Sep 6

WITLife is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends together with her own observations.

Today’s news did a special investigation on the favorite foods of foreigners visiting Japan.  The results were displayed in an easy-to-read pie chart which showed soba/udon at the top with 20%, sushi and yakitori tied for 18%, ramen at 13%, okonomiyaki at 9% and 22% for other.  The average total amount of money spent on food per day was 3352 yen (about $40 at today’s exchange rate of 84.125 yen to the dollar), thanks to cheap, filling meals like a serving of yakisoba for 200 yen at a local matsuri.  With lodging for 2500 yen per night at a hostel, this allows for a pretty cheap stay in Japan despite the current 円高 (endaka or strong yen).

This survey marked a shift from the popularity of more upscale foods like sushi to more everyday dishes like noodles.  Many foreigners interviewed attributed their interest in ramen to the fact that they had encountered cup ramen in their home countries and wanted to try the real thing (I recently read Andy Raskin‘ s The Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life, a both painfully honest and entertaining memoir about the author’s quest to overcome his personal problems and meet the inventor of instant ramen, Momofuku Ando).  The news showed gaijin trying tsukemen (ramen but the noodles are separate and you dip them in the soup), monjyayaki and takoyaki, with running color commentary (“She can use chopsticks well,” “He’s sweating profusely”).  They then challenged two Englishmen working on bowls of udon to slurp their noodles to comic effect.

Another section of the news did an International Smiling Grand Prix between representatives from the countries of Japan, Russia, America, Thailand and France.  It was based on a type of Smile Scan technology used in Japan by companies such as KFC to get their employees to improve their smiles.  The scan measures a variety of facial features to give you a score anywhere from 0 to 100%.  Each country’s team had three members, and the final results had the Thai group with the highest combined score at 91% and Japan with the lowest at 46% (in between were Russia followed by the U.S. and France).  But thanks to coaching from an on-site “smile specialist” who was watching the proceedings, the Japan team was able to have a better showing the second time around.

Comments are closed.

Page Rank