Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Little Things

Just a small, random thing I noticed today.

I was at the 100 yen store picking up a few things, totaling to about 420 yen. I payed with a 5000 yen bill, which means I had 4000 yen (thats 4 x 1000 yen bills) and change back. The lady at the register pulled some 1000 yen bills out of the register, 1, 2, 3, but then the 4th and 5th she set aside, finally making 4000 yen with the 6th 1000 yen bill. Why? The 4th and 5th bills had creases from when they were folded in half twice.

Wow... even at the 100 yen store you're still keepin in classy Japan. It's these little things that make me love this place.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

US vs Japan

Found this pretty cool website that allows you to compare any two countries based on a dozen or so statistics. I did a quick US vs Japan comparison. Pretty interesting.

Seems Japan has the US bested by all but 2 categories - birthrate and salary. The birthrate is definitely a problem Japan is facing and something I knew about. It's quite a complicated issue, but primarily its because the expense of living is high, and your education, especially the status of your school traditionally dictates how good of a job you can get. So families tend to pour their resources into one child instead of multiple. Also couples are getting married later, so that's not helping either.

Then of course there's the problem with the society quickly aging because of the long life expectancy and the small birthrate, but that's another problem. At least that means there should always be work for me in the future I guess though, heh.

Anyways, I'm kind of surprised by the salary being lower than the US on average. Not to say that I feel the US is a poor country, but because the cost of living here is so much more expensive. Plus, Japanese society is in love with brands, so you'd think they're buying these cause they have a little more pocket change, but I guess not.

The rest is all as to be expected - longer life expectancy, healthier society, less resource usage, but that's just because its a smaller country. The lesser class division is probably on account of the society being 99% Japanese. In fact, from my observations there isn't much racism, or rather, they society isn't as hyper-sensitive to the issue as the US is. But I suppose that's because other races are in quite the minority. Still, Japan is quite polite so I guess racism wouldn't be as severe in general.

Of course I could be completely wrong. These are just the opinions I've come to based on my own experience with the country over the past 5 years. Interesting stuff though.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hop Around the World Again

New Years Resolution #1: Post more often

Went back to the US over Christmas and New Years, from Dec 22nd till Jan 9th. I got to have the bizarre experience of jumping back and forth between cultures again too. Actually since my trip this time was quite a long one (approx 3 weeks), I had started becoming more accustomed to American life again, so coming back to Japan was met with a bit of... nostalgic home-sickness? All the stuff I was getting used to again was now gone, and I had to dive right back into being the oddball giant foreigner again. But when I unlocked the door and stepped back in my apartment... yea, it's good to be home. I certainly miss everyone and many things in the US, but Japan has definitely become 'home' for me now. So it's good to be back.

Boy the roads were so much wider in the US though! I could sit back, relax and enjoy driving again over there. In Japan not only are the roads much narrower, where most of the side streets in the neighborhoods would be one way street in America (but they're not!), but also there's pedestrians and bicyclists galore, so you have to be super careful at every intersection you pass through, especially when turning. But driving in the US... oh man... just pick a lane and go.

Anyways, I got my good share of driving in over there with Milwaukee > Minneapolis > Menominee > La Crosse > Milwaukee. It was definitely good to see friends and family again, and even watch a Vikings game on live TV, in Minneapolis for that matter. Unfortunately I was half asleep through most of it (stupid jet lag!). On the flip side, as I was still getting drowsy in the late afternoon toward the end of my trip, it seems to be making it easier to readjust 15 hours ahead again to Japan time. We'll see how my first day back at work (after 3 weeks! ahhh!) goes. I'll be glad if I can make it into the afternoon without getting sleepy.