We put a blank piece of paper up on the wall in the student area at school, for students to write the weird cultural things they noticed about Japan. Well, they’ve built up a nice number already, so it’s time to paste them onto the Internet for everyone to see!
Clicking the picture above will take you to a larger version on our photo gallery, but if you’d rather read neat machine-typed text, here’s the list (with comments as necessary):
1. Special slippers just for the toilet.
2. Shop staff who follow you out of the store and bow to you as you walk away.
3. The streets aren’t named, just occasionally the intersections! (Even taxi drivers have problems finding their way around!)
4. No paper towels anywhere, and some restrooms don’t even have soap!
5. Women-only wagons on the train.
6. In most department stores, it is forbidden to drink or eat.
7. Store staff shout “irasshaimase!” even when nobody is around. (いらっしゃいませ！ is the equivalent of the English word “welcome!”, and traditionally in Japan store staff say it to customers entering a store. However, they also shout it at random intervals too, for some reason.)
8. EXPENSIVE PUBLIC TRANSPORT! (Yes, Fukuoka is quite bad for this, although recently 100-yen tickets on the bus and subway have been increasing.)
9. Where are the trashcans??? (For a very clean country, there are extremely few trashcans around. Part of this is that people don’t eat on the streets, of course…)
10. “Condoms” for wet umbrellas… (In most larger stores, a dispenser by the door gives out umbrella-shaped bags to make sure your umbrella doesn’t drip everywhere.)
11. Where is all the litter, since there are no trashcans??? (Somebody found a theme, I think.)
12. People in clothing stores insist you take your shoes off before fitting, and want you to put your shirt over your current one…
13. Timed parking meters for bicycles … Funny! (Fukuoka ranked number one in Japan for the number of abandoned bicycles a few years ago, so there is now a big effort to improve bicycle parking in the city center. The main thrust of this is installing parking meters, at 100 yen a time.
14. Filling out questionnaires after a punk show. (Doesn’t sound very punk…)
15. Wiping of dog after it eats, pees or poos.
16. Sales person made us stay for tea, cookie, and then kneeled for my $ (￥).
17. All the plastic food displayed in the windows of restaurants.
18. Women are doing their make-up while riding a bike, or shaving eyebrows on the train.
19.Actually, the friendliness of shop staff, waiters, etc. Try to find this in Europe or the US.
20. Women in beautiful high heeled shoes but actually dragging them with every step, totally taking away the effect.