Tips for Living in Japan
Read a short entry on Japanese culture, including language, customs and etiquettes. Maybe you would find out something that you were always curious of.
Lesson 40An energetic life after retirement
Japan is increasingly becoming an aging society. According to a survey carried out by an affiliate of a life insurance company, the hobbies people most want to enjoy after their retirement include travel, sports (exercise), enjoying gourmet cuisine, and reading books.
The reasons for having hobbies vary, including "keeping the brain active" and "a fulfilling retirement life". All of them seem to play a role in maintaining a healthy mind and body.
Source : Japan Institute of Life Insurance
Lesson 39Tatami mats
Tatami mats are a traditional Japanese flooring material. They are made from compressed rice straw covered with an outer layer of woven igusa rushes. These days, new building materials like styrene foam are often used instead of rice straw. The distinctive feature of tatami mats is that they are cool in summer and warm in winter.
The size of tatami in the Kanto Region is 176 centimeters long and 88 centimeters wide. In the Kansai Region, they are a little bigger.
Tatami have long been used in Japanese houses, but as lifestyles have become westernized, the number of houses with tatami-floored rooms has decreased. However, quite a few Western-style houses and condominiums still have at least one Japanese-style room with tatami mats.
The size of a room is often described as the number of tatami mats it can contain. If you can immediately imagine the size of a room hearing "six mats", you are a real authority on Japan!
Lesson 38Preparation for disasters
For several days after a major disaster occurs, you may not be able to acquire daily necessities. You will feel more secure if you have prepared an emergency kit ready for an emergency. The kit should include water (pet bottles), emergency food, torch, batteries, and medicine. Another essential item is a portable radio so that you can get the latest information.
It's also important to take precautions against furniture toppling in an earthquake, such as fixing them to the wall. When the Great Hanshin Earthquake occurred in 1995, the major cause of death was crushing by collapsing houses or falling furniture. If a large item of furniture falls over, it can not only hurt you but may also hinder you from seeking shelter or prevent people rescuing you.
The basis of damage prevention is to avoid what can be avoided before it happens.
Thanks to Japan's four distinct seasons, the Japanese are very sensitive to the changing seasons.
When you write a formal letter, it's good manners to begin with some seasonal greeting. And you should seize any opportunity for conversation by starting with the topic of the weather. When you start talking to someone you've just met for the first time, talking about politics does not create a comfortable atmosphere. It's also better to avoid starting off with some personal matters, because the Japanese consider keeping some distance from other people as being very important.
Here are two expressions that show how closely the Japanese associate with the weather. I wonder if you've ever heard of a hare-onna, which means "a fine-weather woman" or an ame-otoko, "a rain man"? For some reason, a hare-onna always seems to take fine weather with her when traveling or going out, whereas an ame-otoko always seems to produce rain when it's least wanted! In fact, the Japanese qualify themselves as a hare or an ame! Which type are you?
Lesson 36Beauty salons and barber's
When you want your hair cut, you got to a biyôin, meaning "a beauty salon" or a tokoya, meaning "a barber's." At a barber's, you can even get your face shaved. We'll introduce some expressions that are commonly used at both beauty salons and barber's shops.
We've already learned maegami in the skit. It means "fringe." You can also simply say mae to mean the same.
It's also useful to remember eriashi, meaning "the hairline above the collar," and momiage, meaning "sideburns."
When you want to have a perm, you say pâma o onegai shimasu --"I'd like to have my hair permed."
And if you don't particularly mind about your hairstyle or length, you can just say Omakase shimasu, meaning "I'll leave everything up to you."