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On the Beach

August 17, 2008

Despite the title, let me start this entry with some more words about Japanese oddity… In this previous entry, I complained about Japanese bicycle drivers – mainly about their slowness. In Tsukuba, there are several (semi steep) bridges, and you often see people, even young people, basically getting to a stop, driving oh sooo slowly, as if managing the “hill” with the very last amount of strength of their weak legs. Sometimes, I enjoy giving them a small shock by passing them really fast.

Anyway, another aspect of typical Japanese behavior in traffic involves their concept of “belongingness”. The world is basically divided into two halfs – the people that are part of your group (uchi, 内) and the rest (soto, 外). This group can be the family, your colleagues, the people you travel with, and so on, depending on the current situation. (Quite often, this belongingness is even made explicit by wearing the same uniform.) In general, everything that is outside of your group is per se unimportant. Now, this separation wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t something wrong with the obstacle detection algorithm of normal Japanese people: Quite often, they seem to have problems sensing objects and people from outside of their “group area”, as if they just don’t realize there’s someone there. Sometimes, this gets extreme: If you see a bunch of school children on bicycles coming your way, run for your life (I didn’t decide yet whether girls or boys are more dangerous. The prior ones are noisier, but the latter ones are generally a bit faster).

Someone told me this story where she observed two Japanese approaching each other frontally on bicycles, driving slowly as always. Getting nearer and nearer … and finally crashing together in slow motion, because nobody moved aside. Surely not because none of them wanted to give way, but probably because their sensing of the other person as serious obstacle was faulty. It must have been a hilarious sight. I actually would pay for a video of that crash. 😉


At the beach: However, I have to add to my sentences above: If you manage to be in some group, you can have a lot of fun, as today’s pictures prove. ^^ We spent a whole day at a beach in Ooarai (大洗): First, stopping on our way at a (slightly expensive) Kaitenzushi restaurant to eat some very fresh and very good sushi. Then spending hours of swimming, playing volleyball, just making nonsense, barbecuing, and finally a bit of fireworks. Again, a very well spent day!


Well, writing about volleyball reminds me of another story (I know I digress again, but so what?): During the symposium in Kusatsu, we sometimes used the gym for playing a bit of basketball. As I already explained in the “brest entry”, Japanese like to shorten their words. Correspondingly, I often heard the sentence: “Let’s play basket!” (バスケットしましょう). The first few times, the image entered my mind of people gathering in the gym, standing around, doing a performance of “playing” baskets; maybe branching out a little, “playing waste bins”, too. I really would have liked to see such a performance. 😀

(PS: To be precise, the literal translation should be “let’s do basket(s)” – but, frankly, the idea of “doing” a basket scares me even more. ^_^)

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4 comments

  1. God, thank you for japan. It seems to be so much fun right there for you. But be sure, there are people who also enjoy to read this here : so am I.
    To break your suggestions : No I´m not that jealous. The beach doesn`t seem to be to sandy, it realy looks a little muddy, but good luck eating this water with your salad.
    At last the pictures of your selfmade food were very enjoyable and reminds me of visiting the little asia shop I discovered just two days ago.
    So long, have a nice time.
    Jan


  2. Well, I have to admit, the beaches at Okinawa looked a lot nicer when I went there some time ago (cf. this picture. However, the sand here was perfect for playing volleyball, chasing people, and holding back the sea 🙂 That’s all we needed it to do – we came there for swimming and stuff, so everything was quite fine.

    And thanks a lot for the nice comment – it’s good to hear people enjoying my blog!


  3. Well, actually I heard the bicycle comment personally and it is totally true. I really can not understand why people in Japan even if they have been riding bicycles all their life are so bad at driving.

    And well I agree with the previous comment that the beach is nothing of the other world!!! When people here in Japan say, “Lets go to the beach”, I do not feel like going, sometimes even scared a little bit because of the dark colored sand, the not clear water and the crowds of people that with their parasols do not leave to see the sea even at 10m of distance!!!
    But well the fireworks and the BBQ look very cool.
    Cheers

    Luis


  4. Well, at least there’s one good thing about Japanese bicycle drivers: They’re the reason for uncountable many crazy stories, and always provide a good way to start a conversation. À la “The weather is fine today, isn’t it? Oh, and imagine what I saw today when driving to university, ………” 😉

    About the beach: Well, I probably wouldn’t go there too often, true. But since this was my only chance during this 4 months stay, I had to use it, and the day as such was splendid.



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