Monday, September 22, 2008

You know you've been in Japan too long when.....

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 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'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?!?! 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.....

I have a student/friend, K-san, who has been in my class for about 2 years now. She is a few years older than me (just a few!) AND we have the same birthday!! Cool, huh?
So we are...we had dinner the other night and then went out to karaoke (she sings some great Chicago songs!!!)

Joining us for the evening was her daughter, Miss M....who also just happened to be my student...when she was in high school...about 6 years ago!!!
A few months 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.
Yeah...that's right...I am now a "3 Generation Teacher"!!!!
And with that.....I'm thinking....I'm done. It's time for me to go somewhere else!!! :-D
No...just kidding...actually...what this does is help make it more difficult to ever leave. And....for right now....that's okay. I"m happy here...for now....
And with that, my fellow babies....I will close as all this has made me tired...that and the fact that it's 12:36 and time for bed!!
Have a great the day was hot and a bit steamy (Oh the discussion in class today about the word "steamy"...too funny!!!), but the night is cool and going to be great for sleeping!!Good night!!


Janet said...

"you are talking on the telephone to your parents and your father says, "Why are you interrupting my explanation with grunts?" ---hahahahhaha!!! ROFLMAO! I remember doing this!

"you think one kind of rice tastes better than another kind." Oh yeah!

"you think that coffee goes perfectly well with squid pizza." Of course it does!

"when you accompany your "no" by the famous waving hand-in-front-of-nose." LMAO yes.

"you find yourself apologizing at least three times per conversation." Still!

Thanks for the smile...and the memories!

smalltownmom said...

That's nice that you've taught 3 generations of the same family!

San Diego Momma said...

I love that list. I mean, I can't relate...but it's really cool to read about conventions in other countries.

And I'm seen Pocari Sweat in the U.S., but can you get Calpis here?

hulagirlatheart said...

Fascinating list and very funny. I think it's pretty cool that you've taught three generations. By the way, we live nowhere near Japan and it took me about three years to break my daughter from walking on the backs of her shoes.

The weather here? Sticky during the day and cool at night. That pretty much sums up autumn in Kentucky.

Ginaagain said...

Our shoes are all mashed down in back too! All of my kids friends drop their shoes at the door too. Last Saturday I drove one of Zane's friends home to pick up a video game and while he was in the house the other boys jumped out of the car and stole his shoes. When he came out he stood in the doorway and yelled "Mrs. Zane's Mom! Make them give me my shoes back so I don't get your floor dirty!"

phd in yogurtry said...

I really think we can learn some things (just a few?) from Japanese gestures. Bowing instead of hand shakes, makes so much sense. From the catagious disease standpoint alone. A sign to acknowledge being sorry, that would be a nice addition to our sign language lexicon.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Have you thought about raising the boys in the states for a while--or is it just one of those things that would never work out for job/economic reasons?

I love the picture you give us of the life of an ex-pat.