Friday, 15 January 2010

Why me??

Thank you for all the wonderful comments and contributions on the last "questions to Japan" post, perhaps we should all collaborate and write a book! After thinking about all the whys I have for Japan, I also got to thinking of how Japan has changed me, and how when I first came to Japan, I could have written a list of 100 questions to Japan, there are things I thought that were weird then that I've been converted to now. I think after I got married and got away from the ex-pat drinking scene I've changed even more to the J-way, I don't know if it's good or bad, better for my liver anyway...

10 ways I've done a total 180 to the J-way...

1) Cooking with the 'Japanese taste...'
When I first heard the absurd combination of soy sauce, sugar and sake I was all like, 'err, OK, would you like a side of crack with your soy sauce and sugar?!' It was such a weird concept for me, I now, however, pretty much cook everything with that combo and don't even need to measure anymore, got the perfect blend of soy sauce, sugar, ajinomoto, sake, hondashi and mirin down like a pro!

2) Taking temperatures like a madwoman...
This is even worse since Ash came along, I've mentioned this before but when I lived in Aussie we never had a thermometer in the house, where as now I'll have one shoved under anyone's armpit the minute they say they have a cold. Ridiculous, even as I type I'm vowing to throw all thermometers away.

3) Bowing...
When I was home last, I bowed at freaking McDonald's. It wasn't a huge, deep bow or anything, just a nod of the head, but enough for me to notice it and want to smack myself around a bit. It is a habit I'm going to find very hard to break if I ever go home permanently, although I find bowing very useful when there is nothing else to do, or when you want to get away from someone you're talking to.

4) Japanese...noises??
I'm not sure if that's the best way to describe them, (and no I'm not referring the crying noises J-girls make in the throws of passion) I mean the noises you make to express mild surprise: ふんん big surprise: へええええ! shock: えええ!? confused shock: えっ?えっ? and disgust: わああ!I seriously have no idea what I said to express those things before and can't imagine not using them.

5) Eating rice twice a day...
5 years ago I ate rice once a week if I was lucky and even that was the fried kind from the local Chinese take-away.. These days there is always rice in the cooker and we pretty much eat it at least once, usually twice a day. What the hell do babies eat at home?? Pasta?? Bread?? Ash eats rice with pretty much every meal!

6)Doing waaaaaayyyyy more housework...
If I was living on my own at home I would probably wash once or twice a week, vacuum about the same and wash floors and bath when I could visibly see scum forming. I now vacuum at least every second day (but usually every day) wash clothes every day, wash the bath and floors once every two days, and a whole heap of other crap that I would never have done before. This may, ok, definitely change however when I start working full time.

7) Repulsion at "inside dirt..."
Now my house in Australia always had a no-shoes inside policy so that wasn't a huge change for me, but it was a pretty loose policy and nobody would have a seizure if an outside shoe touched an inside surface. I now have this radar that can detect any speck of outside dirt that comes into contact with an inside surface, bizarre. I also get paranoid that I will be 'that stupid gaijin' who makes a shoe mistake, it doesn't happen too often, but whenever I step on carpet of any kind i nervously dart my eyes to all the Japanese feet just to make sure I'm not fucking with the the no shoe on carpet policy.

8) Bike radar...
Speaking of radar, I can now sense when someone is behind me on a bike on the footpath, because we're not in Kansas anymore Toto, you can't just freely take up a huge footpath, no no, there is room for one person and one bike. Any violation of the one person one bike policy will result in extreme irritating bell ringing from the cranky old lady on the bike. When my mum was here I had to pretty much keep my hand on her arm all the time and guide her out of the way of all the bikes as her radar was still on wide footpath Australia mode.

9) Accent...
I never had a real strong Aussie twang, much to the delight of most students but it was definitely stronger when I first came here. I would never have said Oooo-su-to-ra-ri-aarrr or sa-ra-DA in a daily conversation but I've seriously forgotten how to say some words without sounding like a posh twat with a speech impediment.

10) Taking and appreciating a bath everyday...
I rarely took baths when I was at home, I now take one everyday and I think I will even when I don't have to with Ash. When I was home with Ash on holiday I would jump in the bath with Ash and my parents said they never got in the bath with us, just filled the bath a bit and stood above and washed. I think my reply to that was incredibly Japanese, I gave them a horrified look and said, "But the baby gets cold!! And you'll get a sore back!!! And nobody can relax and 'boil'!!!" I think I actually used the term 'boil' too...

So there are only 10 of the ways that Japan is getting her clutches on me and converting me to the J-way, there are lots more that I'm sure I don't even notice. Anyone else been changed by the place they lived???


  1. I lived in Germany for a few months in high school and got completely converted to the way they make their beds. I had already known the joy of a goosedown duvet, but in Germany they don't use a top sheet, they just put a cotton duvet cover on the goosedown and then a blanket over that if you need it. (The duvet cover is made out of sheet material and can be removed and washed just as often as you change your sheets). It is AWESOME. You don't get all twisted up in the top sheet and start to lose covers, you can burrito yourself into the duvet and it's like being wrapped in a cloud. There were things that annoyed me about life in Germany but that was a clear improvement over the way Americans make a bed.

  2. Most of the things you listed totally match me too!!! Admittedly I currently don't clean as you do, but when I have long vacations that is me-a cleaning maniac!
    #1 about cooking... It took a while for me to get the hang of it and find the right combination, but finally I can just "throw things" together Japanese style!

  3. Pretty much the same with all of them! Also found that I apologise far more than in Oz..for example if Alex does something that attracts attention, is loud, or anything at all to do with being a kid or if someone goes out of their way to help her or me I apologise as well as saying thankyou..
    Back in Oz last month and everyone was like, `what are you apologising for???`.

  4. ditto to that list - bar the cooking. I haven't got it down pat yet. Can't be far off surely. I would add getting used to good service. When I went home to NZ last I was 'embarassed' at the service at a cafe at the international friggin airport in Auckland. Talk about bloody Island time. Want me some lunch like now woman.

  5. one word... chopsticks.

    Before i couldnt even pick them up (except than to do my human walrus impression) but now I eat with them (even if im eating ALONE) and cook with them... like they are the best things EVER... .i love chopsticks....

    Also on the food topic, Im scared about going home one day and everyone giving me dirty looks coz im slurping my spag-bol or something!

  6. Def 4,3 and 8! I'm getting really bad with all the noises and sounds...I need to ration myself ;) And the bowing- I bowed to the passport control chappy in Heathrow and and in the shops at home- my Mum burst out laughing at that one...
    ...I"m on my own so I don't own a thermometer or clean so much (as I should).
    I take a facecloth with me everywhere, even back home in the UK. For the cleaning of hands- so much more eco friendly!
    Still can't do the slurping thing so I fake it