Rambling Notes from Japan
Here are some blog posts that we hope will make you feel a part of things, and help you understand how to pray better for us and Japan. Please see our external blog in Blogger, if this page does not display correctly.
Japanese Trash Can Wisdom
This afternoon while buying lunch at the boxed lunch shop, I went to throw away an item and found that the garbage can was full...of philosophical advice (Photo above). I don't typically think of reviewing my life before pitching something. Was the garbage can suggesting that some people are throwing away more important things...their own lives? For the Japanese eye, this type of thing is just ornamental design. No one actually reads it. For this English-speaking foreigner, however, it is makes one do a double-take to see the way that English is used.
Another example that made me do a double-take this past week was this restroom sign. No English was used in this case, but it might have been helpful. I have gotten fairly adept at the various and sundry ways that a public restroom is referred to in Japanese. I've also seen many interesting English versions in Japan: "Resting Room", "Hand Washing Room." Sometimes I confess that I am a bit bewildered altogether and simply stand back to observe which gender enters which room.
This sign was also a new one to me. It appears that this might be a restroom for pregnant men only? Perhaps I am easily confused. But what made it more confounding to me was that the women's restroom had a picture of what looked to me to be more of a man than a woman. Again, I step back in these cases and observe before proceeding. This action has spared me embarrassment in numerous cultural situations. More examples in the spirit of fun to come.
I came across this car in our Kawasaki neighborhood some time ago. I'm posting it here as proof that Japanese cars really can be better for the environment. Just look at the way nature has taken to this car! If anyone has an idea as to its make and model let me know or post your guess.
Reverse Culture Shock?
* Being able to get out of either side when parked
* Understanding 100% of a radio or TV program
* Grass (lots of it, in front of almost every house!)
* Trees (with beautiful colored leaves to boot)
* Banana cream pie
* Clothing sizes that fit
* Parking in front of a store, instead of on top
* Self-checkout at the grocery store (when did that start?)
* Machines are strangely quiet (nearly everything from the gas pump to the escalator talks to you in Japan)
* Drink sizes, serving sizes and people are strangely large (possible correlation here)
* Foods are incredibly sweet, salty or fatty (much more so than I seem to remember)
* No bicycles or motopeds on the streets!
* Television programming increasingly unfit for most human life
* Thousands of choices for just about everything
Caught myself doing:
* Saying sorry to someone I bumped into...in Japanese by mistake (that got me an odd look)
* Standing in front of a store waiting for the door to open (Japan is the land of automatic doors)
* Getting in the front passenger seat and preparing to drive...and wondering why the steering wheel was gone (its on the right in Japan)
* Driving on the wrong side of the road (just briefly, mind you)
* Gaping at the aisles of cereal and snacks
* Wondering why US currency suddenly looks like monopoly money
Park Stuff Here
It doesn't take long to accumulate stuff in life, but getting rid of it in Japan is not easy. You can't throw it away without paying extra fees, or breaking it down into its component pieces: plastic, glass, metal, etc. And you can rarely sell it. Having a place to park unwanted stuff would be nice.
Wouldn't it be nice to have a place like this to park the stuff of life, the baggage that weighs us down. But wait! That's what Christ came to do! No need to pay extra! "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28. In other words, Jesus says to us, "Park your stuff here! On me! Your hurts and pains and sorrow. I'll take them all without cost. Then give you blessed freedom and peace in their place."
Dog Days of Summer
Japanese people love their small dogs. Pets are pampered quite well in Japan. Occassionally I will pass a young couple on the street pushing a stroller. One might expect to see a cute baby inside, but many times it is a pup that's getting the pushing! Yes, even dogs get their own transportation in Japan.