My friend had been dreaming for years of traveling to Japan but he was in a long term relationship (with someone who no one in our group liked) and they never thought it was time for the trip... When they finally broke up, he booked his trip! He told us all at a dinner one night and we erupted with applause and cheers, to this day I don’t know if it was because of the break up or the trip he had planned!
When he returned he told us about the amazing time he had, all the wonderful things he had seen, and explained that the trip had a rocky start. Rocky was an understatement!
On one of his first days there, he was at a train station in Osaka. He went to use the restroom and when he was done realized the buttons on the urianal were all in Japanese, a language he could not read. He took his time and looked at all the buttons and knobs on this futuristic toilet sure that he could figure it out. He told himself that he was a maxillofacial surgeon, surely he could figure out how to use a toilet... After staring at the buttons for what seemed like an eternity he spots a red one that in English said “PUSH”, and he did just that. Suddenly, a siren starts blaring loudly in the restroom. Panicked he begins pushing every button on the toilet in an effort to make it stop!
As he is pushing these buttons frantically, the doors burst open and a flood of police officers swarm in. They grabbed him and placed him under arrest. He was locked up for more than 12 hours before they found him an English interpreter. It turns out he had pushed the anti-theft alarm and since he was the only person in there attempting to turn it off, they assumed he was the culprit!
My grandfather used to say, “The wise are guided by what they know, not what they see.” All of this is to say, not everything is what is appears to be. Learn new things, take your time to see people and things for what they are and not what they appear to be. Who knows, if you follow my advice and you might save yourself a trip to a foreign prison!
Luckily this story detailing his near prison stint was not the only thing my friend brought back from Japan. While he was in Japan he was very interested with the way they ate, which he found very different from what he was used to. From the presentation of the food, to the portion size, he found everything unfamiliar and appreciated the change, even incorporating some of them into his life once he was back home. Here is some of what he learned, hopefully you get some interesting ideas!
The Japanese recommend that you have a “staple food” with each meal. This is usually a grain like noodles or rice. While the Japanese have no restrictions when it comes to adding protein, pork and beef are not the common sources; rather they most often opt for chicken, seafood, and legumes.
Portion size is also something the approach with some discipline. It's recommended to only have three to five servings of fish and meat daily with a portion size of 6 grams a serving (2 ounces) - Again, most Japanese people eat fish and legumes over pork and beef.
There was also a beautiful simplicity to the choice of beverages. Most meals were served with water and tea. Tea being traditionally served unsweetened and without added sugar.
My friend made it home safely, over his heartbreak, and feeling healthier than ever; although, forever wary of foreign bathrooms. I have saved you a trip to Osaka, hopefully the wisdom translates!