Thursday, 2 April 2009

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"hisashiburi" 久しぶり which translates to "after a long time". It's heard most often when you see someone again after a long time and basically means "It's been a while/Long time no see". For me it applies to my aunt, cousin, and the general country of Hong Kong, where I'm staying from April 1-19.

In truth, when I was getting ready to come here, I wasn't really expecting much. It's not my first time here and there are lots of parallels to draw between HK and Tokyo, so it couldn't be that hard to adjust, right? But, as I've found in one simple day out, HK and Tokyo are vastly different despite similar outward characteristics like lots of people in a small place, lots of tall but narrow buildings, and lots of taxis (below right).

The biggest thing is simply that while Japan always feels like a country where the image and the reality can (and are) quite different, Hong Kong has a distinctly "straight-forward" feel to it. People certainly aren't as courteous be it in shops, restaurants, or in the street. But having seen my share of aggressive or gossipy Japanese people beneath the image, seeing people in HK simply just being who they are is..... well...... not good, but..... refreshingly honest, let's say.

The city itself looks like that too. Each of Tokyo's areas look as they should whether it's a high-tech business hub or a rustic area surrounding a temple. On the other hand, HK just looks like it was built as is, on whatever budget the builder could afford, and not fixed til it broke. Lots of buildings darked by age sit right next to (or on top of) big office towers while street vendors sell their wares in stalls/shacks.

Even the fashion sense here is slightly different. People somehow look slightly less trendy, as if they saved a dime here or there whenever they could while many Japanese look like they subsisted on cup-noodles just to buy real things at real prices. As I mentioned before, there's a very real sense of honest pragmatism here...

Of course, I promptly went out shopped amongst the pragmatic vendors. There's lots of great deals to be had considering everything is made in China and those factories seem to have no qualms about making an extra few "samples" to ship over. Fakes can still be found but I have honestly seen things for sale in Japan (an Edwin messenger bag, for example) sold here at half price.

Shopping aside, it's been great just being here spending time with my aunt and cousin. And their absolutely insane Pomeranian, Lola (left). And on Saturday I'm going to see my grandpa, which I'm excited about. Oh, and getting my Chinese back up to speed of course =P......

4 comments:

H said...

I love your comparison between the 2 cites, that have so many things in common but yet so different. You do have a deep understanding of both cultures. Good job.
Happy shopping!

Dad

Lawrence said...

Thanks =)..... I, too, was quite surprised how similar yet how different they are... well, I suppose that's why I'm out here heh...

Anonymous said...

I have to say, in my BRIEF exposure to both cities, I really appreciated the straightforward-ness of HK much more. I found something about the poser, must-fit-in-nature of Tokyo unsettling. But then, what do I know, really?

BTW, Lola is not insane, just enthusiastic!

Lawrence said...

I suppose..... Personally, I tend towards the Japanese side because some people here I just find flat out rude.

People in street markets I can understand, but visa offices or subway stations?? Would it kill a public service employee to smile or be polite once in a while?? =P

And yes, Lola is very enthusiastic heh..... luckily she's small, otherwise my legs would've been torn to shreds by now hehe....