Do your homework, ladies...
Different cultures, different
folks, different strokes, different knowledge to acquire. Not everything
will always be comfortable or understandable for travellers in Japan.
We've included these scenarios so that you will be prepared if or
when you encounter them.
Japanese cities have a big problem
with male gropers on their trains and it gets worse during the party
season. This past Christmas, some trains in Tokyo ran "women only"
cars to see if this would help the situation. My advice -- if you
are harassed on a Japanese train, don't just stand there embarrassed
and angry. Turn around, look the guy straight in the eyes and say
in a very loud voice, "Sawarani de kudasai!" (Translation --"Please
don't touch me.") or, in a louder voice, "Chikan!" (Translation
-- "Pervert "or "Groper") That should embarrass them right back!
And if the Japanese is too difficult -- just turn, point directly
at the culprit and shout, "Stop that, right now." He'll get the
message, loud and clear.
One thing that is a must do
in Japan is to visit an Onsen, or natural hot springs bath. A lot
are outside, many have water chock full of minerals that have various
healing and beautifying properties. Bathing etiquette in Japan is
very important! First, you sit down at a small shower stall and
clean your body completely, then you can enter the baths.
Japanese women are also quite
modest, and will walk carrying a small towel in front of them. Most
onsens supply small towels, soap and shampoo, and some even supply
razors and toothbrushes. Be careful getting in because the water
is always quite hot. And yes, even though everyone shares the same
water it remains very clean because everyone bathes before getting
in. It is also very rare to find an Onsen that has a mixed sex outer
pool, unless you are out in the countryside. To avoid embarassment
take a peek before you take a dip.
(Jennifer S. in Nagoya)
tissue in Japan...
In Tokyo's city core there are
people handing out free tissue. You'll see some Japanese people
refusing to take it. That's because the companies offering freebies
are advertising "escort services." Our advice is for women travellers
to take the tissue and pretend you don't know what's being advertised.
Because, when you get to a Japanese washroom you'll find that many
of them do not have tissue and then you'll think...what a thoughtful
up your legs...
A reader writes ... I've just
returned from Japan and would like to make a suggestion to others
going to this destination. Prior to leaving set time aside to learn
to sit comfortably on the floor in the Japanese style. When eating
in many Japanese restaurants or participating in a "Tea Ceremony",
sitting on one's legs is customary (and rather painful - if you
are not prepared to do so). If I had it to do over again, I would
spend more time prior to my trip in limbering up my legs.
loves to shop...
Most temples are conveniently
located at the end of streets that are filled with little mom and
pop type shops. These places are excellent for buying fans, chopsticks,
beautiful paper products (notebooks, letter sets, picture frames),
teas, keychains (I think collecting keychains is a national pastime
in Japan--and they all have small bells on them), and very oddly
coloured and shaped wrapped foods. The food items I usually buy
for novelty items as stocking stuffers-- are things like dried squid
strips (apparently good with beer), salty beans and peas, mini smoked
fish (another beer thing), pickled veggies (they keep indefinitely
in the wrapping), bean cakes, and a lot of other things which after
one and a half years I still can't figure out what they are.
(Jennifer S. in Japan)
Drop into a 100 yen shop where
everything costs 100 yen each. The nice part is that items never
look like that price. There's cosmetics, bags, T-shirts, towels,
shampoos, snacks, soda pops and more. You can find those shops everywhere
in Japan and it is worthwhile to stop by. I bet you'll like it!
(Nana in Kanagawa, Japan)
blonde female in Japan...
I am Michael Jackson. I am Madonna.
I am a celebrity. I always wanted to be famous. Sometimes it's fun.
Sometimes it's not so fun. I live in a town of 150,000 people and
I am the only blonde person here. Tonight I went to the grocery
store at the heavy traffic time to get dinner. I walked through
the sliding doors and looked up to see 200 people staring at me.
Their eyes followed me through the produce area, into the prepared
sushi, and onto the checkout counter. Eyes peered into my basket
to see what the gaijin (foreigner) had bought.
(Hanna Post) www.AGirlLikeU.com/outtatown_hanna.asp
women can expect...
The questions you get in Japan
can really throw women for a loop if you are not prepared. The following
ones are so common they're probably required to be memorized in
English class in Japanese schools. These are: "How old are you?
How does your husband feel about your work and travel? Are you dating
someone? How many boyfriends do you have? Why aren't you married?
Do you plan to have children? Why don't you plan to have children?"
And so on. I usually answer questions up to a point , but I diplomatically
avoid answering the more obviously inappropriate ones.
(Doing Business With Japanese Men , A Woman?s Handbook, Brannen
& Wilen, Stone Bridge Press)
When using the toilet facilities,
you will find a pair of toilet slippers for the exclusive use of
this room. Leave your house slippers outside the door and slip on
this special footwear. Be sure to remember to change back again
before returning to the living room.
(Raise Your Cultural IQ, Louisa Nedkov, Trade Winds Publication
Lodging in Tokyo...
Writes Stephanie from
Austin, Texas, USA -- For other women travelling to Japan I recommend
Ryokan Toukaisou in the old downtown section of Asakusa in Tokyo.
They offer single and double private tatami mat rooms. At this price
($US33 for a single), I would usually expect to share a bathroom
but here each room has it's own shower, toilet, and soaking tub.
The small town feel of Asakusa is wonderful to return to after a
hectic day of exploring Tokyo. Website: http://www.toukaisou.com/