I’m now into my seventh year of overseas living, and most things about the Japanese culture and way of life have stopped shocking me. Now, they simply just ARE. I’m used to them, and many things that would’ve never crossed my mind before have become second nature. I’m adapting. And in the process, there is much I’ve not opened up for the viewing of others, simply because I’ve forgotten the ‘normal’ western experience. So… I’ve been musing lately about how my little dailies are inherently different from those of my western counterparts. For example:
-I bow. All the time. I bow when the car stops so I can cross the street. I bow when I say thank you. I bow when the cashier hands me my change. I bow when I get on the bus, and when my neighbors pass our house. I bow in greeting and in departure. It’s just so very normal now.
-Instead of napkins, we have a box of cheap tissues we keep at the table. I don’t miss napkins at all.
-I use a convection oven/microwave instead of a big oven/stovetop. And I’ve had numerous turkeys in that thing.
-I bathe with my children. As in naked, together, in the bath. I love it, and some of our best conversations happen in there. (Also, I never have the common, western-mom problem of, “I can’t find time to shower!”) When I mention to my Japanese friends that this is not common in Western culture, many of them remark on how their children always open up their hearts and share their stories in the bath. “When do they talk to each other?”
-Someone from our family is at the grocery store almost every day. We usually fill up a small basket and spend around 2000 yen.
-Our toilet has its own room, and I can’t imagine it any other way. It seems so strange when we visit the states to pee and shower and do my makeup in the very same room. How do I keep the baby from playing with the toilet bowl? Where do I go when someone needs to use the toilet, but I’m getting ready? Honestly, the hygenic side of it all has won me over.
-Also related to the toilet, we have a bidet and heated toilet seat (as do most Japanese households), and I LOVE it. If I ever move from here, I will buy and ship a Japanese toilet seat ahead of me.
-We have rocks for a yard. Big ones that you can climb on, and little ones all around. I forget what it’s like to take a walk and smell fresh grass clippings. I miss that.
-I use Japanese every day, and because of this, my English vocabulary has shrunk. Mainly, I have trouble coming up with those vocabulary words I used to be proud of knowing and using. And sometimes it’s not even big, smart-sounding words — it’s colloquial, everyday words that I just don’t remember because no one around me is using them.
-Though we have a bed, I looooooooove sleeping on futon. Not the American “foo-tawn”, but a mattress on tatami, with a big, heavy comforter on top. I always sleep insanely well. Maybe it’s the subconsious understanding that I won’t fall to the floor?
Anything you’re interested in hearing about life in Japan? Or anywhere away from your home culture?