Join Date: Sep 2005
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It is interesting...
Here I am again, after a few days away, with a gift for you: a great post written by my sweetheart friend Eva.
Before leaving Tokyo and back to Los Angeles, Eva wrote 65 reasons why she loved living in Tokyo. Itís just amazing how she managed to put all these points together.
Iím sure youíll love this post!
1. Public intoxication: Itís legal, itís fun, itís a way of life. If you pass out on the sidewalk in America, youíre a bum. If you pass out on the sidewalk in Tokyo, youíre the average, hard-working business man.
2. Toilets: As many of you know, Toilets in Japan come installed with coolers (and heaters, for the winter). Imagine waking up at 4am in the middle of the night on a cold February morning to take a s***. Itís absolute heaven. And any country that pays heed to the comfort of your butt is a winner in my book.
3. Respect for old people: Iím Asian. I believe in respecting your elders. I love old people, especially the grumpy ones. I donít believe in retirement homes. I admire the Japanese for how they treat the elderly.
4. Health care: It exists. It works. Itís affordable.
5. F*** New York when it comes to cities that never sleep. Tokyo deserves the title hands down. Bars are open 24 hours and convenience stores never close. This city is so over populated, it feels like people are always around, no matter what time it is. Love hotels, capsule hotels, karaoke bars, and internet cafes all cater to a society of people who never have to actually go home to sleep.
6. Tokyo has the most intricate, advanced train system in the world. And after the bicycle, trains are the next best thing. I have spent countless hours sitting, standing, putzing around in stations, marveling over the magic that is the Japan Rail system. Theyíre so nice to look at, coming in and out of the station in marching order, carrying hundreds of people at a time. Itís truly a work of engineering art. Man-made modernity at its best. I love everything about the trains here, except actually riding them.
7. Love Hotels.
8. Cell phones: I hate cellphones, but if Iím going to use one, it might as well be a Japanese phone. Theyíre like the new hover board.
9. The Japanese government actually cares about its own people. Being American, this is a foreign concept to me. In Japan (for the most part) the government/big businesses/economical dominators actually WANT their fellow countrymen to do well. The country has its own citizensí well-being at heart, unlike in America where authority figures misuse their power to take advantage of the general public. Take Enron, Halliburton, and Katrina for example. And our health and educational systems which do little to help the average American. Or how about our food supply as another example. In American schools, we feed our kids over-processed, chemically reduced junk food to keep them fat and hungry. Not only does the government approve of this, but theyíre the suppliers- like dealers to a junkie. In Japan, most of this kind of stuff would never fly. The result is that Americans a are suspicious, if not paranoid, people. Our survival skills require us to be defensive and aggressive. The Japanese, on the other hand, are more trusting and at ease with their surroundings because they donít have to fight for quality.
10.Traditional Japanese temples.
11. You can wear whatever the f*** you want, anytime, anywhere. Wigs, latex, a monkey costume? Sure, itís all good.
12. Incredibly well-dressed, dapper old men. I have a SERIOUS thing for old guys who dress well. Three piece suits, canes, fedora hats, shiny shoes- all of it. It makes me swoon. And in Tokyo, theyíre everywhere. I donít see this enough in LA or Philly.
13. Small businesses thrive in this city. In fact, they strike me as the norm. In America, every small business is always eventually eaten up by some bigger company with more money. But in Tokyo, it seems as if 60% of restaurants, clothes/food/music stores are all independently owned (thatís a VERY rough estimation, since I canít find the numbers. But if you live in Tokyo you get what I mean). My hypothesis is that the high cost of living in this city allows for small businesses to thrive. Itís a pretty good trade-off, especially when you grow up in the burbsí where everything is generic. In Tokyo, every street is lined with something quirky, unique and totally home grown.
14. No class struggles: This is a concept that continues to baffle me because sadly, my western society is one that is very much divided and defined by class systems. The psychological, sociological, and philosophical implications of money (or the lack thereof) in our lives are are ingrained in to our heads from day one. Yet in Japan, 90% of Japanese people consider themselves middle class. Yes, read that sentence again if you have to because itís totally NUCKING FUTS!!! That means virtually everyone here considers themselves monetary equals. It means where you live, where you come from, who you hang out with, date, marry etc is no longer determined by economical class! How beautiful is that? Itís also very strange to me, because in America, like it or not, class is permeating factor on most life aspects. Think about all The Clash songs or John Hughesí movies about the taboo of high school kids dating outside their class- they just donít make sense here. Iím still flabbergasted as to how exactly it works.
15. Sleeping in public: I really like this one! In Tokyo, itís totally normal to sleep on the train, or to put your head down in Starbucks or MacDonaldís to take a short nap. It can be really rejuvenating! But you do the same in America and chances are youíll wake up with your wallet missing. Either that, or people will just assume youíre sick/homeless.
16. Perikura: Japanese sticker pictures.
17. Japanese kids are just cuter. And maybe its something in the water, but theyíre all well-behaved, too!
18. Hang over medicine that works.
19. Cherry blossom season: People take a week off to sit under pink cloud-like trees to drink publicly while admiring nature. Even Christmas isnít this cool.
20. Symmetry: Iíve always like symmetry and Tokyo is full of it! I love the way this city looks- as if it were made up of puzzle pieces that have been thoughtfully rearranged.
21. Simplicity. The Japanese have simplicity down to an art.
22. Religion (or lack thereof): People donít care what religion you choose to be. You can believe whatever you want and no oneís going to give you some obnoxious spiel about how youíre going to hell because youíve sinned. Homosexuality and abortions are choices each individual can make on their own terms without some asshole trying to tell you otherwise.
23. Beverage vending machines: This country will never go thirsty.
24. Green tea: everything.
25. Great city for bikes!! I LOVE riding my bike in Tokyo. The streets of Philly always look like theyíve just been hit by a meteor shower. You could probably bury a dead body in one of the potholes in North Philly. In comparison, riding your bike around Tokyo feels like riding on the marble floors of the Vatican. The streets are smooth, glossy, pristine- perfect for cruising on your two-wheeler. And Japanese people are really skilled, patient drivers, because obtaining a license actually requires that you know how to drive (not so in the states). So you have fewer crazy idiots swerving at you from out of no where.
26. Dualities: The complexity of this aspect of Japan is far too complicated to get into it. But letís just say, Japan is the only country in the world that exist in balance between the extremities of modern/traditional, sophistication/kitsch, and simplicity/complexity. Somehow, they all co-exist simultaneously.
27. Neighborhoods: Suburbs donít exist in Japan, at least not the way they do in the cookie-cutter parts of America. Japanese neighborhoods are full of character- quiet, peaceful, clean, and beautiful.
28. The interesting world of Japanese sex: Itís too complicated to get into here.
29. Japanese people are naturally sophisticated. Americans are not.
30. Tokyo-ites are amazingly stylish- but not in a snooty, nauseating kind of way. Rather, in an inspirational, admirable kind of way.
31. Matsuri (festivals). If we had festivals like these in America, riots would break out and s*** would be stolen.
32. Everything is clean. Spotless, in fact. Iíd put money on the fact that the toilet in McDonaldís is cleaner than the one I used while living at 16th and Christian.
33. Environmentally conscious: Sure, people waste here too, but in comparison to America, most places are environmentally conscious. Here, recycling is the law. And with the pure amount of people living in Tokyo alone, they have to conserve just to make sure their standard of life is consistent.
34. For the most part, people are polite. Or at the very least, considerate.
35. Crows! 99% of people here will disagree with me, but I love the crows in Japan because theyíre one of the only things in this country that arenít minuscule. In fact, they are freaking HUGE (bigger than some Japanese people!) and actually quite scary. And thus, they are way bad ass.
36. Outrageous gaudiness and a culture of kitsch. Theyíre shameless when it comes to this stuff. Itís as enchanting as it is annoying.
37. Bath culture: Baths in America are reserved for 5-year olds and hot MILFS with sore feet. Baths in Japan are for everyone, and often done naked in front of a lot of other people. Every neighborhood has its own bathhouse and its considered totally normal to go in whenever (everyday, if you want) to soak for an hour or two for some R&R.
38. Karaoke: If youíre a hater, you just donít know.
39. Delivery services: I canít express enough to you my love for the Japanese Mail System. I would give up television for the rest of my life if I could be guaranteed to have mail this efficient in America. Things arrive quick, on time and in one piece. If you arenít home when your package arrives, you can call the mailman and heíll come back THAT day! You can deliver anything, from artwork to furniture, at an affordable price. And if you donít want to take your luggage onto the train on your way to the airport, the delivery people will pick it up and take it to the airport for you!!!!
40. Manga, anime, and video games: Iím not particularly into video games and computers etc (though I do love manga and comic books), but I still think itís pretty cool that there is a whole world out here for super geeks. Even I can admit that the high-tech video games and well crafted cartoons are absorbing when theyíre done at this level.
41. Shoes: Japanese people have the BEST shoes! From sneakers, to flats, to boots, to heels. These people really know what theyíre doing when it comes to foot wear. Theyíre much more imaginative and outgoing when it comes to matters of the feet.
42. Lockers at every train station.
43. Combinis or convenient stores. Always there, always open. Always have something delicious inside waiting to be eaten by me.
44. Work ethic: The Japanese have the strongest work ethic of any people. It makes sense that they have the 2nd strongest economy in the world even though its such a small country. Itís both a sad and beautiful thing. Even though I donít think itís healthy, I really admire their motivation, ability and drive. Theyíre always talking about doing their best and giving 110%. In this sense, I have a great deal of respect for the Japanese.
45. Reliability: Living in Tokyo, we take for granted that everything actually works the way itís supposed to. In America, you never know when the vending machine is going to eat your money or when the bus is going to come. Internet is always going down and packages get lost in the mail. In Tokyo, things like this rarely happen. We go on living our daily lives with the assurance that are expectations will be met.
46. Clubs: Tokyo has some of the best clubs in the world. And I donít even like clubbing in America. Take Womb for example. Itís voted the 2nd best club in the world by DJ Mag and it has a 2m diameter disco ball. Itís also 20 minutes away from my house. Amazing.
47. Fit, healthy people: I never realized how depressing it was to be around obese people until I wasnít anymore.
48. Japanese girls are hot. And when theyíre not hot, theyíre at least amusing to look at.
49. People in Tokyo just do more stuff. They live faster, work harder and are constantly on the move.
50. Stuff catered towards Asian people: Did you know they have a whole world of stuff made just for Asian people? Because I didnít. In America, I just use whatever I can buy at Rite Aid. But here, simply, silly things just work better for me- like eye lash curlers for small Asian eyes or shampoo for Asian hair. Itís kind of nice to live in a land where things are made just for you! =)
51. Tatamis: Japanese flooring made out of rice straw. Itís beautiful and smells nice. It makes sitting on the floor enjoyable.
52. Itís so easy to meet people in this city.
53. Safety: When I lived in North Philly, there were days Iíd walk home at night with my keys between my fingers. I didnít feel safe. Here, I can stumble back home drunk at 4am (naked, if I wanted to) and not have to worry for a second. The crime rate is non-existent in comparison to America.
54. Honesty and good will: 90% of the stuff you lose here will be returned to you. Friends who have lost cell phones and wallets almost always get them back in the mail. Japanese people are really, really honest.
55. Good costumer service.
56. Shibuya crossing, one of the biggest, most populated street crossings in the world. I didnít know you could be in love with a crossing, but apparently, you can. I still get goose bumps every time I cross it, and I do it almost everyday!
57. Tradition: Japanese culture is riddled with traditions. Coming from a country as new as America, our traditions are somewhat flimsy. I am fascinated by the historical context by which people do things here. I admire that they still honor their traditions, as it makes for a richer, more intriguing way of life.
58. Tokyo at night is a whole different beast. At night, all the humans turn into werewolves and spend the night prowling for prey. People go crazy amongst the shining neon lights. Itís the perfect place for mayhem.
59. Food presentation as an art.
60. Yakuza. Asian gangsters are way cooler than white ones. Especially since they get such bad ass tattoos.
61. The mind your own business mentality. If youíre bleeding from the eyeballs in the middle of the road, this mentality can prove to be fatal. But if its 6:30 in the morning and youíre obviously just coming home after a long night of partying dressed in sequins and spandex, stuck on a crowded train smelling of cigarettes and booze, the fact that everyone around ignores you because they donít want to embarrass you is actually kind of comforting. Japanese people are trained to strictly mind their own business, which is why in Tokyo there are so many weirdos that can get away with almost anything. In fact, it seems the stranger your behavior, the more people pretend you arenít there.
62. People still pay for music. Rarely do Japanese people actually download music because itís considered stealing. Iím glad someone is still buying CDís because I shamefully have not in a while.
63. Weather/Seasons: Tokyo has really great weather compared to other big cities like London and NY. Fall and Spring actually last three months each. It doesnít get too cold, and I enjoy the summer heat.
64. Conformity and sacrifice: This is a tough one, and something Iíve given a lot of thought to. Everyone knows that Japanese culture is based on conformity. Itís good to follow the status quo, and being different is something most people frown upon. Japanese people really donít know how to think for themselves, and rarely will they argue with you. On the other hand, in America, we pride ourselves on being the exact opposite. We believe in expressing our ideas and developing strong, individualistic opinions. Thus, most of the time, the Japanese mentality frustrates me because I find it boring and devoid of any real gutsy-ness. But overtime, Iíve come to think that maybe conformity is a choice Japanese people consciously make. Ultimately, they sacrifice their individuality in return for a society free of drugs, crime, poverty and illness. This sort of utopian life standard is something unique only to Japan because of their dogmatic loyalty to ďgroup-think.Ē Here, community trumps the individual. And thus Tokyo, despite its harsh circumstances, is a flawless, efficient, streamlined city. Itís the perfect well-oiled machine- the way perhaps George Orwell would have imagined it. I donít know if itís something I could ever get used to, but there is something deeply admirable and beautiful about the willingness of a person to prize their community over their own well being. Itís humbling and awe-inspiring. Itís lack of ego. Itís something Americans should learn a thing or two about.
65. And finally, my number one, all time favorite thing about Japan- The Food. I could write a novella on Japanese cuisine. In fact, I think I will, but Iíll save it for next time.