Sometimes it’s the little things

There was a student in class the other day that asked me what things surprise me about Japan, and that question became the inspiration for this post.

In the moment I said food, but over the next few days some ideas came to mind. The list below mentions a lot of small differences that I never thought would be a major deal. Turns out the small differences are the ones I notice the most..

But what it all means is I just have a lot to learn about Japanese culture. During my first few days here one of the teachers joked that I was majime (serious) because he always saw me working. But that’s how I perceived the work culture.

Another time, a teacher admitted that he ended up playing computer games at home when he should have been creating an English exam, and that was really funny, mostly because it was so unexpected!

So here is a list (no particular order) of some other things that have surprised me about my new life:

  1. The food is different and I eat rice almost every single day, multiple times a day. Fruit is also very expensive.
  2. Milk is sold by the quart, not the gallon, and is not as cold as it is back home.
  3. There is no indoor air conditioning, either at my school or in my apartment. However there is an A.C. unit to cool off machines in the teacher’s workroom.
  4. There is a washing machine, but no dryer, in my apartment.
  5. I change my shoes upon arriving at school.
  6. You drive (and bike) on the left side of the road.
  7. Teachers, and even students, will go out of their way to help you. Everyone is extremely kind (not too surprising!) 🙂
  8. This winter I get to insulate my house!!
  9. Silence isn’t taken for rudeness.
  10. It’s very kind to give gifts (omiyage, simple presents)
  11. Everyone, including some teachers, rides their bikes to work!
  12. Trash has to be separated into different bags before it’s thrown out. The different bags are collected on different days. (i.e. plastics, cans and bottles, burnable and non-burnable garbage)
  13. Taking off shoes in some restaurants is required
  14. Degrees are measured in celsius







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