The more I hear, the more different it seems. For instance, nose blowing in public is frowned upon. Yep that's right. It's polite to sniff until you and your mucus can be alone together in private. I was already aware that tattoos are generally thought to be signs of gangster culture in Japan and showing them openly is not really acceptable. Mine tend to be hidden by my t-shirts so I should be ok.
I heard today that when you pay for something with notes you must proffer the note over the counter whilst holding it in both hands, not just one hand as we would do. When you sit down to a meal you should never pour your own drinks. It's rude. You have to pour for each other. Then there are the chopsticks or hashi. You must never point at people with them nor must you stand them upright in your rice. Why? Don't ask, I don't know.
But while we are talking about chopsticks I have to say that they are crap really, aren't they? As far as eating utensils go they really are the bottom of the pile. I realise that they have thousands of years of tradition behind them but so do flint axes. Move on. Before you ask, yes I can eat with chopsticks but I find it slow and annoying. I like to shovel a fork full of delicious tastes into my mouth in one go. Surely there is no one who would fail to see the culinary superiority of the knife and fork or, come to that, the spork. The spork is a three-in-one implement that combines the facets of a spoon, a knife and a fork as its name suggests. I am putting one in my luggage but I will probably find that it's rude to use them in company.
I don't know if Japanese soup is served with similar spoons to those provided in Chinese restaurants but again these seem to be a functional failing to me. These large pottery creations just can not compete with a simple metal spoon.
Back with the chopsticks; why do the countries that use them seem to have the slipperiest mushrooms in the world? Chopsticks and slippery mushrooms are not made for one another. Talking of slippery food, I once happened to be having breakfast in a hotel in Epping Forest alongside a small party of Japanese tourists when I saw one chap lean his face close to his plate of full English and edge his uncut, fried egg on to his fork. From here he put it to his lips and sucked like you might with noodles. The whole egg disappeared into his mouth in one go. Admirable.
So, it looks like Japan is going to be an adventure and a big one at that. I look forward to learning lots and experiencing loads.
Note: This blog was not about Rome but the band CUD had an album called When In Rome Kill Me