Music plays in cities across Japan at 7:00 a.m., 6:00 p.m., and other seemingly random times. We think it's to improve morale.
The Japanese have the longest life span in the world but I'm beginning to wonder if those extra years are worth it.
The young people that I've met here--we're talking 13, 14 years old--stay up until 2:00 a.m. studying every single night. Then they wake up at 5 or 6, go to school, stay late doing extra curricular activities, come home, study, barely sleep, and do it all over again.
One of the questions that I ask to get people to practice their English is "How do you celebrate your birthday?" The answer I get every time is "I don't." I'm not a fan of American over-consumption and trash bags full of ripped up wrapping paper by any means, but really? Not even a cake or a present or a bottle of wine? Surely there is a happy medium.
There are celebrations here all the time. I've seen fireworks exploding in the sky above the towns around us every weekend since I got here. But I realized that these are group celebrations; they don't celebrate the individual here. If you compliment someone, they deny it. Everyone is constantly putting a facade because that's how they think a person should act. When someone dies, they cremate the body and only bury the bones. The ashes, the outer layers of a person, don't matter, so they throw them away.
We went to Ina to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince yesterday. We were handing over the money for the tickets when we realized that the movie was completely dubbed in Japanese. A friend told us that English movies were usually left in English with Japanese subtitles. Thankfully we hadn't bought the tickets before this realization. The tickets prices are ridiculous and we would have been PISSED. A fat Japanese man took our picture in front of the theater.
A little disheartened, we wandered around looking for a bar we saw once that we knew would have import beer. We realized that the fat man was following us and snapping pictures. It was really creepy. He left when Zack made it clear that we what he was up to. We found the elusive pub and talked to a really nice Japanese guy who had lived in America for four years.
Every day is an adventure here. We discovered a little karaoke bar in Miyada the other night. It was so fun-women dressed in kimonos served us beer and the only other person there for a long time was a very inebriated old man with a good singing voice who kept dancing with maracas. It was the one night I actually forgot to bring a camera along. We had a great time, they had a great English song selection, everything was going good--and then we got the bill. We paid a huge fee for just sitting in the bar and singing karaoke. The fee was more than double the cost of our drinks. Japanese bars are tricky. Some charge a sitting fee and karaoke bars sometimes charge you by the hour. Maybe that's why we don't see people out enjoying the nightlife very often...
I am rewarding myself for all my hard work lately by going to Apita and finally buying some clothes!!! I am so excited! I have to ensure that I don't look like a frumpy tourist in Tokyo since we will be surrounded by the fashion elite.
Michael and Andy are coming at the end of next week to visit. I'm excited but I wish they had given us a little more notice. It will nice to have some familiar faces around.