Reverse Culture Shock

4 Aug

I have been living in Japan since 1990. Most of my life now.
In that time I have only visited America three times. With a family of five, such a faraway vacation is too expensive.
Our most recent trip to America was to Florida in early August 2004…exactly ten years ago now.

It’s been so long since I’ve been to America, it feels more like a foreign country to me now. Japan has become home.

It was fun to visit America, but I’m not really used to it anymore, I guess. I experienced “reverse culture shock” when we went there in 2004!

First of all, the flight. We went there in August because my kids were on summer vacation from school. That is a peak travel time so airline jack their prices way up! So, I looked for airline that was one that had a good safety record but offered the lowest fare.
We decided to fly with the American airline “Continental Airlines“.
The flight itself was fine…they got us to America and back safely, on time, and with all of our luggage. But I guess I might be too used to Japanese customer service because the attitude of our cabin attendant was surprisingly bad.
I heard her audibly sigh when she was asked a question by another passenger.
And my kids (who were still elementary school students at that time) wanted more of the complimentary snacks that they gave passengers…so I asked her when she was passing by us if we could get some more – and she snapped “No!” and continued on her way without further explanation!

Maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal…and it isn’t, I know. But that would be unheard of behavior in Japan, so I was surprised.

My next culture shock came in the airports in America.
We started our journey to America at Narita Airport in the Tokyo area.
In Japan, people don’t use their cellphones for talking so much. Emailing through the phones is much more common. And when people do talk with their phones, they do so somewhere away from other people and talk quietly.

I never gave that a second thought before. Even to me, that just seems like normal phone manners.

I came to Japan before cellphones were used by anyone, so I had never even seen a cellphone in America before my trip there ten years ago.

Before we boarded our plane in Japan, everyone in the airport who was using a cellphone was doing so quietly by just sending emails. And when we got off the plane at the airport in America, it was totally different!
There everyone was talking on their phones…loudly.

I don’t want to seem like we didn’t enjoy our vacation in Florida in 2004. It was a lot of fun…but it didn’t feel like “coming home” – but like visiting an interesting foreign country.
Probably because most of my life, and my entire adult life in Japan…I really only lived in America as a kid and teenager…so Japan feels like home.
In fact, after eating American food everyday for two weeks, everyone in my family (including me) starting actually dreaming about the food we wanted to eat once we returned to Japan!

I love ネギトロ丼 (“Negi-toro-don”).

On our drive to the hotel from the airport, I noticed a “Taco Bell” fast-food restaurant. It had been years since I’ve eaten at a “Taco Bell”, so I decided to go through their drive-thru window.
We ordered some tacos and five soft drinks…two medium and three small. The “small” size colas at were bigger than a “large” in Japan! And the U.S. “medium” drinks were too big to fit in the car’s cup holders!
If I had known they were that big, I would’ve ordered one medium for the five of us to share.

Similarly, the clothes in American stores were so big! It was difficult to find our sizes.

Also, I was never sure who to tip or how much. Tipping isn’t done in Japan so I’m not used to it.
I tried to tip everyone in America because I didn’t know who was and who wasn’t expecting one. Gas stations, the rental car place, the hotel cleaning lady, waitresses…
And I probably over-tipped them too because I wasn’t sure how much to give them.
It began to get stressful wondering “Am I supposed to leave a tip here?”

Another event that happened which surprised us because it would never happen in Japan:
We went to a small beach side restaurant for dessert. We each had a slice of cake.
The cakes came and looked good…but they were hard to finish. In fact, my kids couldn’t finish theirs. The cakes were so sweet! Way too sweet!
That was a bit shocking…how different the food tastes. But what was the real culture shock was when I went to pay the US$21.60 bill. I gave the cashier $22…and he told me that he doesn’t have enough coins in the register to give me my 40¢ change!
He said “It’s alright, isn’t it? It’s only 40 cents!”
I didn’t know what to say. Sure, it was only small change…but, in Japan, if a store didn’t have ¥40 in coins to make change, they’d give the customer a ¥50 or a ¥100 coin rather they just assuming they can “keep the change”!

Like I said, none of these events “ruined” our vacation. We still look back on them as “only-in-America” situations!

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47 Responses to “Reverse Culture Shock”

  1. mvbennett January 13, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

    I have to say I had a totally different experience from yours returning to the US but definitely haven’t been in Japan as long as you have. I actually have to say I was really refreshed by the service I got everywhere I went while I was back, but I’ve always gone to places in New York that have good service. American clothes being too big is a constant problem though, and I know there are a lot of people my size in the US.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tokyo5 January 13, 2017 at 2:30 pm #

      >I have to say I had a totally different experience from yours returning to the US but definitely haven’t been in Japan as long as you have.

      How long (what years) did you live in Japan? What part of Japan?

      >I was really refreshed by the service I got everywhere I went while I was back

      Do you feel that restaurant service is better in America than in Japan?
      I guess it depends on what you’re used to. I didn’t mention it in this post, but I didn’t like the waitressing at restaurants in America. They kept coming over to our table to ask us, with a big smile that felt fake, if we needed “anything else”. I prefer the service in Japan, where a waitress comes to your table only when you call. It’s what I’ve become used to, I guess.

      >I’ve always gone to places in New York that have good service.

      On our very first trip to America, in the mid-90’s, we visited New York. I felt that many people there were rude and impatient.

      Like

  2. Jennifer Williamson September 22, 2014 at 3:46 am #

    Lots of things you touched on are true. The sizes of clothing being huge (for some reason in some places it’s common to see people wearing clothes way too big for them as a fashion statement of some kind) and potion sizes at some fast food places. They can be HUGE depending on where you go. I have never been outside of the U.S, but Japan is in the #1 spot on my lists of places I would love to visit. I love any things about the culture, how they incorporate things from the past into the present, and the way of life. I would love to experience those things first hand. (And the food…I can’t leave out trying some of the foods there!) I’ve always wondered about living there, how it would be as far as working, making friends, and the social lifestyle in Japan. Did you find it hard to get used to the differences between living in the U.S and living in Japan?

    Like

    • tokyo5 September 22, 2014 at 8:58 am #

      >potion sizes at some fast food places. They can be HUGE…

      Actually, sometimes Japan offers unbelievable portion sizes (Click here to see an example)…but it’s not the norm here.

      >Japan is in the #1 spot on my lists of places I would love to visit.

      Yeah, you should definitely visit Japan if you get a chance!

      >Did you find it hard to get used to the differences between living in the U.S and living in Japan?

      Yes, of course. I experienced culture shock and I missed America sometimes when I first came here.
      But I’ve become more used to Japan than America now!

      Like

  3. Derekuma September 20, 2014 at 10:58 pm #

    WHY leave…

    1/ I was falsely accused of causing an accident [ on bicycles ] which caused minor injury & broken glasses to an old lady, who demanded I paid a fortune for the glasses & injuries .

    2/ about same time I was hit by a car on my scooter & again being blamed [ car went thru a red light ], & I had to pay for car & scooter repairs.

    3/ my contributions to the Health insurance did not get to the Health fund , [ some how , still not sure how ], they were corruptly taken by a Public servant, resulting in having to pay almost $10,000 in the 7th / last year I was there.

    4/ My in-laws hated the fact their daughter married a Gaijin,they though I would do the typical Gaijin thing & leave her after few years.

    Thru all of this I could not defend myself for any of this because I could not speak Nihongo.
    AND , I was working 3 jobs , 6-7 days [ willingly ] .

    .. it was extremely stressful & frustrating for my last 18 months I was there.
    It all added up .

    [Been married 22 years ].

    Like

    • tokyo5 September 20, 2014 at 11:47 pm #

      Wow! I’ve been here over two decades and I’ve never had even one event like those!

      You had bad luck!

      Like

  4. Derekuma September 16, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

    Expensive, YEP, that is why we a bimbo,…. but it is an education for HER future one can not put a price on.
    No, she goes to a local [ to Oji-san’s house] school.
    Work, said it was loaded question,.. just work in general, I have little to no nihongo, [ too many hours teaching english not enough playing with Japanese way back when]… but remember I spent 7 years there so I know how it works over there, i.e. , not like anywhere else in the world.
    I know they like the “young tall dark uni student ” type & it is 35 year since I was fitted that discription.
    However I have noticed a big move to ” cyber ” teaching, Skype & the like I assume & lots of little ” private” schools [ one man bands I assume] have popped up.
    My thing was kids, loved teaching kids, no one else did so I got all the work.
    So for us to move back , which is a high priority, work of some type is needed. It is nearly impossible to solve that from here.

    Like

    • tokyo5 September 16, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

      If you had a job here and you want to live here…why did you leave? (just wondering…)

      Like

  5. Derekuma September 14, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    Hi, first visit to your great site [& first comment], just spent an hour reliving my 7 years [ 1988 -1994 ] in Tokyo thru the pages of your site. Many thanks for the memories. Well done.

    I am an Ozzie & had the same reverse culture shock coming back to Oz in 1994. 20 years later I still desperately miss Japan & my 日本 wife & 10 old daughter would be back in a flash if I knew I could get work.

    The comments above are typical, in the 1990s we did not have blogs to voice what is above, so I would follow comments on the back page of the Japan Times & I can assure you , it was E X A C T L Y the same things were said back then.. !

    In fact the “extra bag of complimentary snacks” was a case in point I remember reading way back in 1990-ish.

    Sadly, it is EASY too say “no” to an extra bag of complimentary snacks, but trying to teach that same person the rewards & great feeling one gets for the appreciation on the children’s faces when the answer is the 日本 style ” just a moment please ” followed by the bags a few mins later is not so easy , I would say impossible & the “value added ” to the experience from a business perspective is just not recognised out side of 日本 .

    I am waiting for the day that all people are like our “half” children and all the “good” things from each culture have come together & no one gets upset about these differences.

    Like

    • tokyo5 September 15, 2014 at 9:59 am #

      Thanks for the comment. Have you and your family revisited Japan since you left in ’94?

      Like

      • Derekuma September 15, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

        Many times, at least every year , my daughter is 10 & she has 15 entry stamps in her passports. She is heading over on Thursday for two weeks in school….flying on her OWN!! for the first time.
        We are determined to keep her as bi- lingual/cultural/ everything as possible… & I just love Japan.
        What is the gaijin work availability like over there now ? [ I realise that is a loaded question , just an “on the ground opinion ” would be nice,.. we are thinking of moving back when our daughter get to high school age, to cent in Kanji etc, & to be there for the Olympics, but I guess work is not easy to get now.

        Like

      • tokyo5 September 16, 2014 at 8:15 am #

        >Many times, at least every year

        Oh, lucky! International travel is expensive.

        >She is heading over on Thursday for two weeks in school

        You mean a school trip? Or attending a Japanese school for two weeks?

        >What is the gaijin work availability like over there now ?

        In what field? As in any country, immigrants are hired, most often, when they have a needed skill that is uncommon among the locals (in Japan, and many other non-English-speaking countries, that’s often “English teacher”)…or they’re willing to do work that locals don’t want.

        >to be there for the Olympics

        The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be held in July / August! It’s gonna be sweltering!

        Like

  6. tokyo5 August 16, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    I remember another event from our 2004 Florida trip that was a shock:
    the 7-eleven stores, which were so different from Japanese ones, locked the beer fridge after around midnight. From that time until after lunch the next day, we couldn’t buy alcohol!
    And also, alcohol wasn’t allowed on the beach.
    So different from Japan!

    Like

  7. Musings August 14, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

    I do remember when the son of a friend of ours stayed with us for a month. He was shocked at the size of the drinks. He did love Taco Bell, by the way. At first he said the small size was too big. By the end of his 6 week stay in the U.S. He was drinking Medium. He was SHOCKED at how much weight he gained while in the U.S.

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 14, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

      After six weeks he was getting used to “American size” ?
      BTW, six weeks is a long holiday! Didn’t he begin to get “homesick” ?

      Like

  8. ddupre315 August 5, 2014 at 7:13 am #

    Nothing you mentioned surprised me. Since being in Japan (1.5 years) those are the things I have noticed the most, simple courtesies like not being loud and the trust of common decency here made America seem obnoxious to me. A friend went into town to get her first hair cut last year and didn’t have enough Yen, she asked if she could run to the ATM and they said no problem, bring it when you can. Just like that, they knew she would return with the money. That would never happen in most cities in America.

    The portion sizes are extreme in America, it’s one of the first things I noticed here, and they wonder why America has such an obesity problem. My step-daughter was here visiting recently and she was shocked at the small size of the glasses in restaurants. That being said, here at home she used our largest glasses and often had more than one full at a time, I was shocked at how much water she wasted and leaving lights on. I had to keep on her to turn lights off when not in the room.

    It is so nice to not tip here too, and everyone seems to have pride in their work, I’ve never received bad customer service in Japan.

    Interesting point of view, thank you for sharing.

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 5, 2014 at 8:30 am #

      >Since being in Japan (1.5 years) those are the things I have noticed the most

      After just a year-and-a-half in Japan, did you experience reverse culture shock too?

      >The portion sizes are extreme in America, it’s one of the first things I noticed here

      Yes, Japanese food portions are generally smaller. Japan has an expression that you should stop eating when you’re 80% full.
      But, these days, “American size” portions can be found at some restaurants in Japan too. For example, McDonalds has “Mega size fries”.

      >she (step-daughter) used our largest glasses and often had more than one full at a time

      Maybe it’s just because she’s a teenager. 😉

      >I’ve never received bad customer service in Japan.

      Yes, customer service is excellent in Japan.

      >Interesting point of view

      Thank you.

      Like

      • ddupre315 August 5, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

        After just a year-and-a-half in Japan, did you experience reverse culture shock too?

        >I haven’t really gone back to the US yet, only for a very short trip where I was at someone’s house most of the time but yes, the noise was very apparent and it was shocking to me to see how out of control the children are in the US compared to Japan. Here most children are quiet and behave.

        Maybe it’s just because she’s a teenager. 😉

        >I rather think it’s because her mother isn’t doing her job but that’s just me. To live in this decade and not be even slightly environmentally aware is a crime in my opinion… and that is largely due to her major influences. Not to mention her mother complains about money yet they use power and water like it’s free

        Ok end of rant..heh.

        Like

      • tokyo5 August 6, 2014 at 7:58 am #

        >it was shocking to me to see how out of control the children are in the US

        Temper tantrums in stores?

        >To live in this decade and not be even slightly environmentally aware is a crime

        Yeah, conservation and recycling are important.
        She’ll probably understand better when she’s older. How old is she now?

        Like

  9. wanderingmyra August 5, 2014 at 5:14 am #

    I’ve just returned to Hawaii after living in Japan for 2 years and I felt like I was experience a bit of reverse culture shock myself!

    The first thing I noticed was the noise level…people here seemed to be talking and laughing so loudly to their friends while standing in crowded areas. It seemed rude to disrupt those standing nearby but then I remembered that when I first moved to Japan, I found it almost eerie how quiet the people were on the trains! So I am sure I will be used to the noise level again soon.

    Food portions are another big difference. I think the portions in the US are really just too large generally. Often I cannot finish a meal at a restaurant here. That’s nothing new to being back though…before moving to Japan the meals were too big for me to finish and I would often ask them to wrap up my unfinished portion to take home. While I would prefer to pay less and get a smaller portion and thought the portions in Japan were generally much better, I found it strange that taking your leftovers home wasn’t a thing in Japan. There were definitely times when eating at a restaurant in Japan that I was just so full before finishing a meal but I didn’t want to be rude and leave anything on the plate!

    Another thing about eating out that surprised me was the way the waitress kept coming over in the middle of our meal to ask if we were enjoying or if we needed anything. Now I know this is her doing her job and doing it well. She was trying to make sure we were satisfied with everything and anticipate anything we might need, such as a refill on a drink. She was very friendly and did a great job. What was strange was simply that I’m no longer used to this! I became accustomed to calling out “すみません” or pushing the little button on the table to call some over to our table in Japan. It seems like that allows for an uninterrupted meal and lets the staff more efficiently use their time since they know if they are needed they will be called over. At the same time, I know when I first arrived in Japan I found yelling “すみません” strange and somewhat intimidating perhaps. It felt rude to raise my voice in a crowded restaurant.

    My taste for food has changed a bit, too. Some of the food is so very sweet! And I’ve managed to lose my taste for whole wheat bread! I loved it before but after 2 years of nothing but white bread in Japan…it just tastes so strong. That’s one thing I have to work on!

    So even after just 2 years, I felt very strange coming back here. I had expected to feel like I was coming home but I felt a bit like I had landed in a new foreign land! I was very surprised and somewhat dismayed but after a week here, I am adjusting and getting comfortable here again. I know a lot of these things are generalizations (not all Americans talk loudly and not all Japanese are polite on the trains) but there are just a lot of differences in culture around what is considered normal and polite. That’s probably one of the things that makes travel so much fun!

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 5, 2014 at 8:23 am #

      >I’ve just returned to Hawaii after living in Japan for 2 years and I felt like I was experience a bit of reverse culture shock myself!

      I’ve never been to Hawaii but my image is that it has adapted a lot of Japanese culture. Isn’t that true?

      >I think the portions in the US are really just too large generally.

      Yes. And I didn’t mentioned in this post…but I was surprised by the lack of vegetables served with meals in restaurants!

      >Another thing about eating out that surprised me was the way the waitress kept coming over in the middle of our meal to ask if we were enjoying or if we needed anything

      Oh yeah! I meant to write about that in this post! It slipped my mind, I guess.
      Yes…at the first restaurant we went to in Florida, we were surprised too when, while we were talking, the waitress suddenly came over and asked if we needed anything else!
      I was thinking: “No. That’s why I didn’t call you!” (But, of course, I simply said “No, thank you.”)
      And she kept returning to ask us the same question!

      Like

      • wanderingmyra August 5, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

        It’s true, there are many ways you can see aspects of Japanese culture here in Hawaii. Just today I saw a maneki-neko at a real estate agency and you see them fairly often. You can find a lot of Japanese food here as well as a few Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines I think. There are a lot of Japanese tourists in Waikiki so there you sometimes see signs in Japanese. And some Japanese words are mixed into the local pidgin. But as for everyday shopping, work, etc., I think it’s very different from Japan.

        Like

      • tokyo5 August 5, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

        > I saw a maneki-neko at a real estate agency and you see them fairly often.

        Are Japanese Maneki-neko statues popular in Hawaii?

        >And some Japanese words are mixed into the local pidgin.

        Really? For example?

        >But as for everyday shopping, work, etc., I think it’s very different from Japan.

        That’s interesting. Is day-to-day life there similar or different to mainland U.S.?
        You should write a blog post (and post a link here)!

        Like

  10. Mrs Hicks August 4, 2014 at 11:00 pm #

    Interesting about the change thing. I was stunned in Japan on our visit this year when I didn’t have enough coins to make chōdo. I could have paid with a note or higher value coins, but the clerk instead leaned over to the dish in front of the register that was full of 1 yen coins left by other customers and made up the difference for me. This would never happen in the UK. If a customer doesn’t take their change, it goes back into the register. I found my inner reaction interesting, because I felt guilty for not paying the full amount when I had enough money in my purse!

    I also know what you mean about portion size. Japanese food is manageable. I’ve holidayed in New York and the portion sizes were typically twice or three times as big as they are in the UK.

    Like

    • CrazyChineseFamily August 4, 2014 at 11:09 pm #

      I can’t talk about my own experiences as the countries I lived in are too similar, however my wife had a little shock when going to china once again after several years living in Finland. The biggest problem for her was it seemed that everyone in china was so rude and didn’t have any manners. Simple things such as standing in line to get into a bus practically doesn’t exist in mainland china so she got rather upset. Not only upset about how rude everyone was but that she also changed over little less than ten years in a foreign country that everything appeared off for her in her own home country.

      Like

      • tokyo5 August 4, 2014 at 11:59 pm #

        “CrazyChineseFamily”

        Yeah, China and Japan are geographically close…but in many ways, culturally very different!

        So, your Chinese wife experienced reverse culture shock after re-visiting China after a decade?
        Very similar to my experience!

        Like

      • CrazyChineseFamily August 5, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

        Yes, she had a rather bad shock and was pretty upset about it for some time. Japan and China are very different culturally. My wife prefers in many ways the japanese polite behavior in certain ways however is also sometimes annoyed by it when it gets too fake. Oh well, next year she will experience the same shock once again when we visit her family in china to show our little baby boy…

        Like

      • tokyo5 August 6, 2014 at 8:03 am #

        >(My wife) is also sometimes annoyed by it (Japanese politeness) when it gets too fake.

        “Fake” in what way? I’d say that Japanese people aren’t generally patronizing. They are usually sincere with politeness.

        >when we visit her family in china to show our little baby boy…

        Oh, do you have a newborn son? Congratulations? Is he your first child?

        Like

      • CrazyChineseFamily August 7, 2014 at 12:24 am #

        With fake I mean the polite pretending we encountered by japanese at least during our work at the airport. It is hard to explain and we didn’t even realize it right in the beginning but after a while it’s obvious. Sure, the japanese are so far the most polite we have met but not always all is true politeness, just this kind of “polite mask”. I can’t really explain it better but we will see somewhen in the near future when we visit japan, perhaps it’s only like this when they are our customers 🙂

        Yes, he is just barely six months old and it will be his first trip to china then. But ugh is journey will be next year, so there will be enough time to prepare that poor little thing

        Like

      • tokyo5 August 7, 2014 at 9:26 am #

        I guess you mean 本音 and 建前 (hon-ne and ta-te-mae) which mean “true feelings” and “polite facade”).
        They are important in Japanese culture. It’s not considered being “fake” in Japan though…because the ability to “read between the lines” is also important in Japanese culture.

        Like

      • CrazyChineseFamily August 8, 2014 at 12:02 am #

        Well, i hope to see for myself how everything will be in a holiday in japan in the upcoming year 🙂
        The only problem we had with the “polite facade” was in he his case really that it was just a facade as some of the japanese tourists always had some bad comments about us (we know the tour guide, so we sadly had to hear the comments). However for the public face it is still better to have this polite facade instead of giving bad comments right in front of other customers, such as many other people from other countries are doing

        Like

      • tokyo5 August 8, 2014 at 9:35 am #

        >Well, i hope to see for myself how everything will be in a holiday in japan in the upcoming year

        Are you coming to visit Japan?

        >some of the japanese tourists always had some bad comments about us

        Yeah, they probably wouldn’t say anything directly to you. Especially since they would probably chalk it up to a cultural difference if they were overseas.

        >it is still better to have this polite facade instead of giving bad comments right in front of other customers

        Yes, it’s more polite.

        Like

      • CrazyChineseFamily August 10, 2014 at 4:10 am #

        We wanted to got to japan this summer however the japanese embassy in Finland was very unfriendly as when my wife wanted to know how fast they can get the visa done they told her “normaly about two weeks but because you asked about how efficient we are it will take now over two months in your case”. Well, holidays in japan was a no got because of that so we went this year to Greece.
        However we plan next year to go to japan, mostly Tokyo, as also my wife’s sister lives there 🙂

        Like

      • tokyo5 August 10, 2014 at 9:48 am #

        I don’t think a visa application can be intentionally held up for petty reasons. You should’ve asked to speak to a superior.

        Does your sister-in-law live in Tokyo? For a long time?

        Like

    • tokyo5 August 4, 2014 at 11:55 pm #

      MrsHicks…

      > the dish in front of the register that was full of 1 yen coins left by other customers and made up the difference

      Actually that’s something seen in America too (more common there than is in Japan, in fact). In America, the jar near the register often says “Have a penny, leave a penny. Need a penny, take a penny.” written on it.
      (A “penny” is common term for US1¢ (about¥1))

      Like

      • Mrs Hicks August 5, 2014 at 1:37 am #

        Well, you learn something new every day!

        Like

      • tokyo5 August 5, 2014 at 8:16 am #

        That restaurant that I went to in Florida that couldn’t give me my change needed a jar like that!

        Like

  11. Earnest Mercer August 4, 2014 at 8:33 pm #

    It is likely you will get some less than positive comments from some of your American followers. But not from me. As you may remember I spent several years in Japan; two plus in post WWII, two more in 1976-1977 and have been back on several visits, and frankly, I miss the Japanense culture even after all these years So, I am quite empathetic with your point of view. I found some Japanese cultural traits rather strange, even wierd, but then, I also did in the half dozen other countries in which I lived. I live in central Florida (but spend summers atop Great North Mountain in Gore, VA) If you decide to revisit Florida, my wife Kate and I would welcome you at our home. Keep well.

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 4, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

      Thank you.

      >It is likely you will get some less than positive comments from some of your American followers.

      Do you think so? Why?
      I don’t dislike America…in fact, I like America very much. I’m just not used to it there anymore. It’s nice to visit, but Japan has become home.

      >I found some Japanese cultural traits rather strange

      Oh, please give some examples.

      ,>my wife Kate and I would welcome you at our home.

      Very generous of you.

      Like

      • Earnest Mercer August 7, 2014 at 6:18 am #

        Sorry, but your comments to smack of the “Ugly American Syndrome”, but with a different twist.

        Strange customs (remember, I’m referring to the “good old days” of Japan before the introduction of so many Western traits):
        The ranking of the Japanese values. Country, company of employment, family and last, self. (A nail that sticks out must be driven down), OK to lie for sake of politeness, but ranks stealing almost as ornerous as murder; well not quite, but you get my meaning. Going to extraordinary lengths to return found property. My daughter left her soiled laundry in a taxi returning from school and it was returned next day by taxi and that was not the only occurrence of this kind. Tea ceremony is very strange to me. Forsaking politeness when it comes to boarding a commuter train (been there done that) The ritual of gift-giving (receiving a gift, requires a better one in return) be given in return.

        Just a few examples from my memory of my early years on Japan. .

        Like

      • tokyo5 August 8, 2014 at 9:58 am #

        >Your response sound as if you were offended.

        No. Not at all. I like to hear any and all comments / opinions. I don’t get offended or upset easily.
        Actually, I thought that you were offended.

        >I’m sorry about that.I did not pass judgement on your comments

        No need to apologize. Even if you do make judgements about my posts or comments, I don’t mind.

        As usual, your opinions / perspectives are interesting. Thank you.

        Like

    • tokyo5 August 7, 2014 at 10:23 am #

      >Sorry, but your comments to smack of the “Ugly American Syndrome”, but with a different twist.

      Do they? I’m not trying to imply that one culture is better than the other. Just how they’re different and I’m no longer to my birth country’s culture.
      For example, the fact that waitresses in American restaurants visit customers’ tables often is considered good service in America…but I wasn’t used to it because it’s done differently in Japan.

      I guess I should’ve included more “positive” examples of reverse culture shock that I experienced because there was some.
      For example:
      my kids found about twenty sharks teeth on a beach in Florida. We had them in a small bucket in our hotel room…and one day we noticed that they were misplaced. We searched the room for them but couldn’t find them.
      So I asked the cleaning lady if she had noticed them. She said that she hadn’t but added: “Your kids lost their sharks teeth? At my house, we have many of them!” And she came back that afternoon with about fifty sharks teeth for my kids!
      We were very grateful! We had some extra souvenirs from Japan that we gave my friends and family in Florida…so we gave her one.
      She began to cry! She said “No hotel guest has ever given me a present before!”

      She was a very kind lady!

      >Japanese values. Country, company of employment, family and last, self.

      Actually, that seems to be slowly changing.

      >OK to lie for sake of politeness

      Don’t people in every country (including America) tell “white lies” sometimes to be polite?

      >Going to extraordinary lengths to return found property.

      Isn’t that a positive attribute?

      >Tea ceremony is very strange to me.

      It’s an art.

      >Forsaking politeness when it comes to boarding a commuter train

      Yeah, some people do. Especially at rush hours.

      >The ritual of gift-giving (receiving a gift, requires a better one in return) be given in return.

      Actually it’s more complicated than that! 😉

      Like

      • Earnest Mercer August 8, 2014 at 2:10 am #

        Your response sound as if you were offended. I’m sorry about that.I did not pass judgement on your comments and I sent my examples without judgement also.
        “The Ugly American” “a runaway best selling book published in 1958) syndrome is the term that came to be used to refer to the “loud and ostentatious” behavior of American tourists in another country, e.g., wearing, sumtimes crude, attire with little regard to local custom, loud talking/laugher in public places, commenting on “why aren’t things done here like back home?”

        People in America do indeed tell “little white lies” in common polite exchanges, but doing so is not condoned in business circles and within other serious matters. I was referring to the Japanese value system.

        Yes, I know that the tea ceremony is a centuries old art form. It is strange to me nonetheless. (Did not pass judgement) Piccasso’s paintings in later life were strange to me, vis a vis those of his earlier time, but highly sought after my many. (No judgement) As in many cases, things I found strange were indeed a pleasure for me to experience.

        I wish you would read my book, “Skivvy Girl: The Love of a Post WWII Japanese Pleasure Girl”. You would find in it my deep empathy for Japan and its culture. Japanese culture was also a continuing thread in my MBA thesis on international economics.

        I will send you a copy of the book if you will send me an address to which I should mail it. Or, you can buy a copy from Amazon inexpensively.

        Like

  12. mikeladano August 4, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

    This is great. I really enjoy the perspective of the reverse culture shock.

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 4, 2014 at 10:29 pm #

      >This is great. I really enjoy the perspective of the reverse culture shock.

      Thank you.
      Please tell me…how do you find the experiences I described? Odd? Or normal (for North America)?
      In Japan, all of those behaviors would be considered very strange and unusual.

      Like

      • mikeladano August 6, 2014 at 6:30 am #

        The HUGE sizes have become normal here now. Just last Friday, we went out to Wendy’s to get some burgers. I ordered a large drink, which was HUGE — no exaggeration. They could have sold it in a bucket. So people of my age group still find it strange to see these huge sizes, but younger people don’t remember when a small really was small!

        Like

      • tokyo5 August 6, 2014 at 8:55 am #

        I like a drink that huge if it’s beer. But I don’t need that much cola!

        Like

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