TItle Photo: The Ritz Hotel – Koshien/Nishinomiya. This blog could easily be titled Weird Stuff in Japan.
I’ll kick the weird stuff in Japan off with a brief discussion of:
The Ritz was the second hotel I stayed in during my two weeks in Japan. My son had the first inkling the Ritz might be a love hotel when he saw this board around the corner from the registration desk:
To add to the anonymity is this cashier’s window:
When I realized I was in a love hotel, I understood why my room didn’t have any drawers or closets to put away my things. However, I never understood the absence of towel racks.
A given of a love hotel is a big bath:
To the right in front of the tub is the shower:
There is no public dining room for breakfast. A tray is brought to your room.
To compound the weirdness there is this robot in the lobby.
Japan is a very clean place. The weird thing, then, from my point of view, is the strange absence of garbage cans in public places. Of course there certainly are trash cans to be found in public, but just not as many as I might have expected given the lack of litter on the streets.
At my son’s apartment building there are no garbage cans. He is supposed to leave his garbage bag on a designated corner on a particular day of the week. Recycling is a big thing in Japan, but it’s hard to understand the schedule for curbside recycling, and you can’t always count on grocery stores and/or railway stations to have all the bins you need. But somehow it gets done.
If a phenomenon rises into enough salience to be named, you want to pay attention to it. Such is the case with the cultural syndrome hikikomori referring to ‘recluse’ ‘shut-in’.
It’s when a Japanese kid or young adult holes up in his parents’ house for weeks or months on end, communing with the world through his gadgets. The condition tends to afflict men. It’s been a household word since the 1990s.
Here’s the classic image of it:
For a fascinating video on the subject, see Hikikomori
People tend to make a big deal about Japanese toilets with all their fancy buttons. Me, I take them in stride. I was, however, struck by the odd sticker on this one:
While on the topic of butts and weird stuff in Japan, I’ll mention kanchō.
It’s a Japanese prank (okay, let’s call it that) performed by clasping the hands together in the shape of an imaginary gun and attempting to poke an unsuspecting victim’s anus, often while saying “Kanchō!”
Wait. There’s a statue in honor of it?
Linguistic note: kanchō also means ‘enema.’
After ending the weird stuff in Japan with kanchō I have to add something cool, and there’s no lack of cool stuff in Japan. The one I’ll choose is:
I was introduced to this kind of very traditional Japanese izakaya ‘neighborhood restaurant’ in Osaka. Yaki means ‘grilled’ or ‘fried.’
You sit at a bar with a grill and point at the dishes you want cooked in front of you:
Then they pass you your food on a long wooden shovel
The atmosphere is great, and your tab is counted by how many empty plates are in front of you when it’s time to pay up.
I like how the menus are displayed:
See also: All my Asia blogs
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen