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Travel advice from St. Petersburg

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Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
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When in Japan, do as the Japanese

"A visitor living in Japan must learn a precise new set of social customs, some frustrating, some amusing."

CHIBA CITY, Japan -- As I wake each morning, I know for certain that before the day is over I will be asked two questions:

"Do you like living in Japan?"

"How are you coping with life in Japan?"

My friends and family in Australia would obviously ask one of these as a precursor to queries about my new home, job and lifestyle.

But my Japanese friends and colleagues also ask. Not out of curiosity, but out of an earnest concern for my well-being. They are convinced that my new life must be both stressful and difficult as a result of the radically different culture and customs I must become accustomed to in Japan.

What I would take for patronizing anywhere else, is graciously accepted when my Japanese friends insist on "teaching me Japanese life." The sheer number and strictness of daily customs in Japan make this education process not just an interesting pastime but also a necessity in order to function in this country. [...]

=> Travel: When in Japan, do as the Japanese

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