Today, in a Facebook miniature back-and-forth, a few friends and I discussed the extreme situation of smoking in Japan. I specifically mentioned how I had thought that Europeans smoked a lot. That is, of course, until I came to Japan.
Here, in Japan, people smoke practically everywhere. There are signs on the sidewalks declaring it illegal to walk and smoke, yet people do it anyway. There are official smoking stops around all the public places (train stations and malls and such), as well as smoking rooms in most establishments. However, smoking is also permitted in the main areas of most establishments (mostly restaurants and bars of almost any kind, it feels). And, even if it is not allowed, and there is a separate smoking room, you will find your hair and clothes fully permeated with the reek of cigarettes after your meal, as the air systems just pull smoke right from wherever people are smoking, into the restaurant where you’d thought you’d be free of smoke.
Essentially, once I leave my apartment (save the grocery store and clothing stores), I am surrounded by either diesel or cigarette fumes.
And, possibly the worst part about the smoking, is that people smoke the crappiest of crap cigarettes. You know the ones, I’m sure – the ones that just plain hurt, they’re so nasty, and which hardly even have a tinge of tobacco (as opposed to ones that uphold the original intention of smoking tobacco by smelling of tobacco).
Now, while the floor in malls with restaurants usually allows smoking, the levels with shops do not allow it. There are usually several smoking areas in these malls, though, oftentimes indoors, but sometimes only outdoors.
Tonight, as a friend and I were wandering a mall to find food, we stopped at a bathroom on one of the shops floors. And, in the bathroom, what to my wondering ears and eyes should appear, but a terrible smell and a grey line of smoke. Rising from the occupied stall next to mine was an undeniable rising of cigarette smoke.
I mean, Really?!?!?!?! Goodness gracious, Japan.
I told my (Japanese) friend when I left the bathroom, and she couldn’t believe it. “Go look!” I told her.
She did. She came back laughing at the utter ridiculousness of it, and in near-disbelief. We were both flummoxed, though I somehow was hardly surprised at it. People here just smoke like no other. Truly, they do.
They be crazy up in here, yo!