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Superstitions

December 29, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

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Click the above image to open a set of photos from a  recent trip I took to Kyoto

Supersitions.

Each culture has their own, and you never really notice the ones from your own culture, as thy are almost always so deeply ingrained that you accept them without question.  Earlier this month I had a business trip that took me to San Diego.  This was great, as it gave me a break from the worsening weather here in Japan as winter makes its presence known.  The real bonus of the trip though was the fact that just that week before my trip, Japan Airlines had started non-stop service from Tokyo to San Diego.  And better yet, it was via the new 787 Dreamliner.

I’d never flown this model of aircraft before, so it was a pleasant surprise.  I believe that different carriers have a choice on how many seats they want to try to cram into an airplane, and Japan Airlines must be commended on its move to actually give you a bit more room than in the past.  Just about every feature of the 777 has been thoughtfully upgraded in the new 787: The personal video screens are larger and sharper, the seats and a bit bigger, the windows are larger and have this cool auto-tint feature, so there is no actual slide-down window screen anymore.  The bathrooms seem more spacious, with a better designed door and fixtures.

All of these new upgraded features were nice and made the entire flight more comfortable.  But what really rocked my world was the meals being served.

I’m not sure if it was a promotion due to the addition of this new non-stop flight, but the meal on the way to San Diego was Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the meal on the way back to Japan was a Yoshinoya Beef Bowl.  (See the pics below for proof!)  Most of the pictures I took on this trip were food and drink related, so I will refer you to the photo link above if you need a Japan-Photo fix, as it opens up a gallery of some images I captured while in Kyoto late last month.

But getting back to the superstition part of this update, when I arrived in San Diego, I made a pit stop in the bathroom before heading to Immigration, so I had resigned myself to the fact that I would be at the back of the line and it would take me extra time to pass through.  As I entered the immigration area I was confronted with VERY long lines at all of the immigration counters.   All but one of them.  Number 4 had absolutely NO LINE in front of it.  Not a single person.  At first I thought it was because line 4 was closed, but then I remembered I had just got off of a flight that was was choke full of Japanese people.

Then it hit me, OF COURSE nobody wanted to take line 4!

You see, the number 4 can be pronounced two ways, either Yon, or Shi.  But “Shi” is also the Japanese word for death, and thus thought to bring bad luck.  That is why many supermarkets in Japan have no checkout line number 4, and buildings will sometimes not have a 4th floor.

As I walked up to the counter in line 4, and I could tell that the immigration officer was confused why nobody had chosen his line up to that point.  So I explained it to him and he had a good laugh about it, commenting that it was just like Americans and their superstitions about the number 13.

So wherever you originate from, be it Japan, America, somewhere in Europe etc, we all have our differences based on the culture we were raised in .  But once you peel back the superficiality of it all, we are all pretty much the same too. ;)

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KFC at 37,000 feet

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Under-flight
I was surprised at the volume of airline traffic zipping up and down the California coast.

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Oh how I have missed you old friend

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Since when did most every convenience and grocery store in America start stoking loads of great beer?

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787

IMG_4906Be still my beating heart, honest to goodness Gyudon on an airline flight!

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  1. Brian
    December 29, 2012 at 4:05 am | #1

    Ah, In-n-Out, definitely one of the perks of living in SoCal. But actually being able to get Yoshinoya beefbowl on a plane is pretty awesome too – looking forward to taking the Dreamliner next time I get over to Japan.

  2. are you still a jerk?
    December 29, 2012 at 7:22 pm | #2

    You seem to have enjoyed your flights so I guess you didn’t have to sit next to any fat people. Honestly, when your posts appeared on my feed again, that’s all that I remembered about you – your rant on fat people and how much you “suffer” by their existence and desire to travel. I’ll be removing you from my feed immediately. There are plenty of great photographers in Asia posting their work online. And they aren’t jerks.

  3. 2yen
    December 29, 2012 at 11:24 pm | #3

    Just like a lot of people, I get irritated when I am inconvenienced by someone, anyone, for just about any reason. Especially when it is for an extended period of time where there is no way for me to escape it.

    I won’t apologize for it though. I get irritated some times, it happens. I’m human. But I am also able to move on and let go of those feelings pretty quickly.

    You are right, there are a lot of great images being posted these days. And most of them do keep their opinions and feelings to themselves, for fear of offending anyone. I wish you peace.

    (I just noticed that you have a dedicated anonymous email for these kinds of comments. Why? What’s the point in voicing your thoughts if nobody knows who you are?)

  4. NLinTKO
    December 30, 2012 at 1:15 am | #4

    The description of counter #4 not having a line put a smile on my face. Very understandable if you’ve lived (or are living) in Japan.
    Greetings from Tokyo!

  5. December 30, 2012 at 5:49 pm | #5

    i’ve heard of the number 4 superstition, but i’ve never seen in in action. the #4 register at my local supermarket (and everything else with the number 4) is just as crowded as any other.

  6. December 31, 2012 at 8:27 pm | #6

    I am so glad you’re back! I miss Japan desperately and have not found another blog that does it for me quite like yours! When we were preparing to move from the USA to Yokosuka, you were my first connection to the area and then my photography mentor (whether you knew it or not!) after we arrived and I bought my first SLR. You’ve been a huge inspiration and I don’t think I’ve ever properly said thanks. So, thanks Jeff! I’m still taking pictures but am now doing pet photography as a business and nature and insect photography for fun in Lancaster PA. One of these days ill get back to Japan. I simply must.

  7. January 14, 2013 at 8:56 pm | #7

    Felix Homogratus, Dimitri Chavkerov Rules! You pay us we post good about us!!

  8. January 28, 2013 at 10:51 am | #8

    You see, the number 4 can be pronounced two ways, either Yon, or Shi. But “Shi” is also the Japanese word for death, and thus thought to bring bad luck. That is why many supermarkets in Japan have no checkout line number 4, and buildings will sometimes not have a 4th floor.

  9. February 7, 2013 at 9:45 am | #9

    So glad to see a post again! By the way, don’t be too overjoyed flying 787′s. next to them being grounded, they are currently not the safest of airplanes… I’m sure Boeing will get it sorted though…

  10. February 11, 2013 at 2:32 pm | #10

    I’m not sure where you are getting your info, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for magnificent information I was looking for this information for my mission.

  11. March 4, 2013 at 9:36 am | #11

    Yay, Jeff is back! :-)
    And besides our fix for Japan photos I’m looking forward on your gear talk about all those great compact cameras that you take with you instead of a big DSLR. Looks like we’ve moved the same direction yet again :-D

  12. David
    May 7, 2013 at 7:36 pm | #12

    Are you going to be in Kyoto anytime this month?

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