I just returned from Japan last week….I go there twice a year to do shows for my Japanese distribution company, High Spirits & Yu. It's an incredible journey, really….an awfully LONG trip….it's not at all like going to Europe….very few people speak English there and the ones that do are so bashful about it and afraid to make mistakes that they don't speak very much at all. I've been told that almost everyone there understands English but just can't speak well or express themselves. They are honored by the fact that i can count in Japanese and say a few words to them. I've learned how to greet the properly and they appreciate that a lot. Yes, it's true that the cab drivers don't speak English at all so if you do go there, make sure you have a piece of paper to hand the driver that tells him or her where you want to go in Japanese. Remember to take another piece of paper with your return trip written on it too so you don't get stranded! They all wear gloves and masks too to prevent against germs. I thought I was careful about germs…..until i went to Japan!
I am always the tallest person around and everyone stares at me in the elevator. That's a strange feeling…The movie Lost in Translation is really an accurate view of what it's like.
I love the hotels i stay in there…my favorite thing to do is go for a swim and then soak in the Japanese Onsen Baths. In some of the hotels, they are even outside and in the midst of beautiful Japanese gardens. I usually go there in January and with the cold air, the warm water feels SO good. When you get out, they serve you hot green tea so you can stay hot on the inside while your body cools down. When staying in Tokyo, i recommend the Four Seasons Chinzan-so. It's really memorable.
I'm not a huge fan of Japanese food but i'm learning to enjoy the vegetarian dishes washed down with a good Kirin or Suntory beer! And the exotic fruits you can get in the marketplace are wrapped individually and are so sweet and tastey. But bring lots of money if you go. A glass of orange juice will set you back about $12 and breakfast costs about $75. I mention breakfast because it IS my favorite meal of the day.
By the way, the shows were great. I met a lot of wonderful people….especially a lot of Japanese dentists who collect my work! It was amazing. The owner of the Nagoya Dragons baseball team also came and bought the original I did for his team. It was great to meet him.
I am glad to be home but I relish the time i get to spend in Japan…it's an alternate universe!