KurtisW's Advice List

KurtisW image KurtisW United States 4 years in Japan

I like to ride my bike!

An honest thank you! images

An honest thank you!

In Japan, it may not be quite as common for strangers to help each other for no reason, but as a traveler, you will find that people in general are willing to help you with this or that, particularly if you express to them that you need help with something. Just asking someone for directions may le…(173 words)

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KurtisW

Train Phrase
Name Drop images

Name Drop

Usually when I meet Japanese people, even though I speak Japanese, they may be hesitant to properly introduce themselves to me, particularly if it is a group with multiple people and one distinct leader, or connection between my group and theirs. One thing I try and make a point of is coming across…(200 words)

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KurtisW

Etiquette Nature
Sorry, but...no.. images

Sorry, but...no..

In Japan, the most common gesture you will likely see is the small “X” that people will make with their index fingers, somewhat like a cross. This is for all intents and purposes a relatively polite way of saying no; or more specifically, no, we’re closed, or no, you cannot enter here. It may feel …(175 words)

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KurtisW

Restaurant Communication
Main idea first images

Main idea first

Using English with non-native speakers has its own general rules to follow, but I have found some decent techniques when needing to be understood in English in Japan. Japanese is a subject-initial language like English, but in many cases, the object of English could very easily be the subject in Ja…(146 words)

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KurtisW

Train Ramen noodles Bus
The wait sweetens the drink images

The wait sweetens the drink

Timing is everything when toasting in Japan. The toast is the official start to the party, rather than simply an acknowledgement of something or someone. Parties in Japan tend to be well-planned, and often the “wonderful and lucky opportunity” for everyone to be gathered despite busy schedules, etc…(136 words)

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KurtisW

Etiquette Drink Event Toast
Sentence endings images

Sentence endings

In Japan, there is a wealth of dialects, and they tend to act upon specific aspects of the language. For the most part, nouns, adjectives, and verb roots will not have much variance between dialects, if any. Many changes however occur to sentence endings. Japanese in all dialects adds slight fl…(134 words)

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KurtisW

Tokyo Osaka Kansai Region
Taste over tradition images

Taste over tradition

A late night gorge at a typical Japanese junk food restaurant just can't be beat. One thing which I always go for is ramen, but not just any ramen. Taste over tradition is the key concept, and many older or more traditional Japanese people scoff at some of the wild creations that downtown ramen sho…(133 words)

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KurtisW

Tokyo Restaurant Roppongi Ramen noodles Miso Akita
Elaborate onigiri is king images

Elaborate onigiri is king

Traditional onigiris have a nice healthy appeal, and retain the "classic" Japanese dietary elements, such as rice, fish, and pickled veggies, but let's not limit ourselves to just the classics. Every convenience store has its own brand (or at least brand that is made for that convenience store), an…(178 words)

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KurtisW

Onigiri (Rice ball) Convenience store Karaage (Fried chicken)
Family life images

Family life

Going "away" to college has always been the dominant image for students in my mind (I'm from the U.S). Even a university only a few hours away would more than likely require a student to move into a dormitory or apartment. In fact, this has become so standard and expected of students in the U.S, th…(167 words)

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KurtisW

Tokyo City
Walk the walk images

Walk the walk

I personally think that one of the best ways to experience Tokyo is on foot. It's huge, yes, but you have to think of Tokyo fragmentally, as the different wards and towns that make up the metropolis all have their own vibe that becomes unmistakable after you have spent some time here; all of them c…(161 words)

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KurtisW

Tokyo Park Shibuya Yoyogi Park Inokashira Park
Handle your sushi like a pro images

Handle your sushi like a pro

Ignoring preparation (which can be an intensely meticulous process on the part of sushi chefs), nothing about the actual consumption of sushi needs to be complicated, at least in my experience. After all, it is only a slab of fish over a block of rice. Sushi is meant to be eaten in one bite, so han…(172 words)

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KurtisW

Sushi Restaurant Soy sauce