After spending a year and a half in Japan the obvious question presents itself: Did I turn Japanese?
As with any good answer, there is a case for both sides (these implications are broad generalizations and are not representative of all Japanese):
~ I drink more tea than water.
~ Eating anything raw doesn't surprise or scare me...in fact, it's likely that I will enjoy it or even prefer it raw.
~The thought of wearing shoes at work or past the doorway in someone's house seems odd to me (the thought of wearing shoes in someone's house makes me cringe).
~I naturally look to the right first when crossing the street and walk on the left side of the sidewalk.
~I bow throughout my day without realizing it.
~Sumimasen, hai, sugoi, and dijoubu are natural responses to all situations.
~My reflex when I see a camera is to make peace signs. This is not to mock Asians. It is quite the contrary; on some level I even think it's cute.
~I feel naked if I don't wear tights/leggings under my shorts and think twice before exposing my shoulders in public.
~Chopsticks are my go-to utensils.
~I think it is completely normal to have a character representing any product. This includes bread, toilet paper, eggs and car engines....there really is NO limit. This character does not need to have it's own T.V. program but it must be cute. Weird-cute hybrids are acceptable.
~I expect to see vending machines every 100 meters, even when hiking up a mountain.
~Travel time is calculated on train speed and distance.
~ It is normal for weekend plans to be cancelled because of a typhoon.
~Although I don't go as far as wearing gloves when it's 95 degrees (with 100 % humidity) or use an umbrella to avoid the sun (or use whitening lotion), I am no longer concerned with getting tan.
~I am fluent in Engrish. This is a dialect of English and can only be learned by living in Japan. A lot, fun, alright, the U.S., and weekends do not exist in this form of communication. Many, enjoy, so-so, America, and on holiday are the appropriate alternatives. You must also try to work in "these days" as much as possible.
~I crave combini (convenience store) meals.
~The thought of using a credit or debit card or going to an ATM after 7 doesn't cross my mind.
~I expect everything to come in matcha (green tea), red bean and melon favors.
~I take too many pictures.
~I sleep better on futons than on beds.
~I'm a ninja.
~There are some people I only feel comfortable addressing with the suffixes -san, -chan, -kun, and -sensei.
~I think public baths (onsens) are amazing.
~I always choose edamame or rice snacks over potato or corn chips (unless there's salsa or queso, which obviously makes it a completely different situation).
~I have acquired the skill of falling into a deep sleep on the train and waking up moments before my stop (even if I have never been there before).
~I have several cell phone charms and omiyage is a normal part of every trip.
~Despite my small stature, my blonde hair and blue eyes are a clear give away.
~I cannot speak Japanese. I am completely illiterate. In fact, two year olds comprehend more than I do. This presents a big barrier when I try to convince people I am a native.
~When going on a day hike I wear a t-shirt, shorts, Chaco hiking sandals and bring a small lunch in my purse. I am not prepared to survive a year in the woods.
~I cross the street when the pedestrian light is red and don't feel guilty about it.
~ I LOVE spicy food.
~My noodle slurping volume is only sub-par.
~I will always prefer western breakfast over rice and miso.
~Although I admire many things about Buddhism and Shintoism, I am not a follower.
~Even though I love my family very much, I prefer to live separately.
~Much to my dismay, I will never have the fashion sense of the Japanese. Ever.
~I tend to be selfish and independent.
~I am blunt and prefer direct answers.
~To me, "maybe" and "it's difficult" mean it is possible, not "no."
~I question everything and value critical thinking over memorization.
~I think men and women are equal and should serve each other, using their strengths.
~Spending ¥3000 on all you can eat and drink for a normal social outing makes me feel gross.
~I like to understand the meaning of every celebration and am not satisfied with doing it "just because it's tradition"
~I cannot make Japanese food; my attempts are insults to the cuisine.
~I expect napkins at meals and soap and toilet paper in the bathroom.
~I don't need every cookie in the package to be individually wrapped.
~ I don't wear pink, most of my things don't sparkle, and I am not as in touch with my feminine side as much as the average Japanese female.
~I like trash cans.
~I like guys that could fight a bear, not guys who take longer getting ready than me.
~I think sitting on a toilet is cleaner than using a squatty potty....come on people...you are standing in urine.
~I prefer chicken over octopus.
~I am not ashamed of the sound urination and don't feel a need to mask it with a flushing sound or the sound of the rainforest.
~I don't think my toilet should be smarter than me.
~I don't know anything about Anime or video games.
~ I don't listen to Lady Gaga, Celine Dion or AKB48.
~I think laterally instead if vertically in terms if hierarchy.
~I can get fat.
~I would rather not have corn or eggs on my pizza
~I know and appreciate far more than one type of cheese.
The lists could go on......
Japan has changed me and made me aware of more than than I could have ever predicted. It will always be one of my homes and I will always continue to have deep admiration and respect for the country and it's people. I am confident that I will never fully understand it's quirks or the complex layers of the culture, but that is what makes it interesting.
Domo arigago gozaimasu Nippon for making the past year and a half so life-changing.
Peace out Japan