Monday, December 15, 2008

Cultural Differences in Japan

Even after living more than 8 years in Japan, I still think some parts of Japanese culture are unusual.  Here is my "off the top of my head" top 10.

10.  It is rude to walk down the street while eating.

9.  Never blow your nose at the dinner table.

8.  Be sure to take off your slippers as you enter the bathroom and put on the bathroom slippers.  Also, there should be no slipper wearing on carpets or in traditional Japanese rooms.  Whatever you do, never forget to take off the bathroom slippers before you come out of the bathroom!  Panic will ensue!

7. It is normal to make a big deal out of other people's kids and put down your own family in the name of humility.

6.  Japanese love to listen to English songs, carols and DJs even if they don't know what the songs or words are about.  English is cool!

5.  Men should not eat many sweets - it is just not a manly thing to do.  Of course you may eat "Men's Pocky"!  (I think I've chosen to bypass this cultural cue.)

4.  Young men usually work just as much on their hair as women do.  (I know because I see them at work in public restrooms.)

Japanese Men Medium HairStyles
3.  It is okay for young men to trim their eyebrows to just the right shape.

2.  Christmas is a dating holiday, not a family holiday.  Christmas cake is a romantic way to celebrate.  KFC (Yes, Kentucky Fried Chicken) is a "traditional" favorite as well.

1.  (Though I haven't seen it for awhile)  It is okay for men to urinate outside against walls in urban places.  - Sorry to end on a crude note, but I don't know if I'll ever get used to that one!

If you live in Japan, (even if you are Japanese!) please tell me the most interesting or unusual parts of Japanese culture in your mind.


SS&SG said...

People handing out toilet paper on the street.

Sandy 何聖欣 said...

Hi - I live in Taiwan and I can say that almost all these things are applicable here too. I haven't heard about the men not eating sweets though, but maybe that is true. Interesting cultural ideas !

Kyle said...

I think I've heard these all some place or another except for the one about blowing your nose at the table - I'll have to be careful about that! I admit to buying Men's Pocky, but really just because I love dark chocolate.

I can't think of any cultural differences that haven't been mentioned already, but something that really bothered me when I was in Japan is all the concrete. Almost every river or creek I saw was encased in a big, ugly, unnecessary concrete bank, and the beaches are even worse, with those giant tetrapods and everything.

stonetoflesh said...

Hilarious, Mark! Great observations. Fawn and I loved the "day in the life" of Noah that you posted. Great blog man. By the way, I write very infrequently, but I posted a blog on here under "fromstonetoflesh". Anyway, God bless you, Maki, and Noah! -Mike and Fawn

Mark and Maki said...

Great to hear from all of you! Mike and Fawn, I'll check out your blog soon. Have a great Christmas season!

Anonymous said...

I was told that I should not go out after taking a bath at night, I will definitely get sick. I went out tonight and could hear my host mother's voice in my head.. 'You must not go out at night after a bath, Maren' :) Natsugashii..


Mark and Maki said...

So did you get sick? : )