46 things to share about Japan in our second year.

So here we are… our second year has come and gone already. We are officially on our last year in Japan. It’s always exciting to learn what life has in store for us next, but it will definitely be bittersweet to leave this country that we have become so familiar and accustomed to.

Awhile ago, I wrote a blog called, “61 things to share about Japan in our first year.” So as we enter into our third year, I think it’s only appropriate to make another list of things that we forgotten to mention from our first year, or noticed, learned, observed, or just found unique here in our second year. Again, these are things that you may already know, or they may even be done in the States, but they are new to me:

  1. Japan is a largely cash-based society.
  2. RECYCLE!! And recycle appropriately! Also, disposing of your trash correctly is very important! When living in a Japanese home or apartment, they will not collect your trash if it is disposed of improperly! They can also give you a hefty fine for incorrectly sorting/dumping it!
  3. Try to finish everything on your plate.
  4. Table manners are important!
  5. Karaoke is very popular.
  6. Japanese women don’t take prenatal vitamins during pregnancy.
  7. Japanese do not circumcise unless there is an absolute need to.
  8. Watch out for the jellyfish! They are everywhere, all year, even in swimming season.
  9. When you give money as a gift, you wrap it.
  10. Parents co-sleep with their children until at they are least one year of age. My Japanese friends were very surprised to learn that our baby slept in his own room, in his own crib.
  11. What we would call a “State” in America, they call a “Prefecture” in Japan.
  12. When taking the city or highway bus, you do not need a car seat for your infant or baby.
  13. Many Japanese do not use car seats for their baby in taxis. They hold them in their lap.
  14. The highway’s are mainly toll roads. Sometimes they are only one lane and they can add up to be pretty pricey… So take the scenic route! You never what wonder you will find along the back roads 🙂
  15. As a car owner, you must renew what is called a “JCI” every 2 years for your car.
  16. Car insurance is paid yearly.
  17. Japanese always dress conservatively or dress up. They are always conscious of how they look when going out in public. You don’t go to the market and see someone in sweatpants.
  18. Girls are obsessed with long eyelashes.
  19. Surgical masks: worn to not spread germs/sickness, to keep from getting germs/sick, or just for fashion (there are decorated and even themed ones sold!).
  20. Women go back to their hometown (if not already in it) to give birth. They stay for the first couple of months to have parents and grandparents help out.
  21. Pachinko buildings are ALL over. They are pinball games/slots.
  22. Japanese shop daily for fresh produce and meals for the day.
  23. use the metric system
  24. use celsius
  25. Do not administer Hep B shot at child’s birth like in the States.
  26. Unlucky numbers that are avoided: 4 and 9. Four (shi- also means “death”). Nine (ku- refers to suffering).
  27. Carry handkerchiefs for drying hands, as many restrooms do not have dryers or towels. Also, used for wiping sweat in the summer heat.
  28. Japanese salespeople do not make commission on a sale when a customer shops.
  29. use 24 hr clock (“military” time)
  30. Allotted amount of time to stay in hospital after giving birth: 6 days, 5 nights.
  31. The after-labor care in hospitals is one-of-a-kind! Facial, 3 large meals a day, rooms that look like hotels rather than scary hospital rooms..)
  32. Whenever a purchase is made, a lot of care goes into wrapping and packaging it; whether it be food or a gift. Food is sorted, wrapped, and the bags are taped closed.
  33. Eating while walking is not common. If you are hungry, stop to eat. Drinking a beverage is okay.
  34. Their water doesn’t have fluoride in it.
  35. Pizza doesn’t just come with pepperoni or ham, but no pizza sauce and with toppings like corn, lemon, or shrimp (or once in my case, shrimp and lemon! yum!)
  36. Take your passport with you when traveling within Japan. Hotels, and most all ryokans and inns will look at them and make a copy when checking in.
  37. No matter what- Be Respectful! I can never stress this enough… There’s always that American a*^hole who thinks that he deserves the right to b$#@* to his friend about how his order wasn’t right in Starbucks. Well, to that guy, maybe you should learn some Japanese phrases that can help you order what you want. So many Japanese learn English, and many of them learn the words and phrases most related to their jobs so they can better deal with foreigners. But you still get those jacka^&%* who don’t even try to communicate with the language barrier when they come in with their “I’ll have this… with no “this”… and extra “this”… skim “this”…and only a little of “this”… order. I mean come on! They are in no way required to learn English! They do this for their benefit. Maybe as a foreigner you should try the same. And if you don’t want to, or are to lazy, or for whatever reason, then just have some RESPECT when dealing with language barriers! I can only imagine what that barista lady now thinks of Americans and what she tells her co-wokers and friends about her interactions with people like that guy (ahem…Americans…) Way to go.
  38. Some restaurants are not willing to accommodate strollers or infants/babies.
  39. Much of the air pollution that occurs and garbage that floats up on the shores is from China.
  40. When visiting a Japanese home for the first time, it is custom to bring a gift.
  41. There are wild boars here.
  42. Bargaining and haggling is not done in Japan.
  43. Japanese leave their motorcycles and bicycles unlocked.
  44. Because of limited space, not only are there parking ramps, but it is more popular to see parking garages that hold vehicles and are built vertically to conserve space. You enter in a code, push some buttons, gate goes up or down, and your car appears. Your car is parked in a slot that can move up, down, and sideways, and moves accordingly to whatever number you put in for your slot to get your car. Usually, like for our apartment complex, there is only one way in, and now way out. So, if you’re parking is in the back and you can’t turn your car around to back in, you park on a circular, steel wheel in the ground, and it will rotate your car to face where you need it to be!!
  45. There are gas stations that still exist where the attendant will fill up your tank and clean your windows, without you ever having to get out of the car! Just like the old days 🙂
  46. Police cars ride with their lights flashing, but no sound (unless pulling someone over, or emergencies of course).


Lindsay View All →

Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!

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