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How has your impression of your home country changed?

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After living in Japan for a number of years, what's your impression of your native country (or your place within it) when you visit?

I've been back "home" for quite a few years, so my impressions of my trips home have faded. Although it was a subtle impression, I remember readjusting to how casual most interaction in the US is. I was never a social butterfly, so I guess I became comfortable with Japan's stratified and predictable social patterns.

I remember being bored by lack of opportunity to use Japanese. I certainly wasn't fluent and sometimes struggled, but I enjoyed the challenge and progress.
 

Mike Cash

骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう
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Do you realize the conundrum created by asking what for many of us are two entirely different questions in the subject and the body of your post?
 

nahadef

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I have a lot of culture shock every time I go back to Toronto.

Most recently, the scraggiliness of the city really irked me. There is a slobbiness that feels like bombardment. Adults dress like teenagers, t-shirts everywhere instead of grown up clothes. Way too many tattoos being shown off, on the hands, on the necks. Too many 20-something guys with bushy beards. It feels like a garden that is not being maintained.

In the suburbs, the environments look much nicer, but it's populated by cars. I would walk for an hour, and have, on average, two people pass me on foot, maybe one on bike. And over a quarter of the people are full on fat, 100% because of their lifestyle. And the clothes seemed even slobbier there, baggy pants and sleeveless shirts. It was all really depressing.

My wife is Japanese, and she didn't notice it as acutely. Maybe it's because it's my home, I scrutinised it more. But the takeaway I had was that everyone is so concerned with being free and 'expressing' themselves, they had no concern for the environment around them, making the whole place gaudier than I could enjoy.

I was at an intersection waiting for the light to change, and I smelled pot. A guy a meter away had lit a fat three-paper joint. I was stunned.

I really like the fact that adults in Japan generally don't consider t-shirts acceptable outfits outside of the beach. They are concerned with the group more, and it makes everyone's lives a little smoother. I don't think I can live in Canada again. Maybe in a rural area, but not the city or the suburbs.
 
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I never really appreciated the genuine friendliness of Americans before. In fact, I never really considered it.

Years in Japan has made me really, really sick of phoney friendliness and all of Japan's little and empty gestures designed to prop up the facade.

Lately I have been thinking it is genetic that Japanese are unfriendly like the Vulcans of Star Trek are naturally violent. On Vulcan they developed cultural norms to compensate against violent tendencies. In Japan, they have developed cultural norms to compensate against unfriendliness. But Japanese still don't know their neighbors.

Sad to say, but I think I share this lack of exuberance with Japanese. But I am still sick of their lack of genuine friendliness, like their inability to just wave and smile. At the very least, I can wave and smile genuinely.

They are concerned with the group more, and it makes everyone's lives a little smoother.
Yeah, except when it puts them through complete hell.

I cannot tell you how much people wearing T-shirts has totally ruined my day and made my life rocky.

what?
 
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Do you realize the conundrum created by asking what for many of us are two entirely different questions in the subject and the body of your post?
Yes, I slipped there. I meant native for both, but do realize that native and home aren't interchangeable for some people. I actually hinted at that when I put home for the US in quotes, then used home without quotes for Japan.

I agree that the prevalence of scruffy, sloppily dressed people can be off-putting.
 
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I went to Uniqlo today and had a booster shot of these impressions. There were many Japanese-looking customers in the store (I heard a fair amount of Japanese being spoken), and of course they looked sharp. The only part that I didn't find so pleasant was how the cashiers would robotically smile, hold their hand up in the prescribed manner (like a Japanese tour guide), and chirp, "following customer, please." I'll take it over the sour, dismissive attitude of some American cashiers, but I can't help knowing how increasingly silly and caged the American Uniqlo staff feels every time they do that.
 

nahadef

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That's something I do appreciate in the West. After years of robotic sales staff, in Canada, I was thrown off by a bank teller who asked me how I was in a sincere way. It was pleasant.

Of course, that was countered the same day by another who asked how I was, and when I replied, "I'm good, thanks, how about yourself?" her reply was a grunt as she stared at the cash register.

It's a hard call: daily friendly chipper, cold staff; or luck of the draw, friendly people, or bored, sour ones.
 
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As a Brit, I forgot how rude people are in shops. I am so used to people going out of their way to help me that I forgot that a lot of shop workers in the UK would rather you just not come into their shop at all. God forbid they actually want you to be satisified. Not to mention them having faces like a slapped arse whenever I asked them for even the slightest bit of help. Also, the sun setting at like 9pm in the summer. But not rising until like 8am in the winter.

That being said, I found it much easier to just talk to people in general in the UK. A stereotype of British people is that they don't like to talk to you unless they know you, and while I did find that true in London, when I went back to my hometown I had quite a few random chats with people, which never happens to me in Japan unless people are after something, like an opportunity to practice their English. I also forgot how genuine people are too, and not just trying to find the best answer to give you. If someone doesn't agree with you they will tell you, and that usually leads into a decent conversation.

After living in Japan for so long there are just things I forget about the UK until I go back.
 
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