"" Writer's Wanderings: Things to Make You Smile in Japan

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Things to Make You Smile in Japan

When you travel, you have to learn to adapt. Things in other countries that are different than yours can sometimes make you smile. In Japan, some of the English names of their drinks are one of those. There are vending machines everywhere mostly featuring drinks. In the summer you can get cold coffee in a can, in the winter it's hot coffee. Two of the drinks that are featured though make us smile.

One is called Calpis which is described as having a light, somewhat milky and slightly acidic taste. I've never tried it but if you say the name and think about the description--well, you'll get it. 

The other drink is Pocari Sweat. It is a sports drink with electrolytes. It is said to have a slight flavor of grapefruit. Now that sounds good despite the name of it. 

There are often signs in the restrooms to let the foreign traveler know the proper way to use the toilet. While we might smile at that, it is a problem. There are some foreign visitors that are used to squatting to relieve themselves where there are the squat toilets as in some areas of the world (basically a square hole in the floor of the restroom). Trying to do that on a Western-style toilet would be dangerous. 

Many European countries have areas where you are asked not to flush toilet paper because their systems can't take the backup of paper. So the explanation of what to do with it is understandable. We have been in places where a bus load of European visitors have left used toilet paper in the waste can because that's what they are used to doing.

Now, most toilets, private or public in Japan have all sorts of buttons you can push for cleansing, music (so no one can hear what you're doing), and several other functions that I haven't figured out yet. I don't like to do a lot of experimenting.

Now one of the more clever things that brought a smile to our faces wasn't because it was funny. This was serious as any coffee drinker would agree. Our son bought a product called Blendy coffee that came in little packets that you draped over the top of your cup and let hot water drip through. It made a great cup of coffee. Move over K-cups, Blendy packets are pretty great! You can order them online. I'm thinking it might be a good thing to travel with the next time we're not sure we'll get good coffee along the way.

And finally, translations are so much fun. Here's a picture of one we found while waiting for the ferry trip. Just remember that works both ways. I'm sure the Japanese get quite a chuckle when English is translated to Japanese.

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