posted on Aug, 28 2007 @ 06:02 PM
While haggling over the price of a guitar at a music shop in a Beijing shopping mall, I was a little surprised to see the clerk pull out a pack of
smokes and offer me one.
Needless to say I joined him. Being a Canadian, I can`t remember the last time I`ve been allowed to do something like that.
Here in Japan, for what it`s worth, I can smoke most places. Certain cafes are fully non-smoking, and certain others are fully smoking or half and
half... it`s the owner`s decision. It tends to be respected, and no one seems to complain much if told they can`t light up, because there are still
places you can.
Sushi shops, for example, are traditionaly non-smoking. There may be a small room off to the side where you can smoke, but in my experience that`s the
exception rather than the rule. Many places with counter service will be non-smoking during peak hours. That`s fine, I`ve got no problem with that.
In Tokyo and Osaka, there are certain streets you can`t smoke on while walking. They tend to be the approach to busy subway stations. From what I
heard, it started with some careless smoker accidentaly burning a kid on the face a couple of years ago. So there are non-smoking cops that will
ticket you if they see you smoking in the crowd.
There are also clean, maintained smoking areas on these streets, often covered. The Tobacco companies sponsor them, and pay people to come by and
empty the ashtrays and so forth.
At festivals, it`s not uncommon to see a smoking bus: owned by Japan Tobacco, it`s a nice little well-ventilated bus, complete with LCD tvs,
newspapers, and girls handing out samples. It`s a trade off: They ask that we don`t smoke around the kids, so they give us a nice place to smoke
instead. What`s wrong with that? Same at the airports - the smoking rooms at the domestic departures at Haneda are actually quite nice.