More Little Moments

March 13th, 2007 by Steph

Some of you may have noticed that the frequency of posts has been slowing of late. We’ve been living here for 7+ months now, and there’s only got so many quirky foreigner moments you can have before this formerly foreign place starts to seem normal. Allow me to catalogue for you a few of the smaller Japan Moments that have come our way:

The Steam Truck
For the longest time, Chris and I could hear this eerie off kilter whine in the distance. And it would creep closer. And very occasionally, we would catch up with this truck on its way through town… steam whistling out the top, with some kind of machinery in the back, like a huge kettle on wheels. But why? Was this person delivering hot water for busted winter pipes? Or maybe making deliveries to more rural areas with an inconsistent water supply? (::cough:: Futatsui ::cough::) Mystery solved as soon as my Japanese skills caught up with my curiosity. I just went out and asked the dude behind the wheel last week… it’s a yam truck. Like, quick, go out and get your piping hot yams. Even though this technically answers my question, I still can’t quite believe that the high demand for yams requires a roving truck.

The Shocker
There’s usually a variety of pools in an onsen: indoor and out, hot and cold, sauna, waterfall, jets, different minerals in different pools, you name it. But I had a new kind of onsen experience last weekend. I noticed the kanji for electricity by this pool, but didn’t think much of it; maybe it meant something different when it’s next to that other thing I can’t read, whatever. We get in, and notice little holes on the side of the wall. When you get close enough to the holes, BAM!, electric shock. I don’t know what this is and why it doesn’t kill you or how it’s supposed to be good for you. All I can tell you is it was uncomfortable and creepy. We got out right away.

Further research indicates that this is a “denkiburo” or “electric bath”. It’s reportedly popular with older folk who have rheumatism.

Illegal Buns
We ran into an ex-pat in a pizza parlour. We discussed how, in Japan, you can have hot dogs on sticks or spaghetti in a bun, but under no circumstances do you see a hot dog actually in a bun. This guy further explained that he had tried to start up his own business to fill this gaping hole in the Japanese economy, and when filing his papers, he discovered to his chagrin that hot dogs in buns are not allowed. He’s can’t even sell hot dogs and buns separately, because what if the customer combined them? What if the officials noticed? Someone would have to be held responsible. His papers were denied. “You really should have known better than to open up a store selling hot dogs and buns. Together. I mean, really.” This story borders on urban legend for me, it sounds so ridiculous. I asked my Japanese teachers about it, who also thought it was silly, but also were unable to explain the dearth of dog+bun. I don’t know if it’s a phallic issue or what. Hello out there, if you know what’s up with this, please fill the rest of us in.

3 Responses to “More Little Moments”

  1. Suzanne Says:

    You guys are hIlArIoUs. I am just falling out of my chair reading these last two posts. Especially since all of what you have written is just about exactly opposite from what I experience every day here in Honduras.

  2. mom Says:

    Have you tried the hot yams? Maybe they’ve got something there!

  3. Nik Says:

    I don’t know about that last one… After all, the world champion hot dog eater is Japanese! Although, now that I think about it, he does eat the sausage and the bun seperately…


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