Prep iv – Prepare for culture shock

Given that Japan is on the other side of the world, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to assume that the culture would not be similar to ours on the Western side in quite a few ways.

For that reason, I knew that in order to relieve the hormonal shock to my system that would probably lead to weight gain (eek!), I would have to do as much background research as I could.

As always, the solution to my problem was to bury my nose in a few books. A lot of them focussed on going to Japan as a tourist, but what I really wanted was a book about living in Japan. One of the good ones is CultureShock! Japan: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette by P Sean Bramble. A light and humorous approach to everyday life and the wacky things you’ll probably encounter in Japan.

Another interesting book I found was this handbook:

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really have a title except for ‘Introducing Japan in English’. I bought it off ebay a while back from my saved search of Japanese language books (yes, that’s what I said). I tried to find it just now on amazon but had no luck.

It features various information about Japanese food, festivals and other cultural things in both Japanese and English side by side. At the moment, the Japanese is too advance for me to read and the kanji doesn’t have furigana (how to read the chinese characters) but it’s still useful in that I can see how a particular sentence would be translated.

Other things I’ve done include watching Begin Japanology which is a great show on NHK (or vimeo…shh!) hosted by Peter Barakan.

And of course, purely for research purposes, I’ve been watching a few doramas. I think some of they give a pretty good inside look into what a Japanese home and typical family are like. I don’t what it is about them that keeps me watching, but I have a suspicion could be:

  • the bad acting
  • the cheesy lines
  • the phobia of PDA

As for food, if you count the Westernized chains like Wagamama and Yo! Sushi, then I’ve eaten Japanese food tons of times. If not, I’ve only had a little. Once, I ate at an ‘authentic’ (and expensive!) restaurant run by a Japanese chef and kimono-clad waitresses back at uni. Also, I already eat a somewhat eastern diet based on rice anyway, so I should be fine …

So this was plan to alleviate future culture shock. I hope it works, but I have a feeling that it’s probably all a waste of time anyway, because even though I won’t be in shock, I’ll still probably gain weight.


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