Only in Japan…

…are you unable to buy anything but full fat milk…or pretty much full fat anything, yet Japan has the lowest obesity rate (alongside Korea) of all developed countries.

…are the construction barriers on roads shaped like cute animals and lit up like Christmas at night, so that they create danger rather than ensure safety.

…are pets revered more highly than children and have dedicated pampering parlours, apparel stores and are often seen being pushed around in prams by their owners.

…are sleeveless shirts considered risqué, but bathing naked in public with family, friends or work colleagues is regarded as an enjoyable pastime.

…are two way roads the width of one car.

…are most of the population unable to read a newspaper, not due to lack of intelligence, but because the written language is so complicated.

Only in Japan…

…does the sport ‘soft tennis’ exist, which lives up to it’s name as a poor substitute for normal tennis.

…do construction workers wear MC Hammer pants to work (apparently for climatic reasons, not aesthetic).

…do people apologise, as opposed to saying goodbye, at the end of a phone call.

…do people completely ignore the dangers of smoking and think it’s cool to ‘light up’.

…do plurals not exist.

…do vegetarian burgers have meat on them.

…do a group of 15 year olds watch in awe as you construct a banana and chocolate topping sandwich from your school lunch items and call you ‘amazing’ and ‘intelligent’ for doing so, because they lack the imagination or ability to differ from the collective.

…do doctors tell you not to bathe when you are ill.

Only in Japan…

…is it completely acceptable for men to carry handbags. No, not manbags, handbags.

…is it considered attractive for young women to wear high heels that are two sizes too large, meaning they have to walk around pigeon-toed to keep them from slipping off.

…is my birth year Showa 56, as opposed to 1981.

…is it social unacceptable to blow your nose in public, yet they give you free tissues EVERYWHERE…on the street, at the post office and even while sitting at your desk.

…is it deemed acceptable to blatantly ask a person their age and income and expect a serious and accurate response.

…is it necessary to open all the windows in a room to clean it, even in the middle of winter.

…is walking and eating considered rude.

…is it normal for people to peel grapes.

Only in Japan…

…can you find a hundred different KitKat flavours, including wasabi and soy sauce.

…can you find neck ties and vacuum cleaner bags being sold in a vending machine…the same vending machine.

…can you use a scrunchie, have a mullet, wear a matching tracksuit or shave off your eyebrows and be considered the height of coolness.

…can grown men go to photo booths, do ridiculous poses and obtain photos in which they are airbrushed within an inch of their lives…for fun.

…can you order a meal from a vending machine.

…can I lose my job, be refused entry to public spas and be accused of being a member of the Japanese Mafia because I have a tattoo.

Only in Japan…

…will kids wear shorts to school in winter, even when it’s snowing outside.

…will people sleep anywhere.

…will your olive oil solidify in the pantry, condensation freeze on the windows and water be unavailable (due to frozen pipes), because the houses are not insulated, do not have double glazing and are basically built ignoring the fact that there are sub-zero temperatures to contend with in winter.

…will poo (yes poo, not Pooh) be idolised and have stickers, ornaments, confectionery and stationery designed in it’s honour.

…will a student completely freak out if you give them a blank sheet of paper to draw on, without telling them what size the picture should be, what colour and how many pens they should use, how much time they have to draw it and how it will be marked.

…will teachers tick incorrect answers and circle correct ones.

…will you be given cling wrap as a present for participating in a children’s sports day.

Only in Japan will you learn the true meaning of ‘culture shock’ and begin to treasure the comforts and familiarity of home more than ever…

7 thoughts on “Only in Japan…

  1. Right, I'm afraid I'm going to be confrontational here and take issue with you on the whole 'most Japanese people can't read their own newspapers' thing.

    This was something I heard a lot when I first moved here, but which, frankly, isn't true – or at least, it isn't true in the sense that the average Japanese is no more or less likely to be able to read and understand an article about economic theory or scientific research, for example, than a British person with a British newspaper or an American with an American newspaper.

    Have a read of this – particularly the bit about MacArthur – and hopefully you'll see what I mean:

    Actually, the whole AJATT homepage has lots of inspiring stuff on it about how to get over the whole 'Japanese is inherently difficult' barrier (something that's perpetuated by the Japanese just as much as us gaijin, as it happens).

    Yours devil's advocate-ly!

  2. Thanks for the link, very informative. I must admit, my statement was based purely on the fact that EVERY time I mention to a Japanese person it's me dream to read a Japanese newspaper the reply is 'Oh wow, I can't read one'.

    I tend to agree that Japanese people are prone to exaggerating the difficulty of the language but I am by no means discouraged from trying. Still aiming for N3 in July and we will see what happens after that.

    Apologies if I caused offence, it was not my intention at all.

  3. No offence taken and none intended either! I too am not discouraged from trying, despite the fact that most of the people I meet seem to alternate between pretending the language is more difficult than it really is, and being ridiculously over the top in their praise of my very limited ability, neither of which makes me feel any better about the situation…

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