Japan Days

June 16, 2017 at 16:36 (Uncategorized)

When I first arrived in Osaka I was so culture shocked and ill that I thought I was going to have the worst three weeks of my life.  By the fourth day, I was okay and ready to explore. Not knowing kanji was the biggest thing for me – I could read nothing. I couldn’t even recognise anything. I thought I would be fine because I’ve read about Japanese culture for years, I chat to H every Sunday (he’s Japanese) and I’ve watched many, many shows about Japan and Japanese culture as well as general TV show/movies. But being there was totally different. Social norms that I knew about weren’t habits for me so often I would find myself responding (or not responding) to phrases or customs causing awkward pauses. Luckily by nature I’m cautious and hesitant to engage so nothing terrible embarrassing or rude happened.

By the end though, I was really enjoying myself and will definitely go again.

Futon – I have a semi-fit 36 year old Western body. The futon nearly killed me. When I first ducked into the room, I thought I’d been given two duvets. Next time I’m paying extra for a bed. Not getting a full night’s rest for three weeks meant I was often tired in the afternoon and exhausted when I returned home.

Noise – everything has a tune or a jingle or a chime. On many occasions I would end my exploration and go back to the guesthouse for quiet. Shopping Streets were the loudest with pachinko parlors and anime areas being the worst. Everything is also bright and happy and cute – my melancholy self couldn’t handle it. This is the third reason I couldn’t live in Japan.

Japanese – I had some kind of thought to practice my Japanese while I was there, and learn a little more, but I didn’t. And not because the people around me spoke mainly Kansai. I just never felt like it. It seemed like hard work while on holiday. Also the Japanese are similar to the Finnish – they don’t really talk to strangers on the street.

Japanese Food – As expected, Japanese food isn’t to my tastes. It’s difficult when you don’t like umami, seafood, fish, seaweed, ginger, wasabi nor green tea. I ended up eating mostly Western styled food from Lawson (convenient store). It’s not a diet to live on and gets pricey after a while, but it’s fine for holidaying. This is the first reason I couldn’t live in Japan.

Yen – Not being able to use my card for purchases was somewhat annoying. Only being able to get cash from a 7 Eleven was annoying. Planning trips involved planning drawing money which included exchange rate fees and daily limits. Keep note of how much cash was in my wallet was strange – mainly coz I don’t carry cash in my wallet.

JR – The railway system in Japan is complex. However, the stations, platforms and trains are all clearly marked in Japanese and English, and colour coded. There are also constant announcements in Japanese and English. The trains have screens showing the route and the next station. The bigger stations include Korean and Chinese. It’s not as difficult as you first think. You just gotta stop and actually read the signs and follow the arrows. Strangely, the subway has an American accent for announcements and the JR lines a British one. After reading about the horror of rail travel in Japan, I’ve come to the conclusion that some peeps just don’t pay attention. Or write articles very badly. But I love JR and the suica card.

Tall with green eyes – I got stared at a lot. It got uncomfortable very quickly. I stayed in a poorer area with lots of old people and I towered over them. I was taller than the younger generation but not a lot, and they tended to be more accustomed to Westerners. This is the second reason I couldn’t live in Japan.

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