Since I tried last weekend with Japanese colleagues to bake German apple pie, because ingredients are difficult to get and I have in the dorm only the microwave oven, I had no time / interest to write something, so I will today write a little what I noticed about cultural things or what is perhaps also typical for Japan. First of all, I must say that I hadn’t a cultural shock. Japan or at least this area here is totally like the western world, which I am indeed find very unfortunate. It is not very difficult to fit in. Taking a closer look, things are a bit different, but still similar. And at a very close look,it’s starting to get differently. I was told that the island of Shikoku is still on the “Japanese”. I (still?) can’t confirm this.
When dealing with Japanese people, the general courtesy or the contrary respect is easy to notice. In their culture, the Japanese have anchored the community as a great asset, which could be also due to the many possible natural catastrophes. In contrast, we Europeans have an individualized standpoint. I would prefer the Japanese variant with a bit more individualism. When you enter shops, in most cases you are welcomed, also by all the employees who you will see. One can say as a rough formula that the Japanese don’t want to be a burden to anyone or lose their face (honor, pride) in front of others. If you are polite and respectful, you have no problems. And it’s just the standard politeness, we have also according to Knigge, but I’m aware that the reality looks quite different in europe.
This problem is also here, I myself have noticed that many things are only hollow phrases, which in my case are just complaints on a high level, because it is still better than in Germany and I have not experienced anything bad. But others have already told me (who have either lived here for a long time or are themselves Japanese), that it goes down.
Other examples of the politeness and respect of the Japanese are that it is hard to find someone who makes a scene in the public and be mean others. Or if you wait for something that you can be sure there is a queue formed, which is also completely maintained, also at the bus stop, no matter how full the bus is.
Typically Japanese is also that it is a land of umbrellas. As soon as the first drops come here, one can be sure that more and more umbrellas will pop up. Often, too, when we North Germans wouldn’t think about it. Jackets are almost never seen. Exceptions are the cyclists, but they all have the same rain capes, which seem to have only a few different versions. This is at least my current impression, a lot of variety wasn’t to see so far. You can also see some umbrellas, if there is no rain at all, but cloudy or even more radiant (burning) sunshine. Especially with the latter and especially with women. The background is that darker skin by tanning is still seen as a sign of poverty or not as a beauty ideal. Brighter skin is here preferred.
Let’s get to the picture, the Gacha. These machines with the small capsules are everywhere. Against money you can indulge in a collectibleship and also try to get very rare elements. All can be gathered from various small figures, cards, trailers, etc. The principle is quite popular, so it is also used in games. The quality varies, as does the price.
To clothes only so much, it is generally very similar to European and American. I have seen very few people in traditional clothes. Some were for spiritual occasions, some for appropriate occasions (wedding, death’s mess), in the martial arts, some for festivals and even more rarely as everyday clothes. In my opinion very sad, because it has its charm and is good in this humidity. The current clothing is very westernized, but it already differs. The men wear more or less the same, to work uniforms or business suits. In the leisure time gladly also for the pants what one with us is quite as sloppy, namely wide variants like Joggings pants. The women also wear more airy tops and for the lower part very airy and wide trousers, one can perhaps also look as more modern variants of trousers skirts or skirts. Something unusual for us, but it makes a lot of sense especially in the summer with its temperatures and high humidity. I know what I’m talking about, it’s not necessarily pleasant to run around with jeans.
In addition, it is usually the case that you have to wear a uniform as a pupil. This uniform identifies which school you are in, and it is also generally recognizable by style whether it is kindergarten, elementary school, middle school or a high school. Preschool and elementary schoolchildren often have to wear a cap.
What other totally typical Japanese is the plastic fancy. I often get the crisis here. On the one hand here is a lot of what one buys packaged several times in plastic. For the food it could still make partial sense, but I often feel I have more plastic than content. In Germany, I buy sweets or biscuits and just have to open one or maybe even twice. Here in Japan I have to open the outer package and then it is not uncommon that each biscuit is packed individually ……
Also if you buy something you get here thin plastic bags (few exceptions), which is on the one hand nice service, but also annoying if you do not need and just waste. That I don’t need them is also relatively obvious, because I already arrive with my ready backpack. By the way, this plastic bag problem also causes environmental problems, since they also usually just burn the garbage.
That what surely some already of you know: take off shoes before you enter. This is totally normal here, because of cleanliness, but is also a sign of respect. So I have to take off my shoes when I enter my office in the university, and because it is quite annoying to put my shoes on and off, I wear garden crocs in the university / laboratory . In Germany this would be a disaster for security reasons ….
And something else, there may be extra shoes for the toilet. NEVER wear these outside of those. Probably one of the worse ways to embarrass. It didn’t happen to me yet, hopefully never.
The last for this post is something that may also be viewed as curious from a German perspective. It is perfectly normal for men to wear handbags. These models are much less decorated, but a handbag remains a handbag and not a file folder. Backpacks for this purpose are quite rare.