Karen Sandness comments

Posted in: Japan to resume accepting guided foreign tour groups from June 10 See in context

= a foreign wannabe tourist on the planet earth with zero Japanese language skills , and zero connections here in Japan that would or could tour Japan on anything but a guided tour? People need to stop whining about Japan slowly returning to what is normal for most foreign tourism…. Do y’all really think the average tourist could navigate the airports, the subways, trains …. Even a taxi ? All this whining is about the whiners and not the reality of the situation.

On one of my trips, I decided to spend a night at Koya-san, and the other Westerner staying at the same temple was a young man who had arrived in Japan three days before knowing no Japanese. I was impressed, but he simply said that he studied guidebooks ahead of time and followed the English signs.

Now some people ARE timid travelers. When I went to South Korea for the first time, speaking maybe ten words of Korean, a friend asked if I wasn't scared. No, barring an invasion from the North, South Korea is not a scary place, and I managed just fine. Even in a crisis--an ATM spitting out only a transaction record that indicated a deduction from my account but no money--my ten words of Korean and a lot of gestures were enough to prompt the bank receptionist to send for a proficient English speaker.

Granted, I know some people who would be scared to go to Japan...or any place outside their own county, but there are more adventurous travelers than you might think.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Posted in: 8 things you should never say to a Japanese person See in context

I lived in Portland, Oregon in the early 1990s. Whenever I told people that, they said "Tonya Harding!" And yes, it got old.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Posted in: See a whole other side of Kyoto in this beautiful, quintessentially Japanese train, coming soon See in context

Lovely article, but I have one quibble. Ms. Murphy, you are a native speaker of English, so you should know that we do not normally add "City" to the name of a city unless that is part of its official name, as in Salt Lake City, New York City, or Kansas City. I live in Minneapolis, not in "Minneapolis City." I can see where you would want to distinguish the city of Kyoto from the prefecture of Kyoto, but to add "City" to the name of every Japanese municipality that is a "shi" is a kind of wasei Eigo.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Posted in: University lecturer calls out his lazy Japanese students, praises his hard-working Chinese ones See in context

I was a research student at a prestigious women's college in Japan. When I first arrived, I was astounded to find that classes met for 90 minutes once a week, that the library was open 9:00 to 5:00 weekdays and 9:00 to 1:00 on Saturdays, and that I had to special order academic and textbooks from the bookstore, which sold snacks, electronics, and a few paperbacks for light reading.

I was supposed to be doing dissertation research, but I spent a lot of time exploring Tokyo, so I felt that I was slacking off, at least by U.S. graduate school standards. But after I'd been there a few months, the department secretary told me that the other students in my department thought I was 熱心 nesshin, or "really into my work."

I went to the campus coffee shop for my caffeine fix twice a day, and every time, there were the same students sitting at large round tables, sharing a box of cookies or candy and reading fashion magazines. The same students, morning and afternoon.

I decided that the students, having studied themselves silly to get into this university, were burned out. Freed from the looming terror of entrance exams, they simply decompressed for four years, devoting themselves to club activities or to just sitting around, secure in the knowledge that they would graduate no matter what and that the sometimes grim world of adulthood lay before them.

The only students I saw who really studied were the ones aiming for graduate school.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Posted in: What are some of the most unpalatable sandwiches, pastries or other food items you have seen in Japanese convenience stores? See in context

Once in a Pronto in the Otsuka area of Tokyo, the breakfast line-up of pastries included cod roe with extra mayonnaise.

Cod roe was bad enough--but extra mayonnaise?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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