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Return to Japan and the Lord of the Flies

The two disturbing creatures that symbolized Japan's Aichi Expo

  The two disturbing creatures that symbolized Japan's   Aichi Expo

The cheese sandwich and fries arrived cold in a biodegradable cardboard box. I never expected for the sandwich to be any good. I ordered it solely because the fries were spelled, “Flench flies” on the menu. In fact, every menu item had swapped an “R” or “L,” so diners had the choice of juicy “hambulgels” and ice cold “cora.” No I am not kidding, but I thought it was a tasteless joke (even though I chuckled) at first.

When I realized that this was not comedy, I did my civic duty. I tried to explain to the management, who were wearing hats similar to Captain Crunch, that their multi-lingual menu had major blunders in its spelling. They smiled and listened carefully as I tried to explain this oversight. Then they walked away unconcerned with my corrections. As I was the only native English-speaker for miles, I ordered the ironic sandwich with flies with a pocket full of yen. I assumed a Japanese dignitary was the pawn of a demonic translator, and watched the world go by, quite literally, at the Aichi World Expo’s food court in 2005.

My first trip to Japan was memorable and included many other notable moments: Sumo wrestling, soft pink powdery candies that tasted like eggplant, a plate of chicken tongue appetizers resting on a lettuce leaf, robots, Buddhist simplicity, a complicated game show featuring two guys in white spandex unitards swimming in gray ooze, a thoughtful tea ceremony, and a brown crusty blob with red warts that was candy.

Japan Aichi Expo Travel Write Live4Now, I am preparing to return to Japan at the end of the month for a press trip. The plus side will be seeing the highlights and having first class accommodations. The downside is – and it is a big one – the limited amount of down time I will have to absorb the experience. It will be go-go-go for the entire trip – although this is an assumption based on my previous trip.

Here is my complete itinerary, which speaks volumes about my understanding of Japan coming from their tourism board: “We will show you around Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa.” That’s it! No more detailed explanation for a seven-day trip. What am I, crazy? Actually, this is exactly why I am going – Japan’s cultural mystery is my lure. I realize how interesting Japan and its society is to me. There is something so distant, vague and confusing, yet fun, different exciting. It is like Japan’s NTO is saying to me, “Don’t worry, you will see the dichotomy of 5000 years of tradition and cutting edge technology, and eat a basket of tuna faces in the process. Congratulations and welcome to Japan.” I might be crazy, but there is no way I can pass this up.

5 Comments

  1. Just wanted to say HI. I found your blog a few days ago on Technorati and have been reading it over the past few days.

  2. Fabulous article! Have a great time. Just so you know, the Japanese have a phenomenal sense of humor about their own cultural quirks. Here is the “serious” guide for how to eat sushi which pokes fun at the culture’s demands of tradition:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0b75cl4-qRE

  3. Hi Sue. Good to see you hear.

    Hi Kate, the video is brilliant. So good in fact that it took several minutes to realize that it was really a joke.
    d

  4. Great article! I choked on my chocolate dipped banana when I read, “hambulgel”, because I laughed so hard. Devin, you’ve captured why I want to go to Japan so badly. I will start saving my ten dollars a week as you suggested. Can’t wait for you to come back and let us know how the trip was.
    Kate, I loved that sushi video. So funny!
    A great site to visit is http://www.engrish.com/ They show examples of flawed English and it is wonderful.

    • Good. Keep putting money away and go! You know, there will be no chocolate-dipped banana in Japan. Maybe bean-curd dipped banana or chocolate-dipped tuna faces, but no chocolate and banana. I still think you will have a great time.

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