Tag Archives: The US

Only-in-America

10 Dec

I’ve lived in Japan for most of my life now, and I have only been back to visit America a few times. In fact, my most recent visit there was over ten years ago ( Click here to read about the reverse-culture-shock I experienced on that trip.)

I was thinking about some things that seem normal to most Americans…but are actually unique to America and kinda odd to people who don’t live there.

1. Flags everywhere / “Pledge of Allegiance”
Every country flies their national colors. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But the American flag is flown everywhere, everyday in the U.S. Even car dealerships and in school classrooms.
Speaking of school classrooms, American children stand with their hand on their heart, facing the flag in the classroom, and recite and pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag.
A bit like North Korea.

pledge

2. “Sales tax” –
By this I mean, the price shown on the products in stores in America is the pre-sales tax price.
To be honest though, it was the same way in Japan when I first arrived here. At that time, sales tax here was 3% and the after-tax price wasn’t listed on the price-tags. (Just before I came to Japan, there was no sales tax here at all!)
But in 1997, the law was changed that all stores in Japan must show the after-tax price on their products (the sales tax went up to 5% that year too. (Currently, it’s 8%)).

3. “Toilet stalls” –
When people from other countries visit America, the public restrooms are quite a culture shock! The doors are too small! It’s disturbing when you’re using a public toilet but don’t feel like you have privacy.

public-bathroom

4. “Tipping” –
There is no tipping in Japan. When I visited America, I was never sure who to tip or how much! I had to check my guidebook. Waitresses, taxi drivers, hotel staff, bartenders, et al. It felt like, no matter how mediocre the service, I had to tip everyone! And after tips were factored in, the cost for many things in America were actually higher than in Japan.

5. “Guns” –
Besides the police and military, there are virtually no gun owners in Japan.
All of the gun-related violence in America that is reported in the news is sad and shocking.

6. “Alcohol rules” –
In America, beer can’t be enjoyed outdoors in public. And there are hours (and even certain days) that stores don’t sell alcohol.
Why?

There are beer vending machines in Japan.

I’m not putting America down.
I’m just pointing out some peculiarities about the culture of the country of my birth. Every country has them…and sometimes it takes stepping outside the country and experiencing a different culture to see them.

What are some unique cultural peculiarities about America, Japan or any other country that you’ve noticed?

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Most popular Mothers Day gifts

10 May

Tomorrow (2014 May 11th) is 母の日 (Mothers Day ).

Did you buy your mother a gift?
At least say 「お母さん、ありがとう!」 (“Thank you, Mother!“)

What are the most popular gifts that people buy for their mothers on this day in Japan and in America?

As I’m sure you can imagine, the types of gifts that Japanese people buy for Mothers Day are quite different from what is commonly bought in America!

Here is a list of this year’s top ten Mothers Day gifts in America and then a list of this year’s top ten Mothers Day gifts in Japan:

 

Top Ten Mothers Day gifts in America

#10 – Flowers
#9 – Candles
#8 – Gift card (gift certificate)
#7 – Gift basket
basket
#6 – Home spa treatment
#5 – Home decor items
#4 – Chocolate or other sweets
choco
#3 – House plants
#2 – Perfume
#1 – Spa treatment

Top Ten Mothers Day gifts in Japan

#10 – 「バスグッズ」 (Bath items)
#9 – 「花」 (Flowers)
#8 – 「ネックレス」 (Necklace)
#7 – 「傘」 (Umbrella)
kasa
#6 – 「名入れグッズ」 (Personalized items)

sake

(This wine bottle says “Mother, thanks for everything” and her name.)

#5 – 「家電」 (Home appliance)
#4 – 「財布」 (Wallet)
#3 – 「バッグ」 (Handbag / purse)
#2 – 「キッチングッズ」 (Kitchenware)
#1 - 「マッサージ器」 (Massaging item (massage chair, etc))
chair

What are popular Mothers Day gifts in your country?

The World Champions

18 Jul

I wrote this post about the Women’s Soccer World Cup championship game being played by Japan against the USA today.

As you probably already know, Japan won the game in penalty kicks.

Here’s a video I found on Youtube that shows the penalty kick attempts by both the USA and Japan.
The announcers in the video sound English. I don’t often watch TV in English anymore…so what mostly got my attention when I watched this video was the way the announcers butchered the Japanese players’ names! 😉

The video ends before it has a chance to show Japan’s team celebrating their win as the 2011 Women’s World Cup Champions.
But here’s what it looked like:

Did you watch the game?
It started at 3:45AM Japan time so I didn’t stay up to watch it. I saw the highlights on the news this morning.
On the news here, they also had a Japanese reporter and cameraman in a sports-bar in New York during the game to get the American fans’ reactions.
Each time the U.S. team scored a goal, the Americans in the bar erupted into a “USA! USA! USA!” chant.  I guess I’ve been living in Japan so long that I was taken by surprise a bit by that. It was like a culture shock! 😉

This Sunday’s showdown: Japan vs USA

15 Jul

From 2011 June 26 until this Sunday (July 17th), the Women’s World Cup international soccer championship games is being held in Germany.

On Wednesday (July 13th), two semi-final matches were held.
America played against France and Japan played against Sweden.

The U.S. and Japan each won their games with a score of 3-1.

So, now the final match for the 2011 Women’s World Cup Championship will be held on this Sunday, 2011 July 17th.
Japan will play against the U.S.

I’m not sure which country to support!
I’m American. I was born and raised in America. But I’ve been living in Japan since 1990…most of my life now. Japan has become my home.

Well, I’ll support both teams. 😉

Have you watched any of the 2011 Women’s World Cup matches? Will you watch the championship game on Sunday?
Did you watch the Japan vs Sweden game last Wednesday? After Japan won that game, the team members held up a banner thanking the world for supporting Japan after the 2011 March 11 disaster.

Their banner said:

To Our Friends Around The World
Thank You For Your Support
“.

The Japanese Womens soccer team holding their banner