Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Japanese gaijin in Vancouver

On our recent trip to Canada I obviously made sure to take the beau to some cool restaurants and bars, a round of golf and a day of fishing. We also had our fill of hotdogs from street carts, which the beau still thinks is the single best thing about Vancouver. However, in light of the fact that it may be his future home, I figured he should see all aspects of the fair city, including a tour by car of the downtown eastside and Skid Row. Sensationally called the worst neighbourhood in Canada, it is a place filled with drug addicts, homelessness, prostitution and run down single-room hotels. I've even heard there are slumlords to be found. Not on most Japanese tourists' agenda when visiting, I took him for a spin around there as an eye opener. Some comments from him include: these homeless people don't have several thousands in the bank like the ones in Tokyo, do they?

Thanks to the other residents of Vancouver, he also got to see/experience the following things of note:

-A plastic bag filled with an unknown heavy substance falling from the sky in Chinatown's Blood Alley
-My friend's 2m tall bf with his pit bull and huge 4X4 truck
-Several people, some of them just plain crazy, asking him for money
-A homeless man asking people for money so he could buy a beer (props for being up front about it)
-A man getting arrested (they handcuff the hands in front in Japan apparently)
-A skunk
-A coyote
-Gambling at a casino
-Super size garbage trucks
-Several drug deals in broad daylight
-More "sushi" restaurants than you can shake a stick at

Maybe not something everyone would write home to mom about but the beau was thrilled at the diversity of experiences the city had to offer. Some people come to Japan oohing and ahhing over the abundance of vending machines, geisha gals, and the strange tone of voice employed by train employees, and some Japanese get a thrill from real-live casinos, sketchy situations "like in the movies", and the sheer largeness of it all. I think a sleezy strip joint could be next on the agenda.

I also felt like a bit of a stranger to Vancity, with some cultural awkwardness and disbelief of my own. Off the top of my head, I felt like a total prude when I was shocked to see so many women running around with their midriffs showing. I guess I've gotten so accustomed to the ridiculous amount of leg in this country that I forgot you could show other body parts. Either way, it just isn't right-ladies learn how to dress! Oh and then there was the time I expressed displeasure at the retail ho who took the clothes I had just bought and stuffed them into a bag. Whatever happened to folding bitch?! Granted I don't enjoy the retail schtick in Japan, at least they take some care when you buy something, even if their attitude is just as fake as that across the Pacific.

All in all, I'd say it was a successful trip on the cultural front.


Jessica said...

I just wanted to say that I just found your blog and have whiled away about an hour and a half reading all your posts! I spent some time in Japan as a high school student, a university student, an English teacher and a tourist so I can totally understand/relate to your experiences! I will defintely be putting your blog on my 'blogs-to-read-reguarly' list!

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Thanks for the love! :)