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Doctor Q
Nov 17, 2005, 12:37 PM
Here are photos and stories from my trip to Japan in October and November 2005. I decided to put them here in the Picture Gallery forum rather than post them in my older trip planning thread so people interesting in photos don't have to wade through the other thread.

Here's our plane to Japan. I took this photo on the ground because it would have been a tiny bit harder to take the shot after we were airborne. ;) The Japan Airlines 747 was packed and the seats in economy had no leg room (luckily it was only an 11 hour 20 minute flite -- ouch!), but at least the service and meals were excellent.

http://forums.macrumors.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=34910

Mr. Anderson
Nov 17, 2005, 12:40 PM
Oh, one pic at a time?!?!?!

hmmm, some might say you're spamming for an avatar :p

Nice plane, but lets see some of Japan!

D

Doctor Q
Nov 17, 2005, 12:45 PM
Oh, one pic at a time?!?!?!Actually, I'm not fond of spammers, but I had trouble uploading more than one image per post last night. It said "please wait" and never came back when I tried to attach a second image. Quitting Safari and starting over didn't help. After half a dozen tries, I gave up trying to attach multiple images to a post. I'll try again on another Mac and see if that helps.

yellow
Nov 17, 2005, 12:59 PM
Welcome Back Doc.

Looking forward to The Nipponese World According to Dr. & Mrs. Q's Digital Camera... or TNWADMQDC.

Pronounced "TunWadMockDeeCee".

Doctor Q
Nov 17, 2005, 01:03 PM
The handy instructions on the western-style toilet in the hotel room, for any travelers not used to such toilets.

Traditional Japanese-style "squat" toilets are common in train stations and many other older public places, but western-style toilets are quite common in homes these days and they can also be found in department stores and other modern buildings, so I'm surprised that a hotel used most frequently by salarymen needs these instructions. (Sorry about the picture quality - a low-light close-up by a jeglagged photographer.)

yellow
Nov 17, 2005, 01:09 PM
I wonder what tactful (graceful?) Japanese euphemisms are used for "urinate here" and "defecate here"? Ah the idle speculation of the sleepless...

XNine
Nov 17, 2005, 01:12 PM
Where the hell's the hot school girls I requested?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! :confused:

Doctor Q
Nov 17, 2005, 01:22 PM
#1. A peace memorial in Ueno Park, near the Toshogu Shrine. Ueno is an area of Tokyo, on the northeast side of the Yamanote "loop line" train. The necklaces are tiny paper cranes made by school children, strung together and grouped 1000 at a time, so there are more than 10,000 cranes in this photo!

#2. The first of many signs we saw that would not be phrased the same way in an English-speaking country. The use of English on signs, store names, and T-shirts is considered classy, the same way a restaurant or store in the U.S. might use a French name to sound impressive, whether it is deserved or not.

The word "Engrish" is often used to describe poor English translations or poor English construction by non-native English speakers in Japan. As expected, we saw signs that confused L and R, and heard people mix the sounds too when speaking English. The Japanese R is pronounced as an alveolar lateral flap, with no sound equivalent to the English L in Japanese. But you don't care about the geeky details, do you? You just want to see photos!

mac-er
Nov 17, 2005, 01:35 PM
The handy instructions on the western-style toilet in the hotel room, for any travelers not used to such toilets.

Traditional Japanese-style "squat" toilets are common in train stations and many other older public places, but western-style toilets are quite common in homes these days and they can also be found in department stores and other modern buildings, so I'm surprised that a hotel used most frequently by salarymen needs these instructions. (Sorry about the picture quality - a low-light close-up by a jeglagged photographer.)

So essentially this sign is telling you that you are supposed to sit on the toilet instead of squatting over it?

I'd rather them have signs at the squat toilet telling me not to sit on it. :D

devilot
Nov 17, 2005, 01:38 PM
Mm, when I went to Japan, I just fell in love w/ the heated seat toilets. So nice when it's freezing out. :o (I was staying w/ my aunt and her fambly, so it was not a public toilet.)

iPhil
Nov 17, 2005, 01:39 PM
Dr. Q,

I like the short captions along with photos,it makes easier to understand what pic is ..

Some of Japanese pics are 'funny' because they all that space to explain a 'simple' job ..

so far the pics of your trip is making me wanna do a trip like that.. even its a long flight from SAN or LAX.. why i would over there is the electronics.. ;)


iphil

yellow
Nov 17, 2005, 01:40 PM
Heated toilet seat, eh? Glad my wife doesn't read these forums, otherwise I can tell you what I'd be doing this weekend!

katie ta achoo
Nov 17, 2005, 01:42 PM
Doc Q, nice pics! Hope you had a blast over there!!


Mm, when I went to Japan, I just fell in love w/ the heated seat toilets. So nice when it's freezing out. :o (I was staying w/ my aunt and her fambly, so it was not a public toilet.)

Heated?


I NEED ONE!

/I think I'm in love!
//With a toilet seat?
///:eek:
////best. prom. date. EVER!

devilot
Nov 17, 2005, 01:46 PM
Not only was it heated.. it also boasted a... well, um, a 'cleaning' option for the person using/on the toilet. :eek: Never tried that button though. :D

Doctor Q, did you by chance take any pictures of food? I like to see food. Mmm... hungry. :o Well, that and I recall a childhood friend of mine who's mother (Japanese by the way) would carefully prepare all their food to the point that it was difficult to consume because it was so beautiful! For example, we were only in the second grade-- her mom would cut apple slices into adorable little bunny shapes complete w/ ears and eyes!

XIII
Nov 17, 2005, 01:51 PM
Doctor Q, if you need some hosting for photos, PM me. :)

yellow
Nov 17, 2005, 01:51 PM
Damnit!! The HomeDespot carries those high-tech ass-warming bidet toilet seats.. $500!! :eek:

emw
Nov 17, 2005, 01:51 PM
Heated toilet seat, eh? Glad my wife doesn't read these forums, otherwise I can tell you what I'd be doing this weekend!
Oh, that's an easy one to do. Rub some Icy Hot (http://www.chattem.com/products/icy.asp) on the seat before each use :D

Doctor Q - thanks for the pics and the stories!

yellow
Nov 17, 2005, 01:58 PM
Hmmm I need the "Hot Hot". "Icy" is bad, if you're me, and if you're my wife. Espcially if you're her feet and any exposed part of my body! Icy, baaadd! Fire good!

Doctor Q
Nov 17, 2005, 02:04 PM
#1. Suffering symptoms of computer withdrawal, I headed for anything with buttons or screens. Pushing fire alarm buttons wasn't satisfying enough, and I couldn't log in on the pay phone I tried, so I was thrilled to find this interactive map of Ueno Park.

You can use the touchscreen to indicate what you are interested in (zoo, museums, shrines, shops) and it will highlight them on the map. Then you can zoom and pan by touching the screen.

#2. Some public art we encountered.

Here is a puzzle for you: How did I take this photo without getting myself in the reflection?

sushi
Nov 17, 2005, 02:16 PM
I'd rather them have signs at the squat toilet telling me not to sit on it. :D
For some reason, I really don't think that you would need this type of sign! :D

Sushi

Doctor Q
Nov 17, 2005, 02:22 PM
Thanks for the photo-hosting offers. I know I could use a website for a gallery of photos, but I prefer telling stories with attached photos in a conversational way, and learning what you are interested in as we go.

So toilets are a hot topic, eh?

The heated toilet seats are widespread and very popular in Japan. Some of our hotels had them. At first it's a little weird because we're used to a warm toilet seat meaning somebody has just been using it, but I suppose on a winter night it can avoid "cold shock".

They also have water sprays (the bidet feature). Originally, when these fancy toilets were first made, they weren't as smart, and if you pressed the wrong button to experiment while looking at the fixture it might spray you in the face, but now sensors prevent the cleaning sprays from working unless there is weight on the seat. It's not hard to press the wrong button, since they after often labeled only in Japanese. In my research before our trip, I made sure I knew which symbol meant STOP!

I heard that some toilets sense your approach and raise the lid automatically, but I didn't meet one of those ones in person.

I was surprised one day when I put my foot on the lid while drying off my leg after a shower, only to have the toilet wake up and spray its fragrance in the bowl. No harm done, but I was momentarily surprised. I'm not sure I want my bathroom fixtures to have so much artificial intelligence... unless I can program them myself!

Some of the toilets spray a pleasant fragrance in the bowl when you arrive, and some public restrooms (especially for women) have a box on the wall with a button that you press to make background noise (or a flushing noise) to avoid anybody hearing any other sounds you make.

No, none of the toilets had Internet access.

yellow
Nov 17, 2005, 02:31 PM
#2. Some public art we encountered.

Reminds me of something I saw in Chicago Millennium Park recently. It's warped American cousin.

http://www.chicagotraveler.com/millennium-photos/P1010252.jpg

Here is a puzzle for you: How did I take this photo without getting myself in the reflection?

I'm going with... Vampire. That's it, isn't it? You can tell me, I'll keep your secret identity safe.

emw
Nov 17, 2005, 02:32 PM
Here is a puzzle for you: How did I take this photo without getting myself in the reflection?Not sure what you're talking about there. I zoomed in on the photo and flipped it, and I'll tell you - I can see why you liked the sculpture...

yellow
Nov 17, 2005, 02:35 PM
In my research before our trip, I made sure I knew which symbol meant STOP!

Very astute of you.. especially if you accidently hit the button for "acid wash", or "hair trimmer".

No, none of the toilets had Internet access.

Well, except for the webcams. :rolleyes: :cool:

iBlue
Nov 17, 2005, 02:47 PM
Here is a puzzle for you: How did I take this photo without getting myself in the reflection?

aliens took it? :D

no? hmmmm

you used a timer and ran for it?

ummmm... photoshop?

:p

yellow
Nov 17, 2005, 02:48 PM
Seriously.. he's a Vampire.

Lau
Nov 17, 2005, 03:00 PM
Here is a puzzle for you: How did I take this photo without getting myself in the reflection?

You jumped in the air and hid yourself where the black hole reflects in the sculpture? You're very agile....;)

Abstract
Nov 17, 2005, 03:04 PM
There's a blind spot at a certain distance away from that "thing" so that if you stand a particular distance away, you can't see yourself?

PS: Nice photos. I was gonna go to Tokyo soon as well, but plans have changed. I may be going to Thailand instead. :)

makisushi
Nov 17, 2005, 03:13 PM
Mm, when I went to Japan, I just fell in love w/ the heated seat toilets. So nice when it's freezing out. :o (I was staying w/ my aunt and her fambly, so it was not a public toilet.)
How about the ones that give your behind a nice squirt of water?

crdean1
Nov 17, 2005, 03:13 PM
Dr. Q, Thanks for posting, I have always wanted to go to Japan and I'm enjoying the pics. Keep posting. Great Commentary.

efoto
Nov 17, 2005, 03:31 PM
There's a blind spot at a certain distance away from that "thing" so that if you stand a particular distance away, you can't see yourself?

PS: Nice photos. I was gonna go to Tokyo soon as well, but plans have changed. I may be going to Thailand instead. :)

I'll second this idea. Other than being a vampire, this makes the most logical sense I can come up with after putting no time into it :p

Awesome pictures, keep them coming! I love vacationing online if I can't in real life :)

BrandonSi
Nov 17, 2005, 03:57 PM
.is that you or a warped reflection

efoto
Nov 17, 2005, 04:13 PM
.is that you or a warped reflection

I don't even see anything strange where you highlighted :confused:



I've come up with another solution. You are waaaaaay back there in the trees with a 600mm lens, or perhaps even a 1200mm lens :eek: Right? Come on, spill it....right? :rolleyes:

emw
Nov 17, 2005, 04:20 PM
There's a blind spot at a certain distance away from that "thing" so that if you stand a particular distance away, you can't see yourself?"Objects in mirror are closer than they appear"

This is a convex mirror, which means that you get smaller very quickly as you move away from the mirror. The good doctor likely wasn't very far away, yet appears to be "invisible" against the backdrop of trees (which, you will notice, also appear to be very small).

So not technically a "blind spot" I don't think, so much as simply standing far enough away that he's difficult to see. I'm guessing he was somewhere around 25-30 ft. from the object when he took the picture?

m-dogg
Nov 17, 2005, 04:48 PM
But you don't care about the geeky details, do you? You just want to see photos!

I actually do enjoy the geeky details...keep 'em coming!

Doctor Q
Nov 17, 2005, 04:54 PM
Self-timer? No.

Photoshop trick? No.

Vampire? No. Unless... I'm simply not aware that I rise in the night and go out looking for a Starbucks that features blood! :eek:

The answer... I don't know! I expected to see my reflection but didn't notice it was missing in the little camera display. Then we got home and I saw it on the monitor and was surprised. My guess is that I *am* in the reflection, but so small as to be unnoticeable, as emw explained.

efoto
Nov 17, 2005, 04:59 PM
Self-timer? No.

Photoshop trick? No.

Vampire? No. Unless... I'm simply not aware that I rise in the night and go out looking for a Starbucks that features blood! :eek:

The answer... I don't know! I expected to see my reflection but didn't notice it was missing in the little camera display. Then we got home and I saw it on the monitor and was surprised. My guess is that I *am* in the reflection, but so small as to be unnoticeable, as emw explained.

I call shenanigans! You're vampy, just admit it :p

XNine
Nov 17, 2005, 05:02 PM
Self-timer? No.

Photoshop trick? No.

Vampire? No. Unless... I'm simply not aware that I rise in the night and go out looking for a Starbucks that features blood! :eek:

The answer... I don't know! I expected to see my reflection but didn't notice it was missing in the little camera display. Then we got home and I saw it on the monitor and was surprised. My guess is that I *am* in the reflection, but so small as to be unnoticeable, as emw explained.


That is even cooler than school girls. Would you mind emailing me the full hi-rez version? is it jpeg, raw, tif? You can email it to me through my profile.

I'd appreciate it.

Doctor Q
Nov 17, 2005, 05:20 PM
I will share some of my observations of Japanese society as a highly-trained socio-cultural anthropologist. Oh wait, I'm a programmer. Sorry. I'm not an anthropologist, although sometimes I'm an apologist.

In any case, I'll do my best to give an accurate account of what we saw in Japan, but of course it's only one person's relatively short experience. If you really want to know all about Japan's customs and traditions, there are plenty of websites and books to help you. If you want to hear about my experiences, keep reading.

Many people in Japan wear face masks over their mouth or nose and mouth as they go about their day-to-day business. Mostly we saw this among businessmen, but some women and an occasional student had a mask too.

They do this when they are under the weather, to protect others from their possible germs, not to protect themselves. It's very considerate and just part of what people expect. Nobody looks twice or blinks an eye when somebody else has a mask on. We even saw a bride-to-be in the elegant Seibu Department Store, wearing a face mask while planning her wedding with a helpful clerk behind the counter.

When somebody sneezes in public, people do not say "gesundheit", "bless you", or anything else. That tradition doesn't exist there. In contrast, we Americans follow the European (originally German) tradition to respond to sneezes, even though coughing is politely ignored.

We tried to follow the lead of other people in regard to proper behavior, so, for example, we waited to see if people talk or keep quiet on subways. The answer is that many are quiet but many have conversations with each other, so either is acceptable. On one long train ride, two old men, obviously long-time friends, spent the whole trip sitting across from us, telling stories and laughing loudly. We had fun imagining what they might be saying... Bawdy tales? Knock-knock jokes? Making fun of us? :(

We found it interesting that people generally avoid touching each other (bows, not handshakes, and words, not taps-on-the-shoulder), except on crowded subways, where people push their way in or out, no matter how much they crush each other, without saying anything. I suppose it would get rather noisy, and serve no real purpose, if absolutely everyone getting on and off said sumimasen ("excuse me") every time the train stopped.

More surprising to us was the number of people who sleep on the trains. Businessmen and schoolkids spend long days at their professions, so perhaps this is their chance for a nap. Because the trains are safe (very low crime rate), nobody seemed to worry about their purse or other possessions while sleeping. Perhaps they aren't totally asleep because time after time we saw somebody who hadn't moved and had their eyes closed get up when their station arrived. Then again, I guess we wouldn't know if somebody who seemed asleep had missed their stop!

Doctor Q
Nov 17, 2005, 05:30 PM
You're vampy, just admit it :pI've never been so tempted to use the phrase "bite me", but I'm too polite for that so I won't. But it sure would have been funny!

That is even cooler than school girls.What!? After all the time I spent and (digital) film I used up getting you the photos you begged for? Perhaps I should dig out those photos next, since I took them just for you and you've certainly waited long enough. ;)

XNine
Nov 17, 2005, 05:45 PM
I've never been so tempted to use the phrase "bite me", but I'm too polite for that so I won't. But it sure would have been funny!

What!? After all the time I spent and (digital) film I used up getting you the photos you begged for? Perhaps I should dig out those photos next, since I took them just for you and you've certainly waited long enough. ;)

*hangs bucket around neck to collect drool*

XNine
Nov 17, 2005, 05:53 PM
I will share some of my observations of Japanese society as a highly-trained socio-cultural anthropologist. Oh wait, I'm a programmer. Sorry. I'm not an anthropologist, although sometimes I'm an apologist.

In any case, I'll do my best to give an accurate account of what we saw in Japan, but of course it's only one person's relatively short experience. If you really want to know all about Japan's customs and traditions, there are plenty of websites and books to help you. If you want to hear about my experiences, keep reading.

Many people in Japan wear face masks over their mouth or nose and mouth as they go about their day-to-day business. Mostly we saw this among businessmen, but some women and an occasional student had a mask too.

They do this when they are under the weather, to protect others from their possible germs, not to protect themselves. It's very considerate and just part of what people expect. Nobody looks twice or blinks an eye when somebody else has a mask on. We even saw a bride-to-be in the elegant Seibu Department Store, wearing a face mask while planning her wedding with a helpful clerk behind the counter.

When somebody sneezes in public, people do not say "gesundheit", "bless you", or anything else. That tradition doesn't exist there. In contrast, we Americans follow the European (originally German) tradition to respond to sneezes, even though coughing is politely ignored.

We tried to follow the lead of other people in regard to proper behavior, so, for example, we waited to see if people talk or keep quiet on subways. The answer is that many are quiet but many have conversations with each other, so either is acceptable. On one long train ride, two old men, obviously long-time friends, spent the whole trip sitting across from us, telling stories and laughing loudly. We had fun imagining what they might be saying... Bawdy tales? Knock-knock jokes? Making fun of us? :(

We found it interesting that people generally avoid touching each other (bows, not handshakes, and words, not taps-on-the-shoulder), except on crowded subways, where people push their way in or out, no matter how much they crush each other, without saying anything. I suppose it would get rather noisy, and serve no real purpose, if absolutely everyone getting on and off said sumimasen ("excuse me") every time the train stopped.

More surprising to us was the number of people who sleep on the trains. Businessmen and schoolkids spend long days at their professions, so perhaps this is their chance for a nap. Because the trains are safe (very low crime rate), nobody seemed to worry about their purse or other possessions while sleeping. Perhaps they aren't totally asleep because time after time we saw somebody who hadn't moved and had their eyes closed get up when their station arrived. Then again, I guess we wouldn't know if somebody who seemed asleep had missed their stop!

So, I've heard that the Yakuza, or rather, different factions of yakuza control different areas, and thus the crime rate is lower because the criminals ensure the safety of its people. Is this true?

Just as well, was there as much diversity in clothing/hair coloring as there are amongst americans? Or, did the fac that students cannot dye their hair, etc contribute to a lack of this that you could tell?

This place fascinates me, and I wish to travel there in the next couple of years (if Bush doesn't ******* that whole thing up by invading them too).

Doctor Q
Nov 17, 2005, 07:03 PM
So, I've heard that the Yakuza, or rather, different factions of yakuza control different areas, and thus the crime rate is lower because the criminals ensure the safety of its people. Is this true?I actually saw a yakuza member. Somebody showing us around Shinjuku (a glitzy part of Tokyo that also includes a red light district) pointed him out. He had a sportshirt on under a coat, and no tie, whereas most businessmen have a western-style coat, white shirt, and tie.

Because of the tradition for criminals to cut off a fingertip to atone for mistakes, a missing part of a finger is another symbol of organized crime, and the reason that many 4-fingered cartoon characters from the west (but not including Mickey Mouse) gained a 5th finger when coming to the Japanese market. I was told that we tourists were not in danger from these organized criminals and that they stick to traditional activities, such as extorting Japanese businesses, but I wasn't going to interview him for more details!

There are a few areas of Tokyo where it's not considered safe for unwary tourists to wander around alone, the danger being from criminals among immigrants, not from Japanese natives, but overall Japan is a safe country, even in the big cities. Since streets are skinny, we often found ourselves walking down what we'd consider an alley and feel unnerved about at home, but which was quite safe in Japan.

Was there as much diversity in clothing/hair coloring as there are amongst americans? Or, did the fac that students cannot dye their hair, etc contribute to a lack of this that you could tell?The stereotype that "all ___ look alike" is never true, and the variety of faces in Japan is just as great as anywhere else, but it is true that hair is uniformly black or occasionally dark brown, and straight, and there are a limited number of hairstyles. Among the schoolkids, girls almost always have medium length hair and bangs, while boys mainly had two styles: medium-short and straight or medium-short and a bit spikey or messy. Adult women usually had their hair up, and this was true for both the working-age women who dressed in western styles and the older retired women who often wore more traditional clothes.

In general, Tokyo was the high-fashion city, Kyoto and Osaka a bit less so, and people were much less fashion-conscious in the cities west of Kyoto and in smaller cities. One thing we saw consistently in Tokyo: Louis Vuitton luggage, the expensive French brand. Here in California, it's common to see Vuitton purses, handbags, wallets (men and women), and even briefcases in Beverly Hills but not as much elsewhere in Los Angeles. In Tokyo, we saw them wherever we went.

One area of Tokyo, called Harajuku, is a known hangout for kids and young adults to wear wild clothes and colored hair, so we went there to hang out too. Some were clearly showing off their jewelry and other decorative gear, others were there to watch the show. There and everywhere else we saw kids with keychains and other trinkets hanging from their belts or backpacks, with cute and cuddly creatures attached. Sometimes we saw someone with half a dozen of them at once. This is especially true for girls, but we saw boys and even some adults with them too. Since schoolkids all wear uniforms, the keychains seem to be their way to show some individuality.

School uniforms were always neat and tidy, but they wear any shoes they like, so we saw all types, from shiny dress shoes to beat-up tennis shoes. The same was true of many businessmen: nice suits and well-worn shoes.

This place fascinates me, and I wish to travel there in the next couple of yearsCan I go with you?

Hoef
Nov 17, 2005, 07:44 PM
Thanks for posting Docter Q, brings back good memories. Was it an expensive trip (remember being shocked for the price of a pint of beer)?

w_parietti22
Nov 17, 2005, 08:20 PM
"Objects in mirror are closer than they appear"

This is a convex mirror, which means that you get smaller very quickly as you move away from the mirror. The good doctor likely wasn't very far away, yet appears to be "invisible" against the backdrop of trees (which, you will notice, also appear to be very small).

So not technically a "blind spot" I don't think, so much as simply standing far enough away that he's difficult to see. I'm guessing he was somewhere around 25-30 ft. from the object when he took the picture?

Since thats the smartest sounding reply so far... I think thats the answer! lol. :)

XNine
Nov 17, 2005, 08:21 PM
VERY informative! Domo arigato Dr. Q-san!

I realize that "not all look the same." But from what I hear, and what you have confirmed, is that they dress their hair and clothes consistent with each other because of school policies. A few months ago WIRED magazine had a small article about how girls in Japan were starting to where contacts that widen the pupil and lower the iris, to look more like anime characters and it would fly under the radar of school policies.

Was the food much different from American "authentic" japanese cuisine?

Just checking since I am planning the trip. And yes, you'd be more than welcome to go along as well! But I'll have you know I'll be wandering the "country side" for a few days seeing rural areas if I can. :)

Doctor Q
Nov 17, 2005, 08:23 PM
Thanks for posting Docter Q, brings back good memories. Was it an expensive trip (remember being shocked for the price of a pint of beer)?Overall, hotels were rather expensive, which we knew going in, but food cost less day-to-day than we expected. Breakfast and lunch were easy to find for ¥600 or ¥700 or less each, and that includes tea, plus you don't add tax or a tip to that price. I made some detailed comments about expenses here.

I should mention that at current exchange rates, ¥600 to ¥700 is $5 to $6.

Counterfit
Nov 17, 2005, 10:28 PM
Not only was it heated.. it also boasted a... well, um, a 'cleaning' option for the person using/on the toilet. :eek: Never tried that button though. :D
Clicky! (http://www.herroflomjapan.com/2005/09/14/video-house-tour/) He eventually makes his way to the bathroom, where you can see one of these toilets in its natural environment.

Koodauw
Nov 17, 2005, 10:32 PM
I think your standing in front of or behind the focal point, so your reflection doesnt show up. Nice pics so far, look forward to seeing the rest.

840quadra
Nov 17, 2005, 10:38 PM
So toilets are a hot topic, eh?


No, none of the toilets had Internet access.

Interesting to note.. I wish some of our bathrooms had some of those features. It is nice that they now have "auto flush" feature.

Funny thing is, I was once at a restaurant that was recently built. The plumber accidentally piped the urinals into hot water. So during the first week of business you would walk into a bathroom with steaming urinals, Quite gross! (Makes you wonder how the rest of the building was put together, and how it passed inspection!?!?)


Damnit!! The HomeDespot carries those high-tech ass-warming bidet toilet seats.. $500!! :eek:


I am parting out an Audi with heated leather seats. If you want I can send you the coils to make your own heated seat!

Just don't give them too much voltage, you most likely don't want grill marks on your hindquarters :)

On the subject; (Dr.Q did touch on this a bit too)
I was in a house that had these once, when I sat to do my thing I was suprised by how the seat was warm, and actually was somewhat grossed out. In my mind I imagined that some big Bertha just got out of the room shortly before I walked in to use it..

It was later that I found out that the seat was heated! :eek:

Chip NoVaMac
Nov 17, 2005, 10:46 PM
#1. Suffering symptoms of computer withdrawal, I headed for anything with buttons or screens. Pushing fire alarm buttons wasn't satisfying enough, and I couldn't log in on the pay phone I tried, so I was thrilled to find this interactive map of Ueno Park.

You can use the touchscreen to indicate what you are interested in (zoo, museums, shrines, shops) and it will highlight them on the map. Then you can zoom and pan by touching the screen.

#2. Some public art we encountered.

Here is a puzzle for you: How did I take this photo without getting myself in the reflection?

So I now know what you look like. :) Much cuter than I thought!:D

Reminds me of something I saw in Chicago Millennium Park recently. It's warped American cousin.

http://www.chicagotraveler.com/millennium-photos/P1010252.jpg



I'm going with... Vampire. That's it, isn't it? You can tell me, I'll keep your secret identity safe.

The "Bean" is so totally cool to see in person. There was a 3D effect in looking at the reflections when I was there in October.

BTW there is a sculpture in Rosslynn Virginia that looks much like the one the good Dr. posted.

Not sure what you're talking about there. I zoomed in on the photo and flipped it, and I'll tell you - I can see why you liked the sculpture...

LOL.. good one. Lets see if anyone else catches it. <g>

Chip NoVaMac
Nov 17, 2005, 10:48 PM
How did the Japanese handle the use of cell phones on the subway and in stores? Were they as rude I consider some of the US users here in the states?

2nyRiggz
Nov 17, 2005, 10:54 PM
that thing looks scary...


Bless

Doctor Q
Nov 17, 2005, 11:01 PM
A few months ago WIRED magazine had a small article about how girls in Japan were starting to where contacts that widen the pupil and lower the iris, to look more like anime characters and it would fly under the radar of school policies.Speaking of which, here are the schoolgirl photos I promised to take for you:

#1: Her name is Keiko. Her job is to stand in front of this Pachinko parlor. She asked what kind of car you drive.

#2: Her name is Natsumi and she works nearby Keiko. She said this wink was especially for you.

#3: Bonus photo: These two work in an anime store as a nurse and a policewoman. For some reason, they share the name "Lupin the III", which is what it said on the box they are sold in.

Was the food much different from American "authentic" japanese cuisine?It was at least as good as what we have here. The biggest surprises were the number of eggs we were served (e.g., a raw one to pop into our soup), and the surprise that we didn't see the word "teriyaki" anywhere at all. Udon, soba, sushi, sashimi, tonkatsu, yakitori, tempura, etc. were all there as expected, but no teriyaki beef, chicken, or fish. Is teriyaki an invention of the west??

Just checking since I am planning the trip. And yes, you'd be more than welcome to go along as well! But I'll have you know I'll be wandering the "country side" for a few days seeing rural areas if I can. :)That's fine with me. We headed for a few rural areas ourselves, and one day found ourselves walking along a road amidst farmland where we saw no other people for more than a half hour! We knew we were out of the big city, but we didn't expect to be THAT alone!

Doctor Q
Nov 17, 2005, 11:28 PM
Since "warm" toilets seem to be a "hot" topic, I'll post a couple more restroom photos before we move onto more scenic topics.

#1. One of the fancy toilets. Some of them even let you control the temperature of the seat and cleaning spray.

#2. The controls of yet another toilet. This one has both Japanese and English words, handy for novices. The 2nd and 3rd buttons from the left also use graphics to show what they do.

#3. A very nice sink in the Bridgestone Art Museum restroom in downtown Tokyo. The back left spout detects the presence of hands and squirts soap. The back right spout does the same with water. And the vent in the front blows air to dry your hands when you put your hands near the front inside of the sink.

Unlike the ones in this museum, most restrooms have sinks and soap dispensers for washing hands but no cloth or paper towels to dry your hands. People in Japan carry their own cloth around with them, use it, and carry it away with them. Very tidy, and no trash created, but inconvenient if you are a tourist and don't have one yourself.

About photos #4 and #5: Perhaps somebody who reads Japanese can explain why the last symbol is different on these two signs at the Heian Shrine in Kyoto. Is the "water closet" restroom different than the "toilet" restroom?

The most interesting bathroom story, however, is about toilet (sometimes labeled "W.C.") slippers. In homes and quasi-homes such as our ryokan (Japanese inn), there are special slippers to wear in the bathroom, and they should not be worn elsewhere. This is in addition to the rule/custom that you don't wear shoes at all on the tatami mat floors of the rooms, and that you wear slippers, not shoes, when coming in and out of the house (e.g., in entryways and ryokan halls).

Suppose that I was out shopping and I wanted to stop back at the ryokan to use our private bathroom. I would trade my shoes for slippers at the ryokan entrance, walk to the room, trade those slippers for socks as I entered the room, walk to the bathroom, open the door, step into the W.C. slippers, use the bathroom, step out of the W.C. slippers and into the room, walk to the room exit, put on the slippers, walk to the front of the ryokan, take off the slippers, and put on my shoes again! Whew!

tiny_101
Nov 17, 2005, 11:46 PM
Ah, great memories from when I went to Japan, haha! Your pictures are great, they are very clear and actually bring back a lot of memories for me. Hope you're having a wonderful time in Japan !!! Please post more and more pictures ne! :)

Counterfit
Nov 18, 2005, 01:45 AM
#3: Bonus photo: These two work in an anime store as a nurse and a policewoman. For some reason, they share the name "Lupin the III", which is what it said on the box they are sold in.
It's Fujiko, Lupin's kinda-sorta-girlfriend. ^_^

tsaxer
Nov 18, 2005, 01:46 AM
About photos #4 and #5: Perhaps somebody who reads Japanese can explain why the last symbol is different on these two signs at the Heian Shrine in Kyoto. Is the "water closet" restroom different than the "toilet" restroom?

The 'toilet' sign says "O te arai," and the W.C. sign says "O te arai sho." The first means basically 'hand washing' and the addendum of 'sho' means place. It's simply a little more formal.

BTW Dr Q, all your talk of alveolar flaps made me think I had a fellow linguist here!

Doctor Q
Nov 18, 2005, 02:06 AM
How did the Japanese handle the use of cell phones on the subway and in stores? Were they as rude I consider some of the US users here in the states?I didn't hear any cell phone use in stores. In the subways, people followed these two rules, which were posted and occasionally announced:

1. Cell phones should be silenenced. They were most-often used for games or to check e-mail on the trains, both without sound. Ringers were turned off.

2. One section of each subway car is reserved for pregnant women, moms with small children, and the injured or infirm. Cell phones are to be turned completely off near those seats. When I had a chance, I asked somebody who spoke English if the reason for that rule was the slight chance that somebody in one of the seats had a pacemaker. My guess was correct!

In general, subway seating was first-come-first-served, with nobody giving up a seat for anyone else except when somebody was entitled to use the special section. Other than that, nobody gave up their seat for a woman, youngster, or healthy senior. The signs didn't make it clear whether dads with small children were entitled to use the special section!

The other uses of cell phones we saw everywhere we went:

1. People talked on cell phones in the train stations and on the train platform, just not on the subway trains themselves.

2. The schoolkids who were at almost every tourist location used their cell phones to take photos of each other. If there was a group of 5 of them, for example, they would take turns having one take a photo of the other 4 with one of the cell phones, and then switch off, so that they each got a photo on their phone.

I took this shot by holding the camera over my head on the subway and hoping I had it aimed properly.

Doctor Q
Nov 18, 2005, 02:08 AM
BTW Dr Q, all your talk of alveolar flaps made me think I had a fellow linguist here!I took one college linguistics survey course, which of course makes me an expert. :rolleyes:

CmdrLaForge
Nov 18, 2005, 03:10 AM
Hi Dr,

great pictures and very interesting to read your stories and what you expirienced. Looking forward for more.

I think it would be nice if you put them all on a flickr account later on so that its easier to watch them all at once. I mean after you showed them hear and told the story.

Cheers
LaForge

gammamonk
Nov 18, 2005, 03:24 AM
Looks like you had fun Dr. Q. I also have a lot of Japan pics available, some people might like to check it out.

duffy.jp (http://duffy.jp/aboutme/photodiary/index.php)

I'm over here in Japan teaching English for a few years while studying Japanese.

(^__^)v

XNine
Nov 18, 2005, 09:42 AM
Speaking of which, here are the schoolgirl photos I promised to take for you:

#1: Her name is Keiko. Her job is to stand in front of this Pachinko parlor. She asked what kind of car you drive.

#2: Her name is Natsumi and she works nearby Keiko. She said this wink was especially for you.

#3: Bonus photo: These two work in an anime store as a nurse and a policewoman. For some reason, they share the name "Lupin the III", which is what it said on the box they are sold in.

It was at least as good as what we have here. The biggest surprises were the number of eggs we were served (e.g., a raw one to pop into our soup), and the surprise that we didn't see the word "teriyaki" anywhere at all. Udon, soba, sushi, sashimi, tonkatsu, yakitori, tempura, etc. were all there as expected, but no teriyaki beef, chicken, or fish. Is teriyaki an invention of the west??

That's fine with me. We headed for a few rural areas ourselves, and one day found ourselves walking along a road amidst farmland where we saw no other people for more than a half hour! We knew we were out of the big city, but we didn't expect to be THAT alone!


*cries* They're everything I thought they'd be!!!! *hugs Dr. Q*

By the way, tell that one girl that she made me hot with that wink, tell the other I drive a Honda Civic (not completely tricked out like all those lame ass teenagers do). And tell them all that I will be at home tonight before the Av's game so they can drop by and I can... err... well, make them very comfortable. :D

yellow
Nov 18, 2005, 10:31 AM
I would trade my shoes for slippers at the ryokan entrance, walk to the room, trade those slippers for socks as I entered the room, walk to the bathroom, open the door, step into the W.C. slippers, use the bathroom, step out of the W.C. slippers and into the room, walk to the room exit, put on the slippers, walk to the front of the ryokan, take off the slippers, and put on my shoes again! Whew!

Perhaps it's just my warped mind, but the first thing I think of here is, what happens when you "have to go"? How terribly impolite would it be to dash into the bathroom.. I mean, which is worse, ignoring foot traffic custom, or crapping my pants?

Anyway, keep the photos and stories coming. They're great.

sushi
Nov 18, 2005, 10:36 AM
Perhaps it's just my warped mind, but the first thing I think of here is, what happens when you "have to go"? How terribly impolite would it be to dash into the bathroom.. I mean, which is worse, ignoring foot traffic custom, or crapping my pants?

Anyway, keep the photos and stories coming. They're great.
He He.

Try it at a ski lodge (Old traditional Japanese type). :eek: :D

Sushi

tsaxer
Nov 18, 2005, 11:21 AM
I'm over here in Japan teaching English for a few years while studying Japanese.

That's pretty cool, most TESOLs I know can't manage both; usually their study of Japanese gets put on the back burner.

Doctor Q
Nov 18, 2005, 11:25 AM
#1: There are yellow stripes running along the major sidewalks in cities we visited, made of rubberized squares with raised stripes on them. They are also in the train stations. Everywhere the stripes turn a corner or come to stairs or a curb, there are squares with raised bumps instead.

These stripes are for the visually impaired. The bumps are for the blind, and the yellow makes them obvious to anyone with at least partial sight.

When I first saw one in a train station, I thought it was a lane divider, to keep the masses of walking people from bumping into each other, but I quickly figured out their real purpose.

Train stations, which can suddenly get very crowded when trains are leaving or arriving (which is constantly in the biggest stations), sometimes have great masses of people walking in opposite directions or even crossing each other's paths at angles, yet we never saw anyone bump into anyone else. People navigate quickly but carefully, just as the many bicycles we saw on the sidewalks (not in the streets) manage to weave their way through pedestrians.

People tend to walk on the left, just as they drive on the left, but when there's a big mass of people on a staircase or in an open area, any side will do.

Train station escalators are two bodies wide, and people always stand to the left if they will be stationary or walk on the right if they want to go faster as they go up or down.

In 3 weeks of going up and down those stairs, I saw only one person trip, and that was a woman in high heels with a large heavy-looking handbag who mis-stepped while coming down stairs in a crowded train station, just as I was coming up the same stairs. I reached to my side and caught her! She said something in Japanese as she recovered her composure and was quickly off on her way again. She might have said "I'll never get used to these new shoes!" or "Thanks!" or "Get your hands off me you dirty gaijin!" - I'll never know.

#2: People going both ways through a wicket in a train station.

Wickets are the turnstyles you go through to enter or exit the main part of the train station. You buy a ticket at a machine for the fare matching your intended route, or at least a minimum fare to the next closest station, and put your ticket in the slot. It lets you through and returns your ticket to you. When you exit from your destination station, you again insert your ticket in the wicket slot. If the fare you paid matches that journey, it consumes your ticket and lets you through. Otherwise, you are supposed to pay the person at the "fare adjustment" window. Nicely organized. If your ticket isn't accepted by the wicket, rubber doors pop into the way to block your path.

The wickets have lighted symbols on the ends to show which ones are to be used for the direction you are moving. Sometimes they change from IN to OUT as you approach. They seem to change based on the traffic through them, so when there's a big crowd going one way most of the wickets will be set for that direction. I imagine the system is automated.

#3: A rare sight: a wicket with its innards exposed, as the maintenance man works on it.

yellow
Nov 18, 2005, 11:42 AM
yellow makes them obvious to anyone with at least partial sight.

I always considered myself thusly..


The wickets have lighted symbols on the ends to show which ones are to be used for the direction you are moving. Sometimes they change from IN to OUT as you approach. They seem to change based on the traffic through them, so when there's a big crowd going one way most of the wickets will be set for that direction. I imagine the system is automated.

That's kind of cool. Sometimes I find myself getting stumped in DC where there is a similar set up but it sometimes seems there are far more 'wickets' allowing traffic going in the wrong direction.

mpw
Nov 18, 2005, 11:43 AM
...Here is a puzzle for you: How did I take this photo without getting myself in the reflection?...

You were lying on the floor?

You were wearing an orange and grey stripped suit?

Doctor Q
Nov 18, 2005, 05:41 PM
Signs I saw used the word "bike" for motorized cycles and "bicycle" for human-powered ones. There were lots of both everywhere we went in Japan.

In Los Angeles, most bicycle riders are sports enthusiasts or kids, and occasionally a college student, so in Japan it was a surprise to see businessmen, and occasionally businesswomen, riding bicycles to and from work (or clients they were visiting). Many schoolkids ride bicycles too, and we also saw people who had been out shopping ride by with their packages.

#1: A couple of businessmen on bicycles in Tokyo. They regularly ride on the sidewalks, sometimes in the streets. Baskets front and/or back let them carry their briefcases or packages. We saw them riding in the rain, carrying an umbrella in one hand, or with one that attaches to the handlebars. We also saw bicyclists riding while talking on cell phones (the way Americans do while driving their hulking SUVs).

#2: When you get to where you are going, where do you put your bike or bicycle? In a handy rack! We saw them here and there, such as this one in the Asakusa area of Tokyo. Interesting side note: Strictly speaking, you are not supposed to put plants on the sidewalk in front of your store, but shopkeepers traditionally do, as you see here. Nobody minds and it makes the area look nicer.

#3: Since people usually take trains to get to the right part of town, they take bicycles from there to their real destination. That's why there are big parking lots for bikes and bicycles near train stations. This one is near Ueno Station in Tokyo. I saw an even bigger one in Osaka near Universal Studios Japan, across the channel from Tempozan Harbor Village.

#4: My favorite bicycle photo: Grandpa was pleased to show off his granddaughter to us in Ueno Park. I'm a sucker for a photo op with cute kids and/or smiling grandparents. :)

janey
Nov 18, 2005, 06:12 PM
OMG those toilet seats.
They sell that here in ktown and whatnot. Go from like $100-500ish, and they do everything from like heating the seat to like squirting water in specific places..:eek: :eek:
As interesting as having one of those would be, I think I prefer a plain toilet seat, TYVM :)

As for all that taking-shoes-off-and-putting-on-slippers-and-then-taking-those-off-and-putting-your-shoes-back-on, I've seen that in other countries too, as well as some friends homes here. Sorta funky, but then again, when I went to korea, bathrooms there were like totally different from what I was used to, complete with a drain in the middle of the bathroom and like small bathtubs were hard to find, let alone anything bigger and apparently shower curtains are hard to find too? lol. and people had no concept of like a lot of things. Plus, i went to a public bath place once, OH MY GOD. it was weird. lol. People were like "what's this for?" to like all my Lush/Bath and Body Works stuff.
Plus, there was no way possible you could have walked barefoot in one of those bathrooms if there were no slippers after taking a shower - too slippery.

Doctor Q
Nov 18, 2005, 07:25 PM
#1: I saw rickshaws in a few places, most notably in the area of Philosopher's Walk, a line of shrines and temples along the foothills on the east side of Kyoto.

The men who pull the rickshaws, rain or shine, were remarkably thin but strong and their shoes didn't look especially well padded for the beating they take. There were plenty of steep areas along the path, and I didn't envy them at all.

The people I saw riding them were mostly Japanese, but I think they were in-country tourists. We didn't hire a rickshaw driver ourselves. Even though this is their profession, I think I'd feel guilty having somebody pull me around by hand. After all, if I had an extra order of ika (squid sushi) the previous night, he'd have to pull that much harder! From what I read, a typical ride might cost about $40 to $100, which is an even more important reason we didn't jump at the chance to hire one. At least the money might buy the poor guy a few pain meds for sore feet or an aching back!

We walked the whole lenth of Philosopher's Walk (over 2 days) and stopped to see almost all of the main temples, so we had our own sore feet to deal with.

#2: This was either the Japanese version of Superman passing by, or a Shinkansen bullet train that I tried to catch just as it passed. If I'm on or to the right of the yellow line, I'd be considered to be in a safe place. If I'm over the line, too close to the platform edge, a stationmaster might warn me to move back. It appears I was right on the line.

Doctor Q
Nov 18, 2005, 10:49 PM
More proof that cute kids are photogenic. In front of the Heian Shrine in Kyoto, a well-dressed man was trying to take a photo of himself and his family using the self-timer on his camera on a tripod. His wife and twin daughters were dressed up in their kimonos, and the light was good, so he had only two problems:

* tourists kept moving in to pose with mom and the girls (or with just the girls) while somebody in their family took a photo. The dad and his family were gracious about it, but it seemed neverending, one tourist after another, as if it were their job to stand there and pose with people.

* the girls' eventual restlessness as their stamina to hold still ebbed.

I didn't want to get in the poor dad's way like everyone else, so I used my own less-intrusive technique while he was trying to get his shot: I stood near the tripod and took my own photos from the vantage point he was using.

#1: The two kids in between posing with stangers.

#2: The tourists finally gave dad a break so he got his photo at last. I think they all looked at the camera eventually, although their smiles were worn out!

Chip NoVaMac
Nov 18, 2005, 11:30 PM
How did you experience the differences between the US and Japan in public situations with photographs being taken?

irmongoose
Nov 19, 2005, 12:13 AM
No one minds being photographed by strangers, they might just glance at you and then keep walking their own way. Some are even happy to be photographed and pose for you.

It helps being a Gaijin.

A point about sleeping on trains: At least for me, sleeping on trains over the years has made it an instinct to wake up at every stop. Your body just knows by the movement of the train. So it's pretty hard to miss your stop; I have missed a stop maybe only twice, and both times I was pretty damn tired.




irmongoose

mduser63
Nov 19, 2005, 12:28 AM
It was at least as good as what we have here. The biggest surprises were the number of eggs we were served (e.g., a raw one to pop into our soup), and the surprise that we didn't see the word "teriyaki" anywhere at all. Udon, soba, sushi, sashimi, tonkatsu, yakitori, tempura, etc. were all there as expected, but no teriyaki beef, chicken, or fish. Is teriyaki an invention of the west??

I'm no expert on Japan, but I did live there for 4 months last year. I never once ate or even saw Teriyaki. Not in a restaurant, not in people's homes, never. That's not to say it doesn't exist in Japan, but it's definitely not a really popular food like Japanese restaurants here would have you think. Ate tons of yakisoba, yakitori, tonkatsu, curry (ka-re), sushi, tako(yaki), miso, etc, but never Teriyaki. Did you go to Hamakatsu while you were there? That's one of my favorite restaurants in Japan.

Chip NoVaMac
Nov 19, 2005, 12:35 AM
No one minds being photographed by strangers, they might just glance at you and then keep walking their own way. Some are even happy to be photographed and pose for you.

It seems to be a different experience at least for those of us in the DC area.

It helps being a Gaijin.

A search on this term left me confused. Can you explain further?


A point about sleeping on trains: At least for me, sleeping on trains over the years has made it an instinct to wake up at every stop. Your body just knows by the movement of the train. So it's pretty hard to miss your stop; I have missed a stop maybe only twice, and both times I was pretty damn tired.

I know the feeling. I dozed off on the CTA (Chicago), only to find myself 20-30 minutes out of my way.

The worst was on the DC MetroRail. I was going from Silver Spring to Metro Center. I was woken up on the return trip at Brookland-CUA!




irmongoose[/QUOTE]

irmongoose
Nov 19, 2005, 12:45 AM
Chip NoVaMac: I am speaking of people in Japan. Don't know about the States.

Gaijin means "foreigner" in Japanese.




irmongoose

tsaxer
Nov 19, 2005, 12:51 AM
I'm no expert on Japan, but I did live there for 4 months last year. I never once ate or even saw Teriyaki...

While I was there McDonald's had a special Teriyaki burger...

That was so awful, I didn't get past the first bite:(

That was about the only time I noticed it.

sushi
Nov 19, 2005, 12:52 AM
Gaijin means "foreigner" in Japanese.
Yes and no.

It really means someone not of Japanese decent from the Japanese perspective.

Sure there are other words that describe the race/ethnicity issue. But this use is very common.

Sushi

irmongoose
Nov 19, 2005, 12:57 AM
It actually means someone not of Japanese decent.

Sushi

No, actually it is a shortened version of "Gaikokujin", which means "person from an outside country" or "person from another country".




irmongoose

Chip NoVaMac
Nov 19, 2005, 01:01 AM
Yes and no.

It really means someone not of Japanese decent from the Japanese perspective.

Sure there are other words that describe the race/ethnicity issue. But this use is very common.

Sushi


There is a differnce IMO. In the US we are less wiling to accept the "Gaijin".

sushi
Nov 19, 2005, 01:08 AM
No, actually it is a shortened version of "Gaikokujin", which means "person from an outside country" or "person from another country".
See my edited version.

Hard to explain, but easy to understand after living here for over 15 years.

Sushi

sushi
Nov 19, 2005, 01:18 AM
There is a differnce IMO.
Yep.

In the US we are less wiling to accept the "Gaijin".
Yep x 2.

I know some Korean folks whose great-grandparents emigrated to Japan many years ago. Now 3 generations later, with all of their kids actually born in Japan, these folks are still considered gaijin.

From the Japanese perspective, it makes prefect sense.

From the US perspective, it is weird and would be considered racist.

Now, back to Doctor Q's interesting Japan photos.

Sushi

irmongoose
Nov 19, 2005, 01:42 AM
Hard to explain, but easy to understand after living here for over 15 years.


I dunno... 17 years and counting over here! :p :D



irmongoose

Doctor Q
Nov 19, 2005, 02:29 AM
I'm used to losing all the U.S. easterners in forum threads in my evening, so it's nice that those of you in Japan are up and about when it's evening or later here! :) I'm interested in hearing other peoples comments and opinions about Japan. You are certainly welcome to talk about Japan whether or not I'm posting photos.

How did you experience the differences between the US and Japan in public situations with photographs being taken?I don't often take photos of strangers in the U.S., since I see them all the time, but people were more than willing to be photographed in Japan. The only confusion was when I tried to ask permission by pointing to my camera and gesturing but didn't make it clear whether I wanted to photograph them, get a photograph of Mrs. Q or myself with them, or have them take a photo of us. But we soon got our intended meaning across.

Some from whom I asked for permission before snapping:

#1: Participants in the Kurama Fire Festival.

#2: Rickshaw riders.

#3, #4, #5: Schoolkids. After we took their photos, they took ours.

Doctor Q
Nov 19, 2005, 02:42 AM
#1: A girl who had a school assignment to ask strangers questions in English. The questions came from the paper she is holding. She asked us where we were from and a couple of other questions, and seemed very pleased that we answered, although I don't think she paid attention to the answers and she didn't write them down. After our interview, we gave her an American flag sticker. We gave stickers or pins (I kept a supply in my pocket) to any kids who talked to us this way or exchanged photos with us, and every one of them seemed thrilled to get a prize.

#2: A couple was getting married in a Shinto ceremony in Nara as we happened to pass by a shrine. It was a public place, and a few people were taking photos. We stayed to the side and took photos discretely. Later, the happy couple left in this rickshaw and we snapped them as they posed for their own photographer.

#3: This grandma and baby arrived with their family for a ceremony that is performed when a baby is 30 days old. When she saw us standing there, she motioned for us to pose with her family, had somebody take a photo with us, and let us take this photo. Another proud grandparent!

irmongoose
Nov 19, 2005, 02:44 AM
We gave stickers or pins (I kept a supply in my pocket) to any kids who talked to us this way or exchanged photos with us, and every one of them seemed thrilled to get a prize.

That's nice... I should give people something in return for taking their pictures.




irmongoose

Doctor Q
Nov 19, 2005, 02:47 AM
#1: Two of the interesting outfits we saw in Harajuku. I'll post some candids from Harajuku too, when I get to them.

#2: A man posing with a float from the Takayama Festival. OK, I confess, this is actually a mannequin from their Festival Float Hall, because we weren't there on Festival day. We were surprised that the mannequins there had Western-looking faces.

#3: The only fellow who didn't seem to want his photo taken. But I had to take it because he had such an attractive hat!

Abstract
Nov 19, 2005, 04:14 AM
*cries* They're everything I thought they'd be!!!! *hugs Dr. Q*

By the way, tell that one girl that she made me hot with that wink, tell the other I drive a Honda Civic (not completely tricked out like all those lame ass teenagers do). And tell them all that I will be at home tonight before the Av's game so they can drop by and I can... err... well, make them very comfortable. :D

How old are you?

devilot
Nov 19, 2005, 09:30 AM
#1: Two of the interesting outfits we saw in Harajuku. I'll post some candids from Harajuku too, when I get to them. Ah yes, those two are probably going for the 'goth Lolita' look... of course there are also the 'fruits.' :p I have a buddy who is fascinated w/ J-culture and whatnot. #3: The only fellow who didn't seem to want his photo taken. But I had to take it because he had such an attractive hat!Isn't his name,...er... can't remember now. Domo kun? Dah. Somebody will know. :o

JDar
Nov 19, 2005, 10:56 AM
Welcome back, and glad your trip was wonderful.

About the trains--they are amazing in that they have on-time departures, are fast and smooth, clean, and stop exactly between the lines putting doors in front of passengers every time. Are the French super trains as good as the Japanese ones?

I'm hoping you'll post some pictures of the Golden Pavillion. I want to see if they've remodeled it. :p

Doctor Q
Nov 19, 2005, 01:48 PM
I'm hoping you'll post some pictures of the Golden Pavillion. I want to see if they've remodeled it. :pYour wish is my command.

#1 and #2: Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion in western Kyoto, and a reflection shot I caught there.

It was very crowded at Kinkaku-ji (I had to knock a couple of other tourists into the pond to get a clear shot from the pathway), so we didn't explore the grounds as much as we did at most shrines. Instead, we made a dash for much-less-crowded Ryoan-ji to the south.

Funny story: There are two bus lines that run north-south along the route between Kinkaku-ji and Ryoan-ji, so we took the first one that came by. Little did we suspect that one bus line goes to Ryoan-ji and one (the one we happened to take) stops half a mile earlier, at the end of its line. It was nearly 4:30pm, after which you can't enter most of the shrines that charge admission, so we hopped off the bus and practically flew to Ryoan-ji, arriving at 4:32. They let us in, after which we practically had the whole place to ourselves!

#3: Ryoan-ji is celebrated for having the best Zen rock garden in Japan. We sat and sat at its side, first imagining the garden as ocean and islands, then trying to find our own meanings in the pattern by letting our minds free associate, but honestly I didn't get it. Gravel raked into a straight line, rocks mostly the same size, and no shrubs or trees. Nitschke saw the garden as "the epitome of the art of void" but I clearly didn't appreciate what others see in it. I appreciate the "void" type in programming language and /dev/null in Unix, but this particular void left me devoid of inspiration.

#4: In contrast, I found the Zen rock garden at Nanzen-ji much more satisfying. The shape of the garden mirrors the shape of the mountains visible behind the garden, an intentional method called "borrowed landscape". I didn't get a good shot from the right angle to show that, but the curved lines in the gravel, the variety of plants, and the borrowed landscape gave more for our imaginations to work with.

#5: If you need a rock garden interpretation that's easy to guess, check out Ginkaku-ji (the Silver Pavilion). Hmmm... I wonder what famous mountain this sand sculpture might represent? :rolleyes:

Doctor Q
Nov 19, 2005, 02:06 PM
#1: A pair of Sweatsocks and shoes. The drink with the odd name, Pocari Sweat, had a very mild flavor, a little too bland for somebody used to Dr Pepper at home.

#2: Among the vending machine drinks, I preferred one called C.C. Lemon, and this one named Mistio.

Mistio comes in a can bigger than the vending machine, as you can see. OK, yeah, I took it closeup for the silly effect. The words on the cans are even funnier. It says "Carbo-Flexible! gas vol. 3.5". What does THAT mean!?

#3: Are these the same M&M colors we have in the U.S.? Since I missed Halloween at home, perhaps M&Ms at home were orange and black. In Japan, we noticed that there are no green M&Ms!

#4: A vending machine drink named after me: Qoo! It comes in a couple of flavors.

JDar
Nov 19, 2005, 04:12 PM
Thanks for the Golden Pavillion. I've got about that same photo but the gold is fading it's been so long ago.

Pocari gives a new meaning to sweat shop.

Were you able to see Fuji from the train when headed south, or perhaps go there?

Doctor Q
Nov 20, 2005, 02:43 AM
Were you able to see Fuji from the train when headed south, or perhaps go there?We saw Mr. Fuji on two occasions. Neither day was particularly sunny or bright, but I've heard that some tourists never get to see Fuji at all when its overcast, so we considered ourselves lucky.

#1: From the bullet train. I stood between the train cars to get a picture without having to lean over people to take photos out the windows above the seats. It's not easy getting good shots while traveling 150 miles per hour, but I like this one of Fuji over a factory we passed.

#2: From Lake Ashi just before sunset. No, I wasn't out there snorkeling. I was on the pirate ship that tourists take across the lake.

It was fun to see the mountain from a few directions even if the photo at Ginkaku-ji (see above) was my best photo of Mt. Fuji! ;)

MattG
Nov 20, 2005, 07:34 AM
Beautiful pictures, Doctor Q!

Doctor Q
Nov 21, 2005, 12:23 AM
I promised Counterfit I'd look for some tonkatsu sauce for him, and I did.

Pork cutlets served in Japan are called tonkatsu, after the sauce of the same name used to prepare them. I figured the best place to find tonkatsu sauce was in a grocery store, so we went into a neighborhood market in Tokyo. It's not a place tourists normally go, but it was as interesting.

My wife had fun comparing prices with those at home, and noticing how certain fruits and vegetables were different colors, shapes, and sizes than at home (example: giant-sized Fuji apples). Meanwhile, I cased the joint for tonkatsu sauce.

I may or may not have seen tonkatsu, since none of the sauce bottles were labeled in English, and we were the only English-speakers in the store. We had to keep looking, so we visited other markets during the trip.

#1: I guess this is string cheese, right? ;)

#2: This odd-looking fruit is called a durian. It's hard to find in the west, and considered a delicacy in Asia. I didn't try one, but I've read that their smell is atrocious (like sulphur) and their taste is wonderful. One description: "Eating a durian is like having custard in a sewer." They weigh 5 to 15 pounds and have hard spikes. If you are standing under a durian tree when a ripe one falls, your life is in danger!

#3 and #4: Fresh produce and apples at street stands at the morning market in Takayama. They sell everything, everything that is except tonkatsu sauce.

#5: I'm sorry to report that this is the best I could do. This restaurant in Tokyo is named "Tonkatsu" and this picture is just for Counterfit.

Doctor Q
Nov 21, 2005, 01:02 AM
#1: I zoomed and zoomed the photo of the sphere (from this post) until I was staring at raw pixels and I found my own image. You can barely see a light area (my face and the silver camera) near the top and my legs at the bottom. The wide-angle effect of that sphere was certainly effective!

Now for some silly signs. Nothing was more amusing than the English and semi-English signs we saw throughout our trip.

#2: This one in Tokyo had some misspellings and some awkward phrasing.

#3: S'mall problem's with apostrophe's. (Also in Tokyo.)

#4: OK I won't! Thanks for the warning. (Heian Shrine in Kyoto.)

#5: This was painted on what appeared to be a garage door in Kyoto. Are they trying to tell me something?

Doctor Q
Nov 21, 2005, 01:14 AM
#1 and #2: Two signs at the monkey sanctuary on Mt. Misen in Miyajima. The first is on the trail to the gondola that takes up you the mountain. The second is attempting to warn you that wild monkeys can be dangerous, so you should store belongings in a locker and eat any food you brought inside the building before going outside. Other signs there, about a monkeys stealing belongings or chomping on somebody's arm, were to be taken seriously! (We didn't see any monkeys when we were there, but we spotted some monkey footprints.)

#3 and #4: Two signs at Himeji Castle in Himeji. The first is either their way of saying "no graffiti" or a warning to medical doctors about their handwriting. (Shouldn't the X be over the scribble instead of the other way around?) The second is the ticket machine outside, which had a little spelling error. The plastic cover over the children's ticket button must be there to keep "adluts" from pressing the wrong button.

#5: This huge sign on a pachinko parlor in Shinjuku, Tokyo, is the winner of the Doctor Q Worst Sign in Japan Award for 2005! Congratulations!

Counterfit
Nov 21, 2005, 01:31 AM
Ah yes, those two are probably going for the 'goth Lolita' look... of course there are also the 'fruits.' :p I have a buddy who is fascinated w/ J-culture and whatnot. Isn't his name,...er... can't remember now. Domo kun? Dah. Somebody will know. :o
Loligoth, I pray to anyone I can think of that it doesn't catch on here :o Yes, that is Domo-kun (http://homepage.mac.com/counterfit/Otakonohfive/PhotoAlbum14.html).

The drink with the odd name, Pocari Sweat, had a very mild flavor, a little too bland for somebody used to Dr Pepper at home.
I'm addicted to Dr. Pepper, and I like Pocari Sweat too. Hmm...

Are the French super trains as good as the Japanese ones?
I haven't been on the Shinkansen, but I have been on the TGV (Train Grande Vitesse), and it was awesomely fast. I think the Japanese line is the model for punctuality throughout the world though. One thing Japan and many European countries have done for the high speed rail lines, is give them dedicated tracks, which helps with safety (no crossings or slower trains) and time (less slowing down, no moving to sidings). Too bad we couldn't have done that with the Acela here :( Mighty impressive seeing one of those blow through the station near my house when it's snowing though.

#5: I'm sorry to report that this is the best I could do. This restaurant in Tokyo is named "Tonkatsu" and this picture is just for Counterfit.
Hey, at least you tried. Now I'm thinking about maybe possibly starting to plan for a potential trip out east^H^H^H^H west some time in the future.

#5: This was painted on what appeared to be a garage door in Kyoto. Are they trying to tell me something?
Heh, I forgot about that. I live in that place!* :D

5: This huge sign on a pachinko parlor in Shinjuku, Tokyo, is the winner of the Doctor Q Worst Sign in Japan Award for 2005! Congratulations!
Sounds like a candidate for www.engrish.com ;)


*Okay, not really, but it would be quite appropriate on my door :p

irmongoose
Nov 21, 2005, 01:53 AM
Pork cutlets served in Japan are called tonkatsu, after the sauce of the same name used to prepare them.

:confused: Really?




irmongoose

Abstract
Nov 21, 2005, 06:07 AM
You tell us. ;)

irmongoose
Nov 21, 2005, 07:55 AM
OK, I'll play smartass. "Ton" means pig or pork, "katsu" is simply a shortened version of "cutlet". Hence Pork Cutlet.




irmongoose

Mr. Anderson
Nov 21, 2005, 08:09 AM
OK, I'll play smartass. "Ton" means pig or pork, "katsu" is simply a shortened version of "cutlet". Hence Pork Cutlet.




irmongoose

Smartass #2 Response - Then TonKatsu Sauce would be PorkCutletSauce....

:D

D

krimson
Nov 21, 2005, 08:24 AM
I promised Counterfit I'd look for some tonkatsu sauce for him, and I did.
...

#2: This odd-looking fruit is called a durian. It's hard to find in the west, and considered a delicacy in Asia. I didn't try one, but I've read that their smell is atrocious (like sulphur) and their taste is wonderful. One description: "Eating a durian is like having custard in a sewer." They weigh 5 to 15 pounds and have hard spikes. If you are standing under a durian tree when a ripe one falls, your life is in danger!
...



Since you live in LA, any (non japanese) asian market should have them, albeit, probably frozen now since they're not in season.

sushi
Nov 21, 2005, 08:47 AM
I dunno... 17 years and counting over here! :p :D
I was referring to cognitive time! :eek: :eek: :D

BTW, lived in Asia a bit longer than I have lived in Japan. And from your profile, it looks like I've almost lived in Japan as long as you have been alive! ;)

Sushi

sushi
Nov 21, 2005, 08:51 AM
#3 and #4: Two signs at Himeji Castle in Himeji. The first is either their way of saying "no graffiti" or a warning to medical doctors about their handwriting. (Shouldn't the X be over the scribble instead of the other way around?) The second is the ticket machine outside, which had a little spelling error. The plastic cover over the children's ticket button must be there to keep "adluts" from pressing the wrong button.
Congrats Doctor Q on discovering a new life form ... "Adluts". ;)

One of my favorites was a "No Parking" sign that was written as "No Perking". Got to watch that coffee making in the parking lot. :D

Sushi

yellow
Nov 21, 2005, 09:53 AM
Glad I finally caught up with all the posts in this thread. Great photos/stories Doc. Keep 'em coming!

Doctor Q
Nov 21, 2005, 12:44 PM
Thanks for the porkful correction above. I'm sorry I got my facts wrong. How do you say "whoops" in Japanese?

Here are some food photos:

#1: The plastic food models they use in restaurant windows, for sale here in Asakusa.

#2: Two such models in a restaurant window. The chopsticks-up-in-the-air trick is used quite often, but this was the only restaurant I saw that had a meal that looked happy.

#3: A tentacle I found sticking out of my breakfast. Like octopus (tako) I've had in Japanese restaurants in Los Angeles, it was very chewy.

#4: Octopus again, to show that it's a popular food. This is at the Tenjin Matsuri Festival in Iga Ueno, where they had lots of food booths up and down the festival streets.

#5: Some Who Knows What? for sale at the fish market in Kanazawa.

yellow
Nov 21, 2005, 12:47 PM
Oh.. I'm so hungry. Time for lunch! Maybe they have sushi at the cafe! Sadly, no toro. :(

freeny
Nov 21, 2005, 01:25 PM
#1: A pair of Sweatsocks and shoes. The drink with the odd name, Pocari Sweat, had a very mild flavor, a little too bland for somebody used to Dr Pepper at home.



I used to get Pocari Sweat from a friend of mine who's dad worked for the Japanese pharmaceutical company who makes it. It would come as a powder and tastes similar to Gatorade. To my suprise I also found this drink available from a bodega in Brooklyn.

tsaxer
Nov 21, 2005, 01:32 PM
My first week in Japan I accidentally found myself eating octopus: My orientation guide asks me (in English) "Do you like tako? (Japanese for octopus)" I said "Yeah, I love tacos." Next thing I knew I was definitely not eating tacos.

I learned to be more tentative in my answers to such questions.:D

yellow
Nov 21, 2005, 01:34 PM
I used to get Pocari Sweat from a friend of mine who's dad worked for the Japanese pharmaceutical company who makes it.


Yikes yike yikes.

I don't know what is more scary to me.. that it's made by a pharma-co, or that millions of pocaris gave their sweaty little lives to bring it to us.

Doctor Q
Nov 21, 2005, 08:46 PM
I learned to be more tentative in my answers to such questions.:DVery smart. Tentative instead of tentacled!

Here are some interesting non-ancient buildings from Japan (as opposed to the many interesting temples and castles).

#1: Two buildings in downtown Tokyo, near the Tokyo station.

#2: A shot inside the Tokyo International Forum, a building which is shaped like a leaf and is hard to photograph! Very modernistic, but the huge open areas within it mean that the space is not used very efficiently. Perhaps they don't care.

#3: A building in Akihabara, Tokyo's discount electronics store area.

#4: Hotel Sofitel overlooking the Shinobazu (lotus) Pond in Ueno, Tokyo. The 1994 hotel was designed by a famous Japanese architect named Kiyinori Kikutake.

#5: No, not Tokyo Tower. This is Kyoto Tower in Kyoto.

Doctor Q
Nov 21, 2005, 09:24 PM
#1: An apartment building. I saw similar buildings like this in a number of cities, many of them backing the train tracks, and almost all of them have people's laundry hanging up to dry. I assume that since living quarters can be quite small, having an indoor dryer isn't common.

#2: The Umeda Sky Building in Osaka. You can take an elevator up the side and then one of the escalators in the middle up to the "Floating Observatory" where you can see 360 degrees of the city.

#3: The aforementioned escalator. I caught a random stranger in the photo but he didn't seem to mind.

#4: A building in Osaka, not far from the Osaka Castle grounds.

#5: The Kanazawa train station in Kanazawa. I was expected this quaint little town, since it's far from Tokyo, on the north coast (Sea of Japan side), so the fancy station entrance was a surprise. At the front (left in the photo) is a giant gate, in keeping with Japanese tradition.

sushi
Nov 21, 2005, 11:06 PM
I assume that since living quarters can be quite small, having an indoor dryer isn't common.
That is a great question.

Personally, I think that it has more to do with electric costs than space. Electric costs are very high to say the least.

As for space, one common washer/dryer arrangement is to have the dryer on top of the washer. Unlike systems I saw in the States, these are two separate components held together by custom piping offered by the manufacturer. Of course both components are much smaller than the stateside versions.

Now the rage seems to be all in one front loading systems which wash and dry your clothes.

Another thing that I've noticed, is my wife uses the dryer in the winter all the time but tends to hang out the clothes in the summer. Since it is common for the dryers to not be vented to the outside, this makes sense from a heat conservation standpoint.

Sushi

Doctor Q
Nov 21, 2005, 11:17 PM
#1: The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. You'd think they'd give a nicer name to such a grand building.

#2: The Picasso museum at the Hakone Open-Air Museum. You can't take photos inside the Picasso museum, so I took one outside instead. The Picasso collection wasn't especially impressive but the numerous outdoor sculptures certainly were.

#3: A view looking down from high up in the Microsoft building on the plaza near Tokyo's Shinjuku station. You see the walkway over the train tracks and the building directly across the tracks from the Microsoft building. In that building is the biggest branch of Tokyu Hands, a great hardware, houseware, and "general goods" store. On its left is the huge Takashimaya Department Store. I was in the Microsoft building because Bill Gates invited me to a private meeting to ask me for some programming tips. Well, maybe I fibbed about that last part.

#4: Yokohama Landmark Tower, the tallest building in Japan. Inside is the fastest elevator on earth, and a Guinness Book of World Records certificate to prove it. It accelerates as you start and decelerates as you finish, but you feel almost no motion, despite reaching a maximum of 45 km/h (28 mph). The floor numbers flash by and in 39 seconds you are magically on the 69th floor looking up and down the coast, 80km in any direction on a clear day.

#5: The only photo I took in the Tokyu Hands store, because something in there looked awfully familiar! :)

yellow
Nov 22, 2005, 09:52 AM
Doc! You set foot in the camp of the enemy?!? Hopefully for tactical spying!

Doctor Q
Nov 22, 2005, 05:21 PM
#1: Another building to add to the collection above: The Hermes building in the fancy Ginza district of Tokyo. It's made of glass blocks. I hope the residents don't throw stones.

And now for some "Mac" sightings...

#2: A sign in a store in the Akihabara electronics district of Tokyo. Don't worry, a Mac mini is not $44,800. That's 44,800 yen, which was less than $400 at the exchange rate.

#3: Apple's presence at a newsstand in Kyoto.

#4: A Mirrored Drive Door Power Mac G4 at a Kinkos/FedEx store in Kyoto. I rented time on it to transfer my camera's collected photos to CD-Rs and managed to do so despite the Mac (and Toast) speaking to me in Japanese. But I did end up with folders on the CD that had names I couldn't understand!

#5: I'm holding up the sign on this store that seemed to be selling computers. Oddly enough, there were only clothes for sale inside! ;)

emw
Nov 22, 2005, 05:25 PM
#5: I'm holding up the sign on this store that seemed to be selling computers. Oddly enough, there were only clothes for sale inside! ;)Looks like their version of the Dollar Store :p (the 100 Yen Store).

Doctor Q
Nov 22, 2005, 05:58 PM
#1: A place that sells Macs in Kurashiki. Big Macs, that is.

#2: The city of Himeji. A reference to a very old Mac OS version? I guess that would be System 1.

#3: A bookstore shelf in Kanazawa. I think the vertical bar on the section marker is meant to be a dash or a word-divider, not a letter I.

#4: Takayama is a town that we reached from Kanazawa by taking a train, then a bus, then a train over the mountains. You read things like this: "A hundred years after Japan was modernized, travelers discovered a small village hidden high in the Japanese Alps. Cut off from the world, Takayama had lain unaffected by the modernization of Japan." It was small and so were the very old streets and shops, yet here's what I spotted in a tiny store.

#5: A poster I spotted on the wall of a train station. I noticed the words "Macintosh" and "Laser Graphics Print". The rest is Japanese.

My last Mac sighting was in the Narita airport as we were waiting for the flight home: a magazine named Mac Power with subheading "Mac Creative Lifestyle". Why was I interested? Because it had an article with the title "Q Department"!

Doctor Q
Nov 23, 2005, 04:23 PM
<gush>

Despite being a tech-geek guy, I am very fond of Japanese gardens, and finding the best gardens was one of the goals of our trip. We saw many gardens, but none more unbelievably beautiful and amazing than Korakuen Garden in Okayama. In fact, that's the primary reason we went to Okayama. Our day at the garden almost made the entire trip worthwhile on its own.

Korakuen Garden is a landscape garden created in the 17th century. It has open fields of grass (very unusual for Japanese gardens), but also streams, ponds, hills, bridges, plants, stepping stones, an island, a rest house, tree groves, a teahouse, and shrines. It was carefully designed so that almost every time you turn a corner or go over or around a hill you find yourself marveling at another great vista.

Some of the photos came out looking like picture postcards, the kind that make places look better than they really are. But Korakuen Garden really was as good as the photos we'd seen, and better, because we could wander through all of the storybook scenery. And we weren't even there in cherry blossom season! The garden was fantastic and left us shaking our heads in disbelief.

I'll post a dozen of my photos, and that still won't cover all the scenery we saw.

</gush>

Doctor Q
Nov 23, 2005, 04:27 PM
Korakuen photos (group 2 of 3)

w_parietti22
Nov 23, 2005, 04:28 PM
<gush>

Despite being a tech-geek guy, I am very fond of Japanese gardens, ... snip

Those would make some good backgrounds... hint, hint ;) ;)

Doctor Q
Nov 23, 2005, 04:29 PM
Korakuen photos (group 3 of 3)

emw
Nov 23, 2005, 05:43 PM
#1: A place that sells Macs in Kurashiki. Big Macs, that is.So I have to ask - did you only wear the Q hat for pictures, or was it on all the time? :)

Doctor Q
Nov 23, 2005, 06:14 PM
So I have to ask - did you only wear the Q hat for pictures, or was it on all the time? :)I was born wearing my Q hat and have never tried taking it off. I'm not sure what would happen if I did. At a minimum, I'm sure I would lose my identity and probably discover that I should have washed my hair at least once a decade. And that several animals are now living in there. Or maybe I'd fall into pieces, a pile of rubble, if my hat was separated from the rest of me.

Because of my trusty hat, I suffered no sunburn, even after 3 weeks in the sun in Japan, and my wife was always able to find me in a crowd. I almost always wear sunglasses outdoors too, but wearing sunglasses is uncommon in Japan, so to (pretend to) fit in I kept them off and instead used a special technique when it was too bright. I call it squinting.

I'll see if I can find a photo of me sleeping, swimming, getting a haircut and shampoo, skydiving, walking on the moon, meeting the Dalai Lama, graduating from husband-obedience school, being taken to the hospital for cranial surgery, or any other situation where most people might not wear a hat, so you can see that my life-sustaining fashion accessory is always there.

Counterfit
Nov 23, 2005, 07:05 PM
Thanks for the porkful correction above. I'm sorry I got my facts wrong. How do you say "whoops" in Japanese?

Here are some food photos:

#1: The plastic food models they use in restaurant windows, for sale here in Asakusa.

#2: Two such models in a restaurant window. The chopsticks-up-in-the-air trick is used quite often, but this was the only restaurant I saw that had a meal that looked happy.
They need a side dish (http://www.engadget.com/entry/1234000270051750/) :D

Doctor Q
Nov 24, 2005, 02:57 AM
I did a thorough survey of photos of me from our trip and it appears certain that my hat is a permanent fixture.

#1: I mentioned above that I'd look for a photo of me being taken to the hospital for cranial surgery. I didn't find one, but I found a photo from just seconds before I was run over by a crazed driver and had to be taken to the hospital for cranial surgery. (Just kidding. And my apologizes to anyone who has been in a real traffic accident or had surgery recently.)

#2: Breakfast on the Shinkansen bullet train.

#3: Deciding if the barrels behind me hold enough sake to go with our dinner in Nara.

#4: Also in Nara: Pretending I don't have deer food in my pocket. I didn't fool the deer at all, who followed me until I handed out some food. It's interesting that the deer in Nara and Miyajima are considered sacred but still have their horns removed. They even make jewelry out of the horns and sell it!

#5: A deer in Miyajima. Isn't this a cool photo, with the famous Floating Torii Gate right behind me?

Doctor Q
Nov 24, 2005, 03:09 AM
#1: This bullet train is at the station in Okayama, but it never goes anywhere. It's painted on the steps.

#2: A ninja at the Ninja Museum in Iga Ueno tried to attack me from behind, but he didn't get my hat!

Lacero
Nov 24, 2005, 03:24 AM
Hi Dr. Q,

Your expression appears the same in each photograph. I wonder if the photos have been 'doctor'ed in any way. So I performed a lengthy, weighted sub-pixel analysis and transversive 4D fourier extraction of your various smiles in the last few pictures. An inverse composite was made to determine alignment. I have come to the conclusion your portrait, notable your smiles in each and every photograph, are the same! You are, in fact, a mannequin! You cannot fool us, Dr. Q, with your digital trickery!

Did you really visit Japan? My evidence suggests not.

Just kidding! Keep the awesome pictures coming. PS. DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS!!! :-D

sushi
Nov 24, 2005, 08:20 AM
Hi Dr. Q,

Your expression appears the same in each photograph. I wonder if the photos have been 'doctor'ed in any way. So I performed a lengthy, weighted sub-pixel analysis and transversive 4D fourier extraction of your various smiles in the last few pictures. An inverse composite was made to determine alignment. I have come to the conclusion your portrait, notable your smiles in each and every photograph, are the same! You are, in fact, a mannequin! You cannot fool us, Dr. Q, with your digital trickery!

Did you really visit Japan? My evidence suggests not.
Actually, I saw him without his hat once while he was in Japan. Well sort of. Let me clarify. I noticed him taking his hat off to rub his forehead. As his hat came off he started to fade. In just a second, or maybe two, he had completely disappeared.

However upon replacing his hat on his head he quickly reappeared...thankfully.

So yes, for Dr. Q, his hat is part of his essence. :D

Sushi

devilot
Nov 24, 2005, 09:03 AM
#4: Also in Nara: Pretending I don't have deer food in my pocket. I didn't fool the deer at all, who followed me until I handed out some food. It's interesting that the deer in Nara and Miyajima are considered sacred but still have their horns removed. They even make jewelry out of the horns and sell it!

#5: A deer in Miyajima. Isn't this a cool photo, with the famous Floating Torii Gate right behind me?So are the deer wild? Part of me really is against feeding wild animals, sacred or not. They learn to lose their 'healthy fear' of humans (as evidenced by the one nosing your pocket).

That said, I really like the second picture of the deer. :o

2nyRiggz
Nov 24, 2005, 11:10 AM
Doc u look kinda worried with that ninja behind you....and u fed bambi as well...cool

nuff

Doctor Q
Nov 24, 2005, 12:10 PM
The sacred deer in Nara are indeed wild, in the sense that they are not owned or tended as pets. They live on their own and go where they want, but they are very tame. We fed them tangerine peels, which they seemed to like.

Each generation learns from parents the behaviors we saw. If you walk up to one and say hello (in your choice of language), they really do bow their heads as we'd heard. If you hold out a fist, it means "food" and they wait (or follow or nudge you) to get it. If you hold out a flat palm, it means "no food" and they wander away or stop paying attention to you.

Four photos of deer we met in Nara.

#1: Look ma, no horns!

#2 and #3: Close-ups.

#4: This lady wasn't happy to have quite so many deer approaching her. It looks like she's laughing but she had just shrieked in surprise and a bit of fear.

Doctor Q
Nov 24, 2005, 12:25 PM
The deer in Miyajima were less well-behaved. In Nara, deer meet many local citizens, who know their habits. In Miyajima, which is much more tourist-filled, the deer congregate around the ferry station (where you arrive) and people buy deer food at a stand nearby.

The deer still know the hand signals but the people don't. The deer can be real pests because the aggressive ones are most successful in getting food from newly arrived tourists. We walked away from the crowds and sought out the smaller deer who deserved some attention too.

#1: An unruly mob of wild beasts stalks me.

#2: We got this deer to reach for a snack.

#3: My new pal. I approached slowly when I spotted her relaxing on a stone staircase, since she is a wild animal. But I guess she was already well fed because she didn't move, except to look at the camera and smile, and didn't ask for food in exchange for posing.

One deer-less photo:

#4: We had resigned ourselves to the fact that the famous Floating Torii Gate would be either inaccessible (you can only walk to it when the tide is out) or mobbed with other tourists, but we caught it at just the right time as the tide receded and before other tourists got out there. I was quite amazed that we got this photo.

Doctor Q
Nov 24, 2005, 02:03 PM
Your expression appears the same in each photograph.My family always tells me they need only one photo of me per year because my smile always looks the same. And there was barely a minute we didn't feel like smiling in Japan. But this set of photos proves that my expression can actually change!


These photos are from the Japan Rural Toy Museum in Kurashiki.

#1: I thought the museum collection would be old Japanese toys, but it turned out to have toys from all over the world. Five rooms of toys, packed to the rafters. Dolls, kites, animals, mechanical toys with cranks, and much more.

#2: An entire wall of masks.

#3: A toy for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger users.

#4: A toy that didn't seem very happy to see us. The feeling was mutual.

betty02
Nov 25, 2005, 04:17 AM
Ok following on from the research with the smile, i did a some research with the hat, and i cam to the conclussion, 95%m of the time the hat is of the same color, and angle.

So how about now??? lol

Nice photoshopping though ;)

yellow
Nov 25, 2005, 10:34 AM
BEST... THREAD... EVER...

Those deer look positively... delicious!

My question is..

Did Mrs Dr. Q ever get into a photo, or did you usurp all photogenic rolls?

Doctor Q
Nov 25, 2005, 03:55 PM
Those deer look positively... delicious!Hey! Keep your knives and forks off those sacred deer!

We heard a story that, in the days of feudal lords, if a deer died of natural causes on a man's property in Nara, he might sneak its body onto somebody else's land in the night because of the serious consequences if you were suspected of harming a deer. Of course, your neighbor might do the same to you!

I wonder if there's a problem with deer getting into people's trash? Perhaps people who live in Nara don't keep outdoor trash, or keep it tightly sealed. Then again, maybe the deer are so well fed by everyone that they don't need dessert.

Did Mrs Dr. Q ever get into a photo, or did you usurp all photogenic rolls?My wife knows more about medicine than me, but she isn't a doctor, so it's just "Mrs. Q". And she really does go by that nickname, by the way. She's in some of our vacation photos too, but she has never filled out the authorization and consent forms for me to post photos of her, so you'll have to settle for my smiling/frowning mug. Or those of the delicious deer.

yellow
Nov 25, 2005, 04:00 PM
My wife is the same way. She assumes (correctly) that her picutres will automatically be downloaded and used for various nefarious purposes.

Doctor Q
Nov 28, 2005, 08:30 PM
#1: I thought I was being clever by taking this shot in Shinjuku, in a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant. You see the sushi chef and a reflection of the plates of sushi on the belt reflected in the mirrored ceiling. When I got home, I couldn't figure out what this photo was, or which way to rotate it, until I finally remembered that's how I took it. :rolleyes:

#2: A pachinko parlor. We wandered in despite being wary from reports that they are very smoky. What I found was that the smoke here and there wasn't bad, but the noise level was VERRRRRRY HIGH! I don't mind going to a rock concert now and then but I don't think I'd want to spend every evening playing pachinko amidst noise like that.

We saw how you trade your winning pachinko balls for household goods, but we were also told that you can trade them for a special coin that can be taken to another location and redeemed for cash. So apparently you can gamble at pachinko, but only if you know that "secret". Is direct gambling not permitted but this kind tolerated?

#3: There are cartoon characters everywhere on signs and in ads. They aren't directed only at kids. Even the ATM had a cuddly creature on the screen when I hit it up for cash.

#4: What does this sign say? I knew at the time but forgot before I wrote it down. Pictures like #1 and #4 were from the beginning of our trip, so that was a lonnnnnnnnnnng time ago!

#5: I saw this sign saying "UNIQLO" out of a store window in Akihabara. It's probably the first "Q" we spotted in Japan. But it's not a Japanese word, and in English you'd have a U following a Q, so how would you pronounce UNIQLO?

Doctor Q
Nov 28, 2005, 08:42 PM
Two more from Akihabara:

#1: I spotted my alter ego: iGuy!

#2: A similar-looking toy that seemed to be a shelf prop used to draw attention to the SD cards. Too bad it wasn't for sale.

#3: The train tracks outside Ueno Station. To get this shot, I had to sneak over the fence and set up a 30-foot ladder on one set of tracks and snap the train coming by on the adjoining tracks before I was hit from behind by another train. Either that or I took it from a bridge that went over the tracks. ;)

gekko513
Nov 28, 2005, 08:50 PM
#3: The train tracks outside Ueno Station. To get this shot, I had to sneak over the fence and set up a 30-foot ladder on one set of tracks and snap the train coming by on the adjoining tracks before I was hit from behind by another train. Either that or I took it from a bridge that went over the tracks. ;)
I'm guessing the second option ;)

Mr. Anderson
Nov 28, 2005, 08:53 PM
I'm thinking I'll be having sushi tomorrow for lunch......

Love the pics - so what did you have for breakfast on the train? And how long was the ride that they served it for you?

D

Doctor Q
Nov 29, 2005, 01:40 AM
what did you have for breakfast on the train? And how long was the ride that they served it for you?Our bullet train rides ranged from 45 minutes to a couple of hours. Either way, there is plenty of time to finish off a bento box purchased from the lady with the roving food cart.

These meals had fish, vegetables, pickles, and rice. No fruit. You can buy fruit in markets in Japan, but you don't see it often in packaged lunches (on the train or sold at convenience stores) or in restaurants.

Counterfit
Nov 29, 2005, 02:22 AM
I did a thorough survey of photos of me from our trip and it appears certain that my hat is a permanent fixture.

#1: I mentioned above that I'd look for a photo of me being taken to the hospital for cranial surgery. I didn't find one, but I found a photo from just seconds before I was run over by a crazed driver and had to be taken to the hospital for cranial surgery. (Just kidding. And my apologizes to anyone who has been in a real traffic accident or had surgery recently.)
That gate reminds me of these (http://poopypants.meatfreezer.com/narragansett/pages/26%20-%20Narragansett%20Towers.htm). Hmmm, maybe some ancient Japanese dudes came over to Rhode Island before Roger Williams got booted from Massachusetts...


Do I smell venison? :D

Kidding! It's too dry for my tastes. That and the whitetail deer around here get spooked if you step on a snowflake 150 feet away.

sushi
Nov 29, 2005, 07:30 AM
I'm thinking I'll be having sushi tomorrow for lunch......
Great! Where are we going?! :p :D

Lacero
Nov 29, 2005, 08:02 AM
...people were more than willing to be photographed in Japan. The only confusion was when I tried to ask permission by pointing to my camera...

After we took their photos, they took ours.

That's awesome, Doctor Q. You've integrated into the Japanese culture quite well, during your visit in Japan. Keep the awesome pics coming!

Wow, I'm surprised to see another side of you!

iGary
Nov 29, 2005, 08:14 AM
Very nice pics, Doctor Q.

Thoroughly enjoyed looking at them. :)

joepunk
Nov 29, 2005, 08:52 AM
#1: A girl who had a school assignment to ask strangers questions in English. The questions came from the paper she is holding. She asked us where we were from and a couple of other questions, and seemed very pleased that we answered, although I don't think she paid attention to the answers and she didn't write them down. After our interview, we gave her an American flag sticker. We gave stickers or pins (I kept a supply in my pocket) to any kids who talked to us this way or exchanged photos with us, and every one of them seemed thrilled to get a prize.When I was in Mexico City I was asked questions from some University students in the Zocalo. One group used a tape recorder and asked the questions in English. Afterwards we exchanged a photo-op (sp?). The second group unfortunately I could not answer their questions as I can not speak Spanish.

Really enjoyed the photo album Dr. Q.

sushi
Nov 29, 2005, 05:31 PM
That's awesome, Doctor Q. You've integrated into the Japanese culture quite well, during your visit in Japan. Keep the awesome pics coming!

Wow, I'm surprised to see another side of you!
Be careful Lacero, the new MacRumors' God may make you pay for that! :D

(Reference girl #2)

Doctor Q
Nov 29, 2005, 06:36 PM
I always like science museums, even though science tends to be the same from one country to the next -- except that gravity causes things to fall UP in the southern hemisphere, of course.

They had an exhibit about computer history that included these displays of old computers:

#1: Computers from 1944 (left) and 1930 (right).

#2: The ETL-MARK II from 1955. (There was some English mixed into the Japanese so I could read that part.)

#3: 1956. This computer was very advanced. It ran at a whopping 30KHz! Note: That's kilohertz, not megahertz or gigahertz.

#4: 1960. This is as modern as computers can get, folks! And it even comes with an operator!

Perhaps it wasn't the most complete summary of computer history, and all the signs were only in Japanese, but it was still fun to see.

Perhaps somebody can identify some of the computer models in these photos.


From the same museum:

#5: Don't stare at this poster or else one thousand, nine hundred, and eight bad things will happen!

Melkor
Nov 29, 2005, 07:48 PM
Cool pics. Japan seems like such an interesting place. I hope to work there some time in the future.

Doctor Q
Nov 29, 2005, 08:26 PM
Japan seems like such an interesting place. I hope to work there some time in the future.Work there doing what? I need a good excuse to go back too.


Last week we went to a restaurant here in Los Angeles that we always thought was very authentic. The food was still good, but it felt "too American" to us: staff who didn't speak Japanese (even when I spoke to them with my few Japanese phrases), napkins instead of moist towels, rice and soup served before the meal instead of with it or at the end, everyone was too loud (restaurant staff included), some people had these weird metal things with tines for stabbing food (they called them forks), and nobody bowed when we left.

I guess we're spoiled now!

sushi
Nov 29, 2005, 10:17 PM
Last week we went to a restaurant here in Los Angeles that we always thought was very authentic. The food was still good, but it felt "too American" to us: staff who didn't speak Japanese (even when I spoke to them with my few Japanese phrases), napkins instead of moist towels, rice and soup served before the meal instead of with it or at the end, everyone was too loud (restaurant staff included), some people had these weird metal things with tines for stabbing food (they called them forks), and nobody bowed when we left.

I guess we're spoiled now!
Priceless! :D

xsedrinam
Nov 29, 2005, 10:57 PM
...and nobody bowed when we left.

Dr. Q ichibon moderator....er god.


:D

P.S. How I wish we would have had you in our show and tell class way back, when. This is a great thread. Thanks for sharing.

Doctor Q
Nov 29, 2005, 11:55 PM
ichibon moderatorI scratch my knee Monday if I have an ichi ni san-day. :rolleyes:


Some photos from Senso-ji in Asakusa, Tokyo. Note that the suffix "ji" means "temple", so saying "Senso-ji" is the same as saying "Senso Temple".

#1: The Kaminarimon Gate at Senso-ji, where two guardians protect the temple. The guardians are Fujin, god of wind, and Raijin, god of thunder.

#2: A guardian's sandal. The sandal and its mate can also be seen in photo #1, on either side of the gate.

#3: Goju-no-to, the five-story pagoda. Since odd numbers are considered luckiest, pagodas usually have three or five stories. In the center of this pagoda is a giant pillar of Japanese cypress wood. The traditional top of a pagoda (what you will see above the roofs) usually consists, from bottom to top, of a square base, representing the ground, a curved mound, which is the ash mound of Buddha, a sacred Lotus flower, 9 rings to provide protection from the sun, and a decorative flame at the very top.

#4: I thought these were priests from the temple but they turned out to be tourists from Tibet! The temple priests wear simpler robes. A few places during our trip, we saw a priest begging on a street corner. They don't do this because they need money. Instead, it is considered one of a priests duties to take the role of a beggar.

Outside the temple gate, there is a large container for incense. The smoke is thought to be healing, so people stand close and fan the smoke onto themselves, especially if something specific ails them.

Abstract
Nov 30, 2005, 12:49 AM
Cool. I like how these posts include facts about Japan as well. :)

Counterfit
Nov 30, 2005, 01:28 AM
Dr. Q ichibon moderator....er god.


:D

P.S. How I wish we would have had you in our show and tell class way back, when. This is a great thread. Thanks for sharing.
That just gave me a great idea! :eek:




Wait for it...






Chairman Q! :D

iAlan
Nov 30, 2005, 02:23 AM
The use of English on signs, store names, and T-shirts is considered classy....

I am trying to find a picture of my favourite t-shirt I have seen here in Tokyo, but dodnot remember which CD-ROM it is on. Anway it said...

"I feel good. I want you to feel me too"

My Japanese friend said it meant that the wearer wanted the reader to feel as good as the wearer - as in 'happy'. I said the wearer just wanted to felt-up - as in 'fondled' :p

Anyway, I have only justarted to to read the thread and will try hard not to comment on too much....

Doctor Q
Dec 1, 2005, 12:29 AM
I am trying to find a picture of my favourite t-shirt I have seen here in Tokyo, but dodnot remember which CD-ROM it is on. Anway it said...

"I feel good. I want you to feel me too"

My Japanese friend said it meant that the wearer wanted the reader to feel as good as the wearer - as in 'happy'. I said the wearer just wanted to felt-up - as in 'fondled' :pWe saw many T-shirts with English phrases that made no sense. This is a photo I took of one that said "Dependence place of our mind recapture". What th!?

Two other T-shirts phrases we saw:"Night time is the naught for telling a dream"

"Everybody enjoy my best speed style severe"We tried to figure out where these T-shirts were sold, so we looked for them whenever we saw trendy clothes in a small store or even a big department store. We found T-shirts with English, but only brand names of phrases that had meaning. We found none that made absolutely no sense even through we saw people wearing them. So we still don't know where people get the nonsense-English shirts, nor what the people who made them had in mind.

In contrast, the label on my razor in one hotel room was simply a poor translation of a nice idea. It said "Have a good shaving for your fresh life".

Doctor Q
Dec 1, 2005, 01:10 AM
#1: This opening is a doorway connecting two platforms in a train station in Tokyo. Perhaps it is leftover from a station remodel.

And now for some pseudo-science: Since the Japanese must contend with 4-foot-high doorways in train stations, shorter people have the best chance of survival (by not bumping their foreheads). Therefore, that explains why Japanese adults tend to be shorter than American adults! ;)

#2: Trains in Japan are kept very clean. For the most part, people don't leave trash on them, except in the seat pockets on a bullet train. Still, there are cleaning crews that regularly tidy up the trains. On the bullet train, that includes changing the cloth on each seat's headrest. This photo shows a cleaning crew waiting for a bullet train they will be cleaning.

#3: As passengers disembark, train employees bow. The cleaning crew will not enter the train until all passengers are off, and no new passengers are permitted on until they are finished. Another theory: Perhaps bowing makes you shorter because you are propelling yourself in the direction of the ground. ;)

#4: While waiting for the train, I watched where the cleaning crew was coming from in the station and found their secret hideout. They live in tiny caves in the walls of the station, and pop out whenever it's time. Secret elf-sized train station caves -- yet another reason being shorter is advantageous in Japan. ;)

#5: My last theory is that the Japanese are not really shorter than Americans, and it's all an optical illusion. My proof is that I looked shorter in Japan too, as evidenced by this mirror I found in the kid's area of the National Science Museum. :D

My "height theories" above are just silly, of course, so I owe it to you to tell the truth. I did try to get some real information about people's heights while we were there. The younger generation in Japan is noticeably taller (on average) than previous generations, and I was told there are three reasons for this:

1. Better nutrition in general, which helps overall health and lets kids grow.

2. One specific food that growing children now have much more than in previous years: milk.

3. A concerted effort to use desks in schools rather than have kids sit on the floor as in years past. Apparently, long hours spent with legs folded stunted leg growth. Indeed, when we looked at most adult men, we could see that their torsos were not that different from Americans, but their legs were definitely shorter.

Of course, staring at people on the subway isn't exactly scientific research, but my research budget was rather low so that was good enough!

Melkor
Dec 1, 2005, 04:08 AM
Work there doing what? I need a good excuse to go back too.




Electronic engineering :)

Is everyone overly polite there? I always seem to get that impression from a lot of Japanese people. I'm just curious. Oh, and do many people speak english or should I start learning Japanese?



#1: The Kaminarimon Gate at Senso-ji, where two guardians protect the temple. The guardians are Fujin, god of wind, and Raijin, god of thunder.



Anyone else reciginse (God, my spelling is up-all-ing) those names from Final Fantasy 8 or am I the only true nerd here :p.

yellow
Dec 1, 2005, 10:07 AM
We found none that made absolutely no sense even through we saw people wearing them. So we still don't know where people get the nonsense-English shirts, nor what the people who made them had in mind.

Do I detect a financial opportunity?

"The scary where is a mouse?"

"Full-time magnanamous borscht"

"Inherit the fortune at dawn monkey"

Lau
Dec 1, 2005, 10:30 AM
"The scary where is a mouse?"

:D Excellent.

Doctor Q, I have been enjoying this thread greatly, but don't think I've posted yet so say so. Great photos and captions!

Doctor Q
Dec 1, 2005, 10:40 AM
Is everyone overly polite there? I always seem to get that impression from a lot of Japanese people. I'm just curious. Oh, and do many people speak english or should I start learning Japanese?Everyone is extremely polite, and uncouth barbarian invaders like us soon learn to reciprocate. People go out of their way to offer assistance or be friendly. In small stores, shopkeepers greet you as you enter, stand for the entire time you are in their store, hurry to get you anything you ask for, and thank you for your business. Train station employees are unfailingly polite, despite the hectic pace and the thousands of commuters. Hotel clerks are great. Everyone bows to everyone else -- including the deer! People we asked for directions did their best to help us every time, whether they spoke English or not. Once, when we got on the wrong bus, the bus driver got off the bus, led us around the corner to the right bus stop, and then returned to his bus!

In Tokyo, English gets you pretty far, and the couple dozen Japanese words we taught ourselves were mostly all we needed. Elsewhere, a phrasebook will come in very handy, and the more Japanese you learn the better. Luckily, the rules of pronunciation are easy to master, and vowels have consistent sounds, unlike in English. Kids learn English in school but adults who don't use English routinely may not be good at speaking or understanding spoken English, or may be reluctant to speak English because they don't consider themselves good enough at it. You often have better luck writing a note, since it's easier for many Japanese to read English than to understand it in spoken form.

Someone planning to work in Japan, rather than merely visit, needs to know more Japanese for two reasons: to manage all the activities of daily living, and to fit into the business culture. Unless they will be insulated in an English-speaking enterprise, a businessperson needs not only some language skills but an introduction to business practices. The web site http://www.how-to-bow.com/ has a fun animation showing not only how to bow but tips about business meetings.

Speaking of English, here's something funny. We saw a school in Kanazawa where they teach English at weekly classes. The name of the school was "Week English Club". I'm not sure I'd want to learn English at a school whose English name isn't phrased very well (it should be "Weekly") and, even worse, sounds like Weak English Club!

Melkor
Dec 1, 2005, 11:44 AM
Cheers Doctor Q. I guess I better brush up on my manners.



Speaking of English, here's something funny. We saw a school in Kanazawa where they teach English at weekly classes. The name of the school was "Week English Club". I'm not sure I'd want to learn English at a school whose English name isn't phrased very well (it should be "Weekly") and, even worse, sounds like Weak English Club!

lmao weak english club! Maybe it's just something their proud of
:p

szark
Dec 1, 2005, 11:55 AM
So, I finally got around to reading this thread.

Very nice pics, Q! I really like the photos of the gardens, and all of the interesting facts, details, and narration.

Doctor Q
Dec 2, 2005, 06:53 PM
#1: I'm wandering around Ginza, the ritzy shopping district of Tokyo, buying myself $5,000 wallets and $10,000 rings (yeah, sure), when I spot something exciting. Yes, it's a giant Q on a well-lit sign! Oh, and by the way, there is a nice-looking store named Apple next door to it.

Yes, the rumors are true... they have Apple Stores in Japan, and this is the first one we visited. The Ginza store has 5 stories and 20,000 square feet on a very expensive corner. I'd hate to see their rent bill!

#2: Look familiar? If it weren't for the signs in both English and Japanese, I'd think I was in an Apple Store in the U.S.A. They had not only the same Apple products on display but the same third-party products. iPod add-ons, Mac speakers, cameras, printers, etc., were just like at home. So was the store layout, the window displays, the banners, the sign-on-an-easel in the doorway, and the furniture.

The store had a fair number of people in it, but they were spread out over many floors so it wasn't particularly crowded.

I sat down at a Mac and tried out Safari in Japanese. Instead of trying to read the menus (some in katakana, some in kanji), I used command keys or worked from memory. For example, Customize Address Bar is the 2nd item in the 4th menu. I needed a little help to figure out how to enter Roman letters without having pairs of letters turn into kanji. That's the method used to generate kanji while typing, since a keyboard or palette would not have room for even the thousand most-commonly-used characters. I had to disable that feature to type Roman-only.

We also played with the built-in iSight on a new iMac. The shots it took of the person directly in front were OK, but it didn't take shots well with a wider view, such as with two people in front of it. So it suits a single user as intended, but isn't as versatile as the separate iSight I use with my Power Mac.

#3: Help! I'm entering the Steve Jobs' reality distortion field! The bright light is an Apple logo on the back of the elevator shaft. There is one on each of the five stories, and it's very cool when seen from inside or outside the elevator or if you look up the elevator shaft to see them all at once.

#4: I liked the way this shot came out. Once the elevator door closes, you can see the reflection of the Apple logo behind you in the clear elevator door as you look into the store, so I took this before the elevator started to move.

#5: Two photos for the price of one! Front and side views of a first generation 10GB iPod next to the latest 30GB widescreen video iPod. Which would you rather have? Remember, the 10GB one is a collector's item!

YS2003
Dec 3, 2005, 09:06 PM
This thread makes me want to go back to Japan. Maybe after 10 years or Social Security contribution (which is a few years away), I will do so (I don't want to leave my cash on Uncle Sam's table with a premature departure from this country).

Doctor Q
Dec 8, 2005, 06:33 PM
We arranged our trip so we would arrive in Kyoto on October 22. That's the day of the annual Jidai Matsuri (Festival of the Ages), a parade of men, women, and children in costumes, celebrating the periods of Kyoto history. The parade goes from the Imperial Palace to the Heian Shrine. The festival was created in 1895 to celebrate the 1,100th (!!) anniversary of the founding of Kyoto as Japan's capital.

Thousands come to Kyoto for this festival, so we expected to have to deal with huge crowds and perhaps not be able to see the parade well. In fact, we thought it would be so crowded that we decided to skip the festival entirely! Instead, our plan was to bypass the parade and head out of town for a lesser-known evening festival called the Kurama Fire Festival, held the evening of the same day.

We had a a number of surprises:

Surprise #1: By chance, as we wended our way across the city from Kyoto station to our hotel and then toward a subway station that could get us to Kurama, we ran into a main corner of the festival parade! There was plenty of room to see, since the crowd was spread out along the entire parade route. So we watched the costumed participants go by for the last half hour of the parade.

Surprise #2: The procession was mostly silent. There was an occasional drum or gong, but there are no marching bands or music on a P.A. system for this parade (or for other parades we saw in Japan). Americans at parades demand noise. In contrast, the Japanese were there to see their history, not listen to it.

Surprise #3: The audience sat in chairs or stood on the sidewalk along the way. When the parade was over, people got up (no clapping) and went on their way, and we saw not a single spec of trash on the sidewalk! Another difference from America, where they are probably still cleaning up after the 2000 New Year's Eve gathering in Times Square (and maybe from Woodstock 1969 as well).

After our lucky diversion, we returned to our plan and walked to the Demachiyanagi station where we could catch the train to Kurama.

Surprise #4: Calling the Kurama Fire Festival "lesser-known" may be technically correct, but that's a lot different than "unknown". There were hundreds of people in line for the tiny train to Kurama!

As we waited in the huge line, they stuffed as many people as would fit into each train. Then they added a few more people for good measure. I don't know if they eat sardines in Japan, but they certainly made sardines out of us! It was packed more than any subway we took in Tokyo. Here's a photo of the train ride.

Tonight I'll post some photos of the Kurama Fire Festival, one of the most wacky, fascinating, and memorable parades I've ever seen!

mikeyredk
Dec 8, 2005, 07:01 PM
#2: A similar-looking toy that seemed to be a shelf prop used to draw attention to the SD cards. Too bad it wasn't for sale.


Should have just swiped it

Chip NoVaMac
Dec 8, 2005, 09:55 PM
Forgive me is these questions have been asked already, or are too personal...


What sort of budget both in time and $ to do Japan "right"?

Is there a better time of year for "budget" travel to Japan?


Did you all do this more like "solo travelers" or did you do a lot as part of a tour group?

Thanks, love what I have had a chance to read and see here....

Doctor Q
Dec 8, 2005, 11:40 PM
What sort of budget both in time and $ to do Japan "right"?You might want to look at my post where I talked about what you have to budget for.

Time?

The longer the better! Don't spend one day in a city; any city needs 2 or 3 days, and the big cities, particularly Tokyo and Kyoto, are worth longer stays, if you can afford it. If you have to take a short trip, limit the number of cities rather than shortchange any of them. Of the major cities, Kyoto was most interesting to me. Osaka and Nagoya are a bit less interesting for tourists since they are commerce centers more than historic cities.

Money?

Japan Rail passes are available only to foreign visitors to Japan; you buy it at home and pick it up (and activate it) when you arrive. They cost 28300 (currently about $240) for 7 days, 45100 ($380) for 14 days, 57700 ($490) for 21 days. You don't need it if you will be in a single city, but if you are planning to travel from city to city (which we did in spades, from one end of Honshu to the other), you save a small fortune.

Meals cost the same as in big U.S. cities (like Los Angeles). Avoid expensive restaurants (and any that don't have prices displayed outside), buy some convenience store meals instead of "eating out" some of the time, and you can easily eat for less than about $25 to $30/day. Especially if you don't mind a lot of noodles!

If you crave sushi, use the conveyor-belt restaurants, which are good enough most of the time, not the sushi bars with chefs serving you fantastic sushi individually. At one conveyor-belt sushi place, Mrs. Q and I ate all we could stuff in because we were hungry and the sushi was good (as good as we've had at home), and the total bill was only $17 for two people, including tea. But all-you-can-eat at a great sushi restaurant could cost hundreds of dollars; you might not deserve it!

Hotels are expensive in the major cities. Stay in less desirable locations (not right near a station) to save some money. To stay below $100/night, you have to shop carefully (and it helps to shop well in advance) or stay in youth hostels. If you want luxury in Tokyo, you can easily spend $300 or more per night. Ulp!

To save on admissions to museums, gardens, and temples, see fewer of them for a longer time each. Don't run from one to the next; go to the biggest/best of them and stay for more hours to see it all.

Don't buy impulse items or lots of treats - the cost can add up.

One last tip: Make lots of friends and mooch!

Is there a better time of year for "budget" travel to Japan?Prices go up during Japanese holidays, which come and go throughout the year. The week up to New Years is always more expensive. Other than that, I suggest picking the time of year based on weather (average temperature and rain) and on whether you want to see fall colors, spring cherry blossoms, winter snow, or summer daylight.

Did you all do this more like "solo travelers" or did you do a lot as part of a tour group?We did this completely on our own, so we could spend our time as we saw fit. We probably spent hundreds of hours over the past year researching, reading, and planning everything we wanted to do. But I'm a compulsive detail guy; not everyone would want to do all that planning.

Tour groups get you to a bunch of famous sites and let you avoid the hassles of food-you-can't-identify and no-western-style-toilets and not-speaking-the-language, but we thought all of these "problems" were part of the adventure, and if we wanted to spend 4 hours in a garden looking for photo ops, we didn't want a guy on a megaphone saying "you must be back on the bus in 15 minutes." Soloing is not for everyone, however, and there are certainly hassles to do-it-yourselfing, especially figuring out transportation.

Oh, and something else that may come in handy... look at websites about Japan and talk to a travel agent. I'm not an expert on Japan, just one geeky tourist back from one trip!

Doctor Q
Dec 8, 2005, 11:56 PM
We knew this would be a crazy adventure, and we weren't disappointed.

Kurama is a tiny town with one main street, in the mountains northeast of Kyoto. The population must grow one-hundredfold for this festival.

#1: The area around Kurama. To take this photo from the extremely crowded train, I had to lean way over and hold the camera out from me, near the window, while trying to hold it steady. We could never forget we were in Japan, as we saw the distinctive roofs on houses everywhere we went.

#2: When we got off the train in Kurama, we were met with a statue of Tengu, the mischievous goblin of folklore. Perhaps he presides over this festival, or simply lives in the forested area nearby and came by to see what all the commotion was about! :)

#3: As soon as we walked off of the train platform, we joined the swollen crowd already in the city, with more arriving on each round-trip of the trains. We had no choice but to walk where the mass of people around us went -- like protons crowded into the nucleus in a molecule (sorry, mass joke). We all shuffled up the single street, wondering if we'd made a mistake to come, had arrived too early or too late, or wouldn't really be able to see anything.

But once people got settled into places along the street, we had some elbow room and found that we had arrived just as the festivities began. Our luck and timing were great. And, to add to the luck, we had ended up next to one of the areas where they prepare the torches and light a big bonfire.

Doctor Q
Dec 9, 2005, 12:11 AM
The festival activities consisted of (1) dressing up, (2) building bonfires, and (3) carrying giant lit torches through the streets, back and forth, back and forth. Remember, there was only one street.

I should make it clear that we had absolutely no idea what was going on around us, except what we saw. We didn't understand the meaning of the Fire Festival procession, but that didn't make it any less fun.

There were no signs in English. There were P.A. system speakers set up all along the street, but all announcements were in Japanese. We spoke to some other tourists who we heard speak English, but they knew less than we did.

It appeared that everyone who lives in Kurama joins in the fun, and even the youngest in the families walked along with the grown-ups, "helping" to carry the torches.

Here are four photos of participants in costume. Some of the men had very (ahem) revealing costumes, with basically a string in the back and a loose colorful robe. It was very cold out on a mountain night in October, so they must have been glad when the torches were lit!

I took photos of the more elaborate costumes and of course I couldn't resist looking for photo ops with the local kids.

Doctor Q
Dec 9, 2005, 12:29 AM
It wasn't Hanukkah, but they sure had a festival of lights... and heat!

#1: The biggest torches sitting on sawhorses, ready for lighting.

#2: A cool (but not in the temperature sense) bonfire. Both the torch area and this bonfire were right behind us, so despite the crowd packed between us and the street, I turned around and saw these up close.

But nobody brought marshmallows! :mad:

Even though it was cold weather, we had to unzip jackets because it got so warm close to the bonfire, and I was a little worried about the embers in Mrs. Q's (and everyone else's) hair. Luckily, my Q hat is impervious to fire, rain, lightning, cosmic rays, and even falling rocks.

#3: The bonfires were used to light the torches.

#4: Woman and boys carried smaller torches.

#5: It took several strong men to carry the biggest torches.

Doctor Q
Dec 9, 2005, 12:50 AM
We left Kurama on the same packed-to-the-rafters train we'd arrived on, and realized on the way back to Kyoto that it was an experience we'd always remember. Crazy, exciting, invigorating, a little haphazard/out of control, full of friendly excitement, and completely different than anything we had ever seen before.

A couple of afterthoughts and extra photos...

Although I got some good photos of the Festival, it was only by taking 100 photos and throwing out the 80 that didn't turn out right. Holding the camera above my head, trying to aim, and then taking stills of a moving fire with a very dark background was a challenge for both me and my little Canon Powershot.

Still, I managed to take some experimental shots that turned out well.

#1: Embers from the bonfire.

#2: A longer exposure shows the fire going by without the people!

#3: I'll pretend I took this photo this way on purpose. A man walked by while I was catching a shot of a crowd control officer. It looks like his alter ego (or uniformed soul?) is emerging from his body!

iBlue
Dec 9, 2005, 02:55 AM
#3: I'll pretend I took this photo this way on purpose. A man walked by while I was catching a shot of a crowd control officer. It looks like his alter ego (or uniformed soul?) is emerging from his body!

wow, that is genuinely bizarre... very cool though.

Doctor Q
Jan 4, 2006, 07:36 PM
A few of my photos of the Shibuya Apple Store are now on another Apple-related web site:ifoapplestore.com: Detailed Photos of Shibuya Glass Staircase (http://www.ifoapplestore.com/2006/01/02/detailed-photos-of-shibuya-glass-staircase/)Click the photo for a small gallery.

prostuff1
Jan 4, 2006, 09:13 PM
i really enjoyed looking through the pics. I spent a month over there from July 13 to August 11 and it was so much fun.

I was on an exchange program so i spent my time with a family. Fortunantly i knew the family as we had hosted there son about four years ago.

So did you have someone showing you around?? or did you go around yourself??

I spent most of my time in Tokyo, but i was also in Nagoya. I did get to see Mt. Fuji from the Shinkansen but did not get pics.

I might post some of my pics later (kinda feeling lazy now)

It is to bad you were there after the Achi EXPO. It was so freaking cool. I actaully spent two days there and that was not nearly enough.

How long were you over there??

Glad to hear you had a good time.

Doctor Q
Jan 4, 2006, 09:32 PM
I was on an exchange program so i spent my time with a family. Fortunantly i knew the family as we had hosted there son about four years ago.That's a great way to see a country, not just from the tourist point of view.

So did you have someone showing you around?? or did you go around yourself??For the most part, we planned and did everything ourselves. In Tokyo, we met two people we had exchanged messages with but had never met in person, and they showed us around a bit, but most of the time we managed to find our own way around Tokyo and see the specific places we wanted to see.

In the other cities, we had no friends to meet, but we arranged half-day tours by volunteer English-speaking guides (from the Goodwill Guide Group) in three cities: Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka. Since we were in Japan for almost a month, however, having somebody to show us around was the exception.

The price of such freedom was that we got lost now and then and I had to rely on my few words of Japanese to ask for directions, but we were able to go to our own choice of sites without being stuck on somebody else's schedule.

We were especially glad we didn't take a formal bus tour when we were at Kenroku-en Garden in Kanazawa. We saw a tour bus disgorge its cargo (people), who were herded to a spot near the park entrance and told it was the best picture spot. They took turns taking photos, after which they were herded back on the bus. Total visit: maybe 15 minutes. Meanwhile, we spend hours and hours there, wandering the paths and enjoying ourselves.

We can't afford another big trip like that anytime soon, but we'll keep our eye out for any special airfare deals that might turn up, in case we get a chance to go for a week sometime in the coming years. There's plenty we didn't get to this time!

prostuff1
Jan 4, 2006, 11:57 PM
That's a great way to see a country, not just from the tourist point of view.

For the most part, we planned and did everything ourselves.

Snip...

Sounds like you had a good time. I enjoyed my trip a lot and do really want to go back again if i get a chance. Might...might go back for about 2 weeks when i finish college in about 6 years.

The good thing about having friends over there is that they can show you around and make your visit more enjoyable, at least it did for me. Plus free room and board (sort of) makes it cheaper. But they enjoy having guests in there house.

i really do have to go back sometime. i loved it there, and the food was not bad either

emac kinda guy
Jan 5, 2006, 01:40 AM
What an awesome thread. Thank you very much for letting me know about your trip. I want to go to Japan now.



Here are photos and stories from my trip to Japan in October and November 2005. I decided to put them here in the Picture Gallery forum rather than post them in my older trip planning thread so people interesting in photos don't have to wade through the other thread.

Here's our plane to Japan. I took this photo on the ground because it would have been a tiny bit harder to take the shot after we were airborne. ;) The Japan Airlines 747 was packed and the seats in economy had no leg room (luckily it was only an 11 hour 20 minute flite -- ouch!), but at least the service and meals were excellent.

http://forums.macrumors.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=34910

kwajaln
Jan 6, 2006, 02:06 AM
Reminds me of something I saw in Chicago Millennium Park recently. It's warped American cousin.

http://www.chicagotraveler.com/millennium-photos/P1010252.jpg



I'm going with... Vampire. That's it, isn't it? You can tell me, I'll keep your secret identity safe.
I LIVE IN CHICAGO TOO!!!!!!

Doctor Q
Jan 9, 2006, 01:32 AM
Here's something I just ran across in the iTunes Music Store: Music of Japan (http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewCustomPage?name=pageMusicWorldPromo_JP).

We heard quite a mix of music in Japan, including a lot of pop music, both pop hits currently being heard in the U.S. and pop hits in Japanese as well.

I was surprised to hear old American music played as background music in stores, such as a song by The Police from the 80s, some songs from the 70s, and even a Beatles song from the 60s in one department store.

The Japanese pop had more of an 80s feel to it, with a bouncy feel-good (I assume; lyrics in Japanese) sound. Example: Asia No Junshin (True Asia) by Puffy AmiYumi. This kind of music seemed to fit in with the happy-looking cartoon characters we saw everywhere, such as the turtle on this sign at a parking lot:

Doctor Q
Jan 9, 2006, 11:41 PM
We didn't hear any music in Japan like this album by The Yoshida Brothers from Apple's "Music of Japan" list. We expected to hear more music with a traditional Japanese flavor, but perhaps stores prefer to impress their patrons with "foreign" music.

Eastend
Jan 11, 2006, 07:22 AM
Glad to see you made it back home ok. Looks like you had a good time Doctor Q.

Brian

Doctor Q
Jan 28, 2007, 02:10 AM
I don't think I posted this photo that I took at the main train station in Kanazawa.

It's a digital fountain with a display that shows greetings, the temperature, and any other message they decide to program it for.

For such a very old city with very old traditions, famous for its gold leaf, pottery, and other crafts, I was surprised that it had a very modern train station.

Abstract
Jan 28, 2007, 03:30 AM
You resurrected an old thread! *hiss*


Anyway, since I went to Japan for 3 weeks this past holiday (and managed to keep my post rate up :D ), I'll post a photo or two.

Doctor Q
Jan 28, 2007, 10:55 AM
Anyway, since I went to Japan for 3 weeks this past holiday (and managed to keep my post rate up :D ), I'll post a photo or two.Where did you go?

Shotglass
Jan 28, 2007, 02:54 PM
You resurrected an old thread! *hiss*


Anyway, since I went to Japan for 3 weeks this past holiday (and managed to keep my post rate up :D ), I'll post a photo or two.
http://att.macrumors.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=67006&stc=1&thumb=1&d=1169976078
WTF??????

b0tt094
Jan 28, 2007, 04:06 PM
Great pictures, its kind of strange knowing there of a lace i might never see :cool:

Abstract
Jan 28, 2007, 08:17 PM
Where did you go?

The two photos of those sellouts are from an HMV music store in Shibuya. The other photo of the cute girls was taken in Asakusa.

Overall, I went to Tokyo, Kyoto, but spent most of my trip in Iida-shi (since my girlfriend's parents live there). I had a bit of a different experience there because I stayed in a 100 year old house in a small village, where the house was very VERY traditional. All dinners were eaten on tatami, with my legs crossed, etc. I also helped them on their Apple farm, since I was staying there for free and all. Great fun. :)

I also went to Nagoya, went snowboarding somewhere near Iida on Christmas Day, went to the Ninja Museum somewhere in Nagano (maybe Iiga?), and that's basically it. I went there on December 17-18th, and came back on January 7th. :)

WTF??????

Yes, WTF indeed. This photo was taken on the grounds of a really traditional Japanese temple called Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. Way to ruin my image of the most traditional part of Tokyo. :p