Japanese Culture Twists Part One
Sorry for not writing in a while, I’ve been so busy with work and the summer has finally arrived, so I’ve been going out more. I don’t understand why so many people hide behind the gate here on base. The culture is different, but not that hard to figure out (only the language – oh, and the food!). I thought I’d share with you all some of the more interesting cultural anomalies that I don’t completely understand. At the very least, I never would have guessed these would be true:
The one that ticks me off the most is the rule on midriffs. You DO NOT show any part of your torso here. In fact, women wear 3 shirts most of the time to keep everything covered. So sorry girls – No soaking in the summer rays on your shoulders, back, or tummy. The base even has a rule on it and I’ve already had a warning. I’m going to have to put away a lot of my baby tees.
Why no exposed torso skin, you ask? 2 theories – 1) The Japanese believe they lose a lot of heat from their stomachs, and 2) women don’t like to soak in the sun here. Everyone has gloves and a parasol to protect their skin. So either I’m avoiding getting jabbed in the eye by an umbrella in the rain, or a parasol in the summer. With as thick are crowds are here, I wouldn’t think parasols would be so popular.
So how to beat the heat? Really short skirts. I mean really short. You can wear a skirt so short that your butt is on the seat on the train rather than the fabric of your skirt. No one will stare at you for that. A lot of the school uniforms for the highschool girls really are as short as Anime would have you think. The girls roll the tops of the skirts to shorten them. Scary!
Side note: Highschoolers wear white 80’s leggings with their plaid skirts. Middle schoolers have shorter socks with longer skirts, or sailor outfits.
Here’s another cultural twist that drives me nuts: the Japanese do not eat the skins of fruit. Yes, that’s right, they peel everything from apples to grapes. Food presentation is big here, which is part of it, and their fruits are the best, but peeling a grape! Give me a break. And you should see how big people’s eyes get when they see me chomping on an apple. I just dig in, I don’t cut it or peel it. The kids at school went nuts the first time I ate an apple skin. Now, they eat the apple skins, too. Eventually, I will bring them to the dark side of grape eating. Hee hee hee. Anymore, I eat apples in public just for the pleasure of making people stare. People stare at me no matter what I do, so I might as well enjoy it.
Another food culture note that I think I’ve said before, but this one is important if you ever travel to Japan. Clean your plate! Even if you don’t like it! At school, I don’t let anyone put guilt on me for not eating everything a mother brings. They all know it’s new for me. I make a point not to polish off my own lunch everyday. I don’t like this part of the culture so I’m being outwardly defiant. But the mothers really force their kids to clean their plate. Even if it’s a piece of birthday cake, they are expected to eat all of it. If the kid throws a tantrum, the mom finishes it off. That’s hoe important it is here. When I’m not at school I have to be careful. Which makes it hard to try new things.
And I know I’ve also covered kissing in public before, but let me reiterate: NO PDA of any kind! I’m usually out and about by myself, so this one hasn’t been too hard.
One I don’t want to forget, the shoes here! Women love shoes of all shapes and styles, from the platform sneakers to flats to heels. But they only come in 4 sizes: S, M, L, and LL. Think about that the next time you walk through a shoe store. You don’t fit one of these? That’s ok, a lot of women have their heel hanging off the back of the shoe. Shoes are NOT a functional item here.
Let me close with my last cultural difference: My Japanese Car! I knew they were small here, but mine doesn’t even have an engine! Lol!