Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Culture Shock vol.1


I promised myself I would not write anything about Japanese toilets, since this topic is banal and over exploited. It's like writing a review of Star Wars. Whatever comes to your mind, it's already been thought about and written (e.g. here). Yes, the toilets have some buttons, but it's not that complicated. You can use your intuition or the helpful icons. By the way, most of things in Japan is marked with approachable and funny pictures: a family of raccoons warns about the dangers of subway, a pink robot points to a ticket machine, Hello Kitty shows fire extinguishers. You can survive without even knowing Japanese. Going back to the toilets, about which I'm not writing right now, I found controls for warming the seat up, washing with adjustable water pressure and "powerful deodorant". Of course you flush using a barely seen, ugly metal switch hidden somewhere in the back and under a pipe, because it's not the most important thing, right? Yeah, when I arrived in my land of dreams, one of the world's biggest and most interesting cities, instead of sightseeing, watching, trying, experiencing, etc. I was playing with the loo. And now I'm writing a blog. Sober...

So the culture shock got me already the first day, in a hotel toilet. Then I turned on the TV, where I saw an intriguing scene with some pixels here and there. Porn in TV at 13:00? Hm... I really liked my gift from the hotel - yukata, a simpler and more casual version of kimono. Perfect for Japanese wannabes. I don't think there are any Vulcanuses who didn't take a picture of themselves in these clothes. Or at least didn't wear it to pose in front of the mirror. I did both. The hotel was "Asia Center of Japan" which speaks for itself. Definitely one of the expensive ones - most of the guest seemed to be elderly tourists slash businessmen with a Texan accent. The purpose of the hotel was to gently introduce us to the new surroundings - everything was western-styled, friendly and polite. Also for the first time I have experienced the world-famous and legendary Japanese customer service. Bowing, smiles and kind words make you actually feel like someone special and important. As some American lecturer told me a week or so later, "when you go back to your countries, you will suddenly start to wonder 'what the hell is wrong with this place?'".

Obviously, I was too tired after the trip from Europe to do anything extraordinary. While constantly thinking about going to sleep, I forced myself to take a look around the neighbourhood. Akasaka is a pleasant and fancy district with some tall buildings: both apartments and offices. An hour-long walk with some Vulcanus friends led me to the real deal. Shibuya, one of the main places in all of Tokyo. Bright, lively, colorful and amazing when you see it for the first time. That was the City and I was so happy to finally feel its atmosphere. Crowded? Noisy? Expensive? Yes. But so beautiful. And afterwards I got to get my beauty sleep. The following days were going to be pretty tough: briefings, moving to my dorm and the reception party with ambassadors. And then finally some time to travel around. More on that later.

1 comment:

  1. Envious... you're soo lucky, making your dream come true :-)