How to tell you’ve been in Japan too long… Part 1

Living, working and studying abroad in a foreign country and culture different from what you were accustomed to is a challenge in itself. Which makes the moment you realise that you’ve managed to assimilate, if only slightly, into the local culture all the more satisfying.

Check out some of the signs to let you know if you’ve been in the land of the rising sun too long. 


  1. You rush onto an escalator, and only to just stand there.
  2. You don’t hesitate to put a 1000 ¥ (7€/10$) into a vending machine.
  3. When you are talking on the telephone to someone not from Japan and they say, “Why are you interrupting my explanation with grunts?”
  4. When someone is talking, in person or on the phone, you say “「うん」un” a lot to show that you’re listening.
  5. You have trouble figuring out how many syllables there really are in some words, like ‘building’.
  6. You don’t think it unusual for a truck to play “It’s a Small World” when backing up.
  7. You think the opposite of red is white.
  8. You pore over the [時刻表] (“jikokuhyo”/timetable) looking for ways to avoid riding the Shinkansen.
  9. You can buy a potato-and-strawberry sandwich for lunch without cringing.
  10. You squat waiting for a bus or train to arrive.
  11. People stop complementing you on your Japanese, and start asking you where you had your nose and eyes done.
  12. You wonder why Prince Akihito is already getting grey hair, and why you don’t see much of the Emperor these days.
  13. You are not worried about speeding in the rain, whether on bike, motorbike, or car, because you know the cops are only out there in good weather.
  14. Being naked at Onsen doesn’t bother you anymore, even if you’re with close friends.
  15. You understand when your Japanese boyfriend / Japanese husband doesn’t give you anything on Valentine’s Day.
  16. You especially don’t understand when your Japanese boyfriend doesn’t give you anything on White’s Day.
  17. You don’t understand it when your Japanese girlfriend/wife doesn’t give you anything on Valentine’s Day.
  18. You don’t understand it when your female friends, co-workers and neighbors don’t give you anything on Valentine’s Day.
  19. You understand that there are 3 different types of chocolates or gifts to give on Valentine’s Day, and have to be very careful in which ones you give/receive. Giving an obligatory choco to that person you like is a no-no, just as giving a honmei [true feelings] choco to a coworker or male friend is also a no-no.
  20. You think birds “cry” rather than “chirp”.
  21. You get blasted by a politician’s speaker truck at 6AM on a Saturday and think “[商 が ない…] Sho ga nai…(It can’t be helped..).”
  22. You think it’s cool to stand in the “Japanese only” or “long-term stay only” queue at Airport Immigration.
  23. Paying your utility bills at a convenience store seems perfectly normal.
  24. You can understand the practical purposes of all the sun protection sleeves and hats in the summer.
  25. Coffee in a can is a perfectly normal and acceptable beverage.
  26. Sometimes, when you look at your own photos, you’re surprised by how “gaijin” you look.
  27. You think the best part of TV are the commercials.
  28. You think wet umbrellas need condoms.
  29. You think that 4,000 ¥ (28€/40$) is a reasonable price for a good quality melon.

This topic was actually quite popular and requested quite a bit by colleagues of mine and followers on twitter, that I decided to finally get around to making it happen. It is more so an amusing post than anything, most of us who have been in the country for over a year have found most of this applies to the majority of us at one point of another.

Any of these apply to you? Let me know!


3 thoughts on “How to tell you’ve been in Japan too long… Part 1

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