A few years ago, there was a list of things that were signs of warning, so to speak, to see if you had been in Japan too long. A few years ago....the list was hilarious. My friends and I sat at the dinner table one night and went through each item and laughed our collective butts off.
Tonight, as I was thinking of this particular post, I thought that I would find that list and see if it was still funny....yeah, still pretty good...but.....in a more ~~sigh~~kind of way.
I think that for most foreigners, living here is a "temporary" situation. They are here long enough to notice the sometimes silly things that Japanese people do...they see the hypocrisies that lurk in many situations...and they can recognize the illogicalness of so many things in this country. And yet, when they go back to their home countries, they just have some really funny stories to tell their family and friends.
But for those of us who are the "long timers"...the ones who have decided that we are here indefinitely...many of these situations and things have become "the norm"....some of us have even picked up a few of the mannerisms of the people. And...I have noticed...that the older I get...the worse it gets.
So I went through the list and picked out 10 of the best ones (not an easy task to do as there are many!!)...and not in any particular order:
*...You see another foreigner in your neighborhood and wonder what he's doing on your turf.
Here in Nagasaki, many times, unless you live downtown or near a university, other foreigners are few and far between. There are a few that live over the hill...but, in my case....no...I'm "the foreigner" here in my part of the city!! If you're walking through and I see you...I'll probably ask you what you're doing!!
*...You use the Japanese "excuse me" hand gesture while crossing the street or after you bump into people--in your own country.
The hand gesture is done by making a chopping or slashing motion with one hand in front of you, at chest level. I'm guilty of doing it crossing the street, passing in front of cars....or when I have to find my seat at the movie theater and pass in front of other people. I call this the "magic hand "!! People in American were a bit confused as to what the heck I was doing!!!
*...Not only do you enjoy drinks like Pocari Sweat and Calpis Water, but you serve them to other foreigners.
These are actually really good sports drinks!! The boys are fond of Calpis Water...I love explaining the funny part of that to Japanese people when they question the reaction of foreigners who hear that for the first time. "Would you like some Calpis?" teehee!!!
*...All of your shoes are mashed down in back.
The boys are guilty of this....I spend good money for shoes and it's too much of a bother to put them on all the way?!?! Okay...okay...so maybe I have one pair of Keds that I have done this to....~~sigh~~But everyone else does it!!!! :-D
*...Slogans like "Vegetable Communication" and "For Beautiful Human Life" no longer faze you.
But "Inspire The Next" will put me in a tizzy for about 10 minutes...."The next...what?!?!??!"
*...You bow while talking on the phone.
Puh-lease!! I've been doing that for almost 15 years!!! Watching me do that on the phone cracks my mom up!!
*you bow to other drivers who give you the right of way.
...and if you are sitting shot-gun, it's your job to bow to the cars on that side!!!
*you have trouble figuring out how many syllables there really are in words like 'building'.
Actually, there are 4..../be-ru-din-gu/. Saying "McDonald's" will mess you up!!! It has 6 syllables!!!!
*you go for a drink with friends back home and start pouring everybody's beer.
In Japan, when drinking with Japanese people, you never pour your own beer!!! Someone will always be there to "top off" your glass or fill it up. If you do happen to pour your own, the people on either side of you will apologize profusely for not paying attention!!! In America....I'm not fond of "pitcher nite"...I keep forgetting where I am....but now my friends, just smile and go on!!
*you go to a book shop with the full intention to read all the interesting magazines and put them back on the shelf.
Here, the "buy it if you want to read it" idea is not alive. In book stores and convenience stores everywhere, you will find men, women and children, standing and reading the magazines and then putting them back when finished. I usually read Cosmo...Good Housekeeping....and I will thumb through various other ones at the book store. At the prices one must pay over here, it just seems easier to do it the "Japanese way"!!
If you want to, you can read the whole list here...for anyone who has been to Japan or who knows Japanese people, you might find some humor.....Sadly...reading through...I was all like "uh-huh"..."oh yeah"...and "sigh" at most of them!!!
And now...for the final "I know I've been here too long" of my own.....
A few months ago....in class...and I'm not even sure how we got to talking about this...but...we realized that this man.....K-san's father....
....was also a student of mine.....16 years ago!!!!! He was one of my private students while I was working at a conversation school.