Bare shoulders, for one. Cleavage. Tiny strips of visible skin between your shirt and your jeans. (And yet, your skirt or shorts can be so short that I have seen wider belts, and that’s perfectly fine. Crazy crazy.)

But no, I really meant fake-sugar.

Every restaurant and workplace in all of America has fake sugar, usually two or three kinds. The same is true of London, at least for restaurants, and certainly of New Zealand. I imagine it’s true many other places as well. But Japan?

Somehow, no. Which I find sort of surprising in a country so incredibly incredibly focused on being thin.

(Though, okay, some of that seems to be genetics, given the quantity and type of food they eat, though maybe they’re all secretly bulimic or something.)

But while it’s possible to find it at the grocery store – one type, called Diet Sugar, maybe, I don’t remember – for ridiculously high prices, they just don’t have it at restaurants or the school.

Maybe a lot of people drink their coffee black here? I have noticed some of that. Certainly nobody alters tea, though of course green tea is an entirely different beast from black and red teas, much more subtle. (And wrong-tasting with milk, as I have discovered though careful experimentation.)

Whatever the case is, it means I consume a lot more sugar here. Particularly because the coffee isn’t that great at my schools – it is real coffee, rather than instant, which is a nice change from New Zealand, but it tends to sit on the burner for a long time, or in the vacuum-pot dispenser. And it’s very, very bitter.

The school also only has non-dairy creamer, instead of real milk. Though sometimes I appropriate some of my lunch-milk to add to coffee.

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