Instantly recognizable as Planet Earth
Despite countless warnings that Japan is like a foreign planet, I found Tokyo to be instantly recognizable as planet Earth.
Last week I completed my first visit to Tokyo. I attended the Tokyo Motor Show, but also was bused a few hours into the Japanese countryside to drive a new WRX STi at Fuji Speedway.
I can’t talk about the STi until November 9th, but I can certainly talk about the rest of my visit.
So many people have warned me that being in Japan might as well be being on Mars. I’m not so sure I agree. I turned on my cellphone when we landed at Narita Airport, and it worked just like as if I were in the U.S. Or Europe.
In my hotel (which was located on a street just like at home) my laptop plugged into a familiar 110V outlet. I doubt very much that Mars uses 110V A/C. It’s probably something like 413-volt three-phase vibrating current or some other such other standard for which there exist no converters.
Gravity, too, must be similar to it is at home. I weighed the same 30 lb too much on the Japanese scale that I do at home.
So what gives? Were all these warnings just my friends messing with me?
Not this time. The differences — like the differences between most cultures — revolve around the language and cuisine. I left Japan a few pounds lighter (and no, it wasn’t just gravitational differences) because the food is lighter, healthier, and (most importantly) didn’t tickle my tastebuds.
But it’s the language where you find the biggest differences. I speak three languages, and they all use the same letters. (For the most part – an Umlaut or an accent aigu don’t count, in my book, as a different letter.) I’m amazed at the ability of Japanese speakers to use what seems like 4.3×10^8 different characters. (It’s quite a bit less than that in reality — the real figure is somewhere around 2000.)
Lost in Translation or not, the funniest moments will always happen when other cultures incorporate parts of your native culture (and language) into theirs. So I snapped these photos.
My excitement from seeing a Starbucks sign was quenched quite quickly after taking a bite of a Green Tea doughnut, which I ordered with my tall, non-fat, no-whip Mocha. I guess it’s an acquired taste.
But that’s no different than different things anywhere on Planet Earth.