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GirlTalk Japan-- A Mini Guide For Women

 

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.

Avoid being groped...
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.
(Journeywoman files)

The bathing ritual...
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)

Free 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 freebie!
(Journeywoman files)

Limber 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.
(Journeywoman files)

She 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)

A 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

Questions 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)

Bathroom etiquette...
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 Inc)

Budget 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/

 

 

 

 

Is Japan safe for women? Read more...

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