Thoughts On Kyoto: Part 2

What a Wednesday! Nothing happened today. I had a nice meeting with my 会話 (かいわ/kaiwa, or conversation) partner and we talked a lot about politics and Japanese vs American school systems and such, which was definitely interesting. But otherwise pretty rainy and lackluster, so I figured it’s time for another ‘thoughts on’ post.

  1. People here are crazy nice. Some woman, who may’ve called my name and been from the AKP office or I crazy misheard her, chased after me to try and give me her umbrella despite her catching me on the steps to my building. No, sweet lady, save yourself! I have an umbrella that I’m just too lazy to use – it’s all good, promise.
  2. There are things to do literally everywhere. If I get off at a random bus stop (on accident or with purpose, both apply) I’m always near at least 5 cafes, 2 conbini, 1 classy restaurant, a handful of trinket shops and a jinja/otera.
  3. Busses are either pretty empty or packed with people. You’re a bit screwed riding on weekend afternoons, but my route to/from school seems to be pretty ok around 8am and 5 pm. Good luck I assume.
  4. All the jinja and otera have fantastic omamori and you need to watch your spending around those babies. At ~$5 a piece they’re not bad at all but can easily turn into a money-sucking addiction.
  5. A lot of jinja and otera also feature a lot of eto (zodiac) omamori despite not being specifically associated with eto. Likely for cute-ness/marketability?
  6. Ice cream comes in vending machines. Let me clarify; full on swirly ice cream in cones come in vending machines. Take me now.
  7. There are a lot of gatchaman machines everywhere, typically ~$2-$3 to play. In the US you spend a few quarters to get a little bubble with a plastic cat or sticky thing or whatever inside. But here? It’s quality stuff, like snazzy keychains, phone proppies, fancy picture slide things (great description, I know – sorry) and more. Fantastic.
  8. These gatcha machines are even/especially in department stores. I found at least 30 in the basement of Loft, which I think never happens in America but here it’s all good? I dig it.
  9. There’s this strange egg thing, the feature point of this post, who is a super popular character and I love him. I appreciate this.
  10. Stationary here is absolutely bangin’. The huge stores are pen/notebook/folder/notecard heavens, but even the Hyaku-en shops are loaded with a bunch of variety. I think I’m gonna stock up before I go.
  11. I don’t know if nail files are a joke to these people, but I haven’t found real ones anywhere. I bought one pack and it was like a buffer set; no coarse crap whatsoever. I keep scratching myself and it’s annoying – save yourselves and me please guys.
  12. Kuro goma, while a popular flavor for wagashi and some other things, isn’t as popular among snacks (chips, crackers, etcetera) as I’d hoped. Makes me a little sad.
  13. Not exactly a lot, but enough of a handful of people will see you and ‘welcome’ you to Japan in English. It’s kind of cute, hearing a “hey, hope you like it!” type of thing. But it’s also a bit strange, especially since I’m studying Japanese here and have a basic enough command of the language to have that exchange in Japanese. I’m sure enough tourists and whatnot come through that I’m a super rarity, but a few things are different about that in America.
    1. In America no one cares. Sure there are the kind random strangers who’ll merrily wish you on your way, but not as much as I think I’ve noticed here.
    2. You can’t make any assumptions in America. Is someone traveling, born here, fresh in or melded into our freedom dream machine? Who knows, and you certainly shouldn’t be the ass that assumes ‘not white? not American!’ because that’s pretty assumptive and overall rude.
    3. That being said, if you’re white in Japan that is a big fuschia ‘foreigner’ flag and damn if they don’t notice. Even though Japan is not homogenous like a lot of peeps believe, it is not loaded with white people, so treating us as gaijin is normally right.
    4. Thinking of that though, if you’re white and have been here for a while/can speak the language, you probably get that all the time and I’m gonna bet that it sucks.
  14. Quite a few telebi programs use interesting American song instrumentals in the background, either as the theme or for specific sweet/doink/whatever type of special moments they have.
  15. Most bus drivers are male. I’ve only seen one lady bus driver in my time here and even okaa-san was surprised when I happily pointed out that it was a woman at the wheel. I wonder why that is?


Check out my other Thoughts On Kyoto posts below, and take a look at all the posts in my Thoughts On . . . series here.

Part 1 – 3 – 45

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Patricia nagy says:

    Hi Elizabeth if you want to be in a place where everyone says hello all the time even if you don’t know them, you have to move to a 55 plus community in florida. Too bad your not old enought love grandma


  2. I love the emergency ice cream vending machines! Also, re: the “welcome to Japan” thing, yeah you get that no matter how long you’ve been here. You can reduce it/make it shorter if you respond to everything the person says in Japanese. That usually shifts it to a “how long you been here?” conversation.


    1. lizhatesfizz says:

      The vending machines in general are fantastic – the ice cream is like a super bonus 🙂 As for the “welcome” bit I’ve always gotten it while on the move, so I’ve never had a chance to prove my lack of total incompetence (or so I’d like to think). Definitely want to try that approach though!


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