Old Dec 1, 12, 8:51 pm
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: SIN / SFO
Programs: SQ PPS, UA GS, BA Silver, Marriott Ambassador, Accor Gold, Hertz PC
Posts: 1,108
As everyone else has said, it takes time to get used to the differences. Culture shock is a [insert expletive of choice].

My city now has seven (!) types of garbage, and there is at least one category up for collection every day of the week... different types of garbage go into different types of bags, paper is divided out into three different varities, and just yesterday I got a booklet explaining that yet another type of plastic garbage would need to be separated come February.

The unwritten rules, such as "it's not nice to eat while walking" and so on, can feel even more stifling, as there is no handy "ハローごみ"-type booklet to consult, leaving one in constant fear of violating some societal norm. After a number of years, I think I finally understand most of these, but new mystifying customs and standards of behaviour still routinely crop up. Honestly, the trick (at least for me) was to simply come to terms with the fact that it is never really possible for a foreigner to completely assimilate into Japanese society, realise that I will always stand out as "different," and just stop caring so much.

As jib71 says, the reverse culture shock actually seems harder to deal with, but also helps put things into perspective. Currently, I split my time between Kansai and Shanghai, and when I'm in SH, I often find the apparent lack of order and politeness extremely tiring and angering for the first few days. When I return home to the Midwest US, I now find many parts of American culture a bit baffling, and am dismayed to have to worry again about things like "bad neighbourhoods" and "violent crime." When I get back to Japan, the restoration of order can actually seem a relief.

It'll get better over time and Japan will start to seem more normal and comfortable.
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