the city line. My new apartment is quite an upgrade. The building is newer and nicer. I inherited some great furniture from the employee before me. Behind my apartment is a large river with great running trails. I am very happy with this upgrade.
Since I moved to a new apartment I obviously had to change train lines. Previously I had lived on Odakyu Line (小田急線). Now I’m living on Saikyo line (埼京線). What can I say about Saikyo? It’s one of the busiest trains in Tokyo, and thus Japan. It has a severe problem with male passengers groping female passengers (痴漢). This phenomenon makes me seething mad.
However it is ridiculously convenient. I can reach no less than five major stations in under 20 minutes. So. Nice.
Monday, December 25
Sunday, December 30-31
On the day three of a ten-day break I went snowboarding. Mari and I took a night bus from Tokyo to Nagano (長野) for two days in the mountains. We stayed in Nozawaonsen (野沢温泉), famous for the 1998 Winter Olympics. It was my third attempt at the winter sport. As they say, the third time is the charm. I managed to pretty well master all the basics. I even learned to snowboard backwards. I mean a “goofy” stance, not snowboarding up a mountain.
Both days after tearing up the powder we visited a hot spring (温泉). There’s nothing quite as pleasing as taking a hot soak after enjoying snowboarding. Oh yes there is. Drinking an ice cold beer after a bath after snowboarding. Pure bliss.
Monday, January 1
Happy New Year!
It’s a new year so let’s start it off on a positive note! This entry I’d like to share with you a really great thing about Japanese culture. That is a shared sense of common decency. It’s a simple thing but it makes life so much more pleasant.
Let’s start with Tokyo trains. Each train car (usually) has eight reserved seats, or “priority seats.” These seats are for the elderly, disabled, expecting mothers or passengers with children. Although these types of passengers may not be on every train car, especially not pregnant women, they do have reserved seats. A small consideration, but a polite one. Sometimes the priority seats are occupied. If so, it is not uncommon for an individual to give up their seat. I do it regularly.
Decency extends to the dinner table as well. If you ever share a meal with Japanese people you’ll be well taken care of. Japanese people, especially women, are very aware of others’ plates and glasses. Whether that means serving your food before their own, or topping off your drink. I can’t begin to count how many times my drink has been refreshed before I realized I had almost finished it. Taking care of others, especially at the dinner table is very important.
Baths are still an important part of Japanese hygiene Families will often use the same water to soak in after a shower. True to the patriarchal, seniority systems, fathers take the first bath, then all others follow based on age. However if a guest is present they will always go first. A gracious gesture.
These examples and more have made Japanese culture well-known throughout the world. Individually they are small things. But added together they make Japan a very pleasant place to both visit and live. Now if I can just teach Japanese people to hold the door open we’ll be perfect!