It’s nice…and annoying.

*Standard disclaimer* My translation of Japanese is based on my expert knowledge of Japanese which is comprised of -26 hours of studying. Yes, I believe I am so bad at Japanese that I am now counting backwards. Also, Japan is amazing. We just all have things that annoy us, no matter how much we like the place/people/culture/etc.

It’s nice because store clerks will often use the “polite” form of all verbs and phrases. It’s a bit difficult to translate to English since we don’t have such a form, but essentially they will be saying things like “Thank you so very much for your patronage” instead of just “thanks!” It’s nice to hear, although it can be a little startling sometimes to be treated with such respect, but…

…it’s annoying when they say that same polite thing over and over. When you enter a store, especially at a mall, you will hear “irashaimase!” which roughly translates to “welcome to our store we love you, you are amazing and we are so glad you are here!!!!! Can I hug you please???” It’s annoying because they Do. Not. Stop. Saying. It. They will say it over and over and over again while you are in the store, sometimes they will shout it (have you heard a 20 year old Japanese girl shout? It can be…ear splitting.) Every employee in the store will say it to you. And at any given time there are close to 20 employees in a store that on average has one customer per day. So you get to hear that 20 times. I’ve run out of stores a handful of times because I couldn’t take it anymore…

It’s nice that there’s music everywhere (I’ve mentioned this before), but…

…it’s annoying because the music appears to be midi files created in the late 80s on a keyboard in your cousin’s dad’s basement. I’ve recorded a few of these gems for you, so please click here, and then promptly click the X on your browser if you’d rather your ears didn’t bleed:

First, the muzak rendition of a classic pop song: Holding out for a Hero

And now the LIFE store theme song: LIFE-Y LIFE!

This is the closest super market to where I live. This is played on repeat ALL THE TIME. (By the way, it’s played on stereos that are strategically placed around the store…apparently they have not mastered the overhead-speaker yet, although no complaints here. Since it’s only played on stereos, there are small pockets of the store where this siren song cannot reach.) And there are NO variations to this song. I’ve been here almost six months. It hasn’t changed yet.  Just “Fun, fun, fun, liiife-y life!” on an endless loop. I am starting to believe this song has been here since the beginning of time and will be the only thing to survive the impending end of the world. Just a bunch of smoking rubble and a battered old stereo ominously repeating its sinister tune long after all humans are eradicated.  As you can imagine, I run in and out of the store as fast as possible. How any employee survives in this environment more than one hour I will never know.

(special note: each youtube “video” includes my state of the art recording i.e. using my iphone to awkwardly record the music in the store, and an image I took off of google images.)

It’s nice because they think I’m special! My blonde hair really stands out here, not to mention my pasty white-ness. Sometimes I feel like people are extra nice to me because they think I’m fragile or something. This is helpful when I am struggling to mail a package at the post office or I’m not sure what bus to take, but…

…it’s annoying when I get stared at everywhere I go. I didn’t notice this so much at first, but lately it’s really been getting to me, especially if I am by myself. Sometimes I see girls giggling and looking right at me. I’m pretty sure they are just excited or something (I don’t know, I don’t get it) but it makes me feel like there is something wrong with me (although it’s perfectly possible that there is!).

It’s nice that everyone loves food. Japanese people love to eat, and the food here is delicious and for the most part really healthy. Also, whenever anyone goes on a trip, it is a common custom for them to bring back a little treat for all their co-workers. I love the days when I come to work and find a snack on my desk! However…

…it’s annoying when they talk about food non-stop WHILE eating the food. I like food. A lot. I like to concentrate on my food. I am not much of a talker while I eat. Needless to say, at work I can’t really understand much, but I can catch enough of it to know that this is the daily basic conversation:

Person A: Oh! This is ____________. (fill in the blank: delicious, savory, salty, sweet, etc)

Person B: I agree!

Person C: I don’t think so! I think it is ________. (fill in the blank.)

Person A: Oh! I see.

Person D: I like carrots.

Person B: Me too!

Person C:  Oh, look, we have carrots today!

Person D: GREAT!!

Person E: I love carrots!

Person F: Carrots are orange!

Person A: Carrots are healthy!

Person B, C, D, E, F: Mmm. Yes, yes. Carrots…mmm…

Person A: Let’ all eat the carrots now, and then express our opinion at the exact same time!

Person B, C, D, E, F: Ok, let’s go!

Person A, B, C, D, E, F: DELICIOUS!!!

It’s nice that vending machines are everywhere! There are at least five vending machines within a one minute walk from my apartment. They even sell heated drinks during winter. However…

…it’s annoying that THEY STOPPED SELLING DR. PEPPER IN THE VENDING MACHINE NEAR MY HOUSE.

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5 responses to “It’s nice…and annoying.

  1. This lunch conversation does not seem too far off from many of the conversations at LOJ… Especially when Matt or Joe are involved.

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