After Japan: Culture shock? Differences? What I miss?

Honestly, I don’t think I had any real culture shock experience. However, I do have to say that even though I was there for just three months, I did have a few reverse culture shocks:

  • Food proportions — Japanese food portions are not that tiny. They’re also much healthier: there’s always vegetables. Perhaps because I went to the Philippines before coming home, but I wasn’t used to larger food portions. My appetite was already smaller before, and it got even smaller in Japan. (I don’t think my aunts and uncles believed me when I told them I was not dieting) When I got back to the US, I realized that I had lost 5 pounds while in Japan.
  • How people dress — Of course, people dress a lot more conservatively in Japan. But they also dress a lot neater. (I also think they dress cuter, but that’s a personal fashion preference) It’s like I had almost forgotten that in the US, people dress however the hell they want. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, just that it’s a lot more casual here. I live in California, flip flops abound, which you won’t see in Japan. Japanese people also tend to wear darker colors. I once wore my yellow jacket and two of my tutors both complimented and teased me, saying it looked like I was going on a date. “Why? Is it weird?” I asked. They replied that it’s hade (showy; flashy).

Not to say that there wasn’t anything that didn’t surprise me while I was in Japan. The following aren’t cases of culture shock, just small, little differences that I took note of while I was in Japan:

  • Everything is indeed smaller. Elevators, streets, cars, clothes, the laundry machine, shoes… I couldn’t even fit into XXL size shoes!
  • It’s rare to see anyone with bared shoulders. At the university, you never see anyone with tank tops, for example. Cece once wore a sleeveless top and wondered why everyone was looking at her.
  • When you buy pads/tampons, they place it in a black plastic bag before giving it to you. When I inquired about this to one of our tutors, she said because it is seen as embarrassing.
  • You always close the shouji door behind you after walking into the room. When it’s cold especially, because it keeps the warm air from escaping. When I was back in the US and skyping with one of my Japanese friends, she thought it was odd that I left my bedroom door open.

Things I miss from Japan:

  • THE FOOD — There is never a time I will say no to Japanese food. Ramen, udon, curry, chahan, omelette rice, nabe, takoyaki, unagi, the snacks, miso soup and tea with every meal… so much cheaper than here, since Japanese food tends to be more expensive in the US.
  • Seria — The dollar store equivalent. Except there’s so much more useful things to buy. I bought laundry soap, kitchen items like aluminum foil and chopsticks and dish soap, pens, paper, notebooks, bathroom rub, hair accessories, nail polish, stationery and envelopes, hair trimming scissors… as well as cute things to waste your money on.
  • The awesome toilets — They keep your bottom warm and clean. After I had been home for only a few days, I sat down on a toilet, expecting it to be nice and warm… but it was cold (can that count as shock?)
  • Cell phone — Even just the simple, prepaid Softbank phone (that was about $70) was so nice. Besides being so sleek, thin, and pretty, being able to send mail in Japanese was neat. The emoji and faces programmed into the phone also made it fun.
  • The futon — During the cold nights, turning on the heater and crawling into the futon felt so good.
  • The efficiency of transportation — The JR train system is always on time and so easy to navigate.
  • Vending machines — And the accessibility of milk tea. They are everywhere, so you are never thirsty, and most everything is 100-140 yen.

[Will add/edit this post as I think of more things; last edit: 5/17]


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