Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Someone Dun Lost They Mind

Last week was a strange week of work.

On Monday, I was CCed a forwarded email. The content of which was that everyone now needs to be to work by 8:45am and that if you get to work at 8:55am, you will be counted as late, unless you call ahead to the bucho.

What was strange was that the email said, "The above applies only to seishain." Since I've been in arubaito limbo for the past 9 months, I wondered why I was being CCed.
Was this an FYI? Was this a passive-aggressive way of telling me and the others CCed that even if the new rules didn't apply to us, that we should follow them anyways?

So many questions.

The email ended by saying "We aren't playing a game of Who Can Cut it Closest," and "As adults, this level is expected." lulz, wut?

Of course I emailed for conformation and was told that I could come at my normal time (between 8:50-8:57). After that, I got a follow-up email stating that actually, EVERYONE has to come by 8:45am. What a crock of shit.

The day after that, I get another email, "Some customers may want to call early, so, we'll have our stand up meeting at 8:50am instead of 9:00am." Great, this makes sense if my department took phone calls, but we don't. And who cares if someone wants to call early? When I needed to call United Airlines, which is way larger than my company, they didn't answer because they have stated hours! 

There's always someone who's up earlier or later than other people. And well...who cares? If you're a large company, then you can hire people to be on the phones for 24 hours, but, I digress.

Now, on Monday, I get another email. This is great, it's like an email party.
This is another forwarded, CCed email. The content was that staff should greet their superiors before leaving for the day. Whatevs. It's Japan, it's what you do.

The second point was damn crazy, "Tell the person next to you when you go to the toilet." Are we elementary school students? Are you telling me that grown-ass people can't even go take a dump without everyone else knowing.

Someone is out of their damn mind.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review: My Beauty Diary

This doesn't exactly have anything to do with Japan, but who cares?

A few months ago, I happened to find the Taiwanese face masks My Beauty Diary at Matsumoto Kiyoshi (a Japanese Walgreens-like store). I've long heard of My Beauty Diary, and I was excited to find it in Japan. Until now, I've tried Korean face masks. 

The packaging is cute, but in a small box. I'm used to face masks coming in a larger package, so I was wondering what these would look like. Inside of the box were two masks in plastic wrapping. After opening the first package, I saw that the mask was folded with plastic on one side, and the cloth mask on the other.

My Beauty Diary selection :D

Compared to the Korean masks I've used so far, the Taiwanese one was thinner. It also molded to fit my face better. Usually, I have to fold over large parts of the mask, only to have the flaps open up or start to dry out. The liquid is also more smooth....runny(?) than the Korean ones I've used so far. I was lying in bed, but a lot of liquid was running down my neck. I'd recommend having a towel under your head, just in case.

The smell was pleasant (berry) and my skin felt soft and smooth after I took off the mask. The cost was about 300 yen for a box with two masks. Considering that 100 - 150 yen is what I pay for overpriced cheap Korean masks here, it's a good deal. I definitely recommend!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Have it Your Way...Back Home.

This may not come as a surprise, but Japan is not keen on special orders. You might think that you'd check the menu and order something that you can eat, instead. Well, that brings about another set of problems; menus here in Japan typically have the name of the item, not the ingredients. While I never ate out much when I was in the US, I remember that a menu would look something like this:

Chicken Salad
Lightly breaded chicken breast sitting atop a bed of fresh lettuce, peanuts, carrots, spinach and sliced onions. Ranch, French, and Shio dressings to compliment.

In Japan, they look something like this:

Chicken Salad

Tofu Salad


Japanese restaurants assume a number of things about customers:

1. Customers are familiar with the items on the menu and don't need a description. This is especially true of Japanese staples like Tonkatsu, Udon and Curry

2. Even if a customer is familiar with the basic ingredients of a particular dish, they won't mind the chef changing it up by adding new ingredients.

3. The restaurant assumes this because Japanese people are not supposed to have "suki-kirai" (strong food preferences that exclude various foods).

4. And it's assumed that Japanese people don't have suki-kirai because, despite the rise in people with food allergies, Japanese people obviously don't have allergies

I remember being constantly frustrated by eating out here. I was playing a guessing game every time. If I asked the waitstaff what a certain dish was made of, they'd offer to run to the back to ask the chef. If I asked if they could leave out certain ingredients, they'd run to the back to ask or say that it was "not possible." 

Even at places like McDonalds, if I asked them to leave off the mayo from a sandwich, the staff had looks of panic cross their faces. I don't know if it's typical for waitstaff in the US to have no idea of how the food is prepared, but it's quite common in Japan. The staff is trained to remember how to take orders and bring it out quickly. 

After visiting schools here and eating lunch with elementary school students, I've come to understand how strongly the "eat what's before you" culture is here in Japan. Students have no school lunch choices. Each day the menu changes, and lunch is either a "rice" day or a "bread" day. Whole milk is served everyday regardless of the meal.

Children are told that they shouldn't have suki-kirai. They should eat everything on their plates. No one says that they "don't like" something like mushrooms or spinach, they say they are "nigate", which means "not good at." As if you try harder, you'd be able to overcome your handicap of not being able to eat a certain food.

And this of course translates to the present way of dealing with food in restaurants. The owner gives you the name, you infer the ingredients from that, you order and you clean your plate. Now you know, if you order out, be prepared to clean your plate, or at least most of it. And don't be surprised if the staff has no idea how to answer your questions about the food ingredients.