13 September 2012

Home shock, Culture sickness

So they say that everyone who travels abroad for an extended period of time suffers from culture shock whether they are aware of it or not. Whoever "they" are, they seem to fairly knowledgeable on many things and constantly in the know so I often take their word for it.

Although I love living here I know I've reached a point where I'm starting to miss home a teensy bit and little things about Japan are beginning to nag at me, things that didn't bother me so much in the beginning but now have me grinding my teeth in irritation and cursing under my breath. More than one person has caught me muttering nasty words and glaring at street signs. Stupid kanji...
Don't get me wrong I adore Japan with all its differences, eccentricities and infinitely superior-to-Ireland weather but it's the little things I miss sometimes. Like only having to pay about 50cent for an apple as opposed to almost €2 (are you fucking kidding me?!) I'm not entirely sure why this one bothers me as I eat apples once every 6 months-ish, I think it's just the principle of it.
Like not living in a box room with the worlds smallest kitchen sans oven. Why am I unable to think of meals that don't involve an oven when I no longer have one? I miss baking like it was a family member or something. And large rooms.
It makes me feel sad face banana :-( A fruit, incidently, that is also expensive here. I eat one
everyday though because they are simply awesome. This is proved by the fact that
they have their own website stating as much.
Like being able to read menus and street signs without the aid of an interpreter. Kanji is one thing that drives me up the wall sometimes. For example the following kanji: 日 has about 10 different pronunciations/meanings depending on what comes before or after it. Just when I think I've mastered a kanji I find out it has several more meanings and I want to bang my head on a wall until all the kanji I know fall out of my head and I can jump up and down on them like a petulant child. I know about 50 kanji. There are more than 10,000 (c. 2000 in common use). This also makes me sad face banana.
"Hello. I'm a beautiful piece of Japanese calligraphy and I'm here to ruin your day. Ba ha ha
ha ha ha ha ha!!!" (stolen from here)
Like walking into a shop or up to a shop counter and not being greeted by an utter cacophony of yelling shop workers all greeting you and every other person that enters with what I find the singluarly most annoying word in Japanese: いらっしゃいませ (Irasshaimase) which essentially means 'come in' or 'welcome'. They will even repeatedly say it if they are stacking shelves or doing grunt work somewhere out of view in case someone is nearby that might hear them. There have been times, standing in the middle of a shop listening to a constant chorus of this word that I have wanted to scream "I'm in the shop! I'm in the bloody shop, stop asking me to come into the shop!!" Childish? Most definitely. Is it wrong that I sort of miss the rude and casual indifference of Irish shop workers? Actually it's more their silence. I like to shop in silence I guess.
I did not make this video but it'll give you some idea of what I'm talking about.
So that's my rant. My annoyance with these things will fade as the culture shock does. And like I said I do love this country so to balance out my nagging I will list some things I heart:

1) The food. It's beyond delicious.
2) The people. So friendly, kind and helpful. On more than one occasion I have not just been directed to somewhere I needed to go but actually escorted so that I made it to the right place.

3) The night life here can be such good craic. Before I would've curled up in the foetal position and cried if you told me I had to sing in front of other people. Now karaoke is one of my favourite things to do on a night out. That and being photographed pointing at amusing signs when I'm drunk.

4) Learning the language. And yes, that includes kanji. I know, I know. A total contradiction to all my whining above but learning them is like solving a puzzle and I like puzzles. I usually only hate them when I'm tired or trying to order something or find somewhere and I can't.

5) The arcades. The taiko drum game is my number one favourite thing to do on a night out. I must post about it some day.


  1. Haha enjoyed reading your post (especially your hilarious captions!) and can definitely relate.

    Have you also noticed the extended version some shopkeepers use? IrasshaimasseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEE! I'm not kidding, some people seriously hold it that long!

  2. Ha ha thanks Maz :)
    Ya and they make their voices all high pitched and nasaly. It's super annoying. With time it'll be just another backgroud noise but for now I want to shove kit kats in my ears everytime I enter a conbini and set them off.


Thanks for the comment random human. I will put you on my list of people to rescue when the zombie apocalypse comes. Promise.

© The Rule Book
Maira Gall