Archive for February, 2007
We don't have a clothes dryer. The vast majority of people living in Japan don't. Electricity is expensive and there just isn't room in most apartments and houses for the dryer, so everyone hangs their clothes out to dry.
Before I came to Japan I would have assumed that hanging clothes to dry would be a real pain compared to simply throwing them into a dryer. I've found that hanging clothes is therapeutic in a relaxing kind of way and actually enjoy it.
While my counterparts will be spending nearly $120 and deciding between candy, an evening out with their significant other, flowers or jewelry, I'll be sitting at home relaxing without a worry in the world becasue I don't have to do anything on Valentine's Day.
I have no doubt that whoever brought St. Valentine's Day to Japan must have been a man. There's no way it could be any other way - the Japanese Valentine's Day is a dream come true for men. That's because there is nothing for men to do on Valentine's Day in Japan. Yep, you read that correctly! Men do absolutely nothing. It's the women that bring chocolate, candy, etc to the men. Speaking from a man's point of view, this is pretty darn hard to beat.
Now men don't get off completely free in all of this. I'm sure that Japanese women soon figured out that this whole deal was a bit backward compared to the rest of the world, but once it had been established, there was no way the men were going to make the switch. Instead of fighting men tooth and nail on this, women instead made up a new day - called White Day - celebrated a month after Valentine's Day. On White Day men purchase chocolate, candy, etc for women. While men would have preferred to have come out of the entire process without any obligation, they acquiesced on this one point figuring they still came out well ahead in the deal compared to men everywhere else in the world.
Men in Japan quickly realized the advantage of having White day a month after Valentine's Day because it gave them something every man needs - basic guidelines and time to prepare. First, men are only required to give chocolate back to those who actually give them chocolate. Even better, since men get to see the gift given to them first, they have a pretty good idea exactly how much effort they need to put in and what they have to spend on the return gift. This makes the entire Valentine's Day experience a lot more enjoyable (at least for men).
So while the rest of you are trying to decide whether to purchase that heart shaped box of chocolates or the teddy bear on your way home at the drugstore on February 14, I'll be sitting on the couch watching TV with a beer in hand wondering what nice surprise I'll get. Hmmmmm, maybe living in Japan isn't all that bad after all...
When I walk anywhere in Japan, I'm always on the look-out for used telephone cards that people throw away after using them. When I first came to Japan, they were easy to find, but now that most people carry around cell phones, it's much more of a challenge. I would estimate I have amassed a collection of about 10,000 cards all of which I have found over the years.