If you have ever been outside your own country, you most likely have experienced some form of culture shock. In fact just visiting another city or town can make you aware of how things are done differently all over. In Japan, some things are so surprisingly different for foreigners that there is some uniformity in the shock value. Any Japanese with their eyes and ears open can be aware of what is most shocking to many foreigners. It is makes for fascinating conversation, “What is most surprising about Japan to foreigners? I heard…” This riveting subject matter prompts reflection, a moment of feeling good about one’s culture, sprinkled with the ability to and laugh at oneself.
Here is a list of 9 things foreigners experience when first visiting Japan (according to Japanese columnist Ryoko Kozakai over at Excite, at least):
1. High tech toilets – Only in Japan can the toilets be baffling! Automatic opening and closing lids and the recorded flush sound to cover up what you are doing are pretty impressive. But there are buttons for gadgets and gizmos that you could spend a good hour trying to figure out. Where’s the flush? Usually it is sensor activated so you don’t even really need to worry about it. Oh, and the buttons have cute little images on them so even if you can’t read the Japanese you can figure them out.
2. Trains are never late – If for some unavoidable reason, like power outages, earthquakes or floods, the trains are late, then apologies are made profusely over loud-speaker. This is particularly surprising for people from areas where train delays up to an hour are daily occurrences. Japanese are famous for their punctuality. It is amazing how many people take naps on the train and are still able to wake up in time to get off at the right stop. It is also pretty amazing that they are not robbed of their wallets while they catch up on their sleep!
3. People eat their fill and don’t get fat – It is surprising to see. “Why are Japanese people so slender?” The secret is in the fat content of the food. Japanese food is healthy and low-fat. (There are plenty of foods to get fat on in Japan, but many of those are western influenced)
4. The 100 yen shops have an amazing variety of products on sale – American dollar shops cannot compare. You can get anything from food to footwear. 100 yen shops are a good place to replace broken dishes, rice bowls, soup bowls and individual serving dishes, not bad for a 100 yen. Visiting foreigners love 100 yen shops!
5. Most Japanese aren’t affiliated to any religion, yet they enjoy religious holidays - Christmas would come to mind here as well as Halloween. What a surprise! Japanese have made these their own special events. The Japanese Christmas is a time for couples to go out on a date, and for families to eat strawberry short-cake decorated with Santa, christmas trees, and Elves. Trick-or-treating has never caught on, but Halloween is a time for people to have costume parties, the home party becoming increasingly more popular.
6. The Japanese Bath, or ofuro, is marvelous - No other people take such pride in their ofuro as the Japanese. But for people who find daily showers sufficient enough, the Japanese bath culture is a bit shocking. Sento, the public bath houses as well as onsen, the hot springs offer the opportunity to get naked among strangers and soak in, more often than not, a beautifully relaxing atmosphere. Still public baths are just peculiar enough to make this list. The bath technology in family homes is also something to be amazed about. Push button temperature controls prepare your bath, and re-heat mode turns tepid water hot again. There are even controls to keep moisture down when the tub is empty. Your bath tells you when it is ready with an announcement in a gentle female voice, a remarkable feature!
7. Women dress well – Women in general are fashion conscious, taking care to dress at least properly more than anywhere else. Not that they dress like the models in fashion magazines all the time, but even the most casual clothing follow the silent rules of how to wear them. There just doesn’t appear to be anything haphazardly put together in women’s fashion, the casual is very well planned.
8. Young women carry brand named bags – Expensive brand names are usually carried by older women and celebrities elsewhere, but not in Japan!
9. Women pay the bill at the end of a meal – Most dates go dutch. When the family goes out for a meal, nine times out of ten, the woman can be seen paying the bill. That is a surprise! But not really, when you consider that in most Japanese households the husband turns the paycheck over to his wife for her to manage.
What is perfectly normal for any Japanese proves to be an eye-opening experience for the foreigner. If there were time to delve into more surprising cultural shockers this list could go on indefinitely. But it is time to close with this video: The World in Two minutes, Japan, where you can see first hand how entertaining culture shock really is!
Source: Excite News