Thursday, August 03, 2006

Retooling, Simple as That

I know this is a somewhat boring blog entry, so I'll do what I have to to make it more interesting. I'm unveiling a new series of blog entries with the following titles. Look out for them in the near future.

Running From Authority and Through Japan
- Places to run
Chuck Norris Would Do It
- Stories & observations about Japan

At this time I want to take some time out for you, my two-hundred odd readers who have chosen my blog as a definitive authority on Japan. What do you want to know? If I believe it will be informative and controversial, I'll write about it. What can I tell you about Japan that no one else has?

In the meantime..
I should point something out to all incoming Canadians, Europeans, Americans, Australians, Africans bound for this fair country: DO NOT EAT AT MCDONALD'S. DO NOT EAT AT KFC. DO NOT DRINK LOTS OF COCA-COLA. KEEP YOUR STOMACH FOR FOREIGN FOOD BACK IN YOUR NATIVE LAND. That's said, we can move on. I just get so sick reading stories about foreigners who come to Japan and eat nothing for lunch but McDonald's - I know, I know, I've reported that I indulge in a Subway sandwich every so often, but it's not so much the sandwich, it's the turkey. You show me a Japanese restaurant that serves turkey, I'll go. Live like the Japanese while you're here. I know you'll never be one of them, but don't assert your gaijinness unless you have to.

That being said, there are a few things I have noted you might miss from foreign countries. I tell you this so you can learn to deal without them, not bring them on the plane.

1. Skim or low-fat milk. The Japanese generally consider such things foreign concepts. If you can't read Kanji or Hiragana, you might have a difficult time finding low-fat milk in supermarkets. Although if you're really desperate, in 7-11 and a few supermarkets they have milk marked in English as "LOW-FAT MILK". I have yet to see skim milk. Also notable, they do not store it in plastic cartons, but rather the standard paper container. This probably ties into the Japanese stance on freshness - plastic cartons may increase shelf life, but they require you to keep the milk longer.

2. If you prefer a lighter breakfast, there aren't too many options for cereal - granola, Frosted Flakes, Coco Krispies, Corn Flakes are prevalent, as well as oatmeal. If you have time in the mornings, I'd encourage you to try the typical Japanese breakfast - light tea, fish, rice, and miso soup. I don't eat that not because I'm not trying to experience Japan, but I never bother with big breakfasts; give me some OJ, cereal, milk, and a banana, and I'm good to go. Nothing against scrambled eggs (which is mixed into rice meals often here), just prefer lighter breakfasts.

3. Deodorant. No explanation, you figure it out. It's more humid here, and deodorant is weaker.

4. Soft drinks besides Coca-Cola and Fanta. You can usually find Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, and root beer in a Jupiter import store. Otherwise, you're out of luck. You shouldn't be drinking so much anyway, take my word for it.

5. Junior mints. I'm pathetic, I know, but I just miss these in movie theatres. They have no equivalent in Japan.

6. Q tips. As long as you're not worried about stabbing yourself in the ear, no problem. They make them a little harder here. No big deal, but if you're picky... bring some.

Fukuoka plans are in the works. Whatever you're thinking of doing this weekend, do the opposite, and have a cookie while you do it. Because if you're in trouble, hey, at least you'll have a snack.

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