Tagged: England

What Has Japan Taught Me About England?

This is my last minute entry into November’s Japan Blog Matsuri. I was going to skip it this month, as the question, “What has Japan taught you about yourself?”, would require me to take a deep look inside and pull out something wise and intelligent. Instead, here are a few things Japan has taught me about England…

Ascending the throne

When I first came to Japan, people would say “Give my regards to the queen!”, but soon after, David Beckham became the name that most Japanese associated with my home country and I couldn’t get through a single introduction without someone mentioning him. What did this teach me about England? It taught me that it doesn’t take much to impress the Japanese.

English food is crap

While I still have a fondness for English food, the general consensus is English food is bland and overpriced. What has this overwhelmingly popular opinion taught me? I love bland and overpriced food.

Englishmen are gentlemen

This is a good example of a lie told again and again becomes the truth. Despite exports such as rule-breaking Harry Potter, foul-mouthed Wayne Rooney, and gun-toting Prince Harry, the Japanese population still believe Englishmen are gentlemen. I think they’ve been watching too much Mary Poppins, but this has taught me that no matter how rude and unsophisticated British society becomes, we will always be gentlemen to the Japanese.

English is really hard

I’ve learned that the English language is incredibly difficult, and have huge respect for anyone who can speak two or more languages. [Edit: I also have huge respect for those who try to learn a second language, but fail miserably. 😉 ]

In summary…

While writing this, I’ve been drinking a hot “One Cup Sake” – perfect for a wintry evening. Unfortunately, it has failed to stimulate my imagination beyond the points above. I’ll see if a few more cups can’t work their magic next month when I host the Japan Blog Matsuri on JapanSoc. Stay tuned!

Kudos to Danielle for hosting this month!

The Great Storm of 1987

The Great Storm of 1987I can’t believe it has been exactly 20 years since the Great Storm hit the south-east of England in the early hours of October 16th, 1987. I’ve been through plenty of typhoons in Japan, but none of them come close to the “hurricane” that knocked out our electricity and water, blew over the trees in our garden and completely obliterated our greenhouse.

During the hours of darkness the storm swept across southern England. The highest wind speeds seem to have been along the south coast, with a gust of 100 knots recorded at Shoreham. 18 people lost their lives in England. In total it is estimated that around 15 million trees were destroyed. And on the morning after hundreds of thousands were without electricity; roads and railway lines were blocked. (Source: This Brighton)

I’ve probably never feared for my life as I did that night. The sound of howling winds still remind me of it. I had just turned 12 and I remember my family huddling together in the candlelight, while the wind battered the windows so hard I was sure they would shatter. Of course, schools were closed for the next week and we had to walk back and forth to the well in the town center for water. It must have been hard for adults, but children had a great time playing among the fallen trees.

10 things I miss from England

I got news this week that my parents have decided to sell the family home and move permanently to their holiday home in Eastbourne… finally giving my brother the motivation to find a place of his own! Anyway, this has got me thinking about some of the things I miss from home, and since I love Japan, you might be surprised at how trivial some of them are.

1. Family. Without a doubt, my mum, dad and brother top the list. Still, we’ve come a long way from writing letters. Now I call them whenever I like, at ridiculously cheap rates using Skype. Next month my mum will finally upgrade from a dial-up connection to broadband and we’ll be able to chat face to face using webcams, for free. It’s not the same as being there, but it certainly brings the family closer together.

2. Friends. While I don’t keep in regular contact with my friends from home, I know that even years of silence means nothing when it comes to true friendship. If I went back to the U.K tomorrow, we’d be out having a drink as if nothing had changed. There’s a saying that goes something like this: “Make new friends but keep the old. The new are silver, the old are gold.”

3. Central heating. Having just bought a house in Japan, I’ve noticed more than ever how cold winter is. Every time you move from one room to another, you’ve got to turn on the heater or air conditioner and wait 30 minutes to ‘unfreeze’. In my parents’ house, you could warm up the whole house at the press of a button.

4. Pubs. I’m talking about real ‘public houses’; the pubs you can go to in the afternoon, sit down with a pack of Walkers crisps and a beer, play pool, watch the footy or just offer crisps to the landlord’s dog. Pubs also tend to be within walking distance of everywhere. Japan’s izakayas are really restaurants and usually require a train or bus ride to get to, particularly if you live in the countryside.

5. The food. Ask any Japanese who has been to the U.K if they liked the food and I bet they pull a ‘yuck’ face. Personally, I love the blandness of British food. Give me baked beans, mashed potato and fish fingers any day! I also love the chocolate, but I’m going to write about that on Valentine’s Day.

6. The scenery. Hills, trees, lakes, rivers, parks, gardens, forests, and historic buildings. What more can I say? For the record though, I also love Japan’s mountains and the changing leaves.

7. Video games. Okay, I’m really starting to struggle with this list now because I’m quite happy here in Japan, so things are getting a bit silly. But… as a video game fan, I find it hard to find anything in Japan that really interests me. Where are all the football manager, cricket and snooker games?

8. Soap operas. I was never a big fan of Eastenders or Coronation Street, but I do remember when the whole country was crazy about Neighbours, and then Home and Away. I realize they were (are?) Australian soaps, but they were huge in the U.K. It was fun talking about the characters’ latest antics with friends, and even people at the bus stop! Japan has some great dramas too, but they are fixed in length. I grew up along with the characters in the never-ending soap operas above.

9. Beds, baths and shoes. There’s only one word to describe why I miss these and that’s “bigger”.

10. Music. They say music is the soundtrack of your life. Well, I still listen to bands from the ’90’s such as Oasis, Blur, Radiohead, Ocean Colour Scene, and Shed Seven. My music interests haven’t really changed because there’s no Top of the Pops, Radio 1 or people recommending anything. Any news on a Take That comeback?