Update: I thought I posted this days ago and was confused when I saw this sitting in my drafts folder. Turns out I posted this when I had no internet so it never got published 🙂 Enjoy my reflection and scattered memory as I try to recall what happened less than a week ago.
I. Forgot. About. Customs.
Despite arriving at 2:35PM, the line for customs took another 2 hours of our time so we ended up exiting the airport around 4:30PM. They were doing some renovations in the customs area and there were only four men on duty doing the passport and custom form checks. There was not much you could do about a long line, so I waited. Thank goodness for the Narita airport WiFi. Oh, did I mention I have no cell plan in Japan? It’s pretty normal, so I just turn data roaming off and airplane mode on 24/7. But that means I’m heavily reliant on WiFi and soak it up when I’m in the presence of it’s blessed being. I’m also apparently very bad at geography and did not realize that Tokyo is a whole hour long bus ride away from Narita airport. Thank goodness the bus also had free WiFi!!
We arrived at our hotel which was called Hotel Mystays Premier, which was nice and cozy. Like all Japanese things, the hotel itself was pretty small but the strangest thing was that there was this robot in the front. I completely forgot that Japan is trying to be the forefront of all A.I. and have been trying to develop robot assistance. I came face to face with this robot helper named Pepper who was dressed in this concierge outfit.
This gorgeous robot came in three languages: English, Japanese, and Chinese. I swear that the Japanese setting of this guy was WAY more friendly than the English version and I didn’t even want to hear the Chinese setting. I was so freaked out by him/her that I couldn’t walk by him/her (do I have to treat A.I. like humans if they can think for themselves? Can they think for themselves? Is there a conscience inside of them that can feel emotions?) without my sister, mom, or dad accompanying me.
I think the aspect of this robot that scared me the most was the fact that when this robot wasn’t interacting with anyone, he/she was moving it’s little plastic fingers constantly. It never stopped. It was almost menacing how his/her eyes were unblinking, staring at you in the face as you heard the *click click click* of his/her fingers bending right below your sightline. Imagine that. How could I possibly walk past that without wanting to run the other direction?
After dropping off the baggage, we set out into the city to find some dinner. A dish my dad had been craving was Japanese spaghetti. There’s something different about Japanese spaghetti compared to Italian/American spaghetti.
Japanese spaghetti is a lot less greasy than other countries make spaghetti out to be, and it incorporates aspects of Japanese food into the sauces and toppings of the pasta. For example, there was this one spaghetti dish that had shrimp and salmon roe on top and another that used grilled squid. I was basic and went for the classic meat sauce, but it was still very light and the perfect portion to not make you too full but also satisfy your appetite (if that makes sense).
We just walked back to the hotel and slept afterwards, but something I wanted to note that I noticed the second I arrived in Japan is the dress code. Nobody in Japan wears leggings, which was the first mistake I made since I wore leggings on the plane and thus arrived into the country wearing skintight leggings. I suppose that the Japanese associate leggings with almost being scandalous because it’s so form-fitting. A lot of Japanese women either wear baggy pants or long loose skirts with conservative tops. I only packed two long pants and like two t-shirts, so I panicked quite a bit and I’m still currently panicking because I will be surviving the next three weeks with two pairs of pants and two shirts unless I buy some more clothes.
I have rarely seen any girls wearing shorts or tops that show the shoulders. My understanding is that women are less regarded in Japan than they are in America, and it’s harder for them to rise up to higher positions and become figures of authority when it comes to jobs. This is most likely reflected in the way they dress, since conservative clothing is meant to hide the body. There is a problem with groping in the subways, which I’m slightly scared about and thus why I want to dress to fit in with the conservative style of the Japanese women. It’s actually quite a stylish conservative fashion, and I believe that Japan is pretty fashion-forward so maybe I’m getting a sneak peek at what the trends will be next year 😉
I know that I’m a tourist in Japan from America where our fashion tastes are slightly different (and slightly more exposing) so I have an excuse to be ignorant to Japanese fashion trends, but I still want to be respectful of the culture and not be offensive by dressing inappropriately. I rarely see women or girls wearing shorts, even in hot and humid weather, and understandably so. My goal this trip is to observe Japanese cultural principles and follow them accordingly, and then be able to bring them back to America with me and us them to improve the way I live.
When in Japan, dress as the Japanese do I guess!
I look forward to a culturally immersive trip, and I can’t wait to update this blog more!