Monday, April 26, 2010

Cultural Learnings…

You can buy all kinds of awesome products in Japan. I am sort of fascinated by the posters and product packages over here.

My first night in town, I saw a rather large Pocky and Pocky-knock-off section at the 24-hour convenience store. My favorite item was the Toppo “for men!”

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Outside of my hotel in Okinawa, there were a few garden beds with this posted warning sign:


I am unsure about whether they dislike the meat, the bun, the condiments or the whole package … but keep your cheeseburgers out of the No Cheeseburger Zone!

Next up: the pants press. My very small hotel room in Okinawa had very little floor space that wasn’t covered by the bed, but they found enough room for a pants press. The hotel rooms in Ishigaki were a bit bigger, but the entire hall had to share a pants press… luckily triathletes don’t wear a lot of pants?


If you are a crab and you like to ride the monorail, be careful around the doors or you might damage your claw. The vast majority of warning signs and advertisements in Japan seem to feature cartoon animals.

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There was also an ad on the monorail for a show called “The Opening of a New School.” I thought that maybe it was a play being performed in Naha/Okinawa, but we later saw these characters on TV in Ishigaki. So our best guess is that it is a Japanese knock-off of High School Musical. I found something about each of these characters’ style and posing to be really intriguing…


Upon arriving in Ishigaki, I was ready to grab some lunch but I had a hard time finding a place with an English menu. So I just went with the “point at something that looks tasty” method.


The upper-right beef/soup/noodles was a good choice. Unfortunately it looks like somebody didn’t avoid those automatic doors on the monorail and their claw ended up in my miso soup!

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Ben and I managed to find a restaurant with an English menu for dinner that night. It was called the Garlic House, or something like that. We had many creative and tasty garlic dishes, but the most memorable had to be the deep-fried roasted garlic. Check out Ben’s faux-hawk that he decided to rock for Monterrey and Ishigaki.


The English-speaking menu must have attracted another popular trend that we saw in Japan: t-shirts with collections of English words that didn’t really make grammatical sense to us. You can’t quite see this girl’s entire shirt, but it says something not-quite-sensical about winter fading into spling. Not “spring,” but “spling.”


On Thursday three of us went for an ocean swim near the Intercontinental Hotel. Their bike parking area was a bit far from the beach and close to the main road, so we asked if we could leave our bikes closer to the office. They let us leave them on this rubbish pile. There are at least $15000 worth of bikes in this picture:

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Our hotel in Ishigaki had room service, and they also sold a few a la carte items at the front desk. The Ishigaki Beef Chips sounded very tasty, but I was especially curious about the “TBCL NUTS & CRACK.”


Next to the Max-Valu grocery store in Ishigaki, we found a little slice of home: KFC! Complete with a life-size statue of the Colonel himself, standing outside to greet visitors:


Inside the grocery store, there were too many wondrous products to ever possibly document here. But we did find this intense display for xylitol mints. Dave Messenheimer used to love picking up these mints or gum in Asia since you can’t get it in the US.


The best section had to be the beer section. There we found such popular brands as “Zero Life” and “Relax.”

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But our favorite type of beer had to be Okinawa Prefecture’s own, Orion. Not just any Orion, but the Orion in the special commemorative Ishigaki Triathlon can:


We also snagged a delicious red pineapple to snack on back at the hotel.


At the welcome party on Friday night we got to watch traditional dancing and music performed by local high school students.

We also got to taste sweet potato ice cream for the first time.


I could go on for days, but I should probably wrap this up before I start posting pictures from the afterparty … well, okay, one picture from after the race: a tasty treat called “Crunky!” You must do your best to look crunky while eating Crunky!


The night only got more Crunky from there on out! International Karaoke Madness!!!


  1. Hey Chris, I just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your blog. You post alot of great inside information on pro races and on training which I love reading about. I'm sorry the WC didn't go as great as it could of but even doing one WC is a great accomplishment.

  2. Thanks for the positive feedback, Sal. I'm glad to hear that you're getting a kick out of these blogs posts.

    Hopefully I will have a happier story to tell after the Ixtapa Continental Cup on May 22nd. Now that I'm a "World Cup Guy," a CC should be easy, right?

  3. Haha, more cartoon sign documentation and convenience store items please.