5 Signs that you have been “Japanized”

  • If you have lived for a certain duration of time in a different country other than your own with a different set of values and customs, chances are you will eventually adopt certain actions or habits of that country. These habits and actions are picked up by associating yourself with the locals in the workplace, in school or in your social circle. Here are few customs or habits that you might have adopted while living in Japan.

    1. When the rush hour commute no longer bothers you

    Tokyo and other big cities in Japan have a reputation of packed trains, especially during rush hours in the morning and evening. For newcomers, it can be overwhelming, as you will be squished between strangers or even dragged out of the train when most of the passengers disembark. However, in due time you will no longer mind the tight space as long as you get to your destination. You will soon discover certain tricks such as going for a less crowded carriage or securing a certain spot that will allow certain comfort or if you are lucky you might even secure a seat.

    2. Automatically removing your outdoor shoes or slippers before entering the house


    Author’s photo

    This habit is not exclusive to Japan as some Asian countries practice this as well. However, in Japan they take it a notch higher by having different slippers even inside the house (e.g. bathroom slippers, balcony slippers etc.). Once you are accustomed to this custom you can’t help but become horrified when relatives or friends visit your home and casually walk around your house with their shoes on.

    3. Going to the supermarket on time for the discounted goods

    When evening comes, supermarkets in Japan mark down the prices of perishable goods making it a bargain to practical shoppers. After a certain period you will discover the time that your local supermarket staff roams around the food section and stick those discount stickers often giving up to 70% off the regular price. Just be quick or the good ones will be gone in a flash.

    4. Bowing your head even if you are talking on the phone

    Bowing expresses acknowledgement, greetings, appreciation and respect among others. Japanese people have mastered the art of bowing with different degrees from casual bow or the ‘eshaku’ bow to the most polite of all bows the ‘saikeirei’. With bowing being an integral part of Japanese culture it is most likely one of the first customs that you will assimilate. Just like a true Japanese even when talking on the phone you will at some point be bowing as a sign of agreement or acknowledgment even if the receiver of the call cannot see it.

    5. Dependence on convenience stores (Konbini)

    Of course no one can ignore all the konbinis strategically placed literally in every corner especially in the cities. Unlike the usual convenience stores we have back home, Japanese konbinis offer a wide range of services from selling those all convenient bentos to payment of bills to ATM services and the list goes on. They are also open 24 hours and can offer you most of the fixes you need. It is no wonder that when you go back home for a visit or permanently one of the things you will need to get used to is the absence of the konbinis.