Bargaining in Japan

You’ll never get it unless you ask, right?

Everyone loves bargain or discounts. So do I.

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In Japan, however, asking for discounts or bargain hardly works, unlike in some other countries.

You will see all the products with prices written/tagged/on stickers and that’s pretty much what you get.

You have a very slim chance to get discounts by asking over the counter.

Why?

I don’t really know. It’s just what it is.

From the perspective on the other end, as a business owner, you wouldn’t just give random discounts only because you were asked for it, right? otherwise you’ll keep losing your profit.

In saying that, there is a part of Japan that is common, generally speaking or stereo-typically (I don’t even know if that’s a word but you know what I mean).

That’s Osaka 大阪

Osaka

It’s widely known in Japan that people in Osaka do bargain or ask for discounts whenever they can.

It’s considered a part of their culture. However, I’m from Tokyo and I’ve never lived in Osaka so I have not seen this side of their culture first hand.

But, at the same time, if you ask any Japanese this question if what I’m saying is true or not, I’m certain you’ll get principally the same answer as mine.

So, if you ever happen to visit that part of Japan, I would recommend to try to ask for some discounts, as a part of the game to enhance your experience while in Japan.

Regional Cultural Differences in Japan

Japan is not a big country.

But at the same time there are so much differences amongst it.

  • Cultural
  • Generational
  • Language-wise

For example, I’m from Tokyo and have been in Nagano for a while now.

I live at a staff accomodation where maybe 50 people at least live.

As a part of Japanese life, we have a public bath.

One time in it while having a bath, there were 2 people from Aomori 青森, which is at the top of the main island, one guy in his 60-70s, the other in his 20s.

At the beginning of their conversation, I could understand that the younger one asked the older one about what happened to his car.

I believe something went wrong with the older guy’s car.

But after that, I had no idea of what was said.

I couldn’t even tell if the car was ok or scrapped, God only knows.

I am not kidding but I quite often struggle even in Nagano, which is not far away from Tokyo, when I speak to mainly local male in his 60s or 70s.

I simply can not understand what they are saying.

So, when you visit Japan, it will make your stay more exciting and memorable if you do some homework on the regional differences within Japan.

It’ll sure give you the deeper insight as well as enhancing your experience.

Good luck and see you next time.

Today’s Phrase

Sukosi Makete Kuremasenka? 少しまけてくれませんか? = Can I have a bit of discount? (In a sort of Osaka way of speaking)

 

 

 

 

Please don’t do this while in Japan

Nor even at Japanese restaurants near you…

A story of Japanese Curry

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They look gross, frankly, but once you’ve tried it, you wouldn’t mind because you’ve been hooked.

Hooke by its spiciness, flavour, smell.

Oh and with its toppings/additions you can have with it.

It seems either “Deep Fried Pork”=トンカツ or “Deep Fried Chicken”=チキンカツ to be very popular as your choice, after having spent quite some time with mainly NZ friends in Japan over multiple trips to Japan.

What’s even more amazing is that each region, each household seem to have own recipe for curry. I even have a secret recipe for this dish.

And now into the main subject

I know where you come from, how you feel, but, no… That’s not right…

You may not understand what I’m talking about.

This is about “Eating Japanese Curry with chopsticks“.

Now you have a better idea with this photo.

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To protect their privacy, I put dots over their faces.

But you see what I mean?

No, you need to use a spoon for this!

As I said at the beginning, I know where you come from, being in Japan you are so keen to show off your chopstick skill, like Mr Miyagi caught a fly with them.

But, save that skill for other occasions…

Use a spoon when you’ve ordered a curry.

I’m pretty sure it even either sit right in front of you on the table, or brought to you when you get the plate.

I’m watching you…

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Today’s Phrase

Kareh Wo Hitotsu Onegai Shimasu カレーを一つお願いします = Can I have one curry, please

That’ll be cool if you can place an order in a restaurant! Keep trying!

Behind the mask

The Mystery of Masked People in Japan

There once was a Japanese band called YMO, one of their hit songs in Early 80’s is called, “Behind The Mask”, which later was covered by the likes of Michael Jackson and Eric Clapton.

This post is NOT actually about the song though…

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How many people can you spot in this photo wearing masks? Taken in Shinjuku, Tokyo

If you have visited Japan you may already have wondered:

“Why are there so many people wearing masks on?”

You may have also thought to yourself

“There are so many sick people in this country!”

Well… You are not too right but not too wrong either.

Basically there are 2 reasons in Japan why they wear masks in public.

  1. When they are getting sick that they don’t want to spread the germ
  2. When there are so many other people being sick that you don’t want that to be passed on

In my impression I think the first reason is way stronger a reason why they do it.

You will be frowned upon if you cough or sneeze without covering you nose and mouth in public place in winter when the illness has got stronger hold of people with dry air and cold temps.

Particularly a place like at your workplace or in your class at school, you are expected to wear them when you’ve started having a cold with coughs.

For the second reason, especially in cities where the crowd is so dense, you’ll never know what you’ll get from it.

So as a prevention to get something passed on, there are people wearing this masks.

In the end, I think it comes down to,

  • A fact that this country is densely populated
  • Plus, a fact that there is a strong social code as to how to behave in public

I hope now you have a better understanding to what you see when you visit Japan.

Today’s Phrase

Kaze Wo Hiki Mashita 風邪をひきました = I’ve got a cold

It’s not ideal but it will be useful to learn just in case…

Foot Bath 足湯

Warming up from your feet

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What is it?

In most of Onsen towns, you will find so-called “Public Foot Baths”.

Those are the place where you soak just your feet in (most cases) running hot water in public setting.

Link to Wikipedia in English for detailed explanation of what they are.

Why?

Basically because it warms you up.

But more precisely,

According to the idea based on Eastern Medicine, Your feet are supposed to have lots of vital function to your body system.

You must be familiar with Reflexology. That’s to massage the back of your feet where there are supposed to be so many different “Tsubo ツボ = Pressure Point” that are connected to different part of your body like organs and so on. Then by massaging them, you have those functions revitalised and re-activated.

There goes a similar theory here. At your feet, you have several thick veins and arteries. And they are the furthest from your heart. Therefore, in cold circumstances, you have less active circulation.

By warming up your feet, it encourages your blood circulation at the furthest point from your heart=Your feet, thus warmer body.

How to do Foot Bath

This is a no brainer. Take off your shoes/boots, sit down comfortably and simply soak your feet in the water.

What you need

So if you are staying at one of those Onsen towns in Japan, you want to carry a small towel called Tenugui=手拭い, at least. Ideally, a bath towel as well in your backpack so that you can always be ready to jump in an Onsen or soak your feet in any foot bath.

You now know one thing better than before.

Keep enjoying your time while travelling in Japan!

See you next time!

-Today’s Phrase- 

Ashiyu Wa Karada Ga Atatamari Masu 足湯は体が温まります = Ashiyu warms up my body

Listen and practise. You’ll know what exactly means once you’ve experienced!

 

What do you do with your rubbish in Japan?

The country all about manners

Everyone comments Japan is clean.

Everyone says, at the same time, it’s hard to find rubbish bins (or trash cans? in US term) on Japanese streets.

There is a reason for that.

It’s because in this country rubbish is something you take home with and then dispose of.

That’s why you don’t really see to many rubbish bins or trash cans on streets in Japan.

Without knowing this, we see a lot of situations like this.

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What’s happening here is that some other type of rubbish been thrown and mixed with Aluminium Cans.

This is a big No-No.

Around Vending Machines

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So if have visited Japan before, you know their love of vending machines.

Quite often you see plastic boxes right beside them like this.

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These are the bins for drink containers.

In this photo above,

on the left, for “PET bottles”, as you can see literally,

and on the right it says, “Bottles Cans” that means glass bottles and aluminium/steel cans go in there.

In some places you even see more boxes like this.

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From left, Cans, Combustibles/Burnables and Pet Bottles
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This tiny plastic basket is for collecting Pet Bottles caps separately

I live in New Zealand and we don’ collect Pet Bottles caps separately.

Apparently in Japan, these caps are collected separately because,

  1. So the recycling can be done easier
  2. Apparently once those are collected, somehow they can be turned into monetary value worth donating for certain causes as a part of charity

I honestly don’t know the system as to how that works but it is very common feature while travelling in Japan.

So now you know a bit more in depth how Japanese society works.

My advise is that do not litter the place you say you get impressed by its cleanliness, which will be quite contradictory of your thoughts and actions, right?

Here’s the mantra everyone knows.

“Take only photographs, Leave only footprints”.

Well, be a tidy tourist and enjoy your stay in Japan.

See you next time.

-Today’s Phrase-

Nihon Wa Seiketsu Desu にほんはせいけつです = Japan is clean

Keep practising, the only way to get better!