(Not in any particular order) Trying to steer clear of the obvious things that people already know that is different about Japan in comparison to the U.S. like vending machines everywhere, driving on the other side of the road, and the infamous Japanese work ethic. So here is my list of 10 random things I have noticed about Japan. There will probably be more the longer I stay here and become accustomed to life, or there might not be because I have grown so used to it. We shall see. Anyway, the list!
1. Food portions are not the same. I know that is a given, but it didn’t hit as hard as it did last night when I ordered a “large” pizza from a bar and expected, well, a LARGE pizza. Instead, I was given a pizza that was smaller than a dinner plate. And here I was saying, let’s share a pizza guys! My treat! Yeah, never again.
2. Bentos are delicious and makes me happy to eat lunch. I was not much of a lunch person before (or rather breakfast). I would just snack throughout the day and then have a big dinner at the end. Not too healthy, I know. But with how some of my days were structured, I had no choice. So lunches here, especially some bento boxes, are so good! It is a wonder why we don’t do this style more often. Having a little bit of different foods for different flavors makes sense. For instance, I had mushroom fried rice, potato salad, chicken, cucumber, ginger, tomatos, a pepper, and eggplant for lunch yesterday. Sounds like a lot but it was just in smaller portions. When I master the art of cooking, I will try to put together my own bentos like that one.
3. Eating hot things cold is a thing. I am a little weird in my tastes here but I like my food to be eaten in the way it was prepared in terms of temperature. So I like to eat hot foods hot and cold foods cold. With that said, I do not like cold pizza or cold fried chicken and I do not like steamed vegetables. Of course, if it is there, I will eat it. But for the most part, if it is supposed to be hot, I want to eat it hot and vice versa. Yeah, not a thing here in Japan. Especially the home meals prepared where they are cold and you just eat it cold. Some things are fine like that sushi and some noodles. But the hamburg steak, Japanese fried chicken, or other meats and fried things, are eaten cold. Yeah you can heat it up, but if you do not have access to a microwave/oven, you pretty much just have to eat it. Again, I just have weird eating habits but if yours are anything like mine, that will take some adjusting.
4. Answering cell phones in the staff room is a thing. It just struck me as different since workplaces in the states actually frown upon that. Maybe it is because it is the summer so things are a little bit more lax so we shall see what happens when school actually starts. Until then, I guess I shouldn’t feel so bad when I occasionally check my phone for updates on things.
5. Sinks are much lower. Again, this seems pretty obvious since I am pretty tall for the average woman to begin with and Japanese people are not known to be tall. With that, the apartments are built for the average Japanese person and not for us tall Westerners. Not a problem really, just need to bend down more (work those legs!). But it is especially noticeable when doing dishes. Since the sink is lower, I have to hunch ever so slightly to do my dishes…and that hurts my back. I have to take a break doing dishes to rest my back. And the same goes for my kotatsu on the floor.
6. Crocs are not only everywhere but actually fashionable in Japan. They make perfect indoor shoes and no one will get on your ass about wearing them and looking silly.
7. There are sinks in the most random places. At least they are seemingly random to me since I do not normally see sinks in a dining area at a bakery or in a teacher’s staff room. It is a good thing if you like to stay clean all the time (just remember that not all bathrooms will have paper towels or even an air drying thingy, so always have your handkerchief).
8. Bread is everywhere and it can be deceptively seen as the new staple food. Everywhere you turn, there are bakeries or cake shops. Within grocery stores, there is a section for bread with sooooo many different kinds of bread. Bread with a filling in it, bread with different toppings on it, sandwiches with stuff in it, bagels, biscuits, English muffins, so much different kinds of bread. Even the sliced bread has some variety in it. You can either get it in a thick ass slice with five slices in a package, six slices that are a little thinner, or eight slices that are a lot thinner. Or you can just get the brick of bread itself and slice it in whatever thickness you want. But want more than eight slices in one package? Forget it. Go to a bakery for that, IF they even do it. Bread here is sold in small packages, which I suppose helps it from going bad and going to waste.
9. Speaking of grocery stores, some places don’t like it if you take a picture of their display of food. Are they afraid someone might steal their idea of presentation? Considering you are unable to silence the camera sound on your Japanese phone, sneakily taking pictures of displays of food proves to be not possible. (Side note: Because of that camera sound, I am apprehensive to take pictures of my food when at a restaurant.)
10. Everything is measured in centimeters. You want a pillow case? What size is your pillow in centimeters? Table cloth? What is it in centimeters? Closet protector thingy? Measurement in centimeters please. Clothes? I need your measurements in centimeters. It can be a little inconvenient since I don’t really measure things because I assume that I could just get one side that will fit it and if it is too big, then so be it. But I do like that you need to know the measurements so everything fits properly and nothing is too big or too small. I can appreciate it but at the same time, it can be a tad inconvenient. I just need a cloth big enough to put over my table…that’s it.
That’s it for my 10 random things I have noticed about Japan. If I think of more, I will add more. Haha if you want to see any other lists, let me know! I love doing lists xD