I have been living here for 5 years and this year would mark my 6th year in Japan. A year in Tokyo, 4 years in Himeji and back to Tokyo again as a shakaijin aka working adult so unconsciously I’ve picked up some habits from the locals.
- Nodding while unconsciously saying haip on the phone.
- If I get sick I’ll wear a mask or even if I don’t, I still wear one to protect myself from sick people lol. And the Japanese really love their mask. You should watch this video to learn why.
- The need to react to everything. Eg: heeeeeeee and un un.
- 30 minutes ride train is considered normal.
- Saying oishisou whenever food comes and off to make several comments praising the food without even tasting it.
- Separating trash and buying specific plastics to throw out the trash. When I lived in Himeji, we have to buy plastics to throw our trash. The clear one with red fonts is for combustible trash and the green one is for plastics. Now, the city that I live in Tokyo doesn’t require us to buy plastic trash so my money is saved.
- Mastering the arts of walking fast without bumping into people. You need this skill if you live in big cities like Tokyo, Osaka or Kobe. When I first came to Japan, I went to a Japanese Language School situated right in Shinjuku and the first time I arrived at Shinjuku Station I was struck, pushed and almost fall to the ground by the busy Tokyoites who are going to work. Did I mention that Shinjuku Station is the busiest train station in Japan which accommodates 3.5 million people per day. I repeat, per day. And this research is done in 2015 so who knows how much the number has gone up since then.
You don’t want to experience this every day, right? I’m lucky the train line to my workplace is not as packed as let’s say Yamanote or Tozai Line.
- Feeling pissed when the train is late.
- Having a techou aka planner. Everyone has a planner in their bag. From the black suits donning salaryman to the cute JK, joshikosei, Japanese high school students, everyone owns at least one planner. This is why you can see a section just dedicated to a planner in big shops like Tokyo Hands, Daiso or Kinokuniya.
Here’s mine btw that I bought last year. Courtesy picture from Amazon as I’m too lazy to take a picture.
- Keeping handkerchief in my bag. Find me a Japanese who doesn’t have their handkerchief with them. I bet you there’ll be no one who doesn’t.
- My understanding of Japanese English has improved. LOL.
Eva makes a great, relatable comic. You can follow her on IG here.
- Checking the toilet to see whether it has a bidet or not. Japanese toilet is just awesome. There are so many functions like sound to cover your ‘noises’ doing business and drying your butt.
- Watching morning news to check on the weather.
- Pick a standing spot in a middle of a train. Trust me. You wouldn’t get squashed as much as people who stand in front of the door.
- If by chance, I ended up standing in front of the door, when the door opened but I haven’t reached my destination yet, what do you think I’d do? Just standing there and be a stumbling block to others who clearly wanted to get out? I’ll step out the door and wait at the side to give way to people. That’s manner that unfortunately, not many foreigners knew. Heck, even I don’t know about this until I learned about it in the culture class in school.
- Sumimasen my way.
Accidentally bumped into someone on the morning train. Sumimasen.
Want to call the waiters to order. Sumimasen.
Get lost and want to ask for direction. Sumimasen.
- Using chopsticks like a boss. Okay, maybe not but whatever that could get that delicious perfectly made shrimp coated with cheese sushi into my mouth.