Odds and Ends 2

Mom’s room and Dad’s room, not Mom and Dad’s room

I’ve written before about the sleeping habits of Japanese of families before, but here is an interesting specimen created by one of my English students.  His family consists of two parents and three rambunctious boys, all living in a two bedroom apartment.  A tight fit, but the interesting tidbit is the room divisions.  During one of our lessons, we drew a map of his apartment to learned the English for the various spaces.  Note how the two bedrooms are labeled.

The same student taught me another (non-airconditioned) way to beat the heat the Japanese way: ice pack headbands.

Where the Streets Have No Name

Literally.  Japan’s address system is extremely logical and extremely impractical.

The country is divided into 47 prefectures, each of which is divided into wards and/or cities, which are divided into districts, which are divided into blocks, which are divided into land plots, which are divided into buildings. My office is building 37 of land plot 2 in the 4th block of the Roppongi district in Minato Ward of Tokyo Prefecture.  Good luck finding that without (or even with) a map or GPS.

This is a map of Roppongi (六本木) in Tokyo Prefecture’s Minato Ward. ~丁目 are the different district numbers. The small blue numbers are the blocks.

Except the largest thoroughfares in the most major cities, Japanese streets don’t have names.  When roads do have names, they are  accompanied by helpful signs like this one.

This is where Route 5 intersects Route 5. Thanks for the help.

(Traffic lights are equally helpful.)

What am I even supposed to do here??

Intersections (most of them) have names, but knowing that I should turn left at Sansonkyo Bridge Entrance Intersection does not help me at all if I don’t already know where the Sansonkyo Bridge entrance is. God bless the grid system.

Some streets are so narrow that they shouldn’t even properly called streets. A more appropriate term would be “death traps”, especially when it comes to turning corners. Huge mirrors stand at many intersections, angled so that you can see on-coming traffic, even when you can’t see on-coming traffic.

Also, driving on the opposite side of the road is incredibly disorienting. Not that one side or the other feels wrong, but now both sides feel correct.  Should my car be on the right side or left side? I have to constantly consciously remind myself which lane of traffic my car should be in. When turning a corner in America, I have to repeat to myself, “Right side, Mackensie. Right side.” I’m not sure if this makes me a more conscientious driver and therefore safer, or if everyone should fear the day I get behind the wheel again.

Typhoon Day

Every December, children in the United States begin watching the skies, waiting for that special day of the year to arrive–the Snow Day.  Japan’s work and study ethic is somewhere between the US Postal Service and the Navy Seals, so Snow Days are rare.  However, in summer months when the sky darkens and the wind picks up, Tokyo-ites get the same hopeful gleam in their eyes.  Maybe, if the rain is torrential enough and the wind is windy enough, we’ll all get a Typhoon Day.

In Tokyo at least, typhoons are more annoying than dangerous.  They drop a lot of rain on the city in a very short time, but more importantly, typhoons come with very high wind speeds which shut down the train system.  No trains equals no work/school.  Typhoons also mean a lot of broken umbrellas and general flooding of anywhere flat.

In the typhoon vs. umbrella battle…

Typhoon always wins.

sandbags blocking rain water from flooding Shinjuku Station

If you brave the weather for shopping, stores reward your commercialism by typhoon-proofing your purchases.

train passengers stranded at Ueno Station

flooded subway station


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