1 + 1 + 1 does not always equal 3

Have I mentioned that I love Japan?

It feels like this weird Sliders-esque universe where, from a distance, things look fine and normal but once I get closer, things are different, sometimes to the point of insanity. Some of it is expected, some of it is not.

First of all, everything is cute. I expected this, but not to the vast degree that it actually is. Stores are filled with chibi (cute) little mascots, cartoons, and products. Even the cans of SPAM are tiny and adorable. Trucks pass by on the road with smiling and happy spokestoons for everything from garbage collection to first aid. Heaven forbid you go into a multi-level store and wander onto the stationary floor. Let’s just say that I’ve never seen so many stamps and stickers in my life.

Another thing is style. Everyone is dressed spectacularly all the time. Men wear suits most of the time, and women wear smashing outfits with amazing shoes. Indi and I sat on a bench last night and just watched folks pass for awhile and I lost count of how many times she said, “OMG her shoes are awesome!” I feel like a slob in my too-big clothes and t-shirts. At least the weather is cooler here, so I can wear my stylin’ red vest. Run for it, Marty!!

But not everything is wine and roses. Everyone is happy, but it’s culturally required. You can read in some folks’ eyes that they are under tremendous strain, but if they notice anyone looking they’ll perk up like nothing is wrong. They smile, bow, and exude confidence because they have to, or they’ll lose face. I’m in the middle of reading ‘Culture Shock: Japan’ and it has helped me understand this a little better. I’ll report on it once I’m done.

I’ll give you a great example of things not being what they seem. On the subway yesterday, I saw a middle aged man in a suit reading a book. Salt-n-pepper hair, slightly rugged features. I looked closer and noticed he had a charm hanging out of his breast pocket. Upon inspection, it was a little colorful chain with ‘Stitch’ (from Disney’s Lilo & Stitch) on the end of it. Then I noticed his book; it was a graphic hentai novel, and he was reading it as casually as I would a newspaper. 1 + 1 + 1 != 3.

The food here has been amazing and I can’t wait to share my new foods list in a week or so. We’ve met some new friends and I’m working on the language barrier (not many Japanese know English, and my Japanese is terrible). We are having a great time and hope everyone back home is doing well. The holidays are creeping in and I already am saddened by the fact that Thanksgiving will be ‘just another day’. Turkey doesn’t really exist here, either. Perhaps I can find a cheap ham.

About rhysfunk

Rhys Martin was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1981. In 2009, he sold everything he owned and left the country, living out of a backpack for ten months. He discovered a passion for photography while traveling throughout Southeast Asia and Europe. After returning home, he looked at his home town and Oklahoma heritage with fresh eyes. When he began to explore his home state, Rhys turned his attention to historic Route 66. As he became familiar with the iconic highway, he began to truly appreciate Oklahoma’s place along the Mother Road. He has traveled all 2,400 miles of Route 66, from Chicago to Los Angeles. He has also driven many miles on rural Oklahoma highways to explore the fading Main Streets of our small towns. Rhys has a desire to find and share the unique qualities of the Sooner State with the rest of the world. Cloudless Lens Photography has been featured in several publications including This Land, Route 66 Magazine, Nimrod Journal, Inbound Asia Magazine, The Oklahoman, and the Tulsa World. In 2018 he published his first book, Lost Restaurants of Tulsa. Rhys loves to connect with people and share his experiences; ask him about enjoyable day trips from Tulsa, locations along Route 66, and good diners or burger joints along the way.
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1 Response to 1 + 1 + 1 does not always equal 3

  1. Anonymous says:

    I love reading your stories. Keep it up.

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