Tag Archives: Narita

Narita

16 Feb

The city of Narita in Chiba Prefecture, Japan is usually associated with the international airport that is there.

People not so familiar with Japan may think that Japan’s “Narita International Airport is in Tokyo…but Narita is a part of Chiba, which is near Tokyo.

(There is an international airport in Tokyo…it’s “Haneda International Airport“.)

The airport isn’t the only reason to go to Narita City though.
成田山新勝寺 (Narita-san-Shinsho-ji) is a beautiful famous temple that has many wonderful festivals and events.
The area near the temple has many traditional Japanese shops and restaurants.

Narita is known for ウナギ (freshwater eel). There are a number of restaurants there that serve it…it’s delicious! If you visit Narita, you should try it!

Anyways, it had been awhile since we’ve visited Narita…so we went there yesterday. Here are some photos I took:

Japanese children’s cartoon character “Baikin-man”.

It says that Narita is “a traditional Japanese hospitality town”.

These are “Daruma”…a traditional Japanese ornament most commonly seen at New Year’s time.

 

A 「たこやき」 (Grilled octopus dumplings) stand.

 

The entrance to 「成田山新勝寺」 (“Narita-san-Shinsho-ji”) temple.

 

A lion guard at the entrance to 「成田山新勝寺」 (“Narita-san-Shinsho-ji”) .

 

A 「招き猫」 (Maneki-Neko lucky cat).

 

The 7-Eleven store there has a brown sign to keep with the style of the area.

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Reverse Culture Shock

4 Aug

I have been living in Japan since 1990. Most of my life now.
In that time I have only visited America three times. With a family of five, such a faraway vacation is too expensive.
Our most recent trip to America was to Florida in early August 2004…exactly ten years ago now.

It’s been so long since I’ve been to America, it feels more like a foreign country to me now. Japan has become home.

It was fun to visit America, but I’m not really used to it anymore, I guess. I experienced “reverse culture shock” when we went there in 2004!

First of all, the flight. We went there in August because my kids were on summer vacation from school. That is a peak travel time so airline jack their prices way up! So, I looked for airline that was one that had a good safety record but offered the lowest fare.
We decided to fly with the American airline “Continental Airlines“.
The flight itself was fine…they got us to America and back safely, on time, and with all of our luggage. But I guess I might be too used to Japanese customer service because the attitude of our cabin attendant was surprisingly bad.
I heard her audibly sigh when she was asked a question by another passenger.
And my kids (who were still elementary school students at that time) wanted more of the complimentary snacks that they gave passengers…so I asked her when she was passing by us if we could get some more – and she snapped “No!” and continued on her way without further explanation!

Maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal…and it isn’t, I know. But that would be unheard of behavior in Japan, so I was surprised.

My next culture shock came in the airports in America.
We started our journey to America at Narita Airport in the Tokyo area.
In Japan, people don’t use their cellphones for talking so much. Emailing through the phones is much more common. And when people do talk with their phones, they do so somewhere away from other people and talk quietly.

I never gave that a second thought before. Even to me, that just seems like normal phone manners.

I came to Japan before cellphones were used by anyone, so I had never even seen a cellphone in America before my trip there ten years ago.

Before we boarded our plane in Japan, everyone in the airport who was using a cellphone was doing so quietly by just sending emails. And when we got off the plane at the airport in America, it was totally different!
There everyone was talking on their phones…loudly.

I don’t want to seem like we didn’t enjoy our vacation in Florida in 2004. It was a lot of fun…but it didn’t feel like “coming home” – but like visiting an interesting foreign country.
Probably because most of my life, and my entire adult life in Japan…I really only lived in America as a kid and teenager…so Japan feels like home.
In fact, after eating American food everyday for two weeks, everyone in my family (including me) starting actually dreaming about the food we wanted to eat once we returned to Japan!

I love ネギトロ丼 (“Negi-toro-don”).

On our drive to the hotel from the airport, I noticed a “Taco Bell” fast-food restaurant. It had been years since I’ve eaten at a “Taco Bell”, so I decided to go through their drive-thru window.
We ordered some tacos and five soft drinks…two medium and three small. The “small” size colas at were bigger than a “large” in Japan! And the U.S. “medium” drinks were too big to fit in the car’s cup holders!
If I had known they were that big, I would’ve ordered one medium for the five of us to share.

Similarly, the clothes in American stores were so big! It was difficult to find our sizes.

Also, I was never sure who to tip or how much. Tipping isn’t done in Japan so I’m not used to it.
I tried to tip everyone in America because I didn’t know who was and who wasn’t expecting one. Gas stations, the rental car place, the hotel cleaning lady, waitresses…
And I probably over-tipped them too because I wasn’t sure how much to give them.
It began to get stressful wondering “Am I supposed to leave a tip here?”

Another event that happened which surprised us because it would never happen in Japan:
We went to a small beach side restaurant for dessert. We each had a slice of cake.
The cakes came and looked good…but they were hard to finish. In fact, my kids couldn’t finish theirs. The cakes were so sweet! Way too sweet!
That was a bit shocking…how different the food tastes. But what was the real culture shock was when I went to pay the US$21.60 bill. I gave the cashier $22…and he told me that he doesn’t have enough coins in the register to give me my 40¢ change!
He said “It’s alright, isn’t it? It’s only 40 cents!”
I didn’t know what to say. Sure, it was only small change…but, in Japan, if a store didn’t have ¥40 in coins to make change, they’d give the customer a ¥50 or a ¥100 coin rather they just assuming they can “keep the change”!

Like I said, none of these events “ruined” our vacation. We still look back on them as “only-in-America” situations!

Foreign celebrities messages to Japan

14 Apr

Lady Gaga, the American singer arrived in Tokyo yesterday to promote a new album or perform a concert.

I’m not a fan of Lady Gaga. I’m not sure why she came here exactly. I wouldn’t have given her arrival here a second thought…until I saw what she did to her arm and purse.

Before her flight landed in Tokyo, Lady Gaga had someone (probably a Japanese passenger on the same flight) write on her arm and her white handbag (that was probably an expensive designer brand) in Japanese カタカナ (“katakana“) script.

And then she paraded through Japan’s Narita Airport showing off her bag with 「アイ ラブ スモール モンスター  東京ラブ」 (“I love small monster. Tokyo love“) written in black permanent marker on it, and her arm with 「アイ ラブ リトル モンスター」 (“I love little monster“) written on it.

Whatever that’s supposed to mean!!

Many foreign celebrities come to Tokyo and show off tattoos, or T-shirts with Japanese writing.

“I love little monster” written on your arm or 「一番」 (“Number One“) on your T-shirt is just as ridiculous in Japanese in Japan as it is in English in a “western country”.

「一番」 ("Number one") T-shirt

Hard Rock Cafe Japan

12 Jan

When I came to Japan in 1990 there was only one “Hard Rock Cafe” in this country at that time.
It was the “Hard Rock Cafe, Tokyo” in 六本木 (Roppongi, Tokyo) with the gorilla hanging on the window.

Back then, I went to the Hard Rock Cafe occasionally…mainly because it was a popular place around the world back then and, as Japan only had one HRC back then, it was almost certain that American and European rock musicians would stop by there after their shows on their Japan tours.

I talked to Van Halen, Blue Murder, and Bon Jovi in the Hard Rock Cafe, Tokyo.

But as time went by, Hard Rock Cafe set up more and more shops in Japan.
I don’t know why. I don’t think they’re very popular anymore. The food and drinks aren’t so good and they’re over-priced, in my opinion.
I don’t eat at the Hard Rock Cafe anymore. I haven’t been inside one in many years.

I do like the collection of guitars and gold records that they decorate their walls with…and the KISS memorabilia that seems to be at each of their restaurants, though.

But now in Japan, there are eight Hard Rock Cafe restaurants:

Hard Rock Cafe, Tokyo in 六本木 (Roppongi, Tokyo),

Hard Rock Cafe, Uyeno-eki in 上野駅 (Ueno Train Station, Tokyo),

Hard Rock Cafe, “Narita-Tokyo” in 千葉県成田市 (Narita, Chiba)…just like “Tokyo Disneyland” and “Narita Airport“, this HRC is in Chiba, Japan which is near Tokyo,

Hard Rock Cafe, Yokohama in 横浜 (Yokohama),

Hard Rock Cafe, Nagoya in 名古屋 (Nagoya),

Hard Rock Cafe, Fukuoka in 福岡 (Fukuoka),

Hard Rock Cafe, Osaka in 大阪 (Osaka), and

Hard Rock Cafe, Universal Studios Japan at the Universal Studios Japan in 大阪 (Osaka).

I passed by a Hard Rock Cafe yesterday and noticed that they’re having a “HRC meets Hello Kitty” campaign.

This doesn’t really interest me…as I wrote above, I don’t eat at Hard Rock Cafe and my wife and daughters aren’t into Hello Kitty (And I certainly don’t care about Kitty-chan either), but if you want to see the “HRC meets Hello Kitty” merchandise then click here.

Do they have many Hard Rock Cafe restaurants in your part of the world?
Have you visited many? Do you go there often? Have you been to any of them in Japan?
Do they sell “HRC meets Hello Kitty” merchandise in your city? Would you buy it?

Recent news of Americans in Japan

10 Oct

First of all, today is the beginning of a three-day-weekend in Japan.
Monday is 「体育の日」 (Sports Day).

Until a few years ago, this holiday was on October 10th (today), and if that day fell on a Saturday (like it is this year), the day off would be “lost”. (If the 10th was a Sunday, it would be observed on the following day, though).

But now the holiday is the second Monday of October…so it’s always a three-day-weekend.
(Click here to read my short FAQ about this holiday).

Anyways, here are few recent Japan-related news items that involve Americans:

  • Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama sent his congratulations to U.S. President Obama for receiving a Nobel Peace Prize, saying in part that he was pleased by Obama’s call for a nuclear-free world and that it must be difficult for the leader of the nation with the most nuclear weapons in the world to make such a statement.

    Japanese survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also expressed their happiness by Obama’s plan to rid the world of nuclear arms and their support of his Nobel Prize.
    They also reiterated their invitation for him to visit their cities.

  • U.S. President Obama is scheduled to make his first official visit to Japan on (2009) November 12 – 13.
  • An American man was arrested for bringing a handgun into Japan on a flight from America.
    His gun was found by Japanese airport customs officers when he passed through customs at Narita Airport near Tokyo trying to transit to a flight to Thailand.

    It is unclear how he managed to get the gun through U.S. customs at the Dallas / Ft. Worth Airport, where he boarded the plane for Japan.

  • Another American man is in Japanese prison for attempting to kidnap his children from his Japanese ex-wife and bring them back to America.He divorced his Japanese wife in America and the U.S. courts gave him custody of their two young children.

    But his ex-wife (the children’s mother) took the kids to Japan on “holiday” and never returned. So there is an arrest-warrant for her in America…that can only be enforced if she steps foot on U.S. soil again (which is unlikely).
    The Japanese courts, though, granted her full-custody of the children and when their father came to Japan to take the kids back, he was arrested.

    This case shows one of the many differences between American and Japanese culture.
    In America, when parents divorce it is common for both parents to “share” custody.
    But that’s extremely uncommon in Japan. The divorce-rate is still very low in Japan…but it is climbing. And when parents divorce here it is felt that it’s in the children’s best interest to try to keep life as stable as possible by having the father (usually) simply move on and keep out of their lives.

Have you heard about any of these cases? What’s your opinion?

Airplane crash

23 Mar

At 6:48AM JST this morning (Monday, March 23, 2009), a Federal Express (FedEx) cargo plane arriving at 成田空港 (Narita (Tokyo Int’l) Airport) from Guangzhou, China crashed and burst into flames.

Image from TV of the plane crash in Japan's Narita Airport.

Image from TV of the plane crash in Japan's Narita Airport.

This was a cargo plane, so there were no passengers on this airplane…only the American pilot and co-pilot were onboard. They both died.

Just like yesterday, it is very windy in the Tokyo area today. At the time of the crash, the wind was blowing up to 72Km / hour (about 45 miles / hour).
The wind is being blamed for causing the airplane to bounce on the runway and burst into flames.

Here is a YouTube video of the news report showing the tragedy:

Some news

24 Sep
  • Air India flight 307 left 成田空港 (Narita Airport in Chiba (near Tokyo)) for India on Sunday, 21 September 2008 but had to return to Narita because parts of the engine fell off…and struck two parked cars near the airport.One piece of debris sliced through the wind-shield of a car like butter. Luckily noone was hurt.
  • The American Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, U.S.S. George Washington, is scheduled to arrive in Japan tomorrow to commence being homeported in 横須賀 (Yokosuka (south of Tokyo)).A large number of protesters are expected to greet the ship because many Japanese are against having a nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ship even visit Japan, not to mention being stationed here.

  • On Monday, 22 September 2008 (two days after his 68th birthday), 麻生太郎 (Tarou ASOU) was chosen to be the new Prime Minister of Japan.

    (My post about the former Prime Minister, 福田康夫 (Yasuo FUKUDA), resigning on Sept 1st is here).