I know that every country is different, but Japan is from a whole ‘nother dimension. Japan has such distinctions from other countries. Their culture is so unique. Their attitude is like no other. I’ve been in and out of Japan; six months in Okinawa back in 2014 and now, residing on mainland Japan for another six, so far. And I’m very glad for having this opportunity to immense myself to their awesome country.
Disclaimer: These are based on my experience while living in Japan. Some of the lines here may sound like I’m poking fun of their country, but I’m really just drawing the differences of living in Japan from any other places I’ve been to.
1. I’m going to a castle!!!
I was so excited when I got invited to go to a castle. When I think of castles, I visualize those dreamy, grand castles I see in fairy tales of towering heights, sturdy constructions, and ornate architectural designs. When I got to the first Japanese castle I visited, all I see is wooden structures. Even the insides are empty spaces, and all wood.
When you go inside a Japanese castle, like it or not, you have to remove your shoes. You either leave your shoes outside or put it in a plastic; that way you are not spreading stench all over the castle like a skunk. 🙂
Japanese castles may not be those dream-like, magical, fairy tale castles, but they still are imposing, stunning, and magnificent looking castles.
2. Lost in Translation.
I was so ready to relax on this massage chair. I sat comfortably and smiling, but then I saw that they have a remote with Japanese writings on it! Man, I didn’t want to just press anything. I was afraid that if I press something, the chair would eject me to the roof. 🙂
Be prepared of the language barrier while here in Japan. Don’t worry, Japanese people are nice people; they will work with you if you ask for assistance.
3.Take a bow.
Japanese are the most polite, respecting and humble group of people I’ve encountered with. They have manners, and so much etiquette. They take a bow when they greet, when they say “hai (yes)”, when they say “arigato (thanks)” or when they say “gomenasai or sumimasen (sorry/excuse me)”. Of course, they bow on shrines and temples. Right when you walk in a restaurant (or store, sometimes), they greet you immediately. So, when you are already inside and sitting in a restaurant, you will constantly hear greetings, after greetings, after greetings, after greetings, after greetings, after greetings… If it is a busy restaurant, your ears will bleed after you’re done eating. 🙂
Japanese give such great customer service. Nobody tips in Japan, they don’t fake their politeness. There was this one time where a guy chased me out of the restaurant, down an escalator, just to give me back my change that I forgot to get. They are just the nicest people.
Japanese people like to say “konnichiwa” with a bow. It’s nice that they do that. When I hike, however, my eyes grow big, petrified like I’ve seen a ghost, whenever I see hordes of people coming towards my direction. That’s a lot of people to say “konnichiwa” and bow to. Konnichiwa and bow, konnichiwa and bow, konnichiwa and bow, konnichiwa and bow, konnichiwa and bow … I konnichiwa-ed and bow-ed more or less 716 times in one hike. By the time I was done with hiking, not only my feet are hurt but my back as well from being all bowed out. 🙂
4. Life is like a Japanese restaurant. You never know what you gonna get.
I once entered a restaurant where their menus are all in Japanese and no English translation, and not much pictures on it. I didn’t want to just leave the premise so I just got me an easy order of dumplings instead.
You may not know what you’re getting, but Japanese food are soooo delicious. They are incredibly cheap too! Even convenient stores have the best meals. Seriously, you can have a very decent lunch at a convenient store. Convenient stores here really are convenient. 🙂
I once entered a sushi carousel restaurant. I looked at a table on the opposite side of me, and they have gathered a jenga of sushi plates. I looked at them, and they are all skinny! I was in shock. I don’t quite understand how Japanese people maintain their bodies composition.
If you’re ever in Japan, do yourself a favor and give in to Dydo Melon Shake (picture above). It’s heaven in a can. It is so good. It is so so good. Consider it my best Japan recommendation. You may find this at vending machines. You can see vending machines in every corner in Japan, especially in Okinawa.
Care for some hot noddles?
It would not surprise me if I see a vending machine in the middle of a farm field. 🙂
5. Cute, Cute, Cute, Cute, Cute
Japanese TV shows, ads, billboards, even warning signs!, cars, anime, karaoke, pachinko, fashion, food, … Everything looks all happy, colorful, lovable and cute! You know those times when you’re stressed out or having a bad day and someone else is being overly cheerful and trying to get you to smile even though you don’t feel like it. That is how ridiculous adorable and cute Japan is. Their positiveness and cheerfulness is infectious too.
They are always smiling! They’re happy and festive.
Japanese people are “matsuri” people. There are countless of festivals in Japan. It’s ridiculous how many festivals they have that it’s overwhelming to pick which festival to go to.
I love Japan. I’m so grateful for living in such a “foreign” land. These are my moments, and I’m so ready for some more exploration and adventure. Japan is so unique that it is full of the unexpected and surprises. I’m more than happy to embrace more of their incredibly unique and rich culture.
FYI: Did you know that there is a Japanese book called Norwegian Wood that has the lines “Life is like a box of chocolates.”? The book was published in 1987, and the movie Forrest Gump was in 1994. 😉