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4 Lessons I learned after living in Japan for a couple of years

1. It haven’t always been like that, but modern Japan is a country of simple choices and instant remedies. At least in private life. If the result is not immediate, nobody waits. Japanese women of my age never make hamburgers at home because it’s troublesome (手間がかかる). Even old ladies buy obento for dinner at the supermarket.

I’m not talking about work here, as it is supreme for almost all Japanese. Work takes so much time and effort that it is inevitable, so the only way to save some time for hobbies, dating etc. is to reduce housework.

2. The sooner you understand that you are a giant, the better it is for your mental health. Well, sort of. I mean, there are some foreign people who are even extremely slender, and some tall Japanese with big feet. To think of it, three of my female Japanese friends aged between 30 and 60 have the same difficulties finding shoes sized 25.5-26. But usually I feel like a clumsy, fat and gluttonous Gulliver bear among the tiny Lilliputians.

3. Japan is a country of fish-eaters. Everyone knows that Japanese people live long and look young because they eat fish every day. Sounds perfectly logical, except the fact that they don’t. Some Japanese (usually men) eat fish twice a year at sushi restaurant, and some Japanese women eat fish every single day.But a typical housewife in Japan, after carefully comparing the prices, chooses meat or chicken more often. Then goes frozen fish, because it is less expensive than the freshly-caught. And not so many non-chefs often go to Tsukiji fish market.

4. Even if you embrace Japanese style of working and do your very best every day, it may not work. Just because sometimes staying up all night working is necessary, it does not mean working around the clock it is the only key to success. Sometimes method is more important than persistence. For example, the method of teaching English. And someday there will be less Engrish in the streets of Tokyo.

Article by Olga Kaneda

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