Robert & Roberta Adair



Stories from Robert & Roberta Adair

Connected with my last 2 blogs (things I like; things I like less), here are a few things that I don’t know how to categorize because they kind of belong to both.

- facemasks.  People wear facemasks when they’re not feeling 100%.  The good: The masks prevent people from breathing in bad stuff and are also considerate for those around them.  They can also hide a pimple or bright red nose (really, how many teenage girls are really sick or are just broken out? this would’ve been awesome in high school.).  The bad: They totally fog up my glasses.  And, the biggest drawback that I see, is that I’d rather people stay home from work for a day, rest, and get better instead of pushing through for 10 days wearing a mask.  (“persevering” when sick is sort of viewed as what the cool kids do here.  Me – I’m more the watch movies, drink tea, and sleep kind of gal.  What must people think of me?)

- caring about appearance.  I saw a guy (an American) with super scruffy jeans and had a pretty strong (“Gross!”) reaction.  Japanese people don’t let their pants drag on the floor, wear sweats to the grocery store, or take the trash out in jammies.  In general, I appreciate that people don’t look like slobs – people are “on.”  The downside is, of course, too much care and attention to appearance.  Many women wax their arms, many men pluck their eyebrows, and I’ve never seen some of my closest friends without makeup.  Also, I’m not into men being obsessed with fashion.  This is totally not P.C. and perhaps I’ll get a little flack for this, but fashion-obsessed men (which is different from fashionable men) is an oxymoron to me.

- modesty.  Sure, there are some crazy short-shorts and short skirts (like – hello, Miss, I’m going to sit right next to you on this train because the whole world can see your panties).  But in general women are more modest here in Japan than they were in Kosovo (or in PA).  Necklines are pretty high – and when I see anything resembling cleavage I’m a bit shocked (and it’s simply not fashionable here right now.).  A lot of slender women wear bizarre billowy clothes – a lot of it is downright unflattering if you ask me.  But it seems to me that because the overweight thing isn’t common here, the emphasis is more on the clothes than the body.  (opinions, anyone?)  Downside: there is a lot of insecurity.  While many women wear long sleeves in the summer for sun protection, others do so to hide their “bye-bye arms” (arms that keep waving…?).  This is lame.  Don’t cover it because you’re ashamed; cover it because you’re beautiful.

- Removable doors.  Our house has 3 door areas/room dividers.  When kids came and play upstairs, we fold up our bed and take out the door/divider and have a big play room.  When we have our small group, we take out the doors in our main living area and, viola!, we have a spacious room.  When it gets cold and we want to heat a smaller space (or when more people are sleeping over), the doors go back in.  I love removable walls!  …except that they don’t block much sound so private chats or sleeping when others are talking is pretty difficult.  (and they’re impossible to lock.  Without getting too weird, I think this might be a reason married couples with kids go to love hotels.)

- nametags.  Most Christian-y events I’ve been to here involve nametags.  People with Red Cross, Samaritans Purse, Food for the Hungry, and CRASH (groups that helped post-disaster) had matching shirts or vests.  This showed who they were and what they were about – they weren’t creepers walking around neighborhoods.  Yet there seems to me this weird in-group out-group dynamic.  People who don’t “match” don’t belong.  Are people more or less approachable when they were uniforms or nametags?  For instance, our church helped with a family fun festival thing with lots of other groups.  Did the people from the community who came without matching tshirts feel “out?”  Or did they feel safe?

- lack of jewelry.  In India, nearly every woman I saw had her ears and nose pierced.  Here, perhaps more than half of the women I know don’t have piercings.  I’m not sure if it’s connected to Buddhist natural/simplicity or what, but I like how natural and unpretentious (not quite the word…) women look.  The downside is that I still like earrings (I got my ears pierced in India when I was 22) and sometimes wonder if I look showy or something when I wear big ones.

- parasols, gloves, big hats, and more sun protective measures.  Good job at taking care of your skin.  I wish I did a better job.  But…don’t get too obsessive (or fearful of the sun.  I’ve seen people look like they were practically wearing burkas.  And if you get a freckle or, forbid!, a wrinkle, you’ll still be lovely.)

- patience.  This might be a goofy example, but I served coffee cake to two friends at my house.  Instead of eating it, they looked at it, complimented it, and continued conversation for about 15 minutes (I ate mine in under 2 minutes).  It seems like there is a patience and respect built into the culture that says, “savor don’t inhale.”  This seems to apply to food, to relationships, to road trips (wow, prepare yourself to stop a.lot. if traveling with certain Japanese friends).  I think “delayed gratification” is a good thing, but, shoot, just hurry up and eat the cake already!  :)

This list is quite incomplete but is getting pretty long and ranty, so I’ll stop it for now.  These lists might be pretty random, but I really am interested in knowing others’ experiences and how I’ll react to these lists in a year or 5 or 10.

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