How foreigners’ daily lives change when they live in Japan

How foreigners’ daily lives change when they live in Japan Photo from Madame RiRi

TOKYO —

Your daily life changes when the environment around you changes. Many people who go abroad find their daily routine changing to adapt to the environment, sometimes without being aware of the change.

The website MADAME RiRi, which covers offbeat and interesting topics in Japan and around the world, gives some examples of how foreign people’s daily life has changed after they moved to Japan.

—I have become addicted to tissues. (American living in Hokkaido)

“When I first came to Japan, I avoided people who were distributing pocket tissues. However, now I collect them whenever it starts to get cold outside.  In fact, I am uncomfortable if I don’t have tissues in my pocket when I leave the house.”

—I started to sleep on the floor. (Canadian)

—I got used to the unavoidable humidity on July, and say “I’m sorry” when I hit bump into people accidentally, and keep pushing the Open button in elevators when I get to my floor. (American living in Korea)

—I take my shoes off inside the house obviously. (American living in Tokyo)

—I cannot live without five finger socks. (American man)

—I still take my shoes off at the door when I return to my home country and I go to the convenience store 8 times a day. (Danish man)

—I spend more money than before. I feel like everything is an adventure here. (Englishman, 36)

—I serve green tea when a guest comes, eat soba noodles at the station every morning. I have changed my life to adapt to the train schedule. I have started sorting the trash out into burnable and non-burnable. (Frenchman)

—I take a hot bath every night. (American man)

—I got used to eating rice with most meals. Now I love it! (French woman)

—I got used to being treated as a foreigner. (American man)

“Japanese women became interested in me and people touch my long blond hair.”

—I got used to living in a small apartment. (American woman)

—I no longer drive a car and eat less meat and fewer snacks. (American man from U.S. Midwest)

—I think before talking, have become humble and am satisfied easily even at the small things in my life. (Austrian man)

—I carry a dictionary everywhere and am more tolerant. (American living in Japan for 15 years)

—I lost my sense of humor, became perverted, I sleep in trains, became addicted to vending machines, stopped going for a walk to smoke. I have become serious about everything. (Dutchman)

—I pay more attention to my appearance than before, and I walk and read more than before. (American man living in Tokyo)

—I got used to speaking simple English slowly, I spend a long time taking a hot bath and I bow slightly when I apologize or out of appreciation. (American woman)

—I can sleep easily. (Belgian man)

—I eat breakfast properly. (Mexican man)

“I used to drink only orange juice or coffee for breakfast before.”

—I cannot live without green tea. (Finnish woman)

—My height is 194cm, so I am careful not to hit my head anywhere. I use the air conditioner in summer. I don’t go to friends’ houses or invite them to mine. (French man)

—“It is usual to invite people over in France, but in Japan, I found it is more usual to hang out outside. Eating out is cheap in Japan.”

—I walk on the left side of the road. (American man)

—I eat less than before. (Canadian man)

“Now, I cannot eat a whole meal when I go out for dinner back in Canada.”

—I lost 15 kg in an year. (American man)

—I have fewer dislikes when it comes to food. I have even started eating raw fish. (Mexican woman)

Source: MADAME RiRi

  • 10

    southsakai

    I was too busy looking at lady in Red. She's gorgeous.

    What changed when i started living in Japan? I became more paranoid. See that's what happens when you become a professional loner and can't speak Japanese. Be warned do not follow in my foot steps.

  • 7

    gyouza

    Not that I was particularly violent before, but I feel much less aggressive and much less "on-guard" than when I was in UK.

    I do realise that it could be age related, but simple situations like bumping into someone here are normally immediately difused by a quick apology by both sides, and then both move on. In the UK there could normally be abuse from one side, starting an argument, sometimes (very occasionally) leading to violence.

  • 2

    MrDarryl

    This happens to me quickly no matter where I travel. It seems to gain respect from the locals. Speaking and acting like the natives always helps. In Japan there are so many different customs that do not exist in America and most of them are smart things to do, so I continue them when I am home in NY. Taking off my shoes helps keep the floors cleaner. I almost always use chopsticks for certain dishes. I have to say that the slight bow that I adopted is odd here in the US, but nobody seems to care. The healthy eating habits are always great and tolerance for others.

    The best thing is the napkin or handkerchief I seem to want to have at all times. It comes in handy and I love it. I never carried one before I saw just about everyone having one in Japan. They sell great styles too.

  • 2

    supermonk7

    This list is just the tip of the iceberg. Still, a good start.

  • -2

    tmarie

    Some of these comments are just silly - these people could do most of these changes back home - bath at night, less meat, eat less. taking off shoes (always done where I am from)....

    Personally, I have had to get used to not having a backyard/garden, living in a smaller apartment (not a bad thing but the lack of storage drives me nuts sometimes!), taking public transportation, chopsticks at every meals but unlike Gyouza, I am more on-guard here. I have really had to suss out why some people are so friendly towards me (want me to do something for them) while others are just plain rude. I've learned how to pick friends better - used as the token foreigner too many times when I first got here which lead to some really nasty reality checks.

  • 5

    NetNinja

    I make no sacrifices whatsoever now. I will not allow my heritage and culture to be devalued because of the environment. Strange as it may sound...being in Japan has made me more American than ever before. It made me a stronger American.

    Just like our Canadian brethren up north I wear my American icons proudly. Different from most of you, I've learned that I do not fit the Japanese template and if you allow Japan to apply their cultural thinking and logic to you then you'll lose everything.

    I'm not accepted as Japanese, not treated equally as Japanese and therefore I try in every respect NOT to be changed by the environment.

    It' doesn't mean I don't like some of the more positive aspects of this country. I just walk a different path than most of you cause I've seen what they will do if they can apply their ideas and beliefs to you. I've seen how they can blatantly ignore your identity and culture in favor of their own when it comes to matters of personal freedom.

    Why so serious? Why not keep it light hearted and simple? Well that would be following Japanese culture. We Americans prefer to speak on tough real issues.

  • 12

    sau133

    I lost my sense of humor, became perverted, I sleep in trains, became addicted to vending machines, stopped going for a walk to smoke. I have become serious about everything. (Dutchman)

    Lol. Think that one got in there by mistake - surprised JT hasnt censored it for Japan bashing to be honest,

  • 6

    Antonios_M

    I have some more for you:

    1) Sleeping much earlier every night than in my home country and waking up much earlier as well. 2) Eating fish, rice and soup as breakfast instead of drinking milk and eating a toast. 3) Talking in a lower voice and paying attention not to cause any inconvenience to people around me. 4) Making noises such as "waaa~, sugoi", and "wooo" when people think they say or show something fascinating to me, while honestly, i couldn't care less... 5) Actually sleeping on trains. 6) Walking really fast even when i don't have anything to do. 7) Learned to appreciate food and not take it as given. 8) Wait in looong lines just to eat a ball of ice cream from a famous shop. 9) Bowing the head. 10) Drinking tea and much much more...

  • 4

    oginome

    I got used to the unavoidable humidity on July, and say “I’m sorry” when I hit bump into people accidentally, and keep pushing the Open button in elevators when I get to my floor. (American living in Korea)

    ??????????

    This person is living in Korea, not Japan.

    Just like our Canadian brethren up north I wear my American icons proudly. Different from most of you, I've learned that I do not fit the Japanese template and if you allow Japan to apply their cultural thinking and logic to you then you'll lose everything.

    You're more than just your national identity.

  • 2

    tkoind2

    I apply most of these habit changes to Tokyo and not Japan in general.

    Upsides I stopped driving. I love the trains here. I was eating fairly healthy stuff before Japan but now much more so. I have managed to retain the Seattle habit of regular house gatherings. Swapping BBQ or wine tasting parties for Nabe and Umeshu parties.

    Downside I stopped having a vibrant social community to tap into that sincerely cares about everyone and that prioritizes spending social time. Tokyo's social lifestyle standards pale by comparrison to Seattle and everyone is too busy to meet with any regularity.

    I stopped having access to affordable fine arts. Everything is insanely expensive here. I used to see the ballet two or three times a year, a symphony quite regularly and plays quiet often. But reasonable seat charges are very rare here. Crazy expensive for 2nd or 3rd tier performances is common instead.

    I stopped having free time. Life here is crazy busy year round. Not a habit I enjoy.

    I do wish people here would take something other than work seriously. Politics, social issues, world concerns, economics are all pressing issues for Japan. And yet the silence on these issues is deafening. I for one refuse to give up my American sensibility to talk about and face real issues. The head in the sand thing here is sad and selfdestructive for the nation. Maybe this is something we can share the other way and inspire people to speak out for badly needed change.

  • 2

    gyouza

    @net

    Why so serious? Why not keep it light hearted and simple? Well that would be following Japanese culture. We Americans prefer to speak on tough real issues.

    :) Love it! Not a trace of over-reaction! I was wondering what the particularly tough issue in this article was. 12 of the comments in the article were made by Americans, and they don't seem to align completely with yours but then I realised that the US is an amazing mix of all cultures and differing views are encouraged, and largely, tolerated. Doesn't always equate to "tough" though.

  • 0

    DARBYTAN

    I keep reading here that most of u say u have to be "on-guard". Not sure what u mean by this?

  • 3

    smithinjapan

    Evidently being a foreigner in Japan equals being a European or of European descent. How about asking some fellow Asians?

    Anyway, it stands to reason that your daily life will change while livng in another nation, regardless of whether it's Japan or Bhutan (with it's "Gross Happiness Production").

  • 0

    gyouza

    I keep reading here that most of u say u have to be "on-guard". Not sure what u mean by this?

    Looks like only one person wrote that - unless the others got moderated out.

  • 10

    grammefriday

    I make no sacrifices whatsoever now. I will not allow my heritage and culture to be devalued because of the environment. Strange as it may sound...being in Japan has made me more American than ever before. It made me a stronger American

    why are you in Japan ??

  • 4

    ironchef

    definitely, much more concerned about cleanliness now. Everytime i go back to the US, i am appalled at the filthiness of public spaces, especially restrooms. I always took off my shoes at home so that is no change.

    I never go around without alcohol wipes in the States.

  • 2

    y3chome

    DARBYTAN  I think people are alluding to the fact that back in home countries one needs to be on their guard against random attacks/violent encounters. Yes these kind of things do hit the news here but are much less common. Ive never been attacked in Japan... have been several times back home.

  • -14

    Xiron Hoyos

    after going to Japa for vacation i went back to my work and my boss and all colleague became irritated of me because i became too polait and saying too much thank you lol

    I Love so much Natto that my ex not japanese girlfriend became crazy of me in the morning. my ex cant stand it when im eating mine favourite breakfast. it happend two times already she vomit because me eating natto with rice and soya sauce. also then she eat breakfast not together in the same room i eat...

    and i got addicted to search for a Japanese woman to live and marry with me. i try not to be choosy and try with other not japanese woman but the relationship became bad because i like too much speaking Japanese and Japanese things. maybe if i met a not japanese who the same crazy japan ass me then i could live a happy live....

    who wanna be my girlfriend ??

  • 20

    tokyokawasaki

    I noticed I started commenting and/or complaining about everyday life in forums since moving to Japan 12 years ago :).

  • 0

    whiskeysour

    1) tolerating & eating more stinky food 2) using trains more 3) acceptance of eating small ice cream, small drinks small portions of food

  • 6

    jforce

    I find I care less about where I came from. I love where I am now. But then again, it's only Wednesday and I'll probably flip-flop tomorrow.

  • 1

    Johannes Weber

    Many of these changes are simple adaptions due to convenience or necessity. I find myself doing a lot of these things here and relinquish these habits completely, when I am back home. Some - like always carrying a dictionary - is extremely helpful here. And back home, there is no reason not to put an available electronic dicitionary in any larger bag.

    One of the most significant changes to my life was that people interested in deep conversations about topics beyond superficial daily life are quite hard to find in Japan. In fact, they are mostly foreigners like myself. I never had the impression at home that foreigners had deeper insight and a wider scope of interests than most of the locals - here I cannot avoid it. Probably I am wrong and biased - but this is my strongest impression.

  • 2

    cubic

    1.Not driving, 2. Eating a slightly more healthy food, 3. Realising that nationality means very little

  • 6

    Serrano

    "I spend more money than before"

    That would be from an ex-pat or embassy employee, not a normal gaijin.

    "I eat less than before"

    That would be from a normal gaijin, not an ex-pat or embassy employee.

  • 5

    Franchesca Miyara Yang

    I have to agree with NetNinja

    I remember my husband telling me this before we got engaged: "You are not Japanese and I do NOT expect you to be one, I want to get married with you because of who you are. I expect you to be yourself and never forget your culture"

    Best thing someone said to me ever. :)

  • 7

    tkoind2

    Franchesca, I also agree. My wife and I are misfits for our respective cultures to start with, but we also have our collection of American and Japaense habits. And those are a part of who we are.

    Funny enough people often ask here if she is American now. I guess she has picked up some of my mannerisms over the years so people notice that she is a little different. And in the US my friends can see my Japanese habits. So I guess we share a bit of an exchange there.

    At the end of the day we are a couple of ordinary, quirky, culturally complex (we also have strong interests in other cultures) people who fit in our own little reality. Neither really Japanese or American anymore.

  • 2

    oginome

    I never had the impression at home that foreigners had deeper insight and a wider scope of interests than most of the locals - here I cannot avoid it

    Are you German? I've noticed Germans like discussing things and talking in depth with people over a wide range of interests. It seems that despite sharing a culture which is quite similar to Germany in many ways, from the importance placed on education, to the anal obsession with punctuality and efficiency and the value placed on continuous improvement in quality, Japanese just tend to not talk whereas Germans will. I put it down to Japan's honne and tatemae culture, but I think that Japanese people who you feel are missing ARE out there, it just takes longer to find them and harder for them to open up.

  • 7

    MaboDofuIsSpicy

    I like taking my shoes off. I do it when I travel home too, and tried to convince family and friends to do it too. Especially for those with babies crawling around on the floor. Streets are dirty. Removing shoes is a great custom.

  • 4

    DentShop

    It is important to keep some of your national identity but also as important is to not forget where you are. Give and take. If Asian people stomped around America telling everyone that they are Asian, they will never change their ways and you had better just like it - well, we know what the reaction would be.

    An acquaintance of mine got a sales job in Tokyo which meant he would be packing up and leaving. He told me before he left that "he doesnt bow" and that his Japanese boss would have to get used to it. I told him I would catch up with him next month when he is back in Osaka. He gave me a bemused look and I reminded him he wasnt a White House dignitary and it was akin to Japanese people saying "We dont shake hands with American business people..." Well, sure enough he was back soon asking for his TV stand and dining chairs back which he sold me for next to nothing. I told him how to get to Ikea.

    We Americans prefer to speak on tough real issues.

    Leave it for Dave Spector mate - he is taking care of the real issues.

  • -2

    electric2004

    There is some unexpected change:

    I check the daily radiation readings. For example at Tsukuba

    http://rcwww.kek.jp/norm/index-e.html

    or at JAEA:

    http://www.jaea.go.jp/04/ztokai/kankyo_e/realtime/graph168.html

    And I was surprised that radiation went up on January 23rd, e.g. Monday evening.

  • -1

    smithinjapan

    "I make no sacrifices whatsoever now. I will not allow my heritage and culture to be devalued because of the environment. Strange as it may sound...being in Japan has made me more American than ever before. It made me a stronger American"

    This isn't actually all that far off the mark. You DO learn more about yourself and your cultural heritage living abroad (especially in a nation with a VERY different culture). That's why I have a lot of respect for people who have lived abroad and can form open-minded statements on culture and the differences between nations (and similarities).

    Hmmm... what's changed for me, personally? I never go out anymore (most of my friends have gone back home, and my Japanese friends have families now and don't go out much either), I drink a lot more (on the rare occasions that I DO go out, usually an enkai), I'm in more debt than I've ever been save for just graduating university with massive loans, and of course I can speak the lingo here as well as back home, whereas I could not upon arrival. I whine and gripe a lot about the nation -- especially in regards to business management and/or politics -- but I do love it, and when I leave over the next few years I will miss it, I have no doubt.

  • 3

    NetNinja

    @Grammefridady

    why are you in Japan ??

    Soul searching just like everybody else. Can't discover who you are until you have tested yourself in all kinds of situations. I believe I answered the question properly in my post though.

    The answer is right in front of your faces. How has Japan changed my daily life? It has me on almost every website on the web fighting for father's rights and the protection of human rights here in Japan. Yeah, Japan changed that about me. I was never a blogger. Then some really awful things happened to me in JAPAN and when I found out I wasn't alone that changed me.

    I come to JapanToday everyday. I come to blog with you guys. I also like to share what I know.

  • 2

    Samantha Zoe Aso

    @ electric 2004. So you now check radiation levels daily but back in your home country you didn't??

    I apologise in advance but.....I love getting the full work out when on the loo. Infact, if the loo don't play music then I am in trouble.Back home, a bit of clean, soft loo roll satisfied my needs. I never though I'd ever eat anything that resembles the excretions of a terminally ill hamster but I love my Natto. Natto on rice with seaweed. Scrummy yummy. And just to reinforce that I need medication, I even bow when talking on the telephone!

  • 2

    Samantha Zoe Aso

    Oh.....the kotatsu. One of the greatest delights in winter here! You know, after my sutra session in the waterfall set in the side of a mpntain.Think there is definately a niche in the market back home there!

  • 0

    RushO'Hannity

    i discovered japanese are much more fond of america than non japanese like. trying to gauge the disappointment on gaijin faces is one of my favorite pastimes while here. enjoy.

  • -1

    anglootaku

    Good sourced article, have more of these types of articles on JT

  • 3

    NetNinja

    @gyouza 12 of the comments in the article were made by Americans

    This is JapanToday, it can get pretty serious here. Did you click on that MadamaRiRi link. That looks like a very light-hearted blog. So the comments there would naturally be shallow simple things.

    Then they brought that little survey over to this site. This is a tough crowd here. If we get into debate over some story on this site we might go 250+ posts before we are done with it.

    MadameRiRi is not a serious site. Main article is Miss France and what else, ah yes, neko mimi - kawaii. Don't expect Americans to get all serious and tough on that site.

  • 0

    GW

    mostly fun, normal adjustments we all make to some degree to fit in a bit &get along.

    I too resist being taken too far to the Japanese side, I guess if your escaping where you came from, but if not I think its healthy to do as the Romans & also NOT do as the Romans do, helps one(or me anyway) keep their sanity.

    Like others a HUGE LOSS in Japan is the lack of social life in many many aspects, I see my nephews that are a 12-14hr plane ride away more than my wifes brothers kids in Japan( their son is about 6yrs old & I havent even seen the little bugger......) they arent old enough to travel, they dont want us to stay over...........I have all but given up on them, last time we met was when my FIL died, guess the next will be when my MIL passes, but she is genki as hell so it cud be another decade or 2 away. THATS messed up.

    I dont think many Japanese realize they only get one life, snooze & you lose, & sadly many here lose big time!

  • 0

    Goals0

    I lost my sense of humor, became perverted, I sleep in trains, became addicted to vending machines, stopped going for a walk to smoke. I have become serious about everything. (Dutchman)

    Translation mistake here. In fact he doesn't smoke while walking.

  • 1

    lucabrasi

    One thing I don't accept, even after many years residing here, is being called a "foreigner" on an English-speaking website.

    I'd have thought that you're more likely to be referred to as a foreigner on an English-speaking site, given that we're in Japan. I'd reckon that well over 90% of posters here are foreigners in Japan.

  • 2

    timeon

    I guess Japan changed me a lot, but also age changed me a lot (13 years, I came here when I was 20). It's impossible to differentiate now between the two. I became a much calmer and controlled person, and mentally stronger to deal with the everyday stress. On the bad side, I became too workaholic and my family life may suffer from this. I drink more (everyday actually), a lousy way to cope with stress. I think more before saying something, and I listen more to other people.

  • 0

    MaboDofuIsSpicy

    Something else. I am spoiled by the quality and cleanliness or the handicapped toilets. You can do you thing with dignity. In America, everyone looks at your shoes and pants.

  • 0

    MaboDofuIsSpicy

    of the handicapped toilets.

  • 0

    Yubaru

    -I have had to get used to ignorant and insensitive people who constantly stare and or make rude comments because I am a foreigner, and people, daily mind you, whipping their heads around and do double takes checking me out. I never had seen either back home.

  • 1

    Triumvere

    I'll second the green tea.

  • 5

    Johannes Weber

    @onigome:

    Are you German?

    In fact, I am German. Over time, I have found small numbers of Japanese people interested in deep conversations. But nearly all of them have plenty of experience on their backs from travelling the world. In most cases, however good conversations happen with other foreigners here. Because each one of us must have a unique story to tell, if she is here.

    Some people say that the "Japanese" are the "Germans" of Asia. And indeed, we share many attidutes. However, honne and tatemae and the tendency to occlude the truth in many cases still makes me a bit dissatisfied with Japanese life. And xenophobia has been greatly reduced and mostly replaced by curiosity in Germany over the last 60 years. However, I can't judge the "change" in Japan.

    @electric2004: That radiation spike ought to be due to the snow. Increased cesium washout from the air settles near the detector. Should be at most two or three days visible I guess.

  • 5

    tokyokawasaki

    Two other things I have noticed... The washlet toilet :)

    For the first few years I would not touch them, now I am a major fan. Whenever I go back to the UK I really miss my washlet toilet. Strange, but I am sure my bottom has become accustom to their soothing wash and blow dry. Now, when forced to go back to basics, even soft toilet paper feels uncomfortable.

    The other thing... Having a wash/shower before getting into the bath (excellent idea and very hygienic)...

    Same story, if I go back to the UK, I now have to use the sink to wash my feet, armpits and private bits 'n' pieces before I get into the bath. I can not understand how I used to wash in the bath before, then lay there soaking up all the crap and dirt I had just washed from my body. I think you know what I mean?

  • 6

    Nessie

    I cannot live without five finger socks.

    What is a finger sock, and why would you need an odd number of them? So inscrutable.

  • 0

    Greapper1

    *I have to have an Oshibori or go to the bathroom to wash my hands before eating.

    *Bowing unconsciously while talking on the phone.

    *Looking for vending machines every block.

  • -2

    marcelito

    Since I,d arrived in Japan I have actually come to think that Starbucks is one of the best places for my daily cup of coffee ....shock and horror :)

  • -1

    MaboDofuIsSpicy

    Nessie:

    He meant digit (tabi) socks or what ever you want to call them. Most of us have 5 fingers on each hand, and five toes on each foot.

    I am curious about yours now. We need a photo.

  • 1

    Elbuda Mexicano

    Since I came to Japan, I look the opposite way before crossing the street, back in Mexico I would look to my left but here in Japan, if you want to get smashed down by a speeding truck, bus etc..keep only looking to your left, instead of right, right?? But now I LOOK BOTH WAYS, just in case, right??

  • 1

    Nessie

    He meant digit (tabi) socks or what ever you want to call them. Most of us have 5 fingers on each hand, and five toes on each foot. I am curious about yours now. We need a photo.

    More like gohon-yubi sokkusu. I was just referring to the fatal lack of hyphen and the mistranslation of yubi, plus the failure to use a past participle. It should be "five-toed socks."

    My feet are not for showin'; only for flippin' off.

  • 0

    lucabrasi

    It's made me way more polite and considerate of strangers, deferential even. I had a heck of a time getting served in a busy pub last time I was in England because I couldn't do the friendly-but-determined type of pushing and shoving that the English do so well on a Saturday night.

  • 0

    gyouza

    @gyouza 12 of the comments in the article were made by Americans

    This is JapanToday, it can get pretty serious here. Did you click on that MadamaRiRi link. That looks like a very light-hearted blog. So the comments there would naturally be shallow simple things.

    That is my point - it is such a light hearted discussion, so not sure such a strong reation. I'm not against your views btw.

    Do you really think it can get "pretty serious" here?

  • 1

    gyouza

    *I have to have an Oshibori or go to the bathroom to wash my hands before eating.

    Ah, now that you mention it, I always thought oshibori was needed to wipe your hands AFTER eating (I make such a mess), but in Japan I came to realise it is for washing off the filth we have all accumulated in the journey to the cafe/restaurant. Japan seems a bit too "clean" at times to my non-Japanese eyes, just wonder if everyones immune system is OK. People aren't dying everytime they touch me, so they must be OK! ;)

  • -2

    RushO'Hannity

    i saw free market capitalism for the marvel that it is.

    traveling to hong kong made the argument irrefutable.

  • 2

    vrfriend.rv

    does in Japan foreigners means American and Europeans only.......Asians and Africans also come here......no feedback from them.....how there life changes..............being Asian......this is the change i have felt................we are more confused here in Japan about the our identity..............

  • 1

    Laguna

    I will eat anything (this encompasses the Korean experience - and China - as well). Really - if others are eating it, I will not hesitate. I will put it in my mouth, chew it, actually TASTE it (this is the final step - no swallowing tidbits cleverly such that they avoid tastebud contact) - whether it be cooked, raw, or still moving.

    I have lost my ability to lie innocuously. I hate whale bacon, and when I eat it, I will put it in my mouth, chew it, actually TASTE it, and, if asked to comment, say, "That was most vile in my perspective."

  • 1

    tsukki

    I don't complain whenever I receive bad service because I find it difficult to do so in Japanese. So I just suck it in. If it were in my home country though (or any English-speaking country for that matter), you would never hear the end of it. So I guess that makes me more of a pushover (or I may seem more polite). I've also become less careful about my valuable stuff (I have this perception that no one would dare steal my wallet or phone in public) and have started caring more about fashion to keep up with the J-girls.

  • -3

    lumines

    LOL I'm addict to the tissues too!

  • -5

    edojin

    A couple of years ago I had a routine blood & urine examination that was carried out in the U.S. The findings: My body showed high levels of soy beans. So by living here in Japan for quite a while, my body itself has changed. Perhaps yours is changing, too, if you stick to the Japanese way of eating.

    A flip side to the above main question could be: How foreigners' living in Japan change in their daily doings when they return to their home country ... and their families. Like some of those mentioned above, I always take my shoes off when entering someone's home (just hope they cleaned the floor ahead of time 'cause they tend to wear shoes in the house). I find it easier to use chopsticks when eating at home or outside at restaurants. If people stare, I don't care ... I'm eating okay ... and easily. The bowing situation is now a built-in mechanism ... And I always marvel how some of those obese people can sit on two chairs and down their chow ... Even sumo guys are not as big as some of those stuffed ... what do you call them? ... pigs??

  • -2

    888naff

    seems to be just for americans that have to re-adjust according to this article ;->...

  • 5

    BurakuminDes

    A couple things that changed for my lifestyle here:

    Positive: I began riding a girly-like bicycle with a basket on it.

    Negative: I became a smoker for the first time (unwillingly) whenever I visit a cafe, restaurant or izakaya. Maybe lost a year or 2 from my life!

  • 1

    BurakuminDes

    and buy our furniture from IKEA.

    Well - you've been influenced by Swedish culture then! lol

  • 1

    AmericanForeigner

    Life doesn't have to change in Japan. My family and I made a conscious decision to keep a western lifestyle. These days with Costco and IKEA and other such stores it's easy to keep our way of life.

    In our home you wouldn't even notice you were in Japan until you looked out the window!

    Our house is also an English-speaking environment, which we wanted to do for the kids.

  • 4

    my2sense

    Classic...—I lost my sense of humor, became perverted, I sleep in trains, became addicted to vending machines, stopped going for a walk to smoke. I have become serious about everything. (Dutchman)

    and I like the gaijin in the photo...

  • -1

    Yubaru

    In our home you wouldn't even notice you were in Japan until you looked out the window!

    I guess no one in your house watches TV either huh?!?!?

  • 1

    Ranger_Miffy2

    SInce where I come from is non-smoking everywhere, running into clouds of cancer inside, especially bars and restaurants is something I just can NOT adjust to. When is Japan going to get this one going? Even France went nonsmoking and the Tour Eiffel did not fall over. Neither will T.Sky Tree.

  • -7

    LoveNot

    I think we do not need to change just because we have changed the country. Going to sleep from a luxurious bed to futon on the floor, or using chopsticks instead of fork, spoon and knife is backwards evolution and degradation, going back to the cave life or prehistorical humans. People used to sleep on the floor in ancient times, but now we live in the 21st century.

  • 1

    LoveNot

    Our house is also an English-speaking environment, which we wanted to do for the kids.

    I disagree with this. I prefer multilingual environment where many languages are spoken and mixed. Mono is bad for the brain according to the scientific research. Make your kids study and learn different foreign languages.

  • 1

    omicron

    I love Japan and the daily conveniences here. But I don't about you guys, but I feel "less happier" here and I think most Japanese are. I have a student who is studying my language and she said even though she's been to other countries, she felt happy only after visiting my country. She made friends there--real friends. She works as a trainer at an airport and she said to me that her staff "feel empty". And I kinda feel that way during my first few years here. That's why she wants to return to my country again.
    Another thing about Japan is I don't like to idea of not meeting friends anymore, even for coffee. I don't understand why, Japan is very convenient and you can travel anywhere fast yet meeting your friend even once a month is impossible. Most foreigners became busier and don't have time to meet friends. I hope you guys resist this, Find time for your friends and family. Most of the time because people don't seem to talk here and you can't even genuinely laugh. Personally, I don't like to drink coffee alone after work. I think foreigners here in Japan should show their cultures proudly. The reason many Japanese go to other countries because they want to feel free . I think they admire that a lot from other countries. Why not show them that here? I love the good food, clean environment, the nicest and the most honest people in the world here and the high tech toilets of course. But as for me, personally and culturally, I only accept things that will make me happier. And show Japanese the good things about my culture. I guess that's why I am here.

  • -15

    AmericanForeigner

    Actually, we made a decision to keep the house mono-lingual because I don't speak Japanese and I want the children to have a good future.

    We also don't watch Japanese TV because we can watch US shows on cable and so on.

    The kids go to an international school so they are only using and speaking English and I have asked my wife not to use Japanese with them at home when I am not there.

    I know many people raise their kids in a bi-lingual household but that's not for us.

    Especially with the all shocking news and cultural issues that we see here, I really think it's better for them kids to focus on being in a US-style environment, as I can't see them having any future in a Japanese one.

  • 6

    smileynirvana

    • I clap my hand when Im laughing or when Im trying to appreciate someone`s joke

    -I eat raw eggs

    -I never open or shut the taxi door

    -I have lots of point cards or member cards in my wallet

    -I`m getting hot drinks from vending machines

    -I wear surgical mask when i catch a cold

    -I pay my bills in the konbini

    -my bank is also a post office, and the atm will not only take notes but also coins for cash deposits

    -my umbrella is transparent

  • 1

    Kano Abe

    Neither I'm Japanese, nor I live in Japan, but I love Japan. I usually take my shoes off before entering home. It's a very nice custom and helps keep the floor clean.

  • 0

    Serrano

    I now have only 2 hours to put out my burnable trash two days a week, my plastic trash once a week, my old newspapers, magazines, manshon flyers, empty cans and bottles once a week, and non-burnable trash once every two weeks.

  • 2

    cleo

    we made a decision to keep the house mono-lingual because I don't speak Japanese

    Sounds like all the more reason to have the house bilingual, with a bit of input you might learn something, broaden your horizons.....

    I have asked my wife not to use Japanese with them at home

    So your wife has to speak to her own kids in a foreign language???? What possible reasoning can there be behind that?

  • 9

    DentShop

    I have asked my wife not to use Japanese with them at home when I am not there.

    guess what - she uses Japanese when youre not there.

  • 0

    electric2004

    Johannes Weber:

    Your explanation sounds reasonable. If there are radioactive particles in the atmosphere there is a relation between rain (or snow) and measured radioactivity.

    However there is a problem: While the radiation level increased, there was no rain or snow falling near Tsukuba. And the spike is higher than events seen before during the last 3 months. In other words, there must have been some kind of additional radioactive discharge at the badly damaged reactors in Fukushima.

    To see such events, it is good to check from time to time.

    Samantha:

    While in my home country, approximately 15 years ago, I bought a Geiger-counter to be able to check radioactivity for myself. However this was related to ceramic tiles for bathrooms, and floors, where some products have been found to have too high natural radiation levels. As the level was low enough, I had put the Geiger counter into storage. Then middle of last year, while I was on a trip home I brought this counter to Japan for checking at the place where I live. Lucky, the radiation level is low enough, and comparable to the levels, where I gave the links.

    In this sense, the situation in Japan has changed my habits. From checking and verifying, when there is some risk reported to periodically checking.

  • 4

    Johannes Weber

    I know many people raise their kids in a bi-lingual household but that's not for us.

    Especially with the all shocking news and cultural issues that we see here, I really think it's better for them kids to focus on being in a US-style environment, as I can't see them having any future in a Japanese one.

    A bit gross. While I can completely understand the desire of having one's children considering one's own language as their first language, I cannot understand at all how someone could deny them the pleasure of learning the language of the place where they live. From my point of view, denying children a language is almost as bad as crippling them physically.

    Children tend to suck up new linguistic systems without much effort in a span of one or two years if they are just allowed to go to kindergarten. Even Japanese children learn German or English at the level appropriate for their age in astonishingly short times. And even if they forget almost everything after leaving the country, they will have a much easier time setting their mind to a new linguistic environment. There are few things as cute as small children complaining to their parents in a language that the parents haven't mastered.

    And while this "interest deficiency" is common among people who never left the hamlet they came from - it is extremely odd to hear (or rather read) such statements from a person living on another continent different from her native environment. The ability to adapt to new environments and versatility of one's methods is far more important than the quality of one's education or the grades, one obtained at some point in life. Due to the lack of versatility of the Japanese environment, many foreigners here tend to become resourceful and interesting people.

  • 4

    Julian Onyali

    From my point of view, denying children a language is almost as bad as crippling them physically.

    From personal experience and in talking to other people with similar backgrounds, I strongly agree with this sentiment. Children with mixed (or immigrant) heritage have the opportunity to form a strong bond from birth with two often distinct cultures. It's an opportunity that shouldn't be wasted.

  • -17

    AmericanForeigner

    As I said, it's fine for some people but not for us.

    I met my wife in the states and the kids were born there. Eventually we will go back so there's no reason for them to learn Japanese I think.

    Given the general feelings of many posters regarding the disadvantages of the Japanese education system and also given that the myriad of social problems on the news seem to stem from the culture itself, I would have thought that more people would be understanding of the choices we have made.

    We may be living in Japan but we don't have to give up who we are or who we want our children to be.

  • 0

    Laguna

    Serrano - hah! My subconscious awakens me by garbage day type: Monday - plastic; Tuesday - nama; Wednesday - paper (maybe find some cool old books); Thursday: confusing, PET or glass and cans, gotta check the gomi calendar or take a walk by the spot, not a good day to wake up to; Friday: nama again.

    Kinda reminds me of that excellent Aquabats song, "Pizza Day." < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuacNr3fJcs>

  • 5

    gyouza

    As I said, it's fine for some people but not for us.

    I met my wife in the states and the kids were born there. Eventually we will go back so there's no reason for them to learn Japanese I think.

    Given the general feelings of many posters regarding the disadvantages of the Japanese education system and also given that the myriad of social problems on the news seem to stem from the culture itself, I would have thought that more people would be understanding of the choices we have made.

    We may be living in Japan but we don't have to give up who we are or who we want our children to be.

    If I read you right, you are living in a completely dysfunctional society. So there must be absolute mayhem all around you! Better get out quick!! ;)

  • 11

    bicultural

    there's no reason for them to learn Japanese I think

    Nope, none at all. It's really inconvenient when you are fluent in two languages, isn't it?

  • 2

    Iowan

    -I accept that whatever button I push on the microwave will be the wrong one

    -I know that maybe this isn't toothpaste

    -I'm more 'on guard' because streets are narrow, cars fast, street corners hidden

    -I accept that 'mildly airconditioned' means 'only if you're standing in the right spot'

    -I'm no longer freaked out when the cleaning lady enters the bathroom

    -And best: in ways I never did as a kid, I appreciate home--for me, vast miles of Iowa corn fields

  • 0

    iceshoecream

    I'm really lonely from Monday to Friday and weekends if I decide to stay home. Coz no friends ever want to come to my place in Japan. That's how my daily life changed.

  • 1

    BurakuminDes

    I met my wife in the states and the kids were born there. Eventually we will go back so there's no reason for them to learn Japanese I think.

    @ AmericanForeigner - fair f@cks to you mate. If you are living in an American enclave no problem. I can understand you not watching any Japanese TV (yes - it is garbage) - and only wanting your kids to learn what you want. I just hope you expose nthem to as much different culture as you can - a multi-cultural upbringing can surely be beneficial for them. There is no such thing as a "Mono-Culture" any more.

  • 2

    Himajin

    I'd reckon that well over 90% of posters here are foreigners in Japan.

    No, evidently. Last year one of the mods said that only 30% of the posters are in-country. I wonder of the statistics are the same as last year.

    American foreigner, your wife has no problem with your edict to speak only English at home? Your kids get Japanese as part of their curriculum at school, don't they? I'd think it would affect their grade. They don't have any trouble getting around? It just seems strange to me that you don't want them to learn the language of the country they live in, let alone that it's their mother's native language.

    the myriad of social problems on the news seem to stem from the culture itself

    Isn't that the same anywhere? I tend to think so whenever there's one of those work place shootings in the US. Do you avoid America, English and American TV because of gun culture, or any other of the unsavory aspects of American culture? No, you avoid those aspects you dislike...surely you could do the same here without forbidding your kids to learn Japanese. Japanese TV might be 'garbage' but American TV has a lot of violence...

    Laguna, that made me laugh, we only started a Tokyo-style gomi schedule in Kobe a year or two ago. Until then we had no plastic gomi separation, and steel cans, aluminum cans and pet bottles were all separate, although put out on the same day. Mornings do definitely revolve around which gomi day it is...if it's plastic, it must be Monday :-) It takes some getting used to , having gomi days five days a week. Having to buy four different kinds of bags is a pain.

    The biggest difference for me was in child-rearing. Using a front carrier a lot, going out with our son instead of leaving him with a sitter. It was a new perspective. It's great fun to wake up with your child instead of having them in another room. As he's almost 30, those days are far in the past :-D but for me that was a big change.

  • 0

    Fadamor

    I imagine the article concentrates on the European and American continents because people from those continents would experience the most "culture shock". Other Asian countries have similar customs to Japan - at least much more similar than those in Europe or the Americas.

  • 5

    Yubaru

    @Americanforeigner....(you wrote)

    As I said, it's fine for some people but not for us.

    I think if you would have written "but not for me" I could have found it easier to accept the fact that even though as I see it your methods are myopic, ethnocentric and narrow- mined, they are yours, and everyone is entitled to theirs. So why not just say "I" instead of "us", your wife and children have a say in it don't they?

    I can't imagine someone who married a "foreign" person, lives in a "foreign" land wanting to keep their children living in a bubble and not giving them the opportunity to enrich their lives and reach whatever potential they may have by literally forcing your own values and beliefs upon them whilst living abroad.

  • -14

    AmericanForeigner

    @Yubaru

    There is nothing wrong with our 'values and beliefs'. Being born in the US our children were lucky to be part of a mainstream world culture and we are proud of it.

    Before we came here, I didn't know much about Japanese lifestyles but reading the news and hearing personal stories from posters here really opened my eyes to the problems in this society, problems that my wife didn't fully illustrate to me before we came here.

    It's not so much crime as the social problems I am referring to, the bullying, the lack of empathy, the hostility to outsiders and the lack of communication. Why would I want my kids to get deeper into any of that?

    I think we having a forward-looking progressive view. Of course I work in a Japanese business environment at the office but at home that's where we draw the line!

  • 1

    YuriOtani

    Oh I have had a reverse experience adjusting to America. It feels odd to have someone apologize for getting within 3 feet of me. The cab doors do not open or close. The parking lots are HUGH though a lot of the cars and trucks are large as well. Everything is so CHEAP! Oh and lastly getting use to being the "gaijin" or foreigner. They do not separate their trash in the states. It is a strange land...

  • 2

    smileynirvana

    • I slurp loud and lift my bowls close to my face when I eat (2 things that definitely would get me a stare from my parents if we eat together back home)

    -I sometimes stand when I`m eating (tachigui), I never stand in my whole life while eating back home

    • I sometimes bought my food from a ticket machine

    -I pay to cook my own food (okonomiyaki, shabu shabu, yakiniku)

    • hailing from Kansai, I know I have to change side to stand while on the escalator when I go to Kanto

    -I send emails instead of SMS/text from my mobile

  • 1

    gyouza

    Ah, one more I remembered after reading smileynirvana's post.

    Eating food cold when it really should be hot - o-bento. Even now I just don't feel 100% satisfied with cold rice and cold grilled fish.

    Oh one more that is kind of related, drinking beer at 9am on the train - why do some people in Japan connect a train with beer and o-bento. It is just a two hour ride!! :)

  • 5

    Samantha Ueno

    AmericanForeigner-- if you don't like it, I'm sure immigration would love to show you the door! Wonder what your wife thinks about you hating the place she was born in? Bet its fun for your kids to live in a bubble too. Sounds like they will grow up to be as open-minded and well-rounded as you obviously are. Oh, and multilingual, just like Dad, right? Never mind that if they learn Japanese and kanji it would make it easier for them to study other Asian languages like Korean and Mandarin Chinese if they choose to. Being raised bilingual also has many other positive long-term effects on the brain. Did you raise your kids American-style by putting them in a separate room to cry it out and sleep alone from infancy? Using formula because your Puritan values can't handle breasts being exposed? What shows do the kids watch? There are so many wholesome reality shows these days! What do you feed the kids? Good old American food laced with HFCS, chemicals and saturated fats? Kool-Aid, Macaroni and Cheese, with a big steak and no green vegetables in sight? Buying only imported food things must cost you a fortune, and you must not really eat fresh, local vegetables. Seriously, Japan isn't perfect, and I will raise my children in America by choice, but I know America isn't perfect either.

  • 2

    Yubaru

    I think we having a forward-looking progressive view. Of course I work in a Japanese business environment at the office but at home that's where we draw the line!

    I find it hard to believe that you think you are progressive when you don't allow your children to fully experience the opportunities that living in a foreign country affords them.

    Plus with your wife being Japanese you are forcing her to adapt to** your** chosen lifestyle and do not allow her to be herself in the one place she should feel most comfortable, at home in her home country.

    It is a fact, I know from personal experience, if your children are not afforded the opportunity to experience both languages they will not be able to communicate in either one or the other, you have forced them to only use English and their Japanese will be stunted st best.

    I dont call that progressive, it's regressive at best.

  • 0

    lrodriguezsosa

    "I got used to being treated as a foreigner." (American man)

    Bravo for you. Almost no american can do such a simple thing. Doh! If you're not in America... then you're a foreigner. Get use to it!

  • 6

    Yubaru

    @AmericanForeigner.......

    and the lack of communication.

    Try learning Japanese I am sure you'll get better at communication then!

  • 1

    Wurthington

    Biggest plus regarding how my life changed when I came to Japan... hmmm... I like Japanese shower / bathrooms. Compared to a regular Western style bath/shower, to me at least Japan wins hands down. Biggest negative... 3 day weekends and holiday travel in Japan. Roads extremely crowded and when you get to your destination it seems like a million people are there already. Never get the feeling of privately enjoying something. Of course in a country with 126 million people in a place the size of California its to be expected.

  • 1

    Yubaru

    Why are non-Japanese being called "Foreigners" on an English speaking website?

    Because we are what we are here in Japan, foreigners. Whether the site be in English or not doesn't matter really. As there are a number of Japanese speakers here too!

    And by the way the Website doesn't "speak"

  • -9

    AmericanForeigner

    @Samantha Ueno

    You readily criticize the lifestyle in the US but then the real kicker is that you say you want to raise your children there anyway!

    You're certainly not alone in that as the American lifestyle is highly attractive to immigrants but I dont think the Japanese one is.

    Of course we take our shoes off in the house but that doesn't mean we have to slavishly follow every Japanese custom.

    I understand that studying a foreign language is beneficial but when weighed against the potential dangers of the kids being exposed to too much Japanese culture we made our own decision and I hope people can respect that!

  • 0

    kurisupisu

    Bought a Geiger counter .........

  • 2

    kurisupisu

    @Americanforeigner

    There are studies out there that show children raised in a bilingual environment actually do better academically.

    You might want to reconsider your stance on your children's education in view of this?

  • 5

    NetNinja

    @Yubaru, your country stops at my door. If I share a domicile with someone of course they are permitted to have their culture in the home. As another person said earlier....You won't see anything of Japan in my home till you look out the window. It's the same here.

    Oh and the TV? AppleTV and / or Slingbox, HULU, and YouTube. I thought you worked for NHK when you asked that question. NAH, no NHK in here. Can you come in??? NO!!! This is my home....this is my door. I'm the Immigration Officer here. I don't think you are a mean person Yubaru, not at all. Just want you to know you cross the line when you start thinking that inside the domicile where I pay the rent is also Japanese controlled.

  • 0

    cleo

    weighed against the potential dangers of the kids being exposed to too much Japanese culture

    Presumably Mrs AmericanForeigner grew up exposed to Japanese culture. Are you saying it made her into a flawed person? Then why marry her? What's so horrible about your missus that you don't want the kids to pick up? If she came through OK, why do you imagine your kids would fare less well? Do you also refuse to allow the kids to speak to and interact with the Japanese side of the family?

  • 0

    Himajin

    Cleo, you do have to wonder what he and his family is doing here at all....he speaks no Japanese, work must be hard to adjust to, the kids can't make friends out of their little bubble, and his wife can't relax on her home country. Sounds like hell to me...

  • 0

    Ivan Coughanoffalot

    MY daily life changed when I started living in Japan because I realised that I would never again be able to criticise the quality of British television. I used to think it was quite often garbage, but next to what passes for entertainment here, I suddenly found The Krankies highbrow, thought-provoking and cerebral by comparison.

  • -1

    NetNinja

    I'm going to side with AmericanForeigner here. I'm coming to his aid but not totally to his defense.

    @AF You and your wife make your own rules. As long as she doesn't feel suffocated then I guess you are okay.

    Now there are some things about Japan that cross the line when it comes to personal freedom and religion. I think I need to keep it brief though. Just a couple examples of where I would NEVER compromise but Japan tries to force it's will.

    The children and those GODLY expensive backpacks...help me here...what do you call them? I've seen them in the stores priceed at 30,000+ and those ridiculous shorts they make boys where. IF I were a parent I don't want my boy wearing those ridiculous shorts. Based on culture, you try to make it policy, then the standard. It's cold outside, I'm not making my kid wear those.

    Girls: No, I won't allow my daughter to go to school dressed like a hooker ready for Enjo-kosai. Who said my daughter has to wear a short skirt for you, sensei? I'm so ready to punch you in the nose for trying to force your culture. I'm from a Christian family (Mi CASA) and I will raise a girl to be a lady. Can't have your negative Lolita daughter influence my Mini Me.

    For most of you reading this thread.....here's the kicker!!! I'm about to tell you why they think you have to play by their rules and not your own. Are you ready for this??

    Because you don't get a Koseki-Tohin!!! You as a non-Japanese resident of Japan are NOT allowed to have one. You, Mr. AF, are not the head of your household if you don't have your wife under your name.

    In fact, those of you who marry Japanese women or men are on THEIR Koseki....so that basically means this.....she's on loan to you. It's a lease, not ownership. You don't have a family in Japan. You are NOT allowed to.

    Go ahead, say all you want. Never take your personal freedom for granted. Avoid the dangerous game of being "Domesticated" in Japan. Be true to yourself and your parents for everything they believed in too.

  • -7

    Cat5

    Cleo, you do have to wonder what he and his family is doing here at all

    Could be military, often don`t have the choice to be here.

  • 0

    Himajin

    Very true.

  • 1

    smileynirvana

    @netninja

    its called arandoseru...ran ran ran randoseru wa ten ten ten tenshin no hane! is it me or this commercials tune`s just catchy :D

  • 2

    Himajin

    Actually, NetNinja, the skirts aren't supposed to be short, the girls hike them up in defiance of the rules.

  • 0

    cleo

    The children and those GODLY expensive backpacks...help me here...what do you call them? I've seen them in the stores priceed at 30,000+

    They're called randoseru and yes they are expensive. But they do last the whole 6 years, which works out at ¥5,000 a year. You'd pay that for cheaper more stylish bags that wore out before one term was ended.

    and those ridiculous shorts they make boys where(sic). IF I were a parent I don't want my boy wearing those ridiculous shorts.

    What 'ridiculous shorts they make boys wear'? My son was never made to wear any ridiculous shorts. In winter he wore jeans to elementary school, proper long trousers to junior and senior high.

    I won't allow my daughter to go to school dressed like a hooker ready for Enjo-kosai. Who said my daughter has to wear a short skirt for you, sensei?

    Send your little lady to a school (public or private) with good academic standards and the length of the skirt is no problem. My daughter and her mates all had their skirts touching the floor when they were kneeling down, checked regularly at school. Yes, some of them would hoike them up once they got out of the school gate, but there was no sensei trying to force girls into short skirts. You do realise it's the PTA together with the school board and the local BoE that decide the uniforms, not the teachers?

    I'm so ready to punch you in the nose for trying to force your culture. I'm from a Christian family (Mi CASA) and I will raise a girl to be a lady.

    lol Christian values include punching teachers in the nose? Monster parent alert.....

    you don't get a Koseki-Tohin!!! You as a non-Japanese resident of Japan are NOT allowed to have one.

    Duh. The koseki is a register of Japanese nationals. If you want to rant about not being allowed dual nationality I'll join you and maybe drown you out, but the koseki? Who cares?

    (Mod, why does the preview button throw up a 'null'?

  • 0

    mastertigurius

    I have to partially agree with NetNinja regarding the feeling of "belonging" in Japan. I love Japan, it's a great place, and it was wonderful to live there - but I would never be able to feel like I belonged there, simply because I'm "gaijin". When you think about it; have you ever met or even seen a person with non-Japanese background who can honestly call himself Japanese? I guess if you have Korean or Chinese ancestry, you might pull it off, but for a Westerner or someone from South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa or South America; no way. The term "Japanese" is very much reserved for an ethnic group, not just a legal status. I had a professor in university who was born and raised in New York (Italian ancestry, I believe). He had lived in Japan for more than 30 years, spoke Japanese better and more eloquently than most Japanese people do, and was even personally acquainted with the imperial family. If you ask me, no one would deserve the title of "Japanese" more than him. Would anyone refer to him as Japanese? I honestly don't think so.

  • 1

    Nessie

    They're called randoseru and yes they are expensive. But they do last the whole 6 years, which works out at ¥5,000 a year. You'd pay that for cheaper more stylish bags that wore out before one term was ended.

    My high-end 12,000 yen knapsack's lasted me ten years. Anecdotal, I know.

  • 2

    LoveNot

    But they do last the whole 6 years, which works out at ¥5,000 a year. You'd pay that for cheaper more stylish bags that wore out before one term was ended.

    What I do not understand is why the kids are forced to have the same bags? If a kid wants a cheaper bag in different style, the school will not allow it? There is no diversity at all allowed, no individuality.

  • -1

    It"S ME

    Randoseru start at 8.000Yen and go up.

    The basic design is fixed but can come in many colours. Often private schools will insist that the randoseru is bought at a special shop as it will also have the school-logo on it.

    Public schools any randoseru bought at Nittori, Super, Departo, etc is acceptable.

  • 0

    BurakuminDes

    When you think about it; have you ever met or even seen a person with non-Japanese background who can honestly call himself Japanese?

    Yes - only one man. His name is Arudou Debito.

  • -1

    cleo

    The way it was explained to me is that storage space in the classroom is extremely limited, and the shelves along the classroom wall are just the right size to accommodate one regulation-size randoseru, one regulation-size shoe bag, etc., per kid. If kids started bringing in different sizes and shapes of bag they won't fit on the shelves if they're too big, and the stuff the kids are expected to take home won't fit in the bags if they're too small.

    Nessie, has your anecdotal high-end knapsack been kicked from one end of the playground to the other every day bar Sunday by a 10-year-old?

  • -1

    Spidey

    Learning not to speak my mind so much. Or as this society would have it, not at all. But maybe that's a good thing. (^_-)

    S

  • -4

    CapnSinbad

    After 26 years here, I have learned while living in Tokyo anyway, not to avert my gaze away from straight ahead lest I lock eyes with the locals who feel impelled to do so often with threatening or fear-filled eyes. For this reason, I limit my peripheral vision to a degree or two to each side either on my bicycle or walking to avoid the stare-downs which inevitably occur. I stay home more to avoid same and rarely ever go into any store other than a combini and even then the clerks' eyes tend to follow me around the store as they try and see what I'm planning to steal. I don't even buy from vending machines as I can see the suspicious eyes on me wondering how I'm ripping the machine off. I rarely go to restaurants either as I can feel their eyes on my every bite like one would do watching animals in a zoo at feeding time. Paranoid ? No, a sad veteran.

  • 1

    cleo

    ..lest I lock eyes with the locals who feel impelled to do so often with threatening or fear-filled eyes.

    You could try smiling at them....

    Paranoid ?

    Yes.

  • 1

    smileynirvana

    i enjoy my life being a gaijin here, but i`m never pretentious or try to endure (gaman) like most japanese, as a gaijin, i tell it as it is....

    for example, no matter how hard i try, i would never be able to enjoy onsens (being naked with someone else and soaking in boiling hot water to begin with is just not my cup of tea), i prefer my ohuro where i have my privacy and i can also adjust the comfortable temperature.

    i dont do sabisu zangyo (working overtime without getting paid for the sake of the company), when work times done, im gone, id rather spend time with my family at home, regardless what the japanese colleagues would think, i just dont care :D

    i don`t do warikan (sharing the bills), you pay for what you drink or eat, i think warikan is just a form of pawahara (power harassment) when the bosses order and drink whatever they want and asking kohai non alcoholic drinker to share the same bill, doing warikan in nomikais is just unfair

    all and all i`m just trying to be myself, never trying to please anyone and trying to enjoy my Japan moment each and everyday (something i prolly would miss if i go home)

  • -14

    AmericanForeigner

    @cleo

    Actually that was a bit of a point of contention with my wife. I get that the grandparents want to spend time with their grandchildren but I do try to limit contact with others members of the family.

    Now, that may sound harsh, but the other kids in the family don't speak English so it's hard for me to know what they are saying to my kids, plus there's the risk of exposure to things like Japanese comics that I don't think is appropriate for my children. My wife was a bit taken aback at first but we talked it through and I took a pretty strong position on it so we mostly only see them at Christmas and new year now.

  • 4

    Maria

    God, this whole thread, all these comments, the initial article, it's deeply sad, disheartening, depressing, and just plays straight into that wretched old chestnut that makes Japan, and living here, out to be somehow special and more different than any other new place or situation we find ourselves in throughout our lives. Everything takes adapting to, a tweaking of behaviour. Only a lonely, unhappy fool expects the world to adapt to them. The fact that taking off shoes indoors even has to be mentioned... and chopsticks too (used by how many countries in Asia again? )... I find the self-enforced isolation of some of the posters specially saddening. Depriving your children of a full life experience of another country, not allowing them to form their own memories and opinions, because of your own preconceptions and half-baked ideas... What a shame. There's nothing I'm prouder of than having the opportunity to be raised in a bilingual household - it's enriched my life no end. This whole "us vs. Them" mentality makes some of you sound like absolute tinfoil hatters, quite honestly. I repeat, it's such a shame.

  • 4

    Himajin

    Yes, Maria, I agree.

  • 9

    cleo

    "> I do try to limit contact with others members of the family. Now, that may sound harsh

    Harsh isn't the word I'd choose.

    the other kids in the family don't speak English so it's hard for me to know what they are saying to my kids

    So learn Japanese. You owe it to your kids.

    Why would you imagine that other kids would be saying things to your kids that they need to be protected from?

    plus there's the risk of exposure to things like Japanese comics that I don't think is appropriate for my children

    Funny, both my kids are fluent in both Japanese and English and 'the risk of exposure to things like Japanese comics' has never been a problem. Maybe if you read a bit of Japanese you'd be able to decide what was good and what was not and guide their reading in a positive way, instead of indulging in blind paranoia and shutting them off from society.

    we mostly only see them at Christmas and new year now.

    So you're depriving your kids of half their family, depriving them of half their heritage, depriving them of natural intercourse with their mother... all because you can't be bothered to learn the language of the woman you married? And you don't trust her to raise her kids as she sees fit?"

  • -1

    Ivan Coughanoffalot

    I have learned, since I arrived here, to challenge my preconceptions.

    I had always believed concepts like stubbornness, arrogance, blind jingoism, xenophobia and narrow-mindedness to be negative character traits. Similarly, I used to have this notion that hawking and spitting up phlegm when in a crowd of people was unpleasant and insanitary.

    However, I have learned that, if performed by a man in his fifties or above, such displays are actually perfectly acceptable, and indeed often admirable characteristics.

    As my fifties approach with terrifying rapidity, I find such a revelation most liberating. What a wonderful culture!

  • 5

    hworta269

    Samantha I am America and I have no problems with women breast feeding!

    Americanforeigner You married a Japanese woman, had kids with her and refuse to let your kids spend time with her family because you dont know what the kids are saying? There is a less drastic solution to that issue, kids are easier to understand then adults, just learn some Japanese. A total unwillingness to compromise. I find it extremely odd you chose to marry a woman when you dont trust anyone in the country to including kids.

  • 1

    hworta269

    I like raising my kid in Japan because I think its a far superior environment to most the big cities in the states for families. I like and prefer the shower rooms and the separation of the shower and toilets. I like the bidets. My daily life did not change so much. The much larger change in my daily life came from me moving from rural Texas to big honking Wiesbaden Germany.

  • 0

    genji17

    lot more nomikais here...

  • 5

    kyushugrl84

    Actually that was a bit of a point of contention with my wife. I get that the grandparents want to spend time with their grandchildren but I do try to limit contact with others members of the family.

    Now, that may sound harsh, but the other kids in the family don't speak English so it's hard for me to know what they are saying to my kids, plus there's the risk of exposure to things like Japanese comics that I don't think is appropriate for my children. My wife was a bit taken aback at first but we talked it through and I took a pretty strong position on it so we mostly only see them at Christmas and new year now.

    I am in no way judging your decisions on how to raise your family and if in fact you and your wife made these decisions together then power to the both of you but i do think you should be careful.

    How you would you like it if the tables were turned. Your wife was calling the shots and said well since you wont let our children visit my family then I wont let them visit yours either. Is it ok for her to keep your children away from YOUR parents??

    The thing is when i was growing up my mother absolutely loathed my fathers parents. there was a special level of hate she had for them. But she never kept us (me and my siblings) away from them because they were our family. and wether she liked them or not she understood that it wasnt about her and that we (the children) deserved to have both sets of grandparents in our lives.

    You are planning on returning to the USA eventually no? what is the harm in allowing the inlaws some chance to get to know your children a little better? so your kids learn some japanese which you dont want them to do. to be honest once they return the the USA and arnt using japanese everyday they will forget most of it and they will adopt a USA lifestyle. I really feel some of your fears of them assimilating permantly to a 100 percent japanese mentailty just by speaking a bit of japanese are for nothing.

    They are already going to international school and speaking english at home the chance that they will grow up to be little japanese drones is highly unlikely.

    I:m sure you love you family and wife dearly. not allowing you kids to see their grandparents more often i:m sure hurts your wife in many ways though she might not say it. you said you strongly voiced your oppinion about it. are you sure you didnt just push it on her and she relented despite maybe having serious reservations towards it?? I don:t know you so I wont judge but for your sake you should be sure that your wife really is in fact on board because everyone (even extremely tolarant and paitent japanese ladies) have their breaking point.

  • 2

    Noripinhead

    --I suck in air when I'm embarrassed.

    --I read the Japanese subtitles on English and American films.

    --I drink "genki juices" on a regular basis.

    --I make a salad for breakfast.

    --I look forward to late night cooking shows.

    --I have a hard time finding the quotation marks on an Western keyboard.

  • 1

    Ian Duncan

    One of the most wonderful ways in which my life has changed is I now no longer feel embarrassed when I'm stuck in a boring conversation with someone I don't really have anything to say to.

    I tell him/her something entirely humdrum, such as "I think I'm going to have some wine with my dinner", but as I'm doing it I smile a bit too widely, nod, and make a kind of inhaling noise three times in the rhythm of laughter.

    Hey presto! I'm transformed into a master raconteur. What a wonderful place.

  • 0

    Spidey

    Oh yeah!! Having to be wary of people habitually running red lights. From newbies to grannies...Beware!!

  • 1

    oginome

    Go ahead, say all you want. Never take your personal freedom for granted. Avoid the dangerous game of being "Domesticated" in Japan. Be true to yourself and your parents for everything they believed in too.

    What happened to make you feel so weirdly about Japan?

  • 2

    Yubaru

    @Netninja...

    If I share a domicile with someone of course they are permitted to have their culture in the home.

    Just so long as that person isn't your spouse I take it? Which is the point with AF btw, he won't allow his wife to speak her native language to their children, so what do you call that?

    You made a comment about the short skirts as well, someone else pointed it out and I will too, your child doesnt have to wear their skirt so short, and in reality there is NO school that has rules that allow it either. However another sad reality is that schools don't always enforce their rules and the girls are free to do as they please after they are out of school.

    It all depends upon how you raise your own children when it comes to issues like this one.

  • 1

    Howdy Doody

    Why so serious? Why not keep it light hearted and simple? Well that would be following Japanese culture. We Americans prefer to speak on tough real issues.

    Good point, American values are quite good ... well most of them. When I was back home in the States, I still knew a few people who swore gun ownership was a must and couldn't understand people who didn't pack one. I guess being here too long I take it for granted that I can actually walk the streets at night without getting mugged or beaten up. Some of my friends (including myself) has been a victim of some sort of crime (burglary, car theft, vandalism, breaking into a car, road rage, etc.). Luckily it wasn't the extremely violent type you hear so often (muggings, rape, murder, etc.). I wouldn't dare sleep on the train or bus back home, lest I risk my wallet or bag getting stolen. I go back home, and I really got to get my guard up. That and remember to tip at restaurants, taxis, barbers, hotels, etc.

  • 1

    YuriOtani

    Am shocked to hear the views on some of the American men. Do you control your wife's lives as well? Tell them who they can or can not talk to? Guys you are headed for divorce, gee no wonder some Japanese women prohibit all contact by their ex husbands. My question is why did you move to Japan, marry a Japanese women but detest all things Japanese? Oklahoma is strange to me but most of the people are very kind. True there is one in every crowd but the Okies do not put up with their nonsense. You are in Japan now and nobody expects you to conform to every local custom but you need to show others respect to receive it.

  • 1

    Ishiwara

    "Especially with the all shocking news and cultural issues that we see here, I really think it's better for them kids to focus on being in a US-style environment, as I can't see them having any future in a Japanese one."

    I am shocked to read comments like this. We just moved to the US, and we're seriously thinking of going back to Japan since we find it impossible to adapt here. What we miss from Japan: good food, good public transport system, good public health system, good eduction system (American kids are taught nothing but a big ego), good food, tea, kotatsu, silly Japanese TV, izakaya, konbini,...good food.

    Also, it is often said that Japanese are workaholic, but Americans are much worse off, they never relax, always talk about work and problems. And the economy is going downhill, but national pride is not. I find it hard to see a future here.

  • 4

    Ishiwara

    @ Americanforeigner

    Not showing your kids Japanese TV because of "all the problems in Japanese society"? I hope once you eventually return to the US, you will show them the real America: homelessness, gangs, violence, drug-addiction, illiteracy.

  • 4

    tamanegi

    I don't live in Japan. I survive in Japan just like the locals.

  • -1

    YuriOtani

    @ Americanforeigner, Japanese TV shows are lame compared to American television. The way they horse about with dead bodies on some of them. Look youngster, good makeup huh? you can see the corpses throat was slashed. The things they do on some of the others. tamanegi, please tell me about all of the bad things in Japan. How is living in America better? Oh there is no such thing as "the American culture".

  • 2

    nec123a

    the picture needs a caption, like: "Really, you eat with sticks、AND are convinced this requires comment"? Or, "So....I shouldn't shove these in your eyes after the zillionth time you praise me"?

  • 0

    Yubaru

    The world must be coming to an end today, I agree with Yuri's comment here;

    Am shocked to hear the views on some of the American men. Do you control your wife's lives as well? Tell them who they can or can not talk to? Guys you are headed for divorce, gee no wonder some Japanese women prohibit all contact by their ex husbands.My question is why did you move to Japan, marry a Japanese women but detest all things Japanese?

    No one is suggestion that everyone "turn" Japanese, never gonna happen, but there is nothing wrong either with allowing it into one's home too.

    People can keep their own countries culture and language alive without going overboard.

    Unfortunately it seems that people can not find a middle ground in their own lives and unfortunately as well their wives and children must suffer from their stubbornness and inflexibility.

  • -2

    sfjp330

    The cultural difference may be overcome, as long as each partner keeps an open mind. The biggest problem can be the family in-laws and their expectation of son-in-law or daughter-in-law. Like anything else, the relationship depends on the people. Typically Japanese who date foreigner are unique onto themselves, much like American who date Foreigners. Both see the world and people in a different ways.

    As for problems with a Japanese wife, how the families feel about the marriage? Marriage is a different thing. In Japan especially, being pure Japanese is very important and to be married to a foreigner make you something like being openly gay. In the back of their mind they feel a bit uncomfortable about it. Also, the language is a huge thing. Many have a hard time speaking to in-laws and from time to time you need to translate for your spouse. Some think well he is a washed up guy who could not get a girl in the U.S so he had to go abroad or he want a women who would be his slave girl.

  • 0

    Mark Bradley

    My list from living in Japan: -spending more money because there is always a department store around the next corner -going to the convenience store a lot from almost never in Canada because its actually convenient -cooking different dishes because some items are either too expensive or not available -enjoyed sleeping on the floor -felt like I had to use my time more wisely and that every moment counted more maybe because I could sense I wouldn't be in Japan for the long run

  • 1

    cleo

    In Japan especially, being pure Japanese is very important and to be married to a foreigner make you something like being openly gay

    I read stuff like this a lot on JT, yet in real life I have never once come across it. Most people seem envious that he has a real-live blued-eyed blonde for his wife, and good-looking haaf kids.

    Also, the language is a huge thing. Many have a hard time speaking to in-laws

    Easily fixed; learn the language.

  • 0

    hworta269

    I agree with Cleo, I hear all these kind of things yet in real life I have never come across it. All most everyone my wife knows is a little jealous of her for having an American or foreigner Husband. Her mom and dad dont speak hardly any Japanese so I learn little by little and they try to learn English. Thats the real secret, if they think you are trying to meet them in the middle, it's been my experience that Japanese people will also work on meeting you in the middle. But to go to another country and expect everyone to learn the foreign language, is that not a bit rude? I have always encouraged my wife to go and visit with her parents as often as she can, because you never know when the last time you see someone will be the last time. The close family values and closeness of relatives is something I strongly admire about not just Japanese but most Asian cultures, it is something I think Americans should emulate, like we used to. But to marry a Japanese woman and then to turn their back on the tight knit family it throwing away the best aspect of marrying a Japanese woman, in my humble opinion.

  • 0

    hworta269

    My previous post I meant my wife's mom and dad dont speak hardly any English and I am learning Japanese bit by bit lol

  • 0

    sfjp330

    cleo Jan. 27, 2012 - 08:12AM JST. I read stuff like this a lot on JT, yet in real life I have never once come across it. Most people seem envious that he has a real-live blued-eyed blonde for his wife, and good-looking haaf kids.

    Reality is foreigners that are living in Tokyo or other large cities in Japan can say this. For many decades, people in Tokyo are used to interact with gaigin. If you live as a couple in a small town far away from the big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, you will encounter more traditional views. Tokyo is not a true reflections on rest of Japan.

  • 0

    Samantha Ueno

    I agree with Netninja, that is one of the reasons I want to raise children here. Here, children (and adults) aren't forced to blindly adhere to the status quo like sheep. In American high school, if it's -5 outside and god forbid a girl wants to wear long underwear and long pants and a winter down coat.....SHE CAN! In America we don't send preschoolers to school in t-shirts and shorts with kneesocks either. And yes...no randoseru! If my boy wants a red backpack, he's got it. If my girl wants a blue one, it's done! I don't agree with taking away children's individuality and innocence and making them study 8+ hours a day so they can get a high score on a test. I would rather they learn how to think for themselves and use logic and common sense in their daily lives! So, unlike AmericanForeigner, I will give my children the opportunity to learn and experience as much as they can (we will live in Hawaii so they can experience lots of Japanese culture as well as Chinese, Korean, Hawaiian, and of course American.) and then they can choose and decide for themselves what aspects of which languages and cultures appeal to them, and when its time for them to get married they can marry anyone they like. It's really ironic that AmericanForeigner says being part of a "mainstream culture" will "help" his children but really he is shutting out any influences that HE doesn't like and isolating them.

  • 2

    cleo

    Reality is foreigners that are living in Tokyo or other large cities in Japan can say this. For many decades, people in Tokyo are used to interact with gaigin. If you live as a couple in a small town far away from the big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, you will encounter more traditional views. Tokyo is not a true reflections on rest of Japan.

    I've lived the past 20+ years in a very small rural town in deepest darkest Tochigi. Before that I lived in a tiny village on the Japan Sea side. PLease don't try to tell me what it's like 'far away from the big cities'. Here, people accept you for what you are; in Tokyo they insist on trying to speak English, or stay away because they don't speak English.

    My MiL has commented that she used to have a son and a daughter, then her son got married and now she has two daughters. I've never felt not accepted. Can't say we've never had our problems, but no more than Japanese ladies have with their Japanese in-laws - maybe less, because they expect a foreign SiL/DiL to be different and can just shrug their shoulders instead of insisting that we do everything their way or 'the Japanese way' (which I gather differs from family to family :-)).

  • -2

    It"S ME

    Agree with the others.

    AmericanForeigner you might think you are doing the right stuff based on a few little titbits you read on JT, etc. Neither can I believe that your company just dumped you and your family here on a short notice qwith no preparations. People tend to inform themselves about their new location(helps if wife is from there).

    How do you take your family out and order stuff, etc if you can't speak japanese and don't the wife to use it either? How do you get a hair-cut?

    Also not sure how your job-prospects are looking after refusing a business-trip to Osaka and not getting to know the local culture and language.

    Same token I don't see your kids(& wife) being approving of being prevented from exploring Japan, etc.

    Not an attack, I don't know your future plans for your family so international school might be the wise choice, but life consists of way more than just work, school & Family.

    And of course you won't understand/approve of Japan(or anywhere else) unless you are willing to learn the local lingo and get involved in the culture and try to understand it.

    Just my view.

  • -1

    It"S ME

    Forgot to add.

    Across the globe speaking 2-4 languages is pretty much the norm, many can do 5 or more. Ditto with exposure to different cultures.

    In the end once you have travelled a countries and experienced a few cultures you will be influenced but still yourself.

  • -15

    AmericanForeigner

    I certainly wouldn't want my kids speaking a language I don't understand! Too much potential for things slipping under the radar.

    Nothing wrong with wanting the kids to focus on the American side, that's their best bet for the future.

    It does bring up the whole nature versus nurture debate though, I sometimes wonder what kind of latent traits may be hidden under the surface...

  • 3

    cleo

    I certainly wouldn't want my kids speaking a language I don't understand! Too much potential for things slipping under the radar.

    You need to take an anti-paranoid pill. Even if the kids speak only the same language as you, are you going to sit on their backs every time they interact with another kid, or adult, just to make sure you know everything that's going on? Because if you're not there monitoring their every word, what does it matter what language they're speaking?

    In addition to English and Japanese, which we share, my son also speaks 2 other languages fluently (sounds darn fluent to me, at least) and is working to acquire another couple. I think his bilingual upbringing has played a very large part in making it relatively easy for him to pick up languages as an adult, and his bicultural upbringing has given him the ability to walk with confidence in a variety of milieux. If you're not a troll, you really do not appreciate what a disservice you are doing your kids.

    Nothing wrong with wanting the kids to focus on the American side

    Nothing wrong with wanting all kinds of stuff. But you're selling your kids short if you think that they can handle only one or the other culture/language. Your kids have much, much greater potential and capacity for learning than you give them credit for.

    It does bring up the whole nature versus nurture debate though

    No it doesn't. Despite having 50% of their DNA from their mum, they're not going to be able to speak Japanese if they're not exposed to it.

  • 6

    Txbullnettle

    I was in Japan doing home-stay for a while, and got a crash course on many things Japanese I've been reading and heard about over the last several years. I have many Japanese friends here, so I was pretty familiar with much of the culture already. The biggest adjustment for me was coming back to the states and thinking things looked so dirty.

    Before going to Japan, I could count on one hand the number of times I've taken public transportation. Growing up in Texas out in the country there was never much use for buses or taxis. Public transportation was extremely easy to navigate throughout Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. The few times I wasn't sure where I was going I had people stop and help me.

    My biggest surprise there was the bathrooms... There were bathroom shoes in all the homes I visited, and I discovered the joys of fully automated toilets!!! :-D

    @American Foreigner, I understand being cautious but whenever I hear someone talking about isolating his wife and children from family an alarm starts screaming, "CULT!" in the back of my mind. There's no good reason for not letting kids learn another language, and many excellent reasons for learning other languages have already been listed here. To be perfectly honest, the flaws in Japanese society that are often discussed on this forum seem to embody the very argument being made against discovering a new culture. I'd even be inclined to say that you, American Foreigner, very strongly resemble the supposed 'monster' you're attempting to protect your kids from in the first place. Like that old saying goes about the one-eyed horse that was so scared of falling off a bridge on its blind side that it ended up falling off on its seeing side.

  • -18

    AmericanForeigner

    @cleo

    It's that 50% of the DNA that gives me the heebie jeebies sometimes. There are a lot of aspects to the culture that I don't want my kids to pick up but it's there in their genes and possibly language acquisition could activate that.

    Anyway, you can never be too careful when it comes to your own kids!

  • 6

    Himajin

    it's there in their genes and possibly language acquisition could activate that.

    I think that's one of the most ignorant things I've ever read on this site, and that's saying something.

  • 3

    cleo

    It's that 50% of the DNA that gives me the heebie jeebies sometimes. There are a lot of aspects to the culture that I don't want my kids to pick up but it's there in their genes and possibly language acquisition could activate that.

    That is not only ignorant, as Hima has already said - it is extremely insulting to your wife. If her culture gives you the 'heebie jeebies' what on earth induced you to marry her? And to have kids with her? You are not being careful with your kids, you are being insulting and overbearing. They deserve better, much better.

  • 1

    T_rexmaxytime

    Haha this is classis

    I lost my sense of humor, became perverted, I sleep in trains, became addicted to vending machines, stopped going for a walk to smoke. I have become serious about everything. (Dutchman)

    I understand where he is coming from but his comments are so degrading lol and expressing stereotype of modern Japanese subculture.

  • -11

    AmericanForeigner

    @cleo

    As I mentioned before, I met my wife in the states and the kids were born there. She speaks perfect English and is very westernized, so no problem there.

    We came over here for my work and thought it would be nice for the wife to catch up with family and friends. She talked a lot about the ins and outs of daily life, Japanese habits and so on but reading people's experiences with this culture on JT was a real eye-opener for me! A lot of things my wife didn't tell me, and didn't seem to want to acknowledge when I found out but I think they don't like to talk about or admit the darker aspects of what goes on.

    My instinct was to protect the kids by keeping them surrounded with the lifestyle and culture they already know rather than getting caught up in a new one that could be potentially adverse.

    Americans like to focus on independent thinking, equality and love of family, that's something to admire isn't it?

  • 4

    YuriOtani

    AmericanForeigner, second try at posting. I am wondering why did you married a Japanese women? You have no interest in the culture. Not sure why you are in Japan. Again culture is not in the genes but what is taught. A kid with western genes can be raised to be fully "Japanese". I do not understand your fears. Western culture has its share of problems as well. The best thing we can do is to teach our children to be tolerant of others. Examine our prejudices and not pass them on. About your fear of hentai comics, well there is a lot of printed porn in the USA. There is no escape from it. So how do you keep Japanese from your home while living in Japan?

  • 1

    Himajin

    A lot of things my wife didn't tell me,

    You keep saying this, but....your computer doesn't have Google? You make a decision to go live in another country and don't do any research?

    "Independent thinking" ? You certainly aren't allowing your children or wife to think independently.

    You can't be for real....

  • 0

    tokyotom

    all my commute's home go through roppongi

  • 0

    DentShop

    equality of family

    As long as they arent Japanese I take it?

  • 4

    cleo

    I met my wife in the states and the kids were born there. She speaks perfect English and is very westernized, so no problem there.

    Mr cleo and I met in Japan and the kids were born here. I speak perfect Japanese and am very well assimilated, but if he'd ever suggested I not speak English to my own kids there would have been a huge problem.

    reading people's experiences with this culture on JT was a real eye-opener for me!

    Try reading people's experiences with American culture (gun crime, muggings, rape, porn, fundamentalist Christians burning down doctors' surgeries, lynchings, police violence.....much, much worse than anything you'll find about Japan on JT). If you judge it on the same level you judge Japan, you won't be able to go home.

    I think they don't like to talk about or admit the darker aspects of what goes on.

    And maybe your first topic of conversation is Columbine? Non-existent weapons of mass destruction? The Gulf of Tonkin? My Lai? The KKK?

    Americans like to focus on independent thinking, equality and love of family

    But you're not allowing your wife and kids any independent thinking or equality, and you're cutting them off from their family. You're trampling your so-called American values in the mud.

  • -13

    AmericanForeigner

    No Cleo, I'm protecting them from a culture that seems to place priority on obedience to authority and company rather than individual freedom.

  • 3

    cleo

    I'm protecting them from a culture that seems to place priority on obedience to authority and company rather than individual freedom.

    And you're doing it by taking away their individual freedom?

  • 0

    cleo

    I would add that since you refuse to learn the language, you have no idea about Japanese culture except what others with the same mindset as yourself (=other people who know nothing) feed to you.

  • -11

    AmericanForeigner

    not at all, I've learned plenty about the culture and lifestyle right here on JT, it's been a godsend!

  • 2

    kwbrow2

    @American Foreigner If you are not careful you will end up like many other foreigners. Your wife will return home to Japan and cut you completely out of your kids lives. You will have to go through the dysfunctional court system in Japan. You will definitely lose, not because you did anything wrong per say, but because you are not in possession of your kids. Then all those ideals that you hold onto will be shattered. Your unwillingness to see the benefits of Japan and its culture will lead to the demise of your family. Eventually your wife will see the light. The only question is when!

  • -8

    AmericanForeigner

    Actually my wife fully understands, don't forget she's the one who moved to the US to make a better life for herself!

    At first she thought I was being overly-cautious but I showed her several stories here on JT and when she couldn't explain them away she had to admit I had a point.

    Of course she wants the kids to have a better future in the US like she did and we are only here for a few years so it's no big deal really.

    I mean I think you all know the deal here, you can try to fit in as much as you like, change to your lifestyle to a fully Japanese one but you will always be treated as a foreigner or a guest so what's the point?

  • 1

    PeaceWarrior

    so what's the point?

    What an amazingly stunted way to look at the world. But then again, since January 17th, you have been making these sorts of flashy comments, making you look like a troll trying to get a rise out of other people...

    I say you can't be for real!

  • 0

    PeaceWarrior

    I guess going from Corporate Canada to Corporate Japan, I find refreshing the fact that nobody has tried to stab me in the back to get ahead yet.

  • 0

    cleo

    don't forget she's the one who moved to the US to make a better life for herself!

    Means nothing, I moved to Japan, doesn't mean I'm going to actively stop my kids learning English.

    I showed her several stories here on JT and when she couldn't explain them away she had to admit I had a point.

    She could show you any number of stories about the US that I'm sure you couldn't explain away. You don't have a point at all.

    you can try to fit in as much as you like, change to your lifestyle to a fully Japanese one

    No one's saying anyone has to adopt a 'fully Japanese' lifestyle. On the other hand, you are preventing your kids fitting in even a tiny bit by cutting them off from the culture around them. What happens if one of your kids is out and about and has an accident, is injured, gets lost, is caught up in an earthquake? How are they going to ask for help? How is anybody going to give them help if they don't speak even basic Japanese?

    but you will always be treated as a foreigner or a guest so what's the point?

    You don't know what you're talking about. And you still haven't explained how cutting your kids and their mother off from the Japanese side of the family in any way benefits anyone.

  • 1

    Julian Onyali

    The other thing is that unless those kids do grow up hating Japan, and I mean completely detesting the country and its people, they will be resentful of the way their parents chose to bring them up.

  • -2

    It"S ME

    100% agree with cleo & Julian.

    Always amazed a people that try to live the "Club Med Syndrome"(my wording), they visit and live in another country but never venture outside the resort/bubble.

    Why did the company send you and your family here? What is their real reason and purpose for doing so? This is about more than just you and your feelings.

    I am sure the home-office already has feedback on the Osaka trip you refused and also gets feedback on how well you integrate here, etc.

    Also think about when your kids are back home and asked how was Japan, what did you learn, talk some japanese and .....

    By keeping everything in a bubble you are doing your kids, wife, family and your career a disservice, IMHO.

    As Cleo said what if the smelly stuff hit the spinny thing while in Japan, can you guarantee anything for your loved ones?

  • 5

    philinjapan

    What amazes me is how some people traveling to a foreign country expect that country to bend or conform to THEIR customs. While it's great to keep a bit of your own identity, it is extremely bad to disregard any and all rules and customs of the country you choose to live in. I've always found out that if you give a little, you'll get a little. There will always be a struggle with understanding and difficulties dealing with another culture. However, if you don't make an effort and go through some of that pain, sweat, and tears, you'll never get anywhere.

    I too was plunked in the middle of an inaka and forced to bear a few odd stares of the locals and cultural misunderstandings. Yet, I made the effort to learn the customs and language. Little by little, the locals understood me and could see me making the effort and thus really warmed up to me, and I to them. Even some of the hard-assed oyaji (who I've become drinking buddies with) I ended up finding out to be decent guys who are actually a bit ornery to everyone; and not just strange looking foreigners. I ended up finding out that deep down, Japan isn't quite that much different from other parts of the world. Sure it has some problems, but so does every country in the world. But like other places in the world, there are things that are good and beautiful about it. Constantly harping on only the negatives, while fantasizing about only the positives about your home country, will only give you ulcers and make you an ornery bastard.

  • -4

    Gabarrazzi

    Im happy to see that many people on this thread have, in one way or another, found themselves. Japanese people are starting to believe that the one of the top reason why foreigners stay in Japan is because they couln't fit-in in their own country of birth.

  • -1

    ben4short

    Perhaps you're right, Gabarrazzi, but do you have a problem with that theory? Is there something wrong with feeling different and not fitting in to your own country?

    And I'd bet you're one of those (with the irony you're not even aware of) who complain about all the Japanese who "fit in" and don't dare to be different.

  • 0

    Elbuda Mexicano

    Since living in Japan, having a wife who speaks no English, no Spanish, only Japanese, my wife is in charge of teaching our kids JAPANESE. Me, also speaking Japanese and living in Japan for over 20 years, I could try and help my kids with their Japanese but I stick to helping them in English and Spanish, so my kids will grow up not only bilingual, but multilingual and multicultural, jumping in and out of Japanese, American and Mexican cultures at a drop of a hat. I have many friends here in Japan that have similar situations, father Chinese, teaches Chinese to his kids, mom is Japanese she does her thing, they bring them to my English school and I do my thing, etc..so is this a big deal??

  • -1

    YuriOtani

    Not sure how living in America is that different from Okinawa. I miss things like taxi cabs and buses. Only the really big cities have both. Our culture in America, well it is a mixture of a lot of things, Okinawa, Japan and different European. We teach the kids all things, limiting them to one or the other is very limiting. I handle the household with input from my husband. We do not worry if something is too Japanese or American. He teaches the English, while I teach the Hogan and Japanese. We live mostly like the other people in our community.

  • 1

    Yubaru

    American foreigner....JT isn't real life, it's just a collection of people like yourself who post OPINIONS, many times NOT reality.

  • 0

    Arthur Dumbolov

    And no Russians were asked... BTW, we take off shoes too when coming home, it's easier to adapt.

  • -1

    NetNinja

    'kwbrow2

    You will have to go through the dysfunctional court system in Japan. You will definitely lose, not because you did anything wrong per say, but because you are not in possession of your kids. Then all those ideals that you hold onto will be shattered. Your unwillingness to see the benefits of Japan and its culture will lead to the demise of your family. Eventually your wife will see the light. The only question is when!

    So true!! I'm glad you admit it's dysfunctional. AF's ideas will not be shattered. If anything they will be reinforced. The only thing that will lead to the demise of his family is your meddling though. None of us have a right to say how he manages his home. Power on, food on the table and shoes on in the house...It's all good. That's his house. That's his family. Government and bureaucrats have no place in a man's family.

    The truth is you wouldn't know if Japan is really beneficial for his family or not.. Japan has never been open to other people's ideas and culture. My neighbors were Mexican, Jewish, Polish, and Irish. We all live differently.

    @Yuri Otani

    AmericanForeigner, second try at posting. I am wondering why did you married a Japanese women? You have no interest in the culture. Not sure why you are in Japan.

    OH THE VANITY. What makes you think he married a Japanese woman and NOT a human being? You always want to connect yourself. It seems the uniform nature of your DNA makes you think he married you too. AF don't invite this woman to your house for dinner. The man did NOT marry your culture. I'm sure when he was dating it wasn't Friday night is Sado Night. Do you really think we are marrying culture when the girl wanted to go T.G.I.Fridays all the time? I saw more of Japan by myself than any Japan's girl showed me.

    Come into our world for second here. You think the J-girls are taking us to Kabuki or something? You think the girls are teaching us origami and how to hold chopsticks so we want to marry you? WRONG. Western movies, popcorn, Outback, TGIFridays and CPK are par for the course. When we marry it's for love most of the time.

    Your Japanese nationality doesn't make you a trophy wife. Your nationality is NOT your brand. I am not my IKEA furniture. We do not see our wives as a gifted imported souvenir from Japan. Your Japanese culture is not a package deal.

    You know the difference between American culture and Japanese culture? We don't have to force ours upon people. You want that iPhone. You want Starbucks and Western style malls.

  • 0

    Draconalis

    —I lost my sense of humor, became perverted, I sleep in trains, became addicted to vending machines, stopped going for a walk to smoke. I have become serious about everything. (Dutchman)

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    That is all.

  • -2

    tmarie

    ** "In Japan especially, being pure Japanese is very important and to be married to a foreigner make you something like being openly gay"

    I read stuff like this a lot on JT, yet in real life I have never once come across it. Most people seem envious that he has a real-live blued-eyed blonde for his wife, and good-looking haaf kids.**

    Cleo, your PIL happily accepted you? That now makes only two foreign women I "know" whose PIL were happy. or okay abotu a foreign wife. Every other foreign female I know married to a Japanese man had a heck of a time with the family. In the end, they've all come around but certainly was no cake walk for the friends I have, nor for me.

    Coworkers and friends are all fine with it - shocked at first but fine. I do get tired of the amount of time spent talking about it when I see his friends/coworkers though. We're married and go about our lives like any other couple. Why people would assume we are different is beyond me.

    With regards to language, sad to read that someone won't "let" their kids learn/speak a language that is part of their identity. Governments have had to pay of certain groups for doing such things in yesteryear. Why limit? More language means more opportunities.

    Net, very well said. I married my husband. Not his country, not his passport, not his culture. I have given up a lot to be here with him and as time goes by, he learns that with every trip "home" we take. However, definitely worth it. In the end, I probably "know" more about Japanese culture than your average Japanese Toru. I educate my husband on some of it as he is clueless about Japanese women's culture and things we "should" do. I thank the wonderful Japanese people who have passed on this knowledge but to assume it came from my husband is a joke.

  • 2

    cleo

    Cleo, your PIL happily accepted you?

    Yes of course, why shouldn't they? A well-educated, healthy woman with no obvious physical or mental defects who is obviously very much in love with their son who is also in love with her. What's not to accept?

    FiL was a bit dischuffed at first that he couldn't do the whole formal exchange-of-yuino thing that he'd been looking forward to, but he and my Dad were in contact before the wedding and became great friends after, visiting each other and having lots of laughs even though neither spoke a word of the other's language. MiL sometimes comments fondly that she imagines them on the Other Side having a beer together and maybe at last understanding each other's jokes. That's not to say she and I haven't clashed in the past over how to raise the kids, but my Japanese friends seem to have much greater problems over much smaller differences of opinion.

  • -2

    tmarie

    Yes of course, why shouldn't they? A well-educated, healthy woman with no obvious physical or mental defects who is obviously very much in love with their son who is also in love with her. What's not to accept? You aren't Japanese. I am very happy to hear you didn't have issues. Though like I said, you are now only the second foreign wife I know of who didn't have a problem with the family. Like I also said, they've come around. I my case it took over two years. Sadly, all you listed as to why wouldn't you be accepted meant nothing to a lot of PILs.

    My father in law made comments about me not knowing how to cook Japanese food, make bentos, clean... My husband has to point out to him I had been living on my own for a number of years, knew how to do it all which is more than most Japanese women who live with mom and dad could say. FIL has come around but it nearly ripped my HIS family apart. Glad to hear you didn't suffer like some of us others.

    I fear the kid thing. Everyone I know got on with MILs until they had kids!

  • 2

    cleo

    My father in law made comments about me not knowing how to cook Japanese food, make bentos, clean...

    With all due respect to your FiL, unless you're moving in with the in-laws and taking over the running of their house, whether you can/will cook and clean is your husband's problem, not his.... Maybe I'm lucky in marrying into a family that isn't hung up on anything racial/cultural. MiL was more excited at the prospect of coming to ours for new exciting never-before-tried furrin food than she was concerned about her son not getting his regulation rice and misoshiru. I can still turn her into a purring kitten with a loaf of fresh home-baked bread and a pot of homemade jam. (FiL was quite a dab hand in the kitchen and around the house - rare for one of his generation - so the idea of their precious son having to stand in the kitchen or go round with the vacuum cleaner occasionally was never seen as a minus.)

    Don't fear the kid thing. Kids are well worth a few verbal fisticuffs. :-)

  • -1

    tmarie

    I 100% agree Cleo - with such things, FIL wouldn't suffer as I don't and will never live with them. He's changed his mind - and like you, my MIL gets excited when I bring them banana bread, Xmas cookies... I have brought them leftover Japanese food that FIL did take seconds of so I guess I'm not that bad.

    Sadly though, when he first heard about me, it was "no son of mine will marry a gaijin", "halfu babies aren't Japanese", "you marry her and you're out of the family"... Sadly, I know about twenty other western women who have dealt with the same thinking. My PIL are traditional and while I can "understand" FIL worries that I might not look after my husband properly, suggesting an average Japanese women who lives with mom and dad, never cooks, never cleans, would be better is laughable. It was rough though at the time and caused a lot of hurt that while mending, won't ever be forgotten.

  • 0

    Joselito Asi

    Now, I bow my head to greet people, 'been interested on eating soba, and I always carry my camera with me.

  • 1

    philinjapan

    Sadly though, when he first heard about me, it was "no son of mine will marry a gaijin", "halfu babies aren't Japanese", "you marry her and you're out of the family"... Sadly, I know about twenty other western women who have dealt with the same thinking.

    tmarie: Sadly, that is what happens in the world. I've met fellow expats who have had to "re-educate" their own parents who after much arguing grudgingly let their "child" go off to a foreign country like Japan, and then had to argue with him again about marrying a "foreign Japanese woman". It would take them several years for the parents to warm up to and come to begrudgingly accept that union. Turns out that seeing their "halfu" grandchild ends up easing those harsh feelings of hate.

    Bottom line is, that since living in Japan and other parts of the world, I've noticed it quite strange when I go back home and talk to people who have never been abroad at all. I guess to me, the biggest change about living in a foreign country is that the gap between my way of thinking and the insular views of those back home who have never "seen the world" just grows bigger and bigger."

  • -3

    tmarie

    Well said Phil!! I feel exactly the same when going "home" when speaks to some people. Few to be honest. But enough for me to feel sorry for them.

  • 1

    philinjapan

    You know the difference between American culture and Japanese culture? We don't have to force ours upon people.

    Netninja: I know of no culture that does not try to impose a part of its culture on another in some form or fashion. Yes, the Japanese media likes to do it from time to time, but you'd be blind not to see that big boss America does it as well. To say that Japan does it, while America doesn't makes no sense at all. I'd be a rich man if I had a dollar for every instance where a fellow American tried to push their culture onto someone else. I even feel embarrassed at some who constantly make it a point to remind anyone and everyone (whether it be Japanese or other foreigners) that America is number one in sports, military strength, prestigious colleges, etc. etc. It even galls me that they seem to belittle and look down on other countries who can't be like America.

  • 2

    Samantha Ueno

    tmarie: add me to the list of happily married gaijin (American) women who had no problem with Japanese in-laws! My hubby's parents are from middle of nowhere Ibaraki, not a gaijin in sight and McDonalds are something the "young people" go to. They had no problem with me, they even gave me "otoshidama" on New Year's saying that I was one of their children now. His grandparents who are pretty stiff and traditional have no particular problem with me....the grandmother constantly asks if I can eat Japanese food, LOL, and the grandfather once gave me a stern-talking to because I had breached Japanese manners....but that showed me that he wasn't going to give me a "get out of jail free" card because I'm gaijin. And then when he found out I liked enka and could sing some songs he was ecstatic! That's all he would talk about with me! LOL

    Have a question for international couples...how about the American side?? How do your parents feel about you marrying a person from halfway around the world who may or may not speak English? Do your parents know the difference between Japanese and Chinese for that matter? It's not just the Japanese who can be incredibly close-minded. Not that we have experienced any of that in my backwoods town in PA...just that most people who meet my husband will openly say that they've never met a Japanese person before.

    And Americans not pushing their culture on others?? How about American companies who send advertising trucks to Africa, South America, and parts of Asia with samples of Coca-cola, Crest toothpaste, Tide laundry detergent, and disposable diapers, "educating" people on how "great" their products are! the natives use the laundry soap to clean their clothes in the river, contaminating the water with harsh chemicals. Then they have to drink Coca-cola which rots their teeth with high amounts of sugar and acid. So then they have to use the toothpaste. Gee, being Western is so great! I think I'll put my kid in diapers until they're 4 instead of toilet training them from birth like people were doing for hundreds of years before! Really...I wish Japan would push some miso and green tea on some of these obese Americans!

  • -8

    AmericanForeigner

    Thanks to Net and tmarie for the support!

    Yes I married a person not a country and I'm not a cultural hobbyist like some people want to be.

    As for PiL, I don't really have any problems as they don't speak English so I don't tend to interact much with them when they visit. They want to spend time with the grandkids so I usually just watch TV until they go, certainly one way to avoid conflict, hey I'm not disturbing the Wa!

  • 1

    tmarie

    Glad to add another to the list - his grandmother wasn't even told he was getting married because they thought it might kill her! I have met her once - now that she is mentally not there.

    Don't know about Americans but my family was 100% supportive - though they worried their butts off due to his father. Japanese? No problem? Tojo (my nickname for him before they came around)? Huge problem. I give my family credit as they knew what he did to me and my husband and they were great when they met him. Sure my parents would be happier if I settled down with someone from the same country but the background doesn't matter in my family. They get mixed up with some Chinese/Japanese things - but then again, so do Japanese! Chopsticks anyone? ;) My parents haven't learned Japanese like some others I know - but do send Xmas cards, presents and the like. Overall, one big happy family. My PIL are planning on a trip to stay with my parents!

  • -3

    tmarie

    A thumbs down for a supportive family?? Whatever.

  • 2

    Wilke

    @ Samantha Ueno:

    Have a question for international couples...how about the American side?? How do your parents feel about you marrying a person from halfway around the world who may or may not speak English?

    Not all international marriages involve an American. I'm Australian, and will be marrying a Japanese widow with two children (aged 10 and 6) in May, and they're moving to Australia. Her family and her late husband's family don't seem too chuffed with the idea.

    As for my family -- my widowed mum (81yo) has fallen completely for my beloved and her children (the boy was born on my mum's 50th wedding anniversary, and the girl -- left unattended -- cleaned my mother's house for her). My sister is glad to finally have a sister of her own after 56 years of dealing with two brothers.

    In short, my family have completely accepted Mihoko and her children. That they can't really speak English (Miho speaks broken English, but it's an effort for her -- and the children effectively speak no English at present) doesn't matter in the slightest.

  • 3

    cleo

    Have a question for international couples...how about the American side?? How do your parents feel about you marrying a person from halfway around the world who may or may not speak English?

    Again, not American....My UK family were not only not upset about the prospect of their only daughter marrying a Japanese, they were so pleased (after Dad met Mr cleo and gave him his unconditional seal of approval) that they contacted the local newspaper and had them write an article about it. Dad was also very proactive in sending out books, tapes, videos, toys etc., to aid the kids' English acquisition, which was a huge help. When son went to stay with my brother and his family, he was gleefully and proudly introduced to friends as 'our Japanese cousin'. So, No Problems Whatsoever.

    I only wish we'd had Skype when the kids were little and my Dad was alive.

  • -9

    AmericanForeigner

    As Net says, the popularity of the western lifestyle in undeniable in Japan.

    When the most popular movies and dramas are western. When the Starbucks and McDonalds are full of Japanese. When the most popular sports are western.

    If a whole country of people is hankering after a lifestyle that is not their own and in effect are running away from their culture, then why on earth would I be running towards it?!

  • 2

    Wilke

    When the most popular movies and dramas are western.

    Many an American movie and TV drama is dumped on foreign markets at less than cost-price (including advertising). Local production houses in many places cannot compete. It's worse -- much worse -- in English-speaking countries that are not the United States.

    And many a "famous" American movie or TV drama is a direct copy of a foreign original. "The Magnificent Seven" is one movie classic that comes to mind.

    When the Starbucks and McDonalds are full of Japanese.

    98.5% of the Japanese population is ethnically Japanese -- and you're surprised to find that cafes and fast-food outlets in Japan are "full of Japanese"? I be surprised if they weren't.

    When the most popular sports are western.

    I haven't seen much Cricket or Australian Rules Football being played in Japan.

    Moderator: Back on topic please.

  • 1

    cleo

    That they can't really speak English (Miho speaks broken English, but it's an effort for her -- and the children effectively speak no English at present) doesn't matter in the slightest.

    No worries, in no time at all the kids will be speaking 'strain with the best of them, and from there it's a short step to English. :-)

  • 0

    Wilke

    I'm more worried about how okaasan will cope, cleo, than the children.

  • 0

    cleo

    Wilke, if she already has basic (broken) English, it will gradually become less and less of an effort when she has to use it every day in everyday situations. It may be hard at first, but give her enough room to sort herself out and she should be fine. Being able to speak in Japanese with you will ease the strain, and it sounds like she'll get plenty of help from her new family.

  • 4

    philinjapan

    As for my parents, they were very supportive of me marrying my Japanese wife. All they really cared about was that she had a good personality and truly loved me and could see that I felt the same way. Twelve blissful years later, nothing's changed about those feelings. I did have one crazy uncle though, who continued to warn me about marrying a Japanese girl, and kept saying that they are all gold diggers. Don't know where he got that idea from since he's never had a Japanese wife, nor has he ever been to Japan.

    As for my in-laws, although they can't speak a lick of English, they have been very accepting of our marriage (they even paid for most of it). My wife even says that her mother treats me better than her. My mother-in-law constantly worries if I'm working too hard, gives us tons of food, etc. I love drinking with my father-in-law, and since we both love sports, we have loads to talk about.

  • -1

    tmarie

    Ha! My FIL actually thought I was after my husband's money - which is funny as when we got married, I was making more than him! Also funny considering a lot of women's mindset here to work after marriage and wanting someone well off...

  • 4

    Wilke

    My Japanese is really, really bad, cleo. Such is the dilemma of trying to learn a new language when one is on the downhill side of one's 45th birthday.

    Back to the topic: although I've never actually lived in Japan, my frequent trips have changed me rather a bit.

    I now am not so accepting of poor service when not in Japan.

    I work as a train driver in Australia. Now, I physically point, gunslinger-fashion, at all signals that my train is approaching. My colleagues all think it is rather strange behaviour -- but at least I don't wear white cotton gloves (yet).

    I always bow when in shops, wherever I am.

    I will occasionally say "はい!” instead of "yes."

    I have to check myself from yelling out "すみません!” when I am in a cafe in Australia.

    And I now always take my used dishes, plates &c. back to the cafe's counter before I leave. This habit also gets me surprised looks from the cafe staff.

  • 0

    YuriOtani

    NetNinja, like to think of myself as a person. I am NOT Japanese but from Okinawa. My guy paid to have my genetics check and there is more than just a bit of Chinese in me. I married for love and not have a "trophy husband". My life is not at all strange and I find the people living around me to be people. However when you marry a person from a different country, you have to accept them as who they are and not try and get them to conform to your views. Living in a blended household takes work.

  • 2

    DS

    Canuckistanian here. Coming up on my 20th anniversary with my dahling. No trouble with either set of parents. Actually, my mother sends more gifts to my wife than to me. SHE gets boxes of Coffee Crisp chocolate bars and scented candles. I get...... bullied. Mom told my wife, "you don't have to take any crap from him (meaning me). Just call me if he (meaning me) gives you a hard time."

    Thanks mom.

    The culture clash of marriage happens all over. My sister (a pure whitebread girl from the heartland of Ontario) married an Italian Canadian guy. Right after marriage, her MIL took her aside to teach her how to cook "the way that Gary likes", and "how to iron his shirts properly". Other than that, no trouble. Oh, and my sister makes a mean lasagna now!

  • -1

    Kelly Nguyen

    I went to my daughters preschool and saw that she was learning actual ninja skills and learned how to throw (pretend) ninja stars properly.

  • 1

    Mocheake

    I don't stare at the animals when I go to the zoo now. I know how they feel.

  • 1

    timtak

    I have a clean posterior.

  • -16

    AmericanForeigner

    @mocheake

    Yes! I always have ask people to stop looking at me! They don't stare at each other so why do they do it to me? That's just one of the ways I've had to change my lifestyle here by being much more on guard and aggressive toward people in public.

  • 5

    philinjapan

    Yes! I always have ask people to stop looking at me! They don't stare at each other so why do they do it to me?

    Well, actually I've noticed that Japanese people DO stare at other Japanese people on the train; especially if they are smelly homeless men, high school girls with short skirts, women who put make-up on the train, and people talking on their cellphones or listening to their music players too loudly. Young girls will often even say "kimoi" as they stare at a dirty looking, nerdy man; some who picks their nose and flicks their boogers. As for me, I have been stared at a few times (from old people) when riding the two-car trains in the inakas, but almost never in Tokyo. (Then again, I've noticed old people stare at just about anyone with eyes fixed in a dumb, mindless kind of gaze.) Now, the Metro back in the States is one place you better hope you don't get stared at (and followed), or risk finding yourself in some deep trouble.

  • 6

    YuriOtani

    AmericanForeigner, how can you ask people not to stare if you do not speak Japanese? Do you get angry and raise your voice? So what do you do if they do not stop?

  • 4

    philinjapan

    From childhood on up Japanese were never taught that people are DIFFERENT.

    NetNinja: Then I guess Japanese children were taught that all people are built the same and should be treated equally, by your logic; which doesn't sound so bad to me. In any case, as I've mentioned before, people look at other people all the time, for varying reasons. What constitutes a stare, a glance, and a look lies in a gray subjective area. Time and again, in many parts of the world, I've seen people stare at each other, and not always based solely on difference in looks or race. As I've posted before, I've seen Japanese people stare at each other a lot (whether it be because of smell, rude behavior like listening to music loudly, scantily clad women, etc.). I also have stared at others when it was someone who looked familiar but I couldn't quite place their name. It often turned out to be a former student I haven't seen for a long time, who was also staring back at me wondering the same thing. Frankly, I'd rather put up with a few stares, than racial slurs, physical beatings, and Rodney King type of police brutality.

  • 0

    Txbullnettle

    It's been a few days since the last comment but I'll add something here, in regards to being "stared at." I read an article some years ago about Robert Redford, and the reporter was walking down the street with him and was surprised that Mr. Redford wasn't being recognized. He commented on it and Mr. Redford asked, "You want me to be recognized?" Robert Redford than simply changed his demeanor; he straightened his posture a bit and changed is expression a little and within a minute people started stopping him and asking for autographs.

    What does this have to do with anything? @American Foreigner If you have a surly attitude and seem angry and defensive, Japanese people might be suspicious of you. Your attitude effects how people treat, perceive, and respond to you. Honestly, all of your posts seem to display nothing but contempt for Japanese people. People looking at you bothers you? Really? Maybe with a slight attitude adjustment, some humility, and respect for a very old culture you might have a little easier time of it.

    When I was doing home-stay in Japan, I stayed in a little suburb outside Tokyo and during my travels through that town I didn't see any other non-Asians. I had people looking at me, but I grew up in Texas and always try to make eye contact with people anyway. Whenever someone was looking at me, I would just give them a big smile. Most of the time I would get a smile back, but a few times people looked away. I had many Japanese people stop to talk to me, and I like to think it's because I try to maintain an open and approachable body language.

  • 0

    FruitsBasketFan

    In my short time in Japan last year, I started to become more aware of eating habits and shoe etiquette.

    I was mistaken to be Japanese (oddly) and when I did something wrong....I got somewhat of an gentle earful from old timers about me should know better (LOL). But I acted like I understand with nodding my head and go (hmmm) and say: sumimasen.

    Though, I did got a few stares from some Japanese who figured out I was foreign (before opening my mouth) but thought I was only half foreign (hafu).......LOL.

    Some of them were out of curiousity, while others (2 old women and one old man) were staring at me like I caused harm to them.....

  • 0

    anahorn

    I walk on the left side of the sidewalk. If I walk on the right side, then I hit bump into people :)

  • -1

    wtfjapan

    not much has changed for me , only worry about small things, use my hazard lights to stop & talk on my phone during peakhour traffic, buy everything in monochrome colors, only put out the rubbish between 7.00am to 7.10am, pretend im sleeping while sitting in the priority seats on the train, pee on the side of the road in full view of the public, eat my bento under cherry blossom tree even if it means sitting on the nature strip, drive 30km/hr in 50 zone, 50km/hr in 80 zone, wait in line 2hrs at newly opened noodle shops, stare like a child (mouth open) at any gaijin that walks by, think burps are more disgusting than flatulence, be first to board a plane when called sleepily take my time when disembarking, ....few more dozen things but whos counting!?

  • 0

    Darryl Woodrow

    Realise my wallet had become a lot lighter

  • 1

    im3ngs

    I cannot live without a washlet.

  • 0

    Magdalen Sarah Mean

    The article seems to suggest that there is something unique about Japan in particular that makes people change their habits. This is because both the original article and many of the comments seem to come from the very limited perspective of people for whom Japan has been their very first -and only- international experience. OBVIOUSLY living in a different cultural environment will affect people's lifestyle and habits, so why is Japan so special in this respect may I ask?

  • 2

    Magdalen Sarah Mean

    The examples in the article say more about the culture of people's home countries than they do about Japan: the unhealthy American habits of overeating or eating badly, not walking anywhere, not sorting and recycling garbage... The Mexican was closed minded prior to Japan: now she "even" eats raw fish...Some of the Europeans seem to have acquired bad habits in Japan that they didn't have before: going to the combini 8 times a day, becoming perverted (!), losing one's sense of humour, sleeping in trains, not inviting friends over anymore.....Everything is relative I suppose. But what is the "fully Japanese lifestyle" (and mentality) that so many of you talk of in the discussion anyway? I have Japanese friends with totally and utterly contrasting lifestyles, some of them live in different time zones altogether so to speak: some get up in the morning and go to the office, others sleep all day and run a bar at night, their mentality is like night and day too. Japan is far less uniform than you think, but you will persist in seeing it as uniform so long as you stay stuck in the gaijin vs/ Japanese prison, a fallacy not only because there are differences in culture within Japan itself, but for failing to take into account the very enormous gaps in culture between different gaijin. I am always also very surprised by the endless complaints from (mostly) North American gaijin of being stared at. I have never been stared at in Japan the way I have been in some Western countries (and yet I haven't a drop of Asian blood in me). My worst ever being stared at experience was in Canada, when I had to take my 2 year old to the ER after he fell on his head, and all the nurse did was stare intently at my shoes. On the contrary there is far less conformism in Japan than in North America, or even some parts of Europe: the only people who sometimes stare at me in Japan are other gaijin! All of this is very, very relative.

  • 1

    onewrldoneppl

    after i've emptied a reji-bukuro (shopping bag), i always origami it into a neat little triangle and put it into a draw with other origami, reji-bukuro triangles. whenever i use wari-bashi (disposable chopsticks) i always fold the cover into a hashi-oki (chopstick stand). i return lost items, even if they are wallets filled with money, to the nearest lost & found/koban (police box) ... ha ha ha. i am japan-ized!!!

  • 1

    Randy Thompson

    I miss Japan! Reading all the above has made me miss it more. I'm older and my time there was thanks to the US Navy. About four years in Okinawa and then a little over three in the Misawa area. I'd love to go back and live in that northern Japan area. What has caused some of this reminiscing is all the violence in America - the shootings of children and such - and America's love affair with that violence. My son, who is now 40, was only five when we moved to Japan and when we came back six years later he had to be taught to be afraid to go some places by himself - he never recovered from that change. I miss the Okinawan food and ocean there. I miss the snow in northern Japan, the Fuji apples, the trains, the noodle shops, the safety one feels on any street there. The hot baths! The peace. The politeness of the Japanese people. If I'm ever able and my wife is willing I shall return for extended stays if not to live. Peace to all.

  • 0

    Darion Scard

    Ok ok ok....so we can keep going on a rant about Af or NN and their boxes in their heads, but what I want to know is this---other than swept saddening characteristics of a culture in which there has been little outside intervention/influence by the rebuttal of its own, what GOOD things have you had to 'adapt' to?

    It seems like the place is dark and scary, which for people not versed in change I could understand. However, is the place not at all redeeming? I find it hard to believe, although the culture shock I can. I grew up in Georgia where it was very black/white, moved to California and was immediately brought to understand far more than I expected about other cultures. To that end I married a Latino woman and have been blessed by it over and over again.

    I tend to feel like if in fact you're supposed to be there, there's gotta be a silver lining to all that rain.

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