Gaikokujin no Nichijou is a blog about a recently married couple living our lives in a small-ish town in Obihiro, Japan. Kim is an assistant English teacher, and Dan is taking care of household things, as well as taking college classes. If you are interested in miscellaneous Japan things, please follow us!
What part about daily life in Japan would you like to know more about? We’re getting more and more used to living here and more things are becoming quite normal to us, so it makes it a little bit hard to write up on stuff sometimes!
I hear this all the time, and my reply is always “Well, not really. Maybe a little bit.”
There are two different kinds of experiences you can have when you come to work in Japan. You can have the “foreigner experience”, or the “Japanese experience”.
For the “foreigner experience”, you usually hang out with other foreigners, don’t go out much on your own, or don’t hang out with many Japanese who don’t speak English. You can get by with using minimal Japanese.
The “Japanese experience” involves spending time with a lot of Japanese people (who usually don’t speak much English), trying new things on your own, and really going out of your way to learn new things. You are always exercising your Japanese.
Neither one is necessarily “bad” or “good”. It all depends on your goals. If you just want to teach English in Japan for a year for fun and you don’t know any Japanese, a “foreigner experience” can be a great thing. You have a great support network who can understand your culture shock and homesickness. If you plan on staying in Japan long-term or permanently, you might want to strive for a “Japanese experience”. Of course, what “experience” you actually experience won’t be so black and white. You can easily have some sort of a balance between the two.
The more of a “Japanese experience” you have, easier it will be for your language ability to naturally improve. Of course your Japanese can improve greatly with a “foreigner experience” too, as many people will study Japanese formally in some way during or outside of work.
We have Japanese friends, and lately my husband and I have been more ambitious about traveling and doing new things on our own! But the fact that we have each other, spend most of the day (one way or another) talking to each other (in English), and always want to spend at least a little time every day with each other is a little bit detrimental to our language learning experience. On top of that, I really like having free time to myself and just playing, so when I get home from work I really don’t want to study (XD).
Also, many Japanese people around us speak English (my fellow English teachers, some younger Japanese friends of ours), so it is easy enough to default to asking them for help rather than figuring out things ourselves. Most of these things are usually very important matters, such as bills and figuring out missed package slips, so we don’t beat around the bush when it comes to asking for help. Don’t get me wrong, we figure things out by ourselves plenty of times, but it is often so frustrating and time consuming that it is often not worth the satisfaction of doing something ourselves. For example, I ordered a special Christmas cake from Bandai with my husband (with no outside help), and it took us at least an hour to figure out how to order the cake, only to find out that we needed to make a Bandai account, and then finish ordering the cake. It was great that we could do it by ourselves, but it took so much time, uncertainty, and frustration (on my part. I get frustrated with things easily. My husband is super chill) that it just turned out to be something exhausting.
So in short, I’m picking up a bit of Kanji and some conversational skills, but my language ability is not dramatically improving. I’m not really disappointed with this, because I have been very happy with my life so far. I hope to put a bit more effort into studying Kanji during work, and hoping to locate some textbooks that I want. Ideally, that will help me have more courage to engage in more natural conversation.
My first day at work in 2014 and this keeps happening. Is this a Japanese thing? But they say it in English, is this a thing I am supposed to be doing too?!
Dan Edit: Yes, they did that to me yesterday at work too. It was always so sudden and out of nowhere. I started trying to beat them to the punch, and they seemed to appreciate it. Even though I work at an english school though, they all said it in Japanese. I guess it’s just more traditional that way.
I’m kind of curious about two things.
1. Do they (and Asian people in general I think) really dislike cheese?
2. What’s with their huge preference of peppering everything with English words? Yeah the US does it too, but it makes a lot of sense to me because the US is basically a huge melting pot of a lot of cultures/languages.
I hope I don’t come off as rude/ignorant, just curious about this stuff.
This is just an opinion based on observation, but so far in our time here, this is the conclusion I have come up with.
1. I don’t think that Japanese people in general have a strong dislike for cheese. They just prefer different and less kinds of cheese. Processed cheese (like singles slices) can be found in all grocery stores, and there are very popular kinds of “snack sized” cheeses that are sold. (Just tiny blocks of cheese) They also REALLY like camembert cheese and like to put it on lots of different things. The town/area we live in specifically is well known for its dairy and is a little famous for having “so many different kinds of cheese”, which is a very small variety (compared to where we’re from, anyways) of small chunks of various cheeses for an expensive price. (though at a Japanese Costco, you can find more “western” cheeses, like big blocks of various chedders, mozzarella, pepper jack, etc. ) They also seem to prefer milder tastes to sharper tastes.
I don’t really know how cheese is made, but I do know that they treat milk differently when they make it for consumption, but I don’t know if that effects or influences their cheese-making or not. In the United States (I dunno about other countries) milk is pasteurized for a long time, while in Japan, it is only heated to around 120-130 degrees Celsius for like two seconds. (I heard this from someone, so I’m not too sure about all of the details)
2. Its trendy and cool, and that’s about it. Not quite sure why, exactly, other than its different. Since everyone has to learn English in school, it might be fun to randomly use these vocabulary words outside of class. One time my husband and I were standing in line, discussing something (in English), and some girls behind us (middle school or high school, not sure) were like “What?! Oh, wow! English! Amazing! That’s so cool! That’s so cool! Wow! That sounds so cool!”
We’ve only been here for half a year, so I don’t know how accurate this all is, but that’s just my take on things.