Traditions: Travel

テーマレストラン Themed Restaurant

テーマレストラン Themed Restaurant

A restaurant that takes Halloween to a whole new level, every day of the year. テーマレストラン (てーまれすとらん・te-ma resutorann・themed restaurants) are getting a lot of attention in the culinary world in Japan.

テーマレストラン Themed Restaurant メイドカフェ or 執事カフェ, take your pick!

What is a テーマレストラン?
テーマレストラン is becoming popular all over the world right now. It is a restaurant that dedicates its 食べ物 (たべもの・tabemono・food), music, set-up, design, and overall feel to a theme. The theme is often quite obvious and it is taken to a very extreme level.

Though the idea of テーマレストラン has been around for a while, it was kept as a family-style and theme park only thing. The more recent テーマレストラン have stepped up the game in terms of the quality and engagement of the setting and workers.

Classic Japanese テーマレストラン
One of the first and most popular type of テーマレストラン that originated in Japan is the メイドカフェ (メイドカフェ・meido cafe・maid cafe). As you may already know, the workers all dress up as maids and refer to the customers as ご主人様 (ごしゅじんさま・goshujin sama・master), お嬢様 (おじょうさま・ojousama・lady), etc. It originated in Akihabara, the Mecca of Anime, Manga, and the Otaku culture.

In response to the メイドカフェ, which are generally catered for male customers, there is now a 執事カフェ (しつじかふぇ・shitsuji cafe・butler cafe), marketed for women, where all of the workers are dressed as butlers and the customers are called お嬢様.

The Variety of Themed Restaurants
The amount of dedication that a テーマレストラン puts into their theme widely varies. For example, there are Vampire themed restaurants that put a lot of effort into the gloomy yet elegant interior designs, but their 食べ物 is normal. On the other hand, there are more extreme テーマレストラン (like the picture below) where the theme of an insane asylum is taken to a point where guests are seated in cells, the 食べ物 is brought in beakers, and the chefs all wear scrubs.

The themes can also vary anywhere from maids, ninja house, haunted house, toilet, dining in pitch black, coffins, cannibalism, recreations of popular animes/mangas and so on.

You don't have to go to Japan to experience テーマレストラン. It's becoming popular all over the world, and with some research, you can probably find one near your house, or at your next vacation destination.

テーマレストラン Themed Restaurant Popular insane asylum テーマレストラン.

Vocabulary

Kanji Hiragana Romaji English
テーマレストラン てーまれすとらん te-ma resutorann themed restaurants
カフェ かふぇ cafe cafe
食べ物 たべもの tabemono food

温泉・銭湯 Public Baths

温泉・銭湯 Public Baths

You have probably been to a public pool, sat in a Jacuzzi tub, and taken a shower in the locker room. You may go to a pool to swim or to a gym to work out, but you probably don't go somewhere just to take a bath.

Have you ever been to a hot spring? If so, was it outside? Did you wear a swimsuit? How much did you have to pay to go in? 温泉 (おんせん・onsen・hot spring) and 銭湯 (せんとう・sentou・public bath) have been around for many years in Japan and are very popular even today.

温泉・銭湯 Public Baths 温泉 is not always indoor. Outdoor onsen, (aka 露天風呂 rotenburo) is also very popular and common.

How to Experience 温泉・銭湯
There are norms and unwritten rules to a "public bath" that you may find to be surprising. First and foremost, you go into a 温泉 naked. Therefore, most 銭湯 have a separated 女湯 (おんなゆ・onnnayu・woman's bathroom) and 男湯 (おとこゆ・otokoyu・men's bathroom).

Once you go in, you put all of your clothes and belongings into a basket or locker, and you walk into the bathing area naked with all of the other bathers in the same room.

There, you must first wash your body, since the 温泉 tubs are meant for already-bathed people. Because of all of the minerals in the water, it is best if you do not wash your body off after sitting in the tubs. However, your body may feel slimy or uncomfortable because of these minerals. You can choose whether or not you want to wash your body a second time, wash your hair, and go back out into the changing area.

Declining popularity
銭湯 were originally used by people whose houses did not have bathtubs or showers. However, as more and more houses started having them, less people went to 銭湯.

This is where 温泉 came into play. By combining the idea of a 銭湯 and providing a place where 温泉 is readily available, more people came. Now, 温泉 facilities have incorporated spas, fancy saunas, and restaurants to attract more guests.

What's so good about 温泉?
Besides just "feeling good" after sitting in a nice hot tub of hot water, going to the 温泉 can have positive effects like relaxing tension in the muscle, improving the appearance of your skin, and sweating out toxins.
For example, 文化の日 is also レコードの日 (れこーどのひ・reko-do no hi・day of records), according to the Recording Industry Association of Japan that coined the holiday in 1957 to make the statement that records (music) are an integral part of culture.

Similarly, in 2002, big-name manga publishers in Japan dubbed November 3rd as マンガの日 (まんがのひ・manga no hi・day of manga) in hopes of raising the notion of manga as an integral part of Japanese culture.

And, of course, there are holidays that seem a bit unrelated, such as 文具の日 (ぶんぐのひ・bungu no hi・day of office supplies) - reasoning being that from a historical standpoint, 文具 and 文化 have the same meaning - you be the judge of whether that makes sense or not.

温泉・銭湯 Public Baths 岩盤浴 - rock bathing

Vocabulary

Kanji Hiragana Romaji English
温泉 おんせん onsen hot spring
銭湯 せんとう sentou public bath
女湯 おんなゆ onnnayu woman’s bathroom
男湯 おとこゆ otokoyu men’s bathroom
岩盤浴 がんばんよく ganbanyoku rock bathing

Trip to Japan

It's 夏休み (なつやすみ・natsuyasumi・summer break) for the students out there! I've always associated 夏 (なつ・natsu・summer) with 旅行 (りょこう・ryokou・travel), since that's when I would always visit Japan. You might think 荷造り (にづくり・nizukuri・packing) is the same for any country you go to, but I've found that there are some things I just need to make sure I have when I go to Japan.

Trip to Japan Things I've packed for my 5 week trip to Japan Everything fit in a 35L backpack.

Essentials

  • Deodorant: This is an absolute must item I always pack from the US. Now, you can buy デオドラント (でおどらんと・deodoranto・deodorant) in Japan, but they just don't work. I don't know what it is about those aerosol deodorant cans, but all they do is send cool scented air to you and it doesn't have the lasting effect many of the US ones do. Even the solid or cream type deodorants in Japan don't work.
  • Cash: People in Japan don't use debit/credit cards as often as people in the US. Many people regularly carry hundreds of dollars' worth of cash around in their wallet every day. Larger stores will accept cards, but there are many stores in Japan that don't even give you the option to use a card. It's okay to use a 10,000円 (えん・en・yen) bill to make a 250円 purchase. It’s not like using $100 bill to buy a $2.50 pair of socks.
  • Two-prong AC adaptor heads: Check to make sure all of your electronics are two-pronged. Three-pronged コンセント (こんせんと・konsento・AC plug) are rare in Japan. Also, the voltage is different (100V vs. 120V in North America). Newer appliances (laptop, camera, cell phone) will be okay with the different voltages, but older appliances will not.

Recommended

  • Tissue paper/handkerchief: Sometimes, when you go into public bathrooms in Japan, there are no ティッシュ (てぃっしゅ・tisshu・tissue) or paper towels. I also see that most people in Japan carry their own ハンカチ (はんかち・hankachi・handkerchief). The interesting thing about ティッシュ is that you'll often find people handing them out on the street instead of flyers or ads.
  • Rail pass: If you're going to be doing a lot of traveling via trains in Japan, look into getting a rail pass. There are many types, but if you want the week-long ones, you need to buy it before you get to Japan. All other types of rail pass can be purchased once you're there.

Trip to Japan Some 公衆トイレ (こうしゅう といれ・koushuu toire・public bathroom) have no toilet paper.

Vocabulary

Kanji Hiragana Romaji English
夏休み なつやすみ natsuyasumi summer break
荷造り にづくり nizukuri packing

旅行 Travel

Travel


It's 夏休み (なつやすみ・natsuyasumi・summer break) for the students out there! I've always associated 夏 (なつ・natsu・summer) with 旅行 (りょこう・ryokou・travel), since that's when I would always visit Japan.

You might think 荷造り (にづくり・nizukuri・packing) is the same for any country you go to, but I've found that there are some things I just need to make sure I have when I go to Japan.

For those of you possibly going to Japan this summer or are planning to anytime in the future, here are some 荷造り tips. We're not going to go over the obvious stuff, this is a list of things specific to Japan.

Travel Please keep an eye on the weight of your luggage!

Essentials

  • Deodorant: This is an absolute must item I always pack from the US. Now, you can buy デオドラント (でおどらんと・deodoranto・deodorant) in Japan, but they just don't work. I don't know what it is about those aerosol deodorant cans, but all they do is to send cool scented air to you and it doesn't have the lasting effect many of the US ones do. Even the solid or cream type deodorants here don't work.
  • Cash: People in Japan don't use debit/credit cards as often as people in the US. Many people regularly carry hundreds of dollars' worth of cash around in their wallet every day. Larger stores will accept cards, but there are many stores in Japan that don't even give you the option to use a card. It's okay to use a 10,000円 (えん・en・yen) bill to make a 250円 purchase. It’s not like using $100 bill to buy a $2.50 pair of socks.
  • Two-prong AC adaptor heads: Check to make sure all of your electronics are two-pronged. Three-pronged コンセント (こんせんと・konsento・AC plug) are rare in Japan. Also, the voltage is different (100V vs. 120V in North America). Newer appliances (laptop, camera, cell phone) will be okay with the different voltages, but older appliances will not.

Recommended

  • Tissue paper/handkerchief: Sometimes, when you go into public bathrooms in Japan, there are no ティッシュ (てぃっしゅ・tisshu・tissue) or paper towels. I also see that most people in Japan carry their own ハンカチ (はんかち・hankachi・handkerchief). The interesting thing about ティッシュ is that you'll often find people handing them out on the street instead of flyers or ads.
  • Rail pass: If you're going to be doing a lot of traveling via trains in Japan, look into getting a rail pass. There are many types, but if you want the week-long ones, you need to buy it before you get to Japan. All other types of rail pass can be purchased once you're there.

Travel Hankachi is very helpful for Summer season in Japan.

Vocabulary

Kanji Hiragana Romaji English
夏休み なつやすみ natsuyasumi summer break
旅行 りょこう ryokou travel
荷造り にづくり nizukuri packing

Packing for Japan

Packing for Japan

It’s almost summer, which means (for some of you lucky ones) - SUMMER VACATION! Well, regardless of whether you have vacation or not, you may have an opportunity to go on a 旅行 (りょこう・ryokou・ trip). This month, let’s go over some 荷造り (にづくり・nizukuri・ packing) essentials for a trip to Japan.

Packing for Japan Even for a seasoned traveler 荷造り can be tricky when going to a new country

Cash
One of the most important issues when traveling - Money. You don’t necessarily have to pack yen in your wallet before going to the country, but keep in mind that 現金 (げんきん・genkin・ cash) transactions are very common and sometimes the only way to pay for things in Japan. For example, it’s perfectly acceptable in Japan to pay for a 500yen item (approx. $5) with a 10,000 yen bill (approx. $100). On the other hand, they may look at you weird for trying to use a card - if they even accept cards.

Deodorant
Deodorants, because the ones commonly available in Japan don’t work nearly as well as the American brands. And it gets very hot and humid in most parts of Japan during the summer. You’d never want to be crammed in a 満員 (まんいん・manninn・full capacity for buildings, vehicles ) 電車 (でんしゃ・densha・ train) reeking of BO, right?

A pack of pocket tissues
Just in case you happen to run into one of those public bathrooms in Japan that don’t have toilet paper. But you only need to bring one if you’re going to a big city. You will likely run into people giving them out for free on the streets (instead of flyers).

Clean 靴下 (くつした・kutsushita・socks)
Japan is generally a no-shoes-indoors country. Carry a pair of 靴下 even if you’re wearing flip-flops in case you have the opportunity to go inside temples, houses etc. Be sure to check for wear/holes.

Additional pointers:

  • Tipping is not a custom in Japanese restaurants.
  • Tokyo escalators: standers left, walkers right.
  • In large cities, avoid public transportation during rush hour. Cramming people into trains make for good photography, but that’s about the only pro.
  • Toiletries, umbrella, poncho - if you forget it, go to a 100yen shop.

Vocabulary

Kanji Hiragana Romaji English
旅行 りょこう ryokou trip
荷造り にづくり nizukuri packing
現金 げんきん genkin cash
満員電車 まんいんでんしゃ manninn densha full train