Thursday, 14 August 2008

You Know You've Been in Japan Too Long When...

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

  1. you have trouble figuring out how many syllables there really are in words like 'building'
  2. you notice you've forgotten how to tie shoelaces
  3. you rush onto an escalator and just stand there
  4. when you wait for the first day of summer to wear short sleeve dress shirts
  5. you don' t think it unusual for a truck to play "It' s a Small World" when backing up
  6. you leave your expensive bottle of Royal Salute with a sleazy barkeeper and don't worry
  7. You appear for your first skiing lesson with brand new Rossignol high performance racing skis and an aerodynamic racing suit with color matched goggles. And then snowplow down.
  8. you automatically remember all of your important year dates in Showa numbers
  9. you noticed 7-11 changed its onigiri wrapping houshiki for the third time
  10. you are not worried about speeding in the rain, because you know the cops are only out there in good weather
  11. you think the best part of TV are the commercials
  12. you think wet umbrellas need condoms
  13. you only have 73 transparent, plastic umbrellas in your entrance because you have donated 27 to the JR and various taxi companies in the past few months... or you have over 100 small, transparent plastic umbrellas in your entrance even *after* donating 27 of them to taxis and JR recently
  14. when you think it's alright to stick your head into a stranger's apartment to see if anybody is home
  15. you think the natural location for a beer garden is on a roof
  16. you have discovered the sexual attraction of high school navy uniforms
  17. you think 4 layers of wrapping is reasonable for a simple piece of merchandise
  18. When looking out the window of your office, you think "Wow, so many trees!" Instead of "Wow, so much concrete!"
  19. you think NHK is "the Japanese BBC"
  20. when in the middle of nowhere, totally surrounded by rice fields and abundant nature, you aren't surprised to find a drink vending machine with no visible means of a power supply, and then aren't surprised when that lonely vending machine says 'thank you' after you buy a coke
  21. you return the bow from the cash machine
  22. you find yourself bowing while you talk on the phone
  23. you see a road with two lanes going in the same direction and assume the one on the left is meant for parking
  24. when you think Japan actually has only four seasons
  25. you don' t hesitate to put a $10 note into a vending machine
  26. when getting ready for a trip you automatically calculate for omiyage and you leave just the right amount of space in your suitcase for them
  27. on a cold autumn night, the only thing you want for dinner is nabe and nihonshu
  28. you can' t find the "open" and "close" buttons in the elevator because they' re in English.
  29. you think "white pills, blue pills, and pink powder" is an adequate answer to the question "What are you giving me, doctor?"
  30. you think "English literature major" is a polite way to say peanut-brained bimbo
  31. you think Masako is beautiful and Hillary is cute
  32. you think birds cry
  33. you think the opposite of red is white
  34. when your arguing with someone about the color of the traffic light being blue or green... and you think it's blue
  35. when you no longer find anything unusual in the concept of "Vermont curry"
  36. you start thinking can-coffee is equivalent to real coffee
  37. you really enjoy corn soup with your Big Mac
  38. you buy a potato-and-strawberry sandwich for lunch without cringing
  39. you find a beautiful new way to eat natto
  40. you develop a liking for green tea flavored ice cream
  41. you buy and eat "Melty Kiss" without thinking twice about the name
  42. when you are talking on the telephone to your parents and your father says, "Why are you interrupting my explanation with grunts?"
  43. you stop enjoying telling newcomers to Japan 'all about Japan'
  44. you have run out of snappy comebacks to compliments about your chopstick skill
  45. you get a "Nihongo ga joozu" and feel really insulted
  46. you phone an English-speaking gaijin friend and somehow can't bring yourself to get to the point for the first 3 minutes of the conversation
  47. you think its cool to stand in the "Japanese only" queue at Narita Immigration
  48. you ask fellow foreigners the all-important question "How long have you been here?" in order to be able to properly categorize them
  49. you see a gaijin and think "Wow, it' s a gaijin!"
  50. when you get on a train with a number of gaijin on it and you feel uneasy because the harmony is broken

I remember getting something like this when I was first in Japan on exchange. I had only just arrived when somebody sent it to me and I thought it was hilarious. I read it and laughed, and forwarded it to all my exchange friends who were equally amused. A decade later I'm no longer laughing, but nodding instead.

  • When I was in Canada for Christmas I confused my father by beckoning to him across a full room by flicking my fingers with my hand palm down instead of waving my hand palm upwards.
  • I have long tried to insist to amused friends and family that the other end of a phone call CAN hear the difference when I bow.
  • Two weeks ago in Sapporo, I again confused my father, this time by saying "the light is blue, we can cross!"
  • The lady at the omiyage shop at our hotel figured I lived in Japan after I asked for extra bags for the omiyage I had bought and she had put all together in one bag.
  • The day after I came back from my business trip to the US I went out for dinner with my study group and they were all amused when I remarked how delicious plain white rice and simple pickled vegetables could be.
  • Caffeine affects me strongly, after drinking a cup of coffee I can have trouble sitting still. And yet a bowl of matcha (green tea) even if served at a desk in a classroom, calms me completely.

I may not be Turning Japanese, but I recently I have been thinking a lot about just how much living here is affecting and changing me in ways I don't always notice...

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