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I love Japan, however....

Blast Tokyo Bureau

I've lived in Tokyo for six years now. I love Japan: my wife is Japanese; I'm studying the language; I work for a Japanese company. But it's time to vent. This is an age-old practice I started way back in 1993 during the year I spent reporting for a daily newspaper in Lake County, Calif. But that is another story.

Japan is a strange but wonderful country. It is also, at times, very frustrating. Case in point: A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I took her parents, brother and his two children to the beach in nearby Chiba Prefecture. The hotel was nestled into the side of a mountain that overlooked the Pacific. The beach was great, but the hotel was so nice that it was tempting to stay inside.

The view was fantastic and meals were included in the package. And the best part: it was an onsen, or hot-spring resort. Perhaps that is why we had to pay $200 per person to share one suite.

The downside – As with all hotels in Japan, check-in was at 3 p.m., but check-out was at 10 a.m. And amazingly, despite the high rates, the onsen didn't open until 10 a.m. Want a relaxing morning soak before checking out and hitting the road? Too bad.

While I'm venting, I might as well get a few other grievances off my chest. (The following are all in good fun.)

Tips for getting along in Japan

  1. Put salt on watermelon.
  2. Put corn on everything, especially pizza.
  3. When walking down a corridor or hallway with a group of people, make sure everyone walks abreast, thereby blocking other pedestrians in both directions.
  4. When walking along a crowded sidewalk or passageway, move slowly and zig-zag so no one can pass, periodically stopping suddenly for no apparent reason when someone is right behind you.
  5. When waiting for an elevator and the door finally opens, rush right in without waiting to see whether anyone wishes to get out. (Ditto with trains and subways.)
  6. When sitting on the train, pick your nose and then discreetly roll the boogers onto the shoes of the person seated next to you.
  7. When sitting in the section reserved for the elderly or disabled on the train, pretend like you're asleep when someone comes along that deserves to sit there.
  8. If you are a middle-aged man, make disgusting sucking and slurping noises while seated on the train even though you are not eating anything.
  9. If you are a young woman and lucky enough to get a seat on the train, act like you're asleep so you won't see the dirty old men who are staring at you.
  10. When driving along a narrow street with no sidewalks in a crowded neighborhood full of children and old people who have a tendency to wonder into the middle of the road, drive at a high rate of speed – especially around corners.