Negative Google Maps Reviews in Japan that Forget to Faction in Culture

I try not to be too depend on Google Maps reviews, just like I try not to be too depend on Amazon reviews. However, I will admit that they generally can influence the restaurants I choose to go to. Or the hotels I choose to stay at. Or the sightseeing I plan to do with a limited amount of travel time.

…Okay, so I guess I rely more heavily on Google Maps than I thought.

This morning, I had a breakfast date with an old friend in Umeda, Osaka. In general, I noticed that breakfast restaurants or pancake houses are more rare in Japan than out in the States, and I honestly had never gone out for breakfast in the Umeda area. Meaning, it’s Google Maps time.

I pull out that sucker and start looking for places to eat. Although I’m typically open to window shopping for restaurants, this time, I was limited on time and wanted to find a decent place for the two of us, and as a rule of thumb, I generally go for places with around four stars and up on Google.

Which is where I noticed a bunch of very good, reputable restaurants with some not-so-great reviews. I wondered what justified these reviews, so I started scrolling.

And this is where I started thinking a bit more education on Japanese culture might help people to think twice about posting ignorant reviews.

Now, to state the obvious, I won’t be analyzing any high-horse whiners, who post shitty things like, “they cut my sushi too thick, i like it thin” or “this shopping mall is a maze like constructed building, prepare to get lost” or “its too narrow!1! too crowded!” or “the staff didn’t speak english”. As we know, these don’t have anything to do with the restaurants, food, or service whatsoever, just the salty griping of a self-centered creep that probably shouldn’t have access to technology at all without proper respect. As a wise woman once said, “You can’t fix stupid.”

Anyway, disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to analyzing and interpreting.

TOO SMOKEY (at a shopping venue)
I understand this reviewers frustration, but it may not be the shopping mall’s fault, since smoking tobacco cigarettes are still a thing in Japan. When I ask around, though, I find that the times have been changing, and you’ll find less and less smokers as time goes on. In general, tobacco is now developing a bad image. Although you’ll still might be greeted in a restaurant with a, “Smoking or non-smoking?”, I also know that the amount of smoking sections out in public is dwindling. Also, honestly, I’m not sure what the vaping or electronic cigarette scene looks like out in Japan (can’t say I’ve looked), but I’m willing to bet that it may rise with the fall of tobacco, but mere conjecture on my part. I mean, cigarettes still make bank out here (you can buy these things in vending machines, for Chrissakes), so who can say.

THE LINES WERE TOO LONG, HAD TO WAIT (at a museum)
I see this every once and a while. Trust me, I feel cramped and tired of waiting. We all do. But in Japan, this is a cultural difference where we just need to put up and shut up. There are a lot of people in Japan, and we all are expected to wait patiently for our turn. You can see this type of line-forming very prominently when you line up to get on the trains, for example.

OPENING TIME (at a grocery store)
I saw a review once that complained about the late opening time of a grocery store that opened at 9:00AM. News flash, most places in Japan open around 9:00AM. Or 10:00AM. Or 11:00AM. Or if it’s a mom-and-pop shop, they can open and close and have regular holidays whenever they feel like it. And that’s okay.

I think in America we’re so used to having everything open 24-7, that when a place is closed, it’s a “major inconvenience” to us. Rather than feeling inconvenienced, just feel grateful that the hard-working grocery store employees can get the rest they deserve and come in to work at a decent time. Surely, we can wait.

THEY MADE ME HIDE MY TATTOO (at a public bath)
Part of me thanks this reviewer for their warning, but I’m not sure this onsen really deserves such a strongly-worded, negative review. At many public baths, you’ll find signs that say, “No Tattoos”. The meaning behind this is because, traditionally, having a tattoo meant you were involved with dangerous people, like yazuka. Understandably, they didn’t want to serve customers that potentially worked for the mafia, and also probably feared having them inside.

Of course, now times are changing, and more and more foreign people are starting to come to Japan to enjoy their hot springs. Meaning that – I sincerely hope around 2020 Tokyo Olympics – Japan will become more globalized enough to understand that tattoos are a fashion fairly common among foreigners, and cut us some slack. It depends on location, of course, but this is a changing phenomenon in Japan. Instead of whining about it, or getting mad that “they just don’t understand me”, please understand where they’re coming from, and just do as your told. “When in Rome…”

Advertisements

How to Search for a Japanese Drama on the Vast World Wide Web

So I just got done watching a pretty decent mystery drama today on WOWOW called 伝説の監察医 オニグマの事件簿2 (Densetsu no Kaisatui, ONIGUMA no Jikenbo 2). It was super enticing, had a lot of great plot-twists (that my Agatha Christie junkie sister probably could’ve spotted way earlier than me), and a few of the actors were overall really good at their jobs, I thought. I don’t want to spoil anything, but if you’re interested in some entertaining detective suspense, I recommend giving it a shot.

But here’s where you’re like, “Runa, getoutta of tooown! This show is being aired right now in Japan! If it’s not on my Netflix or Youtube (or Piratebay), then how am I supposed to find it on the vast world wide web?!!”

Let me introduce you to the keywords for your Google search engines:
動画まとめ (douga matome)

Simply insert the name of the “in-Japan-only” show you wanna watch, in this case:
“伝説の監察医 オニグマの事件簿2”
Then add:
“動画まとめ”
=
“伝説の監察医 オニグマの事件簿2 動画まとめ”

If you’re not comfortable with typing it out, remember; copy/paste is your friend. Do not be ashamed to use the copy/paste.

Here, I’ll just take a few quick screenshots to help you get started. I start off on Google. Which has an awesome Winter Paralympics animation going on right now, btw.

01

And here’s where the monotony begins. Just like those familiar with googling something like, “Walking Dead Season 1 watch online” (for those still following Walking Dead, that is), you’ll probably know and love this tedious step of going through website after website (hopefully with Deep Freeze on your computer to avoid viruses and other internet nasties) until you find a mirror that works. The internet is vast. Tread carefully.

This time, I got extremely lucky and found a vid on my second try:

02
030405

And fellow Japanese study-ers, break out that dictionary, flashcards, notebooks, and whatever else you use to build vocabulary, because yes, it’s movie time!

In general, I have a lot of luck using this website: http://youtubeowaraitv.blog32.fc2.com/

06

It’s mainly sorted by date when the TV show was aired, which I’m sure is great if you use a schedule (I don’t), but if not, there’s also a handy-dandy search engine for you to use, too.

I hope this helps, you fellow drama watchers, you! Happy and safe googling out there!