Thursday, April 30, 2009

Things I love about Japan

I've lived here for about 13 years total and there's no way I could have if it weren't for the many good points. So here they are not in any particular order. HOT SPRINGS (picture below in Beppu) - The first "onsen" I tried was Japan's oldest and arguably most famous, Dogo Onsen, in Matsuyama; this is also where I lived my first year in Japan and fell in love with this country. It's funny because at that time I just couldn't find the pleasure of sitting in a hot bath with a bunch of naked men. It probably wasn't until I was in my 30's that my "old" body could appreciate the healing and relaxing feeling of it all. KARAOKE (picture above of me and Susan when we entered a karaoke contest - and lost badly) - I actually only go a few times a year but always enjoy it when I do. The sound systems these days can make almost anyone sound like a pro. Plus, singing in English gives me a big advantage whenever I go with students, haha. FESTIVALS (picture of me carrying "mikoshi" taken last week at Odawara Matsuri, pic. on right at summer festival in Okayama when I was a JET) - I particulary enjoy the summer festivals, especially the firework shows. They are so much bigger and better than the ones I've seen back home on the 4th of July. I also love all the festival food (yakisoba, cotton candy, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, yakitori). So it goes without saying that my love of JAPANESE FOOD makes living here that much easier. A few of my other favorites are: sukiyaki, tempura, karaage (Jap. fried chicken), donburi and shogayaki. Another Japanese invention that is loved by all, especially every winter, is the HEATED TOILET SEAT. Not only does it warm your tush (bottom), it sprays up water to do the cleaning, very environmentally friendly! :) Of course, the "SAFE" feeling I have here is also a huge plus. Not that I feel in danger in my own country but I am constantly aware of it and it's something that you always have to be prepared for. Here I can walk the streets by myself in the middle of the night and not worry about being mugged or robbed. I'm not saying it could never happen but the odds are so slim here that it's not yet a concern for me. I'll finish by saying it's the PEOPLE. I'm almost always treated well here. This is not only by people who know me but also by complete strangers. Generally speaking, Japanese are polite and easy to get along with. I'm very grateful to all the kind people I've encountered and befriended here.