16 September, 2009

An expert on Australia and Japan, both

Still talking about questions, there is a strange phenomenon we've experienced. In Japan we're expected to be Australian experts. In Australia we're expected to be Japanese experts. In Japan we have been asked questions like: Why do Australians eat raw vegetables like capsicum? Australia is hot, isn't it? Why do Westerners keep their tables clean, but not their floors? If you were to advise someone to go to one tourist destination in Australia, where would that be? In Australia we've been asked questions like: My niece's mother-in-law's cousin is travelling to Kyoto (city of many million). Can you tell me a good church she can go to? I've heard X (read - obscure fact), can you comment on this? What side of the road to Japanese drive on? Why? Actually the last question was asked of us today. The first part is easy - left. The second part not so easy. When I got home I typed the question into Google and came up with this article. You can look it up, but just in case you're only a little bit interested here is my summary. The samurai carried their large swords on the left and so, to avoid entanglement, took left-side passage. Later, in the 1800s, Britain helped Japan develop railways, so Japan took on their left-side system. Railways expanded to include trams on the roads, and so the traffic followed suit. When the US occupied Okinawa after the war, the traffic switched and remained so until 1978 when they switched back to match the rest of the country.

4 comments:

JN said...

My favorite question was asked in '98 or '99. "How are things different now that China has taken over?" I tried to explain that Hong Kong is some distance away...

Anika Qing said...

I think it's like that with most things. I tell people I study the piano and get random questions about the tuning system of an instrument I've never heard about.

Interesting about the samurai, though...

Ken Rolph said...

Weren't you saying that Japanese roads are too narrow to be able to drive on sides?

Wendy said...

Ah Ken, now I can tell you've been reading my blog! I think I said that some roads are too narrow to be able to drive on both sides - not all roads!