Got milk?

This post might be a bit weird; it’s about one of my first observations after arriving in Japan that had me wondering for a week or so. Well, I did not really wonder, but I did notice it and thought it was rather interesting. And since this was more or less my first (and so far only) detective case in Japan, I will always keep it dear to my heart. See, a few hours after having arrived in Tokyo, I saw my first Japanese milk carton, and it was different from what I was used to. “Wow, milk packaging… super exciting! NOT!” was more or less the reaction I got when I tried to share my observations with the duck. But before you click away, let me explain why I was so surprised. Orange Duck

As you can see in this little picture of the duck with what is obviously a milk carton (okay, I did not take a photo on that fateful day of the milk discovery, so an orange juice carton had to do here), it’s just a plain old paper pack with no plastic dispenser to help pour the contents more cleanly or keep the carton well shut; it’s not one of those you cut open either.
Being the juice enthusiasts that we are (nothing beats a glass of lovely Japanese grape juice!), of course, we always have a pack of juice to look at in the fridge to remind me of my first Japanese detective case and the duck to literally roll on the floor laughing.
So, here it comes *drum roll*: Continue reading

Talking trash

Today I woke up with a mission. And I’ve accomplished it: I took out the trash! I know this looks like a goal that is far too easy to achieve to be rewarding but being the lazy, jobless bum that I am right now, getting up early is a big accomplishment in and of itself. Well, this might still not look like much, so in order to illustrate the importance of this mission, let me go back a couple of weeks:
It is July. The duck and I are sitting at the dining table, opposite the house manager, about to sign our lease. That is when the dreaded topic comes up: trash. We knew beforehand that Japan’s trash rules are strict. But somehow, we had the foolish belief that, since we are not completely new to sorting trash, it could not be that difficult, right? Boy, were we wrong!
lost and confused duckSee, every city has its own trash sorting guide. And ours uses up a solid 16 pages to explain how exactly we are supposed to sort the trash as good, reliable residents. So we just need to read and understand the guide, and everything will be plain, right? Well, technically, yes, but the understanding part turned out to be trickier than we had anticipated. The guide does come with pretty little photographs and illustrations, but what do the designers mean when they give you an image of a pan with what looks like dirty water and a white sheet of paper bathing in it? Are you supposed to build a miniature onsen (Japanese hot spring) for your paper to honor it before you throw it out? Or is this a clever test to figure out which bin to put the paper in – if it turns red, it’s too acidic to be burned (is there a pH strip built into all Japanese paper)? Not being able to read Japanese very well definitely was a hindrance to our quest to become good residents. But the duck and I do not give up easily: Continue reading