Since coming here, Japan has surprised me in a lot of ways. While I like to think that I know quite a bit about the culture, it goes without saying that actually living in a foreign country is totally different to studying it! In just over a month I’ve gotten to know the little quirks of daily life here, which has been fun to say the least. Anyway, here are some surprising things about Japan I’ve discovered so far:
1. Cash is used for pretty much everything. I knew Japan was a cash-based society, but had no idea that it was to this extent (even more so since I live in a rural area). The bus requires cash. The restaurants are usually little holes in the wall only payable by cash. You can even pay your bills via cash here! Usually I’d be wary about carrying tons of it on my person, but it’s actually pretty safe. Although, kind of inconvenient when I have tons of coins and nowhere to put them…
2. People rarely eat in public. I discovered this on my first trip to Japan, and it still holds true. To be fair, it’s pretty common to eat a bento box outside if you’re at school or uni. But forget about it on the street, let alone public transport. According to my teacher it’s because eating outside gives off the impression that you’re homeless, which makes sense. But seriously, if not on the street where is everyone eating those delicious convenience store snacks?
3. Everyone rides a bike. Before coming to Japan, I never thought biking in a skirt was possible. But not only have I ticked that off the bucket list, I ride my bike pretty much everyday to class. It’s just a lot more convenient in the countryside, and I love it! I seriously wish Australia had a better bike culture.
4. Public toilets hardly ever have hand driers or paper towels. In some of the newer buildings you might find exceptions to the rule, but apart from that? You better hope you have your own tissues with you!
5. People here become independent from a young age. In Australia it’s quite normal to live with your parents into your twenties, or at least in my family it is. But out of the Japanese students I’ve talked to, most have lived alone straight out of high school! In fact, it’s quite common to move out closer to your university, especially if you’re from another prefecture. On weekends I also see ten year olds independently catch the train, which is something I rarely see back home.
I could go on forever about all the things I’ve noticed since coming here, but I’ll stop there for time’s sake. Anyway, it’s hard to believe it’s been just over a month since I landed in Japan! I thought time would pass more slowly in the countryside, but it turns out I’ve had no shortage of things to do over the past few weeks. I’ve also just had a pretty exciting Golden Week, so look forward to posts about that soon!