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"Talk like this generally makes my blood boil but.. made with a gentle voice and a Japanese accent, allows me to think less of the message itself.. then I go home and complain about him to my husband.
- Hsien-Hsien Lei

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Japan

What is there to like about Japan?
by Hsien-Hsien Lei, 23, Nagoya, Japan
Sep 24, 1999

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Gadgets are what I like most so far about Japan. We have bathroom mirrors that are heated so that you have a fog-free reflection after stepping out of the shower, quite a surprise when you are used to a fuzzy reflection of your own naked body. The air conditioner in the car has a swing option that will move the vents left to right and back again continuously. The shower can be set to dry by turning on a fan set in the ceiling that blows hot air. The bathtub can auto-fill with a preset amount of water at a preset temperature. The washing machine determines the amount of water to use for each load based on the weight of the clothes. Best of all is the heated toilet seat that uses a stream of warm water from a special pipe sprayed from below at a touch of a button to help you clean yourself with the dryer that also dries you from below.

What else do I like about Nagoya, Japan so far? While I find that cities are pretty much the same everywhere, I like the fact that Nagoya is not a congested city. There is an open skyline and away from downtown, the residential areas are like the suburbs in the U.S. with trees, driveways, and only a few high-rise apartment buildings. Nagoya reminds me of Chicago and I suspect that Tokyo, though I have not been there yet, would remind me of New York City. There is plenty of spitting space between each pedestrian walking along the streets of Nagoya. Although spitting space was important in Taiwan, here in Japan, it does not seem as necessary. This kind of behavior would not be tolerated in a society where bad manners includes eating and drinking while walking on the street. And, even though there are plenty of vending machines lining the streets hawking drinks, people purchasing these drinks consume them next to the machines and promptly discard the empty cans in the conveniently placed recycling bin. Thus, despite the highly advertised cleanliness of Singapore, Japan feels even cleaner.

I also like the fact that I have been meeting new people. Most interesting of all has been the tea ceremony master who is carrying on the family tradition of teaching this Japanese art to the upper echelons of Nagoya society. He has invited me to join his class which I was a little wary of joining at first because I was under the mistaken impression that when students make mistakes during the complicated ceremony once taught to samurai warriors, the master uses a bamboo cane as punishment.

The tea ceremony master has appointed himself our unofficial Nagoya host and has introduced us to many local people including the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra's managing director who was kind enough to give us a pair of tickets and a Japanese-Brazilian woman married to a Japanese man, her mother-in-law stories alone would fill a book. Because he is in his late 60's (but looks 10 years younger), the master tends to be quite traditional in his thinking. He can be flexible in dealing with us foreigners but he still attempts to enlighten us with traditional Japanese ways. For instance, while at the Brazilian couple's home for lunch, he made the comment that a woman must perform her sacred duties, i.e., cooking, cleaning, and being a good wife, while a husband who helps her with these sacred duties is a cockroach. A wife must also not be too demanding and drain her husband of his energy because if she did, he would not have the ability to give 100% of his energy to his work which is as it should be. Talk like this generally makes my blood boil but somehow, his comments made with a gentle voice and a Japanese accent, allow me to think less of the message itself but rather the poetic way in which the message was phrased. Then I go home and complain about him to my husband.

Until I find out how high the prices are..

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