After two weeks of adventures with my bro in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo, I can proudly say that I experienced that “WTF is happening” moment or what some may refer to as the notorious “culture shock”.
My first WTF moment already happened after ten minutes of arrival at the airport during my precious toilet time. That particular moment changed my future toilet experiences forever. Maybe this comparison gives you a sense of what I mean: if there was a toilet Pokémon, this would be the last evolution of it.
Why? First of all, the seat is heated which in the beginning kind of creeped me out, cause I thought it was warmed up by someone else’s ass. Luckily, this was not the case, it was all electronically.
Secondly, a mini fountain magically appears from inside the toilet when you press one of the many buttons next to the toilet. And it sprays right into that sexy booty of yours.
Some toilets even make sea noises, so you can go crazy on it and nobody would notice a thing. How cool is that? Would have been nice to have when I was on a date and I had to shit like crazy. Oh well, shit happens.
But how fascinating this topic might be, let’s move on to the next cultural difference. In domestic places such as hostels and houses, but also certain restaurants, you have to take your shoes off. While in my country, we just walk around wearing shoes at home, carelessly spreading dirt everywhere. I think this Japanese habit is my fav, cause I could look at my awesome socks all the time.
Before I started my trip to Japan, I just hoped to eat a shitload of sushi in there. I mean people can have dreams, right? Of course, in every trip nothing goes exactly as planned. This is one of those examples.
So this sushi Valhalla that I had in mind (where instead of Starbucks on every US street corner, it were sushi restaurants) did not exist. Just noodles, noodles and noodles restaurants everywhere. At least it wasn’t a big struggle to figure out what to eat for dinner every night.
Even though my sushi expectations didn’t really meet, my hopes about karaoke did come true: literally every Japanese bar we went to had karaoke. Even if we didn’t see one, we just had to ask the bartender and a karaoke set appeared from out of nowhere.
Many beautiful songs died those nights thanks to my brother and I. The only awkward thing was that the Japanese were dead serious when they sang karaoke, while we shouted like psycho Belieber fans.
Later, I discovered that the karaoke microphone keeps track of your vocals, so you can win points (depending on your singing skills, of course). But I guess it wouldn’t have mattered for us anyway.
Another thing I was wondering, was why some people were wearing surgical masks in public. They couldn’t be all physicians on lunchbreak I figured. I knew one reason was because of air pollution, but it turned out that most people actually wear it because they’re sick. So they wear surgical masks to prevent them from sneezing their snot in someone else’s face. I think that’s the politest thing I’ve ever heard.
Besides illness, some women wear masks because they want to hide their face when they didn’t put make-up on. This is because the Japanese consider public spaces as formal places. Therefore, they expect people to look proper in public. There even exists fashion in surgical masks.
But my Japanese friend assured me that I didn’t have to worry about it, since those social rules only apply for Japanese people. Not sure if he was being nice or it was an implicit insult…
During one of my only tours in Japan, my tour guide told me that a beauty standard of Japanese teenagers is to look cute like a girl doll (called kawaii in Japanese). So if you ever wondered why some Asians on social media use cat whiskers or pink cheek filters on their photos, now you know. I think I prefer this over teens that are obsessed with looking like slutty Kardashians.
And as western women like the Kardashians wear foundation to look tanned, Asian women wear foundation to look white. Isn’t the world a funny place? In general, this has to do with money. Asian countries associate wealth with a light skin and poverty with a dark skin.
In western (mainly cold) countries, it’s the other way around because people with money can afford to go on holiday and thus catch some sunlight, while others have to stay inside the office to work.
Luckily, my faith in humanity was a bit restored when my tour guide informed me that it also has to do with beauty. In Japan, a symbol of beauty is Geisha. In short, a Geisha is an elegant lady who wears white facial paint and has a huge black hairdo and wears kimonos 24/7. She also hosts and entertains rich people in all sorts of ways, but mostly by making music and dancing. So because Geishas are beauty icons, Japanese women desire to look like them as well.
After my trip to Japan I realized that my fellow country mates and I are a bunch of filthy animals, compared to Japanese peeps. The Japanese waste less time on cleaning their house, they do not spread their bacteria everywhere, and they have a very shiny butthole.
But considering the mutual desire for either a tanned or a whitened skin, we can argue that both parties are all fucking racists. So what’s the moral of this story? Exactly, if you want to eat Mexican food with your date, do it in Japan cause their toilets make sea noises.
Which cultural difference did you find the most surprising? Sharing is caring! 🙂
Look how kawaii this café is awwwwww.