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I'm going back to the US for Christmas tomorrow! Yay!

My travel agent has, thoughtfully, seen fit to provide me with a pamphlet of helpful tips to make my overseas travel less of an anxiety-filled social minefield riddled with white people and guns. I got such a kick out of these that I wanted to share. (I picked most of the fun ones. There are a lot of boring tips too.)

* The yen is very strong against the dollar right now. This will make goods in America seem very cheap -- an excellent opportunity for shopping! However, remember to be polite in your use of money -- America is in the middle of economic malaise right now, and Japanese people with wads of money in their hand might be looked on with envy. Besides, if you are obviously wealthy in an American city, you may be robbed.

* For our valued customers who work in the automotive industry [#1 employer where I live], we advise discretion. If you must say where you work, the preferred phrasing is [English] "I work at the car company".

* Most Americans are very polite, particularly outside of the big cities. However, outside of the big cities, everyone owns guns. Inside the big cities, almost everyone owns guns. Let's be polite together!

* If you go shopping at an American department store, they will ask you if you want to open a credit card account. They are *not* asking whether you want to use a credit card. This may seem strange but it is an American custom to offer customers a credit card, in order to make them spend more money. We suggest politely declining offers of credit cards. You may have to politely decline several times. Don't think of this as rude, the Americans have to do it too.

* Most Americans think we look like Chinese or Koreans. Try not to be too offended.

* Most Americans will think that a Japanese person standing on the street is an American, unless they are holding a camera. If you are not comfortable speaking English, you might try bringing along a camera to say "I am a tourist, please don't expect me to speak English." Except, don't try this in the big cities -- tourists get mugged in big cities.

* Americans have a social institution called a "gratuity". Basically, the price on the menu at any place which serves food is not the real price. The real price is 20% higher. You have to calculate 20%, write it under the subtotal, and sum to arrive at the real price. Taxis work the same way. It is considered very rude not to pay the "gratuity".

* In general, Americans consider it impolite to discuss politics. However, this January Obama will become the new president, and many people are excited! If they ask you what you think of him, a safe answer is [English] "Obama is really cool." or [English] "Obama speaks so well. Not like me. Hehe." Be very careful when pronouncing his name. O BA MA, just like Obama City. [Ask me later. Hilarity abounds.]

* Most big cities have Japanese food available. You may have to look hard, though -- ask your hotel for some place to eat tempura. Restaurants which say they serve sushi probably only serve makizushi, like California rolls. (Americans think California rolls are [English] "sushi".) If a restaurant says [English] "Asian" they really mean Chinese. They are probably not really Chinese, either.

* Ladies: if you shop for clothes, ask for where to find [English] "petite". It means normal sized. Ladies who are petite may have difficulty finding clothes which fit in America, except at specialty shops.

* McDonalds: Has no teriyaki burger in America. Portions are bigger and food is cheaper. Sometimes the person taking the order does not speak English. Please relax! They probably understand the set menu, although it is called [English] "combo", and you can hold up the number with your hands as shown. [Snip of chart for how Americans count on their fingers, which is actually different than how Japanese people count on their fingers, hence the need for a chart.]

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to finish work and start packing. Toothbrush, shirts, camera, bullet-proof vest, wad of monopoly money, you know, the bare necessities.
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Sorry, you can only recommend a post to the Best of once.

If you ever publish a book of your adventures with culture clash, please let us know! I would love to have a bingocards book!
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Brilliant!

By the way, a friend of mine made me an Obama mix tape - which includes (among other things), the citizens of Obama, Japan singing "Obama Is Beautiful World."
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So...you don't have to tip in Japan? Awesome.
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Travel safe. If you swing by Colorado I'll lend you a gun for your own safety. :)

Lara Amber
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Come to Detroit with your camera and let everyone know you work for Toyota. We are very polite here as well.

Guns are cheap in Detroit too.
You can just hang out on a corner for about five minutes and get yourself a .45cal for about $150, if you want some crack rock to go with that its an extra $20.

If you would like to open a credit card account with White Boy Rick Guns 'N Drugs Xpress, you can save 20% on your purchase.

(Please don't forget to add in the 20% gratuity to tip your dealer as well.)

Too funny...

slakk
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>>
So...you don't have to tip in Japan?
>>

So once one of my lady friends from high school came over to visit (quite the traveler, that one) and we went out for sushi. After we exited the store, she mentioned how wonderful it was, and I told her I agreed. Then she told me she had left a $10 tip because it was so good.

Me: "You don't tip in Japan!!"

Friend: "Well, maybe *you* don't, but *I* do."

Me: "No, you don't understand, NOBODY tips in Japan. We have to go back."

Friend: "Why Mr. Stingypants?"

Japanese shout: "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIT."

Enter the sushi chef, on his mother's bicycle, peddling pell-mell towards us.

Chef: "BINGO! Your girlfriend dropped her money!"

Me: "She's not my girlfriend!"

Chef: "OK, OK, Miss Totally Platonic dropped her money."

Me: *sigh* "See, this is why we do not tip in Japan."

Chef (English): "Please be careful. Hard to find traveler in small town. Except Bingo. Very, very tall." (Japanese) "You think she got it?"

Me: "I think she got it."
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I understand the Happy Little Sunshine English School offers classes that could help you blend in better in America. Then again, it's hard for a giant panda to blend in anywhere.

Good thing you have ninja skills, too.

Patzer
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Now I want to know how Japanese people count on their fingers!

xtn
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Safe travels, especially if you're coming to the Midwest. Some ugly storms headed this way...
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Ladies: if you shop for clothes, ask for where to find [English] "petite". It means normal sized


HahahahaahaHAAAAAAAAAAhahaha!!

Andrea
Giant, oversized American woman
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Thank you sharing! That made me smile :)
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"Now I want to know how Japanese people count on their fingers!"

It's actually really cool, and superior to our method because they can count to 20 between both hands.

IF MY RECOLLECTION IS CORRECT from Japanese 101 in high school...

You start with your thumb tucked and all four fingers up. Thats 'One'
Lower your index finger "two"
Lower your middle "three"
Lower your ring "four"
Lower your pinky "five"
With all your fingers still lowered, stick your thumb out(like a sideways thumbs up) "Six"
Raise Index (thumb out other fingers still down) "Seven"
Raise middle "Eight"
Raise Ring "Nine"
Raise Pinky "Ten"

Then, you can use the other hand to keep going to 11-20.

IF I RECALL CORRECTLY

-Allen
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Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to finish work and start packing. Toothbrush, shirts, camera, bullet-proof vest, wad of monopoly money, you know, the bare necessities.

In a world of very depressing news and snarky comments on Best Of, I always look forward to a bingocards post because I know it will either educate me, make me laugh, or very likely, do both!

Your anecdotes are priceless and very much appreciated!

GSF
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I see that the Japanese taken a cue from American pop culture:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPrAuF2f_oI

Nancy
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<<"Now I want to know how Japanese people count on their fingers!"

It's actually really cool, and superior to our method because they can count to 20 between both hands.
>>


Heck --- I can count to 31 on one hand, and 1023 on ten fingers.



Seattle Pioneer
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Heck --- I can count to 31 on one hand, and 1023 on ten fingers.

Just don't flash the number 4 (binary 00100) at a fast food restaurant in America. The order taker will probably think it means something else.

Patzer
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Just don't flash the number 4 (binary 00100) at a fast food restaurant in America. The order taker will probably think it means something else.

Even riskier would be the 10 finger count of 132 (0010000100)

AJ
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I've traveled through Japan a couple times and from my experience it appears they treat tipping as an insult (even if you don't mean it to be).

Loosely translated it means: "here is money because you are poor and your job doesn't support you". The only way to really translate that to our culture would be if you were sitting on a metro/rail system and a rich man came up to you and handed you a quarter giving the impression that you were really poor compared to him. In their culture people are more proud of their jobs and believe they work hard at them to support their family - it is insulting to be giving extra money for a job they are already being paid for.

We once left our change on the table after eating in a small village outside of Tokyo, and the waitress ran out of the store to give us the money (about 27 cents worth) thinking that we just left it by mistake.

Amazing with all this globalization just how different cultures can be.

-Eric
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Most Americans will think that a Japanese person standing on the street is an American

Ain't the USA grand!
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Ladies: if you shop for clothes, ask for where to find [English] "petite". It means normal sized.

Looks like I need to book a trip to Japan for clothes buying ;)
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* Ladies: if you shop for clothes, ask for where to find [English] "petite". It means normal sized. Ladies who are petite may have difficulty finding clothes which fit in America, except at specialty shops.

LOL! My foreign born wife (European) must as well buy her clothes in specialty shops, since, in America, "average" is now "large," and "petite" seems to mean short and overweight.

I noticed there is a popular woman's shop here in America entitled "Dress Barn," which sums the situation up nicely....

--JC
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Enter the sushi chef, on his mother's bicycle, peddling pell-mell towards us.

Hee! Japan was never high on my list of places I want to go, but I think it inches up every time I read one of these posts :) People just seem so nice. and helpful.
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* Most Americans will think that a Japanese person standing on the street is an American, unless they are holding a camera.

Despite the fact that we're a nation of people who largely ignore the rest of the world, and don't bother learning anything but English, we're actually quite cosmopolitan in some ways. When we encounter Japanese, East Indians, Arabs, Chinese, Africans, or anyone else, we don't see it as unusual. We expect they're probably citizens because most we encounter are citizens.

This is in sharp contrast to my experience in India, or the stories you tell about Japan, where being Caucasian means you're an obvious foreigner and an object of curiosity, because it's so unusual.

- Gus
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Trust, me nobody is happy with female clothing sizes unless you happen to be the 5'7" size 6 Barbie that everyone wants to make clothes for.

FoolishRage 5'11", size 18. Everything is proportioned for someone who is 6" shorter than I.
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Heck --- I can count to 31 on one hand, and 1023 on ten fingers.

As the old adage goes, there are 10 types of people in this world: those who understand binary, and those who don't.

-synchronicity
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• Most big cities have Japanese food available. You may have to look hard, though -- ask your hotel for some place to eat tempura. Restaurants which say they serve sushi probably only serve makizushi, like California rolls.


is this true?

i've never seen a 'sushi' place that only served makizushi ..
( have seen "Calif. roll" called 'sushi' in the Safeway .. )


(Americans think California rolls are [English] "sushi".) If a restaurant says [English] "Asian" they really mean Chinese. They are probably not really Chinese, either.

this Is true.


(>:
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Trust, me nobody is happy with female clothing sizes
True...

unless you happen to be the 5'7" size 6
I happen to be 5'8" and roughly size 6, but despite this I am definitely not happy with female clothing sizes! They just don't fit, they are much too short and very baggy! Not to mention never in stock for my size! About the only thing worse than trying to find female sized clothes that fit, is trying to find female sized SHOES that fit!

that everyone wants to make clothes for
Not true, they don't make clothes for this size either! There is nothing smaller than 8 available in most stores, and usually not even that, only 10 or 12 and up.

FoolishRage 5'11", size 18. Everything is proportioned for someone who is 6" shorter than I.
Worse, I think it is actually proportioned for someone 6" shorter than ME, thus 9-10 inches shorter than you.
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There is nothing smaller than 8 available in most stores, and usually not even that, only 10 or 12 and up.
Come to San Francisco! There are tons of small sizes, but they do sell out quickly. I loved living in NYC where the sizes were all big, and small sizes never taken - so when I went shopping they were available for me.

Now I live in a city with tons of tiny Asian women. It's a bloodsport to try and buy the size 2's-6's before they sell out. It's not that they don't have them in the store, it's that they are always the most popular and sell like hotcakes. But if you show up at the start of a sale there are lots of them.
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Trust, me nobody is happy with female clothing sizes

The jeans in my closet range in size from 10 to 18. They all fit about the same.

-pp
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Come to San Francisco!

Actually, come to Hawaii! Sometimes it seems that the ONLY sizes that are available are 0-6 and 12-up. Now, this worked before I was married, and after I was pregnant... but now that I'm sliding somewhere between the two - my wardrobe is getting sparse :-)
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Oooh! There is a service that has been very highly recommended to me, truejeans.com. They try on tons of jeans, so you don't have to. They finally have plus sizes, so I am probably going to give them a try sometime soon. Just FYI.


--Booa
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<<Oooh! There is a service that has been very highly recommended to me, truejeans.com. They try on tons of jeans, so you don't have to. They finally have plus sizes, so I am probably going to give them a try sometime soon. Just FYI.


--Booa
>>


Heh, heh! Another service I'd guess is not available in Worker's Paradises!




Seattle Pioneer
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Heck --- I can count to 31 on one hand, and 1023 on ten fingers.

Test: Try assigning each finger three different states; up, down, and half-curled. What is your max counting ability now?

xtn
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<<Heck --- I can count to 31 on one hand, and 1023 on ten fingers.

Test: Try assigning each finger three different states; up, down, and half-curled. What is your max counting ability now?

xtn
>>


I have to do some half curled fingers for the binary numbers.


But 3**10 -1 would be 59,048.

3**5 -1 would be 243.



Seattle Pioneer
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IF MY RECOLLECTION IS CORRECT from Japanese 101 in high school...

You start with your thumb tucked and all four fingers up. Thats 'One'
Lower your index finger "two"
Lower your middle "three"
Lower your ring "four"
Lower your pinky "five"
With all your fingers still lowered, stick your thumb out(like a sideways thumbs up) "Six"
Raise Index (thumb out other fingers still down) "Seven"
Raise middle "Eight"
Raise Ring "Nine"
Raise Pinky "Ten"

Then, you can use the other hand to keep going to 11-20.

IF I RECALL CORRECTLY



Same way Chinese people count.
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