The On-going trials and tribulations of an Austrian-American living in Japan

(Written originally as an email and adapted slightly for posting here)
Greetings from the east side (of the world). Hope everything is going well over in the Occident, life is rocking over here. I’m loving it here and am seriously contemplating staying for two years. Anyway, there is weird and bizarre shit going on all the time around here, I never quite know what to expect…I figure I should stay the second year so that by that time i can hopefully have some sort of idea of what’s going on around me 🙂 At any rate, I’ve been here 2 months now and it has been really good.
So, getting on with business–some more general observations that I have made in this country, made mostly through the fact that every day of my life here is some ridiculous new experience which is only made that much better by the fact that I can’t really understand what people are talking about half the time.
1. The Japanese have totally got it figured out when it comes to making life convenient. One of the best things ever is that the ATM machines balance your bank book for you. People don’t really write checks here so they don’t have checkbooks, but everyone has a bankbook and you just insert the book into the machine and it balances all your transactions for you. Amazing. Life is so convenient sometimes. Less convenient however, is that ATM’s close at 9pm. Who ever heard of an ATM closing????? Also I love that they come up with the wonderfully convenient idea of balancing your checkbook for you, but then inconvenience you with the fact that you can never use the ATM when you want to. Ahh Japan.
2. The fashion in this country is out of control!!!! I cannot even describe this to you, only seeing is believing in terms of the crazy shit people wear around here. They are all about the layering of totally weird clothes that don’t really go together, which sometimes is pretty cool-very funky and eclectic–and sometimes is just a hot ghetto mess from top to bottom. And the hairdo’s!! Oh do not even get me started!! The Japanese mullet is in a class of its own. Essentially everyone here has one form or another of the Japanese mullet, aka huge, it-took-me-two-hours-to-do-this-and-no-typhoon-could-ruin-it hair in the front (also usually dyed what I imagine is supposed to be blonde but usually ends up being a weird orange-y color) and then it gets really thinned out on the bottom. They are all about the thinning shears around here–if I ever manage to brave a hair salon around here, I am going to have to regulate on that shit. Also, the guys I think spend more time on their hair around here than the girls. They have their own version of the anime-style-dragonball-z-hair-going-in-all-sorts-of-strange-directions mullet. Haha it is a sight, believe you me. I cannot even put it into words.
3. Another note on fashion–all the students have to wear school uniforms, which of course all of the girls completely slut out. The kids at my school don’t actually do that because its a really high level high school, but I see other school kids all over the place and they are all about rolling their skirts up and unbuttoning their shirts as far as is still semi-accaptable. Of course they’re not supposed to do this, but most do. Also I don’t really know what the purpose of the uniforms is, since they basically just scream male sexual fantasy (even when they’re not really slutted out). Also, these kids are like 15. Does anyone else see anything wrong with this picture?? Ahhh, the wonders of a male-dominated society…..whats even more amazing about the school uniforms though, is that all my girls wear playboy socks with their uniform. As a matter of fact, i think the playboy socks are part of the uniform. They have to wear knee-high socks, and they ALL have the playboy bunny on them. Why??? Who knows. I don’t think they even have any idea what it means. They just think the bunny looks cute. and Japanese girls are ALL about shit that is cute. God, it is sickening sometimes, I am pretty much on cuteness overload all of the time. There is only so much pink hello kitty crap that I can handle. Also, there are some boys at my school who wear pink hello kitty shoes….I have no idea what that is all about…also these kids are in high school… I have no explanation.
4. Another thing that is totally amazing is that there are vending machines on every corner with all kinds of drinks including beer, liquid crack (a drink called dekavita which is basically a cracked out version of red bull), Pocari sweat (yes it tastes exactly how it sounds…its like sweaty salt water..gag!!), nicotine infused coffee (wtf?) and, on occasion, plain old water. People in this country for some reason don’t drink regular water, they are all about sugary sports and energy drinks. which means that the water in the vending machines is never empty, hurray!!
5. Another thing that’s totally awesome—when you go to the grocery store, there are free samples EVERYWHERE!! I love it. I basically go eat dinner for free at the grocery store because I just eat all the samples. Hahah its the best thing ever. There is also a store called liquor mountain which, as you may have deduced already, sells every kind of alcohol under the sun. And, there are free samples!!! I cannot even tell you the amazingness of this. You can pretty much just chill at liquor mountain for a while and get drunk for free before heading for the bar. Genius.
OK i think that will do for now. There are many more observations, too many to even remember. Everyday i discover new things, some super irritating and some super awesome. Generally, its a pretty sweet ass country though, you all should stop on by sometime.  Keep it real in the Occident.

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