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Movable Type 2.661
February 02, 2005
Um. . . in Japanese Starbucks apparently -- or at least the one I'm in right now -- the baristas all yell welcome and thank you as you come and go just as if it were a sushi restaurant.
You are supposed to slurp your noodles--it is supposed to mke the soup taste better and show that you are enjoying them. The two businessmen in suits sitting next to me at the ramen restaurant were champion slurpers. They held their chopsticks in their right hands, the soup spoon in their left, and they wolfed the soup down in about 30 seconds.
I tried to slurp, I really did. But some things are just too ingrained. I don't know if years of atrophy have just destroyed my slurping muscles or if it was just too much of a psychological barrier after decades of being taught to eat quietly, but I just don't have the neccessary slurping skills.
Of course, maybe the problem was just that I just couldn't inhale properly since my nose was blocked . . .
February 01, 2005
One of the big no-nos is apparently blowing your nose in public. As it is cold here now and my nose is prone to drip, this is a very real issue. I have read that, in contrast to U.S. custom, it is perfectly acceptable to sniff and snuffle for as long as you want -- which still leaves me with an important unanswered question: do I just let the snot run down my face, or am I allowed to wipe my nose with my sleeve??
January 30, 2005
I have been told a lot about toilets in Japan, and was prepared for everything I've encountered. Far from my usual fear of all public restrooms, the Japanese restrooms are invariably spotless and comfortable. The toilets themselves come with a great many buttons -- most of which I have been too afraid to try, partially because, spotless room or no, I have a psychological inability to use a public bidet. Or, for that matter, a bidet that is also a toilet. The whole heated seat thing, on the other hand, is far nicer than you can imagine. All of that having been said, I had to laugh out loud upon waving my hand in front of a sensor I thought was going to flush the toilet only to be rewarded with the sounds of flushing. I'd forgotten this one tidbit -- Japanese women want camouflage noises to cover the sounds of anything they do within the privacy of their stalls.
January 29, 2005
Much has been made to me about business cards. They are to be exchanged immediately upon meeting someone -- largely to help determine pecking order. You present a card facing the receiver. You accept it with both hands and are meant to look it over, appreciate it, comment on it.
So today at the aquarium I was given two business cards. I looked at each appreciatively, looked at each person as if correlating the face to the name, and then took out my card case, inserted the two cards and presented my card to each of them. They repeated the ritual, and then each placed the card in front of them on the coffee table for the remainder of the 30 minute conversation.
Clearly I do not understand the true concept of business card appreciation.