Friday, December 7, 2012

Gaijin: Life on the Outside

Japanese culture is, obviously, really different from Western culture. There are a thousand little differences you encounter everyday that remind you how far away from home you are and can induce culture shock. Like being expected to pay in cash everywhere you go, no matter how big or small the purchase (this is a biggie when you come from a credit-card loving country like America.) Or when you order steak and potatoes at a famiresu (family restaurant) and the potatoes are three, sad, borderline anorexic little things that you eat just to put them out of their misery. (And that's not really a biggie unless you come from an Irish-American family like I do, where we eat potatoes like Asians eat rice.)

It's like the potatoes are trying to hide their sad, shriveled little selves behind the chicken. It kind of makes me want to cry.
The thing is that the longer you live here the fewer surprises there are, and the more these little things just start to seem normal to you. Now I actually like corn on my salads and speaking in a polite, indirect way when the occasion calls for it. Even being naked with a bunch of old ladies and small children at the onsen is not the awkward experience that it used to be.

Looks nice, right? Now imagine it's full of obaachan...