have spent a few weeks in Japan/Korea, the easy way - staying with peeps we know - so our accommodation, meals, interpreter, tour guide, and local transport needs were almost entirely catered for~! :}
~ of course we do the same whenever someone visits us ~
Many homes have underfloor heating so despite below-zero temperatures, sleeping on a mat is cozier than it sounds:} Because of all the pampering, my vocabulary hasn't improved much, even though I received lots of exposure to their TV and yep, manga too ~
I did get to experience life as close as a visitor can get to being a local, in such a short timeframe. There's so many details that the guidebooks don't mention~!
Although this part of the world has one of the highest costs-of-living, shopping can be inexpensive - my head is still spinning here, every block has almost everything you'll need~!
Eating out can be affordable too - and no, that doesn't mean rice & noodles .. but expect to pay more for extravagant delights, such as steak or pizza or live sashimi - yes, the unfortunate mollusc/crustacean is served with its dissected pieces crawling about the table, yummy~! I'm sure most of you have seen this ~ lolita-art.deviantart.com/art/…
Yes, I've had it before and may order it again :}
No I didn't sample any of the notorious fare such as dolphin or doggie or fugu - my hosts had never eaten them either, and said that most locals, let alone westerners, wouldn't appreciate those delicacies.
The big deal about Fugu is not that you get to swallow an ugly critter, which, if butchered inelegantly, may kill you .. if that was the case then your perfectly prepared puffer would be hard to distinguish from any other fish dish. Supposedly, the point is that the diner is supposed to ingest some of the toxin - just enough to create a euphoric buzz, with perhaps aphrodesiac qualities. The true skill of the Fugu chef lies not with his filleting knife but in his competence in sizing up his client and administering the correct dose of poison. The course is not meant to be shared, and no seconds~! (*here my informant was intoxicated himself, and had never personally taken any, so the exact effects may be exaggeration, but makes a great story~!)
hm, what else .. when purchasing a cooking knife there are lefthanded versions for us lefties - which way the bevel faces actually makes a difference .. then you must decide which, of scores of designs, some near-identical, you'll use the most ..
Korean dogs say "mang mang" instead of "woof" or "bowwow", and cats go "yeowm" instead of "meow". I thought it amusing at the time .. I didn't think to catch what they say in Japan; although there are many petshops with all sorts of species, keeping an animal there is an extravagance and status symbol.
I was advised not to use "gaijin", the popular appellation for foreigner/nonJapanese. No language teacher will admit this (most will be unaware in any case, unless they have a linguistic background), but this word apparently has quite derogatory roots. Not as overtly offensive as, say "n***er", it's way more subtle than that - but in japanese, subtlety is everything. It's ok amongst friends, just don't go around strangers identifying yourself as "gaijin-san", even if it is easy to pronounce.
Valentine's Day is celebrated in Japan & Korea but with their own twist: on Feb 14th, girls spoil their bf's with flowers/choccies etc. Then a month later, March the 14th is "White Day" (no idea why it's called that), and the guys get to reciprocate~! Sweet eh :}
ok enough trivia ..
I've kept my watchlist low, yet still there are a couple hundred entries to catch up on~! .. including quite a few artworks of Ala, thanks~!
perusing all these shall keep me occupied for quite some time ..
My goodness you'll all been so busy~!