Respect for Hakone, Japan

Japan makes me feel like a changed person after visiting.  I can’t think of another country that coats its streets with a sound muting barrier.  It’s a country that I think actually prefers enough silence to hear a pin drop.  For everything they do, there’s a deep level of respect.

Relaxing in an onsen (natural hotspring) is a time honored tradition that embodies this attitude.  During a family trip to Tokyo, we visited Hakone , a short hour train ride outside of Tokyo.

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The water was clear, cherry blossoms just beginning to sprout, and the sky was a  calm cerulean blue.

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Source: Yamanochaya site

The Yamanochaya Ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, was our wooded sanctuary, replete with amazing meals and open air baths.  I had the sensation of bathing in a hot babbling brook.  Our toddler had a ball padding around the tatami rooms and having unprecedented access to the low table.  Quite the family friendly vacation.

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source:yamanochaya site

Our traditional kaiseke meals were an intricate multi-course symphony of ingredients, assembled with seasonal elements and balanced flavors.

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Sakitsuke (Hors deouvres)

Tofu made from Ankimo (Monkfish liver).  Topping: Broccoli, Wolfberry fruit
Boiled crab and Japanese parsley flavored with soy sauce
Japanese pond smelt fish deeply fried with rice granules
Castella made from vegetables, fish paste and white of an egg

I could live in Japan for the food alone.

Best Food Court in the World-Bangkok

Food courts have a bit of a negative connotation in the US-they tend to be fast food joints in malls aggregated in a single mess hall of quick cheap dining.  They exist for the convenience of the shopper rather than as standalone dining establishments.

In Asia the feel is a different.  While they are still usually reasonably priced, there’s a broader mass appeal.  Going out to eat at a food court is still a sensible Friday night choice.  When I lived in Singapore I probably ate out more often at food courts (sometimes called hawker centers)  than restaurants.

Singapore food courts were amazing.  Food Republic must have been some type of revolution at some point, freeing asian cuisines to the masses.  This chain of food courts were indoors, relatively cleaner, and airconditioned. (in contrast to the outdoor hawker centers)

And then I went to Bangkok for probably the umpteenth time. I randomly ran into an old friend who had married a local and was now living in Bangkok.  He took us to the best food court I’ve ever been to hands down.

The newly built Central Embassy mall is fairly high end and foot traffic is low, so it is quiet in there.  Their new food court features all types of Thai cuisines, with separate stalls for northern, southern, northeastern Thai, vegetarian, seafood, and street food.

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Marinated street pork, Beef salad, Galangal chicken noodle in coconut milk, and best pork satay with peanut sauce I’ve ever tasted

The food court is kid friendly, with a few high chairs and a tuk-tuk for the kids to play in.  At the door everyone gets a dining debit card/pass that allows you to charge food.  Each stall will hand you a receipt and staff will help retrieve the food once you give them the receipts.  Fast, easy, delicious!

 

3 ways to heal post #election2016

Politicking aside, this election has brought gender wars to the forefront which is of great interest to parents.  Having worked in male dominated industries most of my life, I’ve found myself uniquely aware of differences, both assumed and unassumed.

In the Atlantic’s “Fear of a Female President” Peter Beinart, contributing editor, highlights the disproportionately aggressive and personal reaction to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.  Campaign propaganda “Don’t be a p*ssy. vote for trump”,”Trump that bi*ch”, “Life’s a b*tch: don’t vote for one” underscore a provocative and gender based undertone to attacks. Hillary’s possible ascent to leadership is triggering gender backlash that is unlikely to recede even if she’s elected, just as research suggests Obama’s election may have led to greater acceptance of racist rhetoric.

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Pinterest Source

Psychologist professor Lisa Feldman Barrett has studied a classic phenomenon in Hillary Clinton’s Angry Face, that people perceive emotion differently in men’s and women’s faces.  Women are more likely to be perceived as having emotional responses (caused by something internal), whereas men are likely to be thought of as responding to a situation.  In other words, “She’s a b*tch, but he’s just having a bad day.” However scientists have not discovered gendered hard-wiring for emotionality/rationality or a gender based difference in emotional experiences.

Key takeaways:

  • Look inward.

Awareness is the only way to fight biases.   When dealing with others ask yourself, if this person were a man instead of a woman (or vice versa) would my reaction be different?

  • Break through stereotypes.

Stereotypes serve to limit both men and women.  As Emma Watson urged in her UN speech, both men and women should feel free to be sensitive or strong.

  • Remove the gender filter.

Judgements often come with a gender focused lens, even for toddlers.  For the active girls: she acts like such a boy.  For the shy boys: He’s acting like a little girl.  Realize that these are human traits, not gender traits.

After an increasingly antagonistic election, America’s biggest challenge will be unifying a divided nation, especially along the gaping divide of gender.   It is mostly perceived differences that provoke the greatest disagreements, but we have to be able to convince ourselves of that.

ChartedWaters worked over a decade in finance, traveled to 54 countries on 6 continents, and now blogs as an expat mom in Hong Kong.  Charted Waters is currently taking the Social Media Marketing Specialization with Coursera.  Connect on twitter @charted_waters