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Experiences in Asia

Your not from around here, are you....

JAPAN | Sunday, 10 September 2006 | Views [785] | Comments [4]

First of all, what an amazing day to be a blue - a 3-0 defeat of Liverpool was just the ticket! It seems that the 8-odd million spent on Andrew Johnson at the beginning of the season seems a good bit of business now- how much has his valuation risen in 3 games? Bring on Wigan!

But enough of that- lately I have been seeing in Japan a sort of seperation which I never really saw in China and Japan. What I mean is, it is really obvious to see people of different backgrounds congregating together in the same place. For instance, the majority of my Korean friends all live in a town in Tokyo called "Shin-Okubo". Here, the majority of the signs promoting cafes, restaurants and supermarkets are in Korean. Korean produce is widely available, and when you walk down the street, it is more common to hear Korean language other than Japanese.

It doesn't stop there either. The Starbucks, Macdonalds and other western cafes / restaurants are usually teeming with western people during dinner hours. Seemingly every day, a new starbucks or Macdonalds opens somewhere else in order to cater for the masses. I was thinking about this the other day as I was sipping my cafe Latte - why can't I go to a Japanese tea house? I discussed this with my student - "wouldn't it be a good ldea to have our lessons in a Japanese tea house"?, I said. A reply came back along the lines of, but Starbucks has great tables, a great atmosphere, and delicious cake and coffee.

This is all true, but it isn't what I want to experience whilst I am here. In fact, I am not even too sure where the tea houses are- In Seoul we knew where the traditional houses were, but in Tokyo, I am yet to come across such a place. I came to Asia to experience Asia, not Western influences on Asia. I wouldn't want to particularly live in a "little England town" in Tokyo if there was such a place.

I'm thinking I need to get out of Tokyo for a while in order to reaffirm why I'm actually here.....perhaps Hakone....


Tags: Culture



Hi Dan,
many years ago (1992) I lived in Fukui for a year, amongst the Tanbo and a l-o-n-g way from Tokyo in every sense of the word. Aside from Donut shops everywhere, there weren't many other western style cafes etc. But I still found it hard to find Japanese style tea houses to go to. My favourite thing was to wander up to the stand-up Noodle place at the station and slurp a bowl of Udon with the commuters. In Fukui, that always got a stare.

I think I got closest to real japansese hang-outs when I just stumbled across them and boldly went in - speaking enough of the language to be socialble was a great help. This usually happened when I took a trip to a new town and inevitably got lost as i tried to get around sightseeing. One of my favourite memories of that whole year is getting lost in Kyoto and in a tiny backstreet somewhere, i caught a fleeting glimpse of a Geisha and Miko-sans rushing between doorways. It epitomised the secret japanese lives that you can see as a Westerner, but find really hard to grab hold of.

I think you'd do well to take a trip out of Tokyo - it's a different Japan out in the country. And when you get there, throw away the map and see how far stumbling gets you ;-)

  crustyadventures Sep 11, 2006 10:34 AM


Hi, about the Kyoto backstreets thing- that is exactly what I am after! Thanks for the post.....

  dan_in_japan Sep 11, 2006 11:08 AM


Hi, about the Kyoto backstreets thing- that is exactly what I am after! Thanks for the post.....

  dan_in_japan Sep 11, 2006 12:15 PM


Hey big man, just reading your blog, i have realised that i have not spoken to you for a fair number of months. I appreciate the picture you posted above, more than the actual scoreline, nevertheless, a fine 3-0 thumping of spurs with ze new dutch ace centre foooorwud now getting 2 goals in 2 games cleansing any disappointment i may have inhaled over the derby game.

It puts a smile on ones face to see you, the guy who kept on falling into the lake out of your boat, the casanova of Wales, submersing yourself into what sounds like an amazing culture. I appreciate what you're doing and can see its going to develop you in ways i didn't think possible.

Well done on your apartment, impressive, not just for me but undoubtedly to the ladies also.

Hope to hear from you soon,

nicky boy.

  Nick Williams Sep 26, 2006 5:42 AM

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