Sunday, 15 June 2014

8 Insignificant Things About Japan That Please and Annoy Me


Between work, child, dogs and all the usual stuff I haven't had time to dedicate to proper posting lately. So, just for frivolous fun, here are eight completely insignificant things that are annoy and pleasing me about life in Japan lately. There's no discussion of meaningful social issues here, just randomness!

Annoying


Milk only comes in 1 litre cartons. It wouldn't seem like a big issue, but it is really annoying and really wasteful to have to buy three or four individual cartons a week. If you peek behind the counter of a Japanese Starbucks you'll see crate after crate of 1 litre milk cartons... even business can't get larger sizes, it seems. SO MUCH PACKAGING >.<

Pleasing

Eggs have the use by date stamped directly onto them, so if you finish half a pack, buy a new one and set them all together in the fridge there's still no confusion. It's a little thing but quite handy!

Annoying

My neighbourhood recently added two new categories of garbage, bringing it up to nine different ways we have to separate everything, all collected on different days and different frequencies (for example, burnable is twice a week on the same days each time but non-burnable is once a month on a completely random day). I really appreciate the recycling system and I don't even mind separating it into different categories (even though in Australia all the recyclables get collected together from the same bin then sorted at the recycling centre, so I KNOW IT CAN BE DONE). What really annoys me is having to take garbage out every single day and needing a schedule to know what to take out when because it is that frickin' complicated. Also, our garbage is even collected from different street corners depending on what type it is! There is no need for it to be this complicated!

Pleasing


Light switches glow when switched off. Again, a really little thing, but so helpful! No more groping  along the wall in the dark trying to feel for the switch. It's especially helpful in unfamiliar places.

Annoying


School lets out at completely random times with no consistency, and I get the times for the following week each Friday evening. That means if Monday is a "there's randomly no school after lunch today" day, I have literally zero business days notice to figure out child care or try to get time off work. The assumption is that every child has a stay at home mother and/or cohabiting grandparents. This increasingly does not reflect the lived reality, but schools seem disinterested in taking responsibility for kids between set hours.

Pleasing

Although these are horribly environmentally unfriendly, I do really appreciate them from time to time! They are sweat absorbing pads that stick inside your clothes to prevent staining (or visible moisture) and also deodorise. Usually I wear and undershirt, but it is SO hot and sometimes I just want to experience the textures of my nicer blouses without having my underarms hosting their own wet t-shirt contest.

Annoying

The "sender" is listed as gaikoku, overseas.
I posted this on facebook and four or five friends replied with their own... the gaikoku is so generous, sending so many packages! No matter how many times it happens, the use of "gaikoku" to signify the entire rest of the world and the prioritisation of foreignness over any other information (like, for example, the NAME OF THE SENDER) continues to annoy me.

Pleasing

 I love that children do not live a segregated existence here. They go everywhere with their families, and if they get tired they just sleep wherever they happen to be. 
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11 comments:

  1. I had an argument with my J-wife about the recycling. She called Torontonians lazy, as all of our recycling, apart from batteries, paint and the like, is taken to the curb in one huge bin. I told her it was irrelevant as we had one of the highest recycling rates in the world, even better than in Japan, and much of the reason is that people do more of it if it is made easier, and besides the machines do a better job of sorting. She agreed more gets recycled, but still insisted we were lazy. As usual I took it too far and noted our productivity's 150% as high with 75% of the hours worked, how the Americans won the Pacific war easily though knocked on their back foot...

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    1. 'Don't work [Japanese], work smart!'

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    2. It's the same in Australia, just one huge wheelie-bin for all the recyclables. Perhaps I'm just neither Protestant enough nor Japanese enough, but I fail to understand the value of "effort" for its own sake ;)

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  2. I think that most Japanese families in this area (and therefore the school too) think it is expected that the children will go home to an empty house from the age of 6 and look after themselves until someone comes home - often not till at least 7pm. Therefore random finishing times doesn't make any difference to anyone. It is one of my pet hates too about Japanese education!

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    1. Oh really? It happens a lot around here (kids home alone) but technically it is forbidden until grade 4. Although, it seems that many parents respond by leaving the house locked and then the kids have to stay in the park until someone comes home... or, lately, they all come to my house... >.<

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  3. Love this! As a visitor I loved the baby seats hanging on one wall in the women's public toilet cubicles. What a wonderful idea. I was a bit frustrated with the lack of garbage cans in public places, but quickly got used to taking the garbage "home" to recycle properly. Annoying: well, won't go there...

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    1. Oh, yes, great point! I could do a whole other post about toilets. There are some that have a little fold down platform to stand on while you get changed which is a great idea, and I love the little mini-urinals in the women's for mothers with little boys.
      Lack of public rubbish bins still really annoys me though...

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  4. I think I've never seen something bigger than a 1L milk package, even in my home country.

    The eggs I buy don't have stamps on them. So, I always need to be careful or leave them inside the plastic box I bought them in.

    The garbage system is annoying as hell. Luckily my current area isn't that strict. My previous one was super strict. One night I had an old man in front of my door, ringing the door bell around midnight. He brought my garbage back, telling me what I did wrong in his eyes. Jeez. T_T

    I've never had "gaikoku" on any of my packages from overseas. Maybe it depends on where you live and who's handling your mail. No idea. ^^;;

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    1. Wow, really? In Australia 2L is standard but you can buy 3L in most supermarkets and of course cafes buy the larger ones.
      I think it may be the case that the garbage system exists to give old folks something to do... they can spend their twilight years memorising the arcane rules and then telling off the young folk who make mistakes ;)

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  5. Our school gives a monthly calendar the week before the new month starts, so handy. I do hate that all grades finish at different times to each other all the time.

    Someone told me the date on the eggs is used by date for eating them raw! Add a bit longer if you cook them

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    1. Oooh, handy to know! Thank you :)

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