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Zoned Out – Day 6

Zoned Out – Day 6

Today in Kyoto we had cloudy humid weather, light traffic around town and a radiation reading of — oh, wait, Kyoto isn’t even in the “zone”.   Every day in the Japan Times, on the second page I think, there is a map of about 1/2 of Japan with concentric circles radiating out (ha!) from Fukushima.  Today’s reading for Tokyo was .064 microseiverts per hour.   Today’s reading for Sendai was .074.   Today’s reading for Nagano was .041.    Today’s reading for Shizuoka was .040.   And that’s as far west as the circles go – they don’t go past Shizuoka (about 95 miles from Tokyo) to Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Ise, Naoshima Island, Hiroshima, Miyajima and basically, over half of Japan to the west of Shizuoka.    The readings themselves, for the parts of Japan that are shown, with one obvious exception, are apparently the same or lower than many parts of the US; certainly lower than Mexico City and probably Denver, which have altitude. So instead of spending our days outside the zone, we spent today zoned out… at the Kamo Odori.   I would love to post a picture of this too, but cameras and videos are strictly forbidden.  So all I have is a picture of the curtain which I took before the performance started.   The Kamo Odori is one of several dance performance series put on by maiko (apprentice geisha); this one in May.   The other one is the Miyako Odori, which is in April.  If you’re in Kyoto during these months you can go to one of the shows. There were two parts to this event for us – the most hysterical part was the “tea ceremony” that preceded the show.   Our tickets included the “tea ceremony” – there is a reason I put it in quotes a lot.   This was the fastest tea ceremony ever – we laughed the entire time.   We were ushered onto an elevator, up the elevator to the fourth floor of the theatre building, into a room with about 5 long bench-like tables with small stools lined up in front of them.  In the front of the room sat a young maiko (I guess), perfectly made up with tea implements around and a second one doing something (don’t recall what, no time to observe).   The ushers pointed to us to sit down, one attendant went down the table placing a piece of paper, a small ceramic dish and a mochi with red bean paste inside on it.  Then out came another attendant and dropped a bowl of whisked tea in front of each person.   Then all the people around us either wolfed down the sweet or pocketed it, gulped down the tea, wrapped the dish in the paper and stood up and rushed out of the room.   We were just trying to figure out what to DO and the next group of people were rushed in and seated.   In the meantime, an attendant was scurrying along picking up the empty tea bowls – I’m sure I upset the plan when I didn’t finish my tea.  David ate the rest of my mochi…    All the while, the young ladies at the front sat motionless in some odd living still-life of a tea ceremony. After we were shooed out of the “tea room” they sent us down a flight of stairs, past the first shop of souvenirs.  Then down another flight of stairs, past another shop, this time with food souvenirs.  Then through a big...
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Clear Instructions: It’s Just Different Here

Clear Instructions: It’s Just Different Here...

We like to tell our clients that they will be able to find signs in English in most of the train stations in the central part of Japan.  And, for the most part, that’s true.   What we can’t promise is that the English will be very useful in finding your train…
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Everything including the Kitchen Sink: It’s Just Different Here

Everything including the Kitchen Sink: It’s Just Different Here...

OK, so I know there’s been a lot of concern about H1N1 throughout the world.  Hand sanitizer as a hotel guest welcome sign is the new “in”.  However, we never thought the Japanese would take it to such lengths.  This interesting platform necessity was spotted in Matsumoto JR train station.   We really couldn’t figure out who would use it and when.
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A Little Trashy: It’s Just Different Here

A Little Trashy: It’s Just Different Here...

I can hardly write this one up without going into paroxysms of laughter.   In a hotel to be unnamed, we encountered the world’s smallest trashcans, if they weren’t so entirely useless, they’d be cute.  These were on the floor and I think may have held a Q-tip or two, but not much more.
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Workaholic: It’s Just Different Here

Workaholic: It’s Just Different Here...

This is our busiest time of the year, so not much time for posting blog entries.  However, here’s a typical situation in Japan where someone is unclear on the concept:
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Signal Dilemma: It’s Just Different Here

Signal Dilemma: It’s Just Different Here...

It’s not hard for Americans to find things and situations in Japan that are puzzling. The language gap alone gives plenty of fodder for misunderstanding. But usually standard traffic signals are fairly similar the world-over. However, we ran into this conundrum on the streets of Kyoto. Apparently, the blind have a different button that they have to push for a signal to safely cross this street (with only one way across).  Now we sure couldn’t figure out how they would KNOW that there was a different box for them (since it wasn’t making any noise and we didn’t see any braille on it), but therein lies this signal...