Have you ever switched schools when you were young and felt like you had a culture shock? I have! I switched schools four times. My young self thought it was such a big shock since going from strict private schools to a public school can be a HUGE change! Now that I am older and yes we can say it, wiser; I have come to realize a real culture shock.
Living in Japan has been such a neat experience so far and I still have so much time here! I have to say though, some days it can be tough. Just walking down the street you have to remember thing’s you can and can’t do that would be normal back in the states. Visiting a country and living in one are very different! You only learn so much on a short vacation but living in a foreign country you have to learn the normal ways of life so that you are a good guest in the country! No one likes an annoying foreigner!
Most of the thing’s that I have learned living in Japan are such small thing’s that I don’t even think twice about it anymore but to someone new it is a strange act to see! So here it is, ten thing’s Japan has taught me!
Girl! Your squat game better be ON POINT! (Men don’t need to squat as much for this) I am not kidding! I never knew squatting so low just to do number one could be so dangerous! The first time I saw one of these I about fell over! I didn’t even know if I was doing it right! I thought to myself, “Trisha, don’t pee on your shoe!” I didn’t thank goodness! Luckily for you, I have instruction’s for you in case you ever come upon one of these fun toilets!
Photo found on google, author unknown
So there you have it! Yes, Japan has normal toilets as well, even one’s that make noises and have heated seats like the toilet in the movie Cars 2!
Clip by Disney Pixar
2. No soap or towel in public bathroom’s!
I’m not sure if it’s to save money but there is no soap or towel in public bathroom’s! Now, this isn’t true everywhere you go. Sometimes they will have soap with no towel’s but I am always prepared! In most stores they sell little hand towels (like in the photo above) that are the size of a wash cloth. You are supposed to carry it with you when you go place’s to dry your hand’s with. When we are going on trip’s I always make sure to pack a little bit of soap in a travel size bottle along with my towel!
3. Purify yourself before entering a shrine or temple
Since we are on the subject of staying clean, here’s another tip. When you enter a shrine or temple you will always see a kind of alter looking thing that has water with these scoops. It is not required to do this but it is customary to clean your hand’s and mouth before entering. You take the scoop, wash your one hand first, then the other and then cup water in your palm and wash off your mouth.
There are many traditional ways of acting around the shrines and temples and though you are not required to pray at the alter it is respectful to stay quiet and not get in the way of others while they do pray. This custom though I feel is very important and should be done out of respect.
4. Take your shoes off
For some people this act is very common but not for everyone! Where I come from it isn’t abnormal to be asked by someone to take their shoes off before entering the house but it isn’t done everywhere! When I came to Japan I knew this rule ahead of time but it’s still strange to me to have to take my shoes off before going into someone’s house. If my shoes are off I am comfortable with you, so me taking off my shoes just feels weird when I have to do it with people I don’t know well! I don’t like feet!
Some restaurants will require you to take off your shoes and you must leave them by the door. Carrying them with you to your table is considered to be dirty and the locals will give you funny looks! Some place’s have slipper’s that you can put on to wear while you eat or shop since some stores also require this.
I most recently learned that when you enter a changing room at a store to try on clothes you are supposed to take your shoes off. I did not know this and learned this like the third time I tried on clothes somewhere…oops!
5. Shoes with socks is okay?
Photo by: Maegan Tintari
I need socks! I cannot find socks that aren’t ankle or higher! The Japanese fashion is to show off cute socks with your cute shoes! I can’t get into this style, I like my socks invisible! It was one of those thing’s that I noticed when I would walk down the street!
6. Don’t be a picky eater
For eleven year’s I was a vegetarian, no meat’s or fish but I did eat eggs and dairy. I only started eating chicken in the past year, still no other meat’s or fish. So I am a flexitarian now. Even though I now eat chicken it’s still hard eating out. Pork is the main meat used in meal’s here in Japan and I HATE pork! I have never EVER been a fan and won’t ever be one! Some restaurant’s may say chicken noodles but it might have pork broth. So my advice to you is, don’t be a picky eater! Your life in Japan will be a lot easier if you eat everything! I do try as much new food’s as I can!
7. Wear a mask when sick
Everywhere you go you will always see someone with a mask on their face. If you have a cold or even a small cough it is customary for you to wear a mask so you don’t spread germs. A small act that probably keep’s a lot of sickness from spreading!
8. No personal space
What is this thing called personal space? I have lost the ability to comprehend it!
Everywhere you go it will be crowded! Walking down the streets, shops, restaurants, trains, everywhere! There have been many time’s I have had to get close and personal with strangers and at first it was very weird for me! I love my space! Being here for almost a year now has really changed that though. The train’s are beyond the worst when it comes to crowds.
For month’s I have tried to capture just how packed these train’s can get but most of the time I am right there being squished to death with everyone else! The photo above was me trying to capture one photo, didn’t turn out so well. People will literally shove others into the train’s to make themselves fit. Is there a weight limit on those things?
9. How to use the train’s
As you can see, when you catch the train at the right time you can relax, look out the window, sit and just enjoy the ride.
Using the train’s in Japan are big! The main way to travel is by train and it is also cheaper since tolls are very expensive when driving! It is very confusing at first but once you do it a few times and get lost some more times you will get it! Hyperdia is a gift from God when it comes to traveling on the train’s! It will give you exact times and amounts for your trip! When using this tool don’t use the app, use the website. The app has been wrong before and doesn’t work right.
10. Fear the roaches!!!!!!!!
I saved this one for last because this is one I have been told and have yet to experience. Many people now have told me that roaches are VERY bad in Japan around the summer season! I arrived in Japan during late summer so by the time I got here most of the roach problem was over. I am terrified for this summer to come!!!! I do NOT like bugs and I will be putting myself in a steel box and not coming out till winter!
I’m sure as time passes I will learn many more thing’s from Japan and I will share them with you!!!
To be continued…
© 2015 TNG