Being able to live in Japan for 2 weeks was like a dream come true to me. Well, not really a dream actually since I’ve never dreaming about going to Japan. It’s more like an… unexpected gift. I’ve never imagined myself to go to Japan since it’s known for the high prices. You know, the high living cost, the high food price, and the lists go on and on.
But then, I was lucky enough to be one of the participants of AIMS Short Stay Program 2014 in TUAT (Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology / Nokodai) Japan. Domo arigato gozaimasu for the chance!
Anyway, I did observe things during my stay. I watched how people interact with each other, how they behave, how they do things. I learned so many things from them. We also have a short discussion about it at class 😉
Here’s some of the things I found during my stay.
Slippers, Slippers, and Slippers
It is a custom in Japan to remove our shoes just right after entering a house. The area for removing our shoes is called Genkan (玄関). Well, it’s normally lower than the main part of the house. And it’s somehow ‘dirtier’ than the higher part of the house.
After removing your shoes at the genkan, you have to use the slipper. And… when you enter the bathroom, you’ve got to remove your slipper and change it with another slipper called the bathroom slippers.
Too much for a slipper rules, huh? And I also found that the slipper is somehow… slippery. Not sure if my friends feel the same.
Sentō (銭湯) is a communal bathroom in Japan. Too bad I didn’t take a picture of it! But here’s the thing. Sentō usually consists of 2 main parts : Changing Room and Bathroom. And of course a genkan, if that counts.
The bathroom itself has a bathtub and many showers, buckets, and tiny stools.
You have to enter the bathroom naked, together with the other people. It feels awkward at the first time. But as soon as you dip yourself at the hot water, you’ll forget about it.
First thing you wanna do is to clean yourself at the shower, or you can use the buckets if you prefer the Japanese traditional way. I clean myself twice before dipping myself at the bathtub since I heard that the water will be used again later by others. (Sounds yucks, but yes it’s true).
When we, exchange students, arrived at the university, the people there hold a welcome party for us. It’s so different with any other party I usually found in Indonesia!
There are tables with some drinks and snacks in the middle of it. Then, people will gather round the table, take some drink, and do the kanpai! – a toast.
And after that, you can start eating the snack and chat with the other participant. Sometimes, they hold a Japanese traditional games as well. This one is called Fukuwarai. We have to pin the eyes, nose, mouth, and eyebrows on the face with our eyes closed. Pretty similar with Pin The Tail on The Donkey game, I guess.
No Crossing Leg!
You know women who tends to cross her leg while sitting? Of course, most of us do that here in Indonesia. Surprisingly, crossing leg is found to be a bit rude in Japan. So, I was in the class, sitting calmly with my leg crossed (didn’t even noticed that before as it’s quite natural for me), and then our sensei mentioned about how impolite it is to cross our leg during lecture.
Surprise, surprise! So that’s why you can’t find many people crossing their leg at the public transportation. I tried hard not to then.
Punctuality is something Japanese is proud about. It’s their value. You have to arrive 5 minutes before the appointment time. Guess what? It doesn’t only apply to a serious appointment, but you also have to be punctual when attending a party.
Well, it’s totally different with the people in my country. People here tend to arrive 30 minutes late, even for a formal appointment. Well, not all people. But most of them do so.
There are countless matsuri (祭) held in Japan. There are Girl’s Festival, Boy’s Festival, New year festival, Sport Festival, 7-5-3 festival, and the lists go on and on.
This one is Hina-Matsuri (Girl’s Festival). It was held at the second day of me staying in Japan. Girls usually eat Chirashizushi and some kind of special soup in this very special day, and also a cake.
People usually start to display the dolls in February, and take them down after the festival. This one is the one I found at the cafeteria. It’s quite small actually. It usually consists of 7 layer with sooo many dolls.
And then there’s Hanami (literally, Flower Watching). I don’t know if it’s a festival or not, but people usually gathered along at a park, eating some snacks while watching the flower. The flower itself could be cherry blossom or plum blossom, the two most favorite flowers in Japan.
We found this flower at Yoyogi Park. Read our story!
Sushi Go Round
And of course, some sushi. The sushi restaurant we found on our last night in Japan was totally different with the one in Indonesia. (Thanks to Nano for the recommendation!)
Each table has their own, let’s say, a tab where we can order our foods. Then, the chef will prepared our sushi and put it at the sushi bar. The surprising thing is, the bell will ring when our sushi is approaching!
Each plate has its own sensor, so that’s why…
Ah, so desu ka!
If you come over to Japan, you’ll hear people saying “Ah, so desu ka!” or “Ah, so ka!” most of the time. It’s like saying : “Oh really?” or “Oh, I see!”
The communication in Japanese should be in 2 directions. If one people is talking, the other should give a feedback, and it goes on. Even if you’re not interested at the subject, you should always give a feedback – to respect others 🙂
Japanese are obsessed with kawaii things. I found this bus during my walk to our house.
This kawaii – thing also applies to packaging. There are so many chocolate and snacks wrapped in kawaii packaging.
And here comes the best thing… KAWAII GIRL!
No, the last one’s a joke. Kawaii girl don’t wear braces, no? Please don’t judge me.
That’s a lot of things, right? Well. Japanese might found this as a common thing, but for me, those are things I couldn’t find in my country. You might also wanna know that almost everything Japanese does has its own reason. And that’s a good thing for sure.
Until next time, Nippon! There are a lot of things I haven’t discovered yet ^^