We’re Not In Kansas Anymore

I’ve had some people ask me if I’ve noticed anything that’s different here in Japan from the last time that I was here.

Yes.  Some things, some things no.

For example:

-Sales tax has gone up 3%, and is about to go up another 2%.  Previously, I spent a great deal of time at the 100 yen store (aka the dollar store, but waaaaay better and less shady), and with taxes it was always 105 yen per item.  Now it’s 108.

-I’ve found flour tortillas in the stores.  Granted they’re about $5 for like 4 of them.  But the point is- you can find them. Along with more foreign foods in general.

-Baby carriers.  Everywhere.  But perhaps that’s just because now that I’m a mom, I notice it more.  And probably because out more during the day when moms are out, as compared to early mornings and late nights, when mommas are at home.

I’m sure there are plenty more things… but right now, I can only think of things that have been updated.  And projects that were being worked on before (malls, train stations) that are now finished.  More smart phones… but that’s in America too.

But in many other ways, Japan is still the same.  Some things I had forgotten how much I loved:

-The extremely helpful and patient Japanese who have lots of mercy on me as I sputter out what I need to get accomplished and they fill in the blanks to help.

-Toilet seat warmers and rug warmers.  Enough said.

-Great Japanese foods: Rice balls with a sweet, sticky sauce.  Japanese curry-stuffed fried bread. Yakisoba. Sesame seed dressing. Mikans (tangerines/mandarin oranges), grilled sweet potatoes as a snack, taiyaki.  So many good things.

-That feminine Japanese voice that is used everywhere.  It’s kinda strange but ya miss it at the same time.

-Convenient marts (conbinis).  You can go to the atm, print docs for your next meeting, buy a full meal, get some stamps, buy a tie and pay your bills all in one stop.  I’m pretty stoked that our new apartment is literally next door to a conbini.  Really.  You have no idea.

-Walking.  Everywhere.  And measuring everything by how many minutes’ walk it is to such and such a place.  And remembering how shaving 30 seconds off your route makes a world of a difference in busy Japan.

As soon as I post this, I’ll think of a million more things that I should have put down.  But perhaps I’ll save them all for a follow up post.

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