Tag Archives: Tokyo

Tis the Season of Japan

When you let friends and random people know that you are traveling internationally to somewhere new and different, you are

Happo One
Hakuba, Japan

generally not expecting the reaction of “Why there??” (accompanied with a look of worry) Although this was the look and reaction Wayne and I received when announcing our trip to the Japan Alps.

Typical response: “Well we wanted to go on a ski trip.”
Confused friend: “Too Japan?!? Do they have snow?”
Typical response: “Well the country of Japan is a giant mountain protruding out of the ocean, so Japan is actually one big mountain range with snow over the top.”
Confused friend: “Ohhh. Huh.” (Slowly moves away)

Palace in Tokyo
Palace in Tokyo

Why is it so odd to want to go so far? Why the fuzzle not? Right? It seems like an understandable desire. Why would anyone snuff going off on an adventure? Perhaps I do not want to go skiing in the Rockies!

We attended the ski and snowboard show in Chicago last week, and all I kept thinking was how much I wanted to go on a ski trip

Hakuba Skiing
Skiing in Hakuba, Japan with my favorite guy

somewhere exciting again. Would I receive the same ridicule? We were suggested to go to the Swiss Alps near Geneva/southern France, and I am certain that this is what we should do next year.

Why is it that people feel this right to ask about trips in any sort of negative form? Hey if I get to travel that’s fantastic! If I get to save to travel in order to go skiing and do something not a lot of people get to do? Even better! I wonder. Is this normal? Has anyone else been asked about a trip in a somewhat accusatory way?

Tokyo View
Wayne in Tokyo with Mount Fuji in the Background

Ultimate Language Barrier Extreme!

Ok….places I’ve been with English as second language: France, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, Malawi, Ghana, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Street of Red Light district
Street of Red Light district


imageNow don’t get me wrong! I am not bragging, I am just trying to make a point. In all these places there was a large language barrier. Giant in fact. But never once have I ever felt the severity of a barrier as I do here….In Tokyo. No one speaks English (and if they do then they lie and tell me no). No one.

I do not expect a lot of English. But I am baffled by Tokyo’s reputation as a world wide hub. All streets are in only Japanese, every customer service person truly wants to help you but lack the ability for explanation translation. I couldn’t even read the map (which hasn’t been an issue since I was 7 years old).
Tokyo is such a great city, it’s too bad they do not cater to the English Language. Not culture! They’ve got that one down to the tee. They really try as best they can, but why the disconnect? Wayne mockingly called us “arrogant” for demanding more English around. But honestly, why not? Americans are spoiled ignorants when it comes to some culture. We are only expected to learn English (and sometimes even that’s a feat-Honey boo boo), now the rest of the world? They learn their language AND English. Even British folks learn French in school. But this only proves my point! If everyone else in the world has some English down, isn’t this our common denominator?
Again, I am only complaining because I am beyond baffled. When preparing to come to Tokyo almost all my research confirmed that language would not be a huge problem because everyone in Tokyo mostly spoke English too. Every restaurant here even has English menus but No ONE understands you! Perhaps, everyone does know English…woman on escalator who ran into me spoke perfect English to say she was sorry, and those 3 girls giving out free hugs in the park knew exactly what I was saying. Is it a joke against me? Most customer service people know what I am trying to ask, they just are not able to answer. Perhaps against all tourists to avoid the nonsense? Well played Japan…welled played.

Taking Off

Wayne brushing up on Japanese
Wayne brushing up on Japanese

Well it’s been a little over a year now since the idea of skiing in the Japanese Alps has come into my world. And now here we are at O’Hare in Chicago. We have just finished our airport food court meal. Really airport food is not so bad. In fact, airplane food isn’t that bad either. In fact! the best airplane meal I’ve ever had was leaving Malaysia. Really great rice and curry!

Best part of flying has to be the taking off and landing. Those who really hate flying think that this is the worst part. But for me and Wayne, the moment when you feel the plane actually rise up into the air is the most exhilarating part. You are officially flying and off to somewhere new leaving behind the monotone life we go through every day.

We have all 78 pounds of our skiing gear and clothes and passports in hand. I apologize for not writing in two weeks but I have been preparing! Updates of our adventure to the Japanese Alps are coming soon!

Sent from my iPhone