When I first came to Japan, I was determined that I wouldn’t change myself to fit in with their culture. I was British, loud, and I wanted to stay that way! But, inevitably, after two years, that is no longer the case. So here are 5 ways that I’ve changed (and probably you, too) ever since moving to Japan.
In Japan, you’re not supposed to talk on the phone while on the train, you have to switch your phone to silent mode, and keep to yourself. Even walking down the street, you don’t hear that much noise. Being polite and considerate is very important in Japan, and it’s hard not to feel the effects for yourself.
I often find myself getting confused when I accidentally bump into a non-Japanese person when walking down the street, or in a store. Do I say “sorry” in English? Or should I say “sumimasen” in Japanese? Do those people over there need help, or do they know where they’re going? These questions will be constantly running through your mind when you live in Japan. It suddenly becomes much harder to communicate with people from outside Japan!
I can safely say that before moving to Japan, I had never eaten any kind of animal organ aside from pate. Now, my favorite dish to eat at yakitori restaurants is grilled heart, and a skewer of chicken skin is a great snack with beer. I never imagined I’d be so comfortable eating these kinds of foods, but it’s only gotten worse as I’ve been here! I’ve even eaten moving squid!
The culture around customer service in Japan is very strict. I’ve now become used to people shouting at me when I enter stores and watching me as I leave. This also means that, for me, the bar had now been set very high. Customers really are kings in Japan, so anything less than perfect is very surprising! Who knows how I’ll cope when I leave.
So many times, when posting pictures of myself on Facebook, friends and family back home comment on how ‘Japanese’ I look. Now, they don’t mean my race; they mean my fashion and beauty choices. Before coming to Japan, I wore mainly black, low-cut clothes, and dark, smoky makeup. Now, most of my clothes are quite high-necked, I wear colors and patterns, and often wear my hair in two braids with minimal, natural looking makeup. Even though I won’t be wearing anything super-kawaii anytime soon, my style has definitely changed.
Living in any foreign country is sure to change you in some way. Japan is no different. I’ve embraced these changes throughout my time here and am happy with who I am now. I have no idea if these changes will stick when I leave Japan, but I hope they do!