blacklilly: (Default)
Gaijinfails are numerous and often unexpected:
  • the most recent would be totally forgetting to remove my house slippers at my friend's house when wandering in the tatami room. 
  • eating sashimi incorrectly.  It seems that the numerous times I ate sashimi with with Japanese friends no one ever mentioned that I was doing it wrong, until summer last year when  I was told the "proper" way to do it.  Of course, the person who corrected me, could have just been messing me around.
  • going to onsen and brazenly wandering around with my tattoos showing.  The best time this happened is when I went to an outdoor onsen in Gifu with two friends - one of whom had pierced nipples, and the other, who not only was three times the size of the average Japanese person, but also bedecked with tattoos.  The bath emptied out pretty fast.  Of course, it doesn't always work like that.  I was kicked out of my gym in Omori for having tattoos after some crinkly old bitch spotted them in the showers and reported me.  "Life in Japan is hard for foreigners," said the receptionist as I signed the cancellation form.  "Not really,"  I thought.  "You just like to make it difficult."

Speaking of gyms, I quit gym back in the middle of November.  I got so frustrated with running on a treadmill going nowhere, and being subjected to Japanese TV, which is for the most part food porn and talentless "personalities" giving their watered down opinions about the process of making tatami mats whilst a bevy of overly coiffed and primped "personalities" nod their heads in disinterested agreement and giggle.  I doesn't help that I dislike TV in general, so Japanese TV was never going to fare well with me.  Anyway, I've been walking, swimming and doing yoga like a little beast since I quit.  I actually exercise more now that I don't go to the gym.  So maybe I should get off this computer and go take a walk in the sunshine!

I've been sounding pretty grouchy about Japan lately.  I think I need a break.  So it's a good thing my trip to Bali begins on Saturday!!!!
blacklilly: (Default)
I'm currently in the process of cooking oden. Having been fortunate enough to be the recipient of the leftover veggies from the school Xmas party, I'm making a pot of yummy to keep me going for the next two days. Today's oden consists of daikon, carrot, chikuwa, eggs and tofu all cooked up in a soy sauce and miso soup. It's as Japanese as I can be bothered to be at the moment. I did, however, forget how long daikon takes to cook, no matter how small you chop it. Hey ho, it's a good thing I finished work early tonight, otherwise I may not have been eating until midnight.

Whilst I'm waiting on the radish, I've decided to tell you the long overdue gym story. It took me about 5 months to get round to joining the gym near my train station, as (surprise surprise) I was agonising about the cost. However, I eventually got so stir crazy for a swim that I did it. I would go in the mornings when it the gym opened first thing and charge up and down the lanes for 45mins before pelting off to work. No one really wanted to talk to me apart from two ladies, one of whom had a daughter living in London. The other old ladies merely gave me a basic good morning, or totally ignored my existence. That is, of course, until one of them clocked my tattoos in the showers.

One of the gym staff approached me while I was getting changed and asked me if I had tattoos, which I confirmed. She then informed me that this was not allowed, and that we'd discuss it when I came out to reception. Except that there was no discussion. I found a cancellation form and a copy of my contract waiting for me at the desk. Tattoos of any kind, be they the more yakuza-style, or mere "fashion tattoos" such as mine, were not allowed. So I was given the form to sign, told that it must be difficult being a foreigner, and ushered out in the autumn sunshine. At the time I found it quite amusing, but as the day, and days, went by I became increasingly more angered about the whole thing.

Now, I admit that I am aware of the general "no tattoos" rule in a lot of places in Japan, but I've been used to them not being enforced. I've never been to a gym or an onsen which has refused me access, even when I've told them I have tattoos. Even my previous gym in the sticks of Nagano didn't worry about them, and one would expect more "traditional" thinking in a place like that. Yet, it seems that the suburbs of Tokyo are far more intolerant than one would assume.

There are two lines of thought here. The first would be that as I'm living in a culture foreign to the one I've spent 26 years of my life in, I should try to adhere to their values etc etc. Which, I would say I respect and value, for the most part. Yet, the other line is that I should be allowed to do as I wish with my own skin, without having to face discrimination as a result. I'd like to do both, but it seems I can't. Of course, being an foreigner here means that I will never really be accepted, and that my views on certain subjects are at a wide variant to those of some Japanese people. So one is tempted to give "tradition", and old ladies, the finger. I've certainly had far less tolerance of them lately, especially when the sneaky bitches jump the train queue. In fact, ANY queue that I'm in seems to be fair game.

I think this is what sparked the recent "slump", and led to me feeling rather victimized in that self-pitying way I have. It wasn't just that, but I can date most of my ill-feelings to around that time.

Anyway, here's a picture of some yummy for you:

Daikon, chikuwa (the weird brown and white stuff), carrots, a boiled egg, tofu and some wakame. I just ate it, it was pretty good. The egg, of course, is saved for last.


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April 2011

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