Japan is, in some ways, stuck in the stone age. This weekend I saw a keychain device that is supposed to diffuse electric shocks from doorknobs in winter, which is something that sounds like it would be invented only when some bored scientists have too much time on their hands after discovering the secret to life, the universe, and everything, but just not feeling like telling anybody else about it. Then today I was advised to turn off the water in my apartment via knobs in the floor. Now I sure am used to Texas weather where we had to treck outside in the 30° temperatures (oh no!) to wrap the pipes outside the house. First I had to pop up the metal cover, then lift the knobs out of the floor like nuclear reactor deactivation rituals in movies. But after spending an embarassing amount of time trying to figure out which way to turn the knobs, I finally heard an ominous creaking sound that sounded like a haunted house was shifting in its foundations. I'm guessing it was the valve closing. Now I don't mind the nuclear knobs, and I especially don't mind that I don't have to go outside to do this, which is actually pretty cool, but come on Japan, couldn't you have some better sound effects? Like, a zap or whizz? I'm quite used to being disappointed in the technology here (they still use kerosene heaters!) but really. So behind the times.
(Although I might mind having to turn the knobs on and off for every faucet whenever I want to use them when it really gets cold.)
Today we met the new lady for the Japan study abroad office, who was in town to learn about everything. She asked us about our schools and what things were like, and I answered truthfully, that the kids are pretty good, but since they try to come to school in makeup and sneak cigarettes after class (so I hear) we get along pretty well. She had a momentary look of horror in her eyes, and I hope she didn't think I was encouraging these behaviors. I just meant that they aren't all cookie cutter suburban kids and they actually have personalities and lives. But she's probably smart enough to realize that.