Subject: Re: Japan
Hi Debby,

You made some great observations. Isn't travel wonderful?:-)

One of your observations is that people don't give up their subway seat for pregnant women, old women or women with babies. That's not a surprise. It wasn't all that long ago that japanese women were supposed to walk 7 paces behind their husband.

The japanese culture is not very supportive of the idea that women are equals. There are very few women executives and most women who work in offices have to wear pink blazers and serve tea to their bosses who are always male. My first visit to Japan was with my husband who was there on business. Every night his client company insisted on taking him out for drinks and dinner. Though they knew his wife was with him, an invitation was never extended to me unlike every other country I accompanied him on business trips to (Hong Kong, Russia, England).

Australian friends of mine lived in Japan for a few years and their first child was born there 15 years ago. My friend said it was just awful to have medical dealings there as a woman. Her ob/gyn got angry when she questioned him about her pregnancy. The attitude is "do as I say and don't ask me anything" The doctors - all male - don't believe in epidurals and japanese women cover their mouths with pillows so that no one hears them scream during childbirth and "bring shame" to themselves. Don't know if this has changed or not within the past 15 years.

When I was getting on a crowded train in Tokyo a couple of years ago, I was headed for an empty seat and a japanese man who saw me headed for it, bolted past me, hurting my shoulder badly, so he could get to it before me. He saw me in pain, couldn't care less and went on to read his paper. I had japanese men scoot in front of me to get through a door first - not to keep it open for me, but rather in the spirit that they should go before me.

There's no such thing as chivalry in Japan. LOL!

Since you were dining alone you probably never noticed this, but in Japan there is only one menu on a table. I'm not sure of the reason for this. But we would always ask for a second menu and though we got it, we also got strange looks with our request.

Candice NYC