i don’t know how to start this particular post.
Usually, when i’m stuck for a storyline, i go for a long run, and on a good day, it comes to me. In the middle of mile 5 or 6, a flash of brilliance pops into my head and i have one line. ONE SOLID LINE that becomes the crux of my particular blog post for a specific topic (p.s. the “flash of brilliance” is my own self-rating… i’m fully aware you all may think i’m full of total bullshit, and i’m completely fine with that).
But i just got back from a somewhat unforeseen trip to Tokyo, and despite the milage i’ve put in since then, i can’t find the one line. the thread. the thing that makes it all work.
Maybe that’s because there were so many conflicting emotions i felt that the thread just wasn’t possible this time.
So i’m just going to write, and perhaps the thread… thick, thin, red, fragile, long or short will show itself and if i’m lucky will weave itself together by the end.
if not, who cares.
So like my “Alive for a Second” or “solid ass observations” post, i think i’d just like to highlight a few things that really stood out to me, and elevated my experience in Japan to a new level.
so here we go.
1) The Japanese know exactly how to tempt fate. On day one, i got into the elevator at our offices, and i saw this:
i’m not shitting you. It was as if they got a forewarning that i was coming, along with my complete life-bio, that said something like, “ok, so there’s this chick by the name AC coming, and let’s totally fuck with her and put buttons on level 1 and 4 that say ‘don’t push’ so that when she gets in the elevator, she goes completely ballistic.”
So what did i do, you ask? well, i did what you would expect a really strong female to do… i asked my colleague-in-crime, Adam Wilson, to push the button to see what happened. And did he do it? HELL YEAH HE DID!
and do you know what happened? do you know where that took us? well, i can only say that we went to a place where there were chocolate rivers and edible bubbles and gum that tasted like a 3 course meal and little blue people everywhere… it was AMAZING.
2) Inventions. I know you have seen books in Urban Outfitters or Amazon on inventions from Japan, but i kid you not they have the COOLEST FUCKING THINGS EVER INVENTED THERE. “oh, you jest AC…” you say. No, i don’t. let me show you.
Item #1: The Umbrella dryer/cover-er.
yeah. right outside our lunch restaurant. It’s raining? no problem, we’ll cover your umbrella for you. Now, i don’t have confirmation that it dries it off, but because i’m massively anit-plastic, i’m going to pretend it does. I’m pretty sure it does. but the point is that the Japanese SOLVE PROBLEMS for the simplest things. and for that i am grateful.
#3) i learned that Wasabi does not, in fact, come out of a tube.
I mean hell… if all you’ve ever seen is a big shmlob of wasabi on your sashimi plate, how WOULD you know what it looked like other than a big green hunk of toothpaste? But when you go to really authentic restaurants there (in this case in Shinjuku), it is in its original form, and looks like this:
that’s RIGHT! you shred it over a cheese-grater like thingy! that is all i have to say on this subject. i’m sure i’m getting “shame on you” head shakes over this one, but really… i didn’t know.
#4) They take bathrooms to a whole new level.
Now, i’m not going to go on about Japanese toilets. How they have about 24 different settings depending on what you’re looking for for your “nether-regions.” There are websites solely dedicated to Japanese toilets, so this would not be big news. What IS big news, is the hands-free “wave your hand like a wand” mechanism that now exists in the bathrooms:
Oh, and afterwards, if you still want to sanitize your hands, they have hands free sanitizer! i swear! this contraption actually exists in our NIKE office:
not kidding. you step on the pedal, and the anti-bacterial spray squirts on your hand. no touchy.
#5) On this next one, observational credit is due in full part to my insanely awesome colleague, Adam Wilson:
JAPAN HAS GNOME LOCKERS:
we saw theme everywhere.
#6) You can get a massage DOWN THERE. As in “in that area between your knees.”
I think i want to stop there. because if i’ve made you chuckle, or perhaps even smile a little, then you have an idea of how i spent my 5 days there. but there is much, much more that i can’t put on a list.
because it’s not list-worthy.
The Japanese people are simply amazing. breathtaking. On Friday, March 11th, the Japanese people suffered an earthquake and tsunami so powerful it shifted the axis of the Earth and claimed roughly 16,000 lives. The impact from the Fukushima nuclear plant has caused many to fear travelling to this amazing country.
But we went. 2 of us. And we had such an incredible time. The will of these people to do whatever it takes to rebuild their country and move forward was felt every minute of every day. From the incredible effort to conserve electricity in every single building, to the heartfelt genuine pride that exuded from them each minute of each day.
i was honored, excited, and humbled to be invited to Tokyo.
looking out the window from my living room in Portland, OR at 8:23 pm tonight, i imagine the sun at high noon above Japan, embracing a future we will forever be chasing by 16 hours.
To my new friends, arigatou gozaimasu.
until the next,
Haha, brilliant list. I think you pretty much summed up my experiences in Japan.
thank you! always feels a bit insecure to publish a post, so the comments are welcome and appreciated! if i missed any good ones, feel free to add. Have a great night!
Ok, I have to know – where did the button take you? To a boring first floor?
Wonderful observations and insights. But…I have to tell you that the staff bathrooms at the ‘mog have had the “wave goodbye” mechanisms for quite a while now. I wave goodbye several times every day. And you may again experience it if you’d like in just a couple of weeks!