11. Emergency vehicles have speakers outside to politely ask people to be careful.
There is literally some guy being paid to sit in the car and politely ask other vehicles to move out of the way.
Very different from the ambulances in the U.S., which would simply plough through a road (of course the road is usually cleared because of the sirens) in an emergency.
12. It is a Japanese custom to work for one company for the rest of your life.
4th-year college students are expected to go "job-hunting" (they actually have a specialized term for this), and once they find the job they like, they'll stay with that company until retirement (about 70 years old). While this tradition is based on the idea of loyalty, there is also a financial incentive.
Every year, there are certain pre-set dates when employees get their entire annual bonus at once. This goes for almost any job in any company in Japan. These paychecks are apparently fairly large, and grow at a generous rate the longer you stay in a company.
Bosses try to keep an eye out for flakes trying to take advantage of this unique system. If they see someone who is likely to quit early, they will put a lot of effort to convince them to quit before receiving their bonus.
13. No one uses wireless. They use their phones.
As someone with an unhealthy love for the internet combined with ownership of an overpriced Macbook Pro laptop, wireless internet access was the first thing I looked for when I arrived in Japan. But when I asked, I was directed to LAN ports (you know, back in the old days when you still had to plug a wire into your computer to surf the net? Yeah, those).
In the past few months I've been in Japan, I've seen very very few people with their laptops. Rather, I saw almost everyone using their phones (very fancy ones at that). I suppose I shouldn't find it that surprising. You can do virtually everything on those things - watch TV, go online, make phone calls, check/send emails (phone emails work the same way as regular internet emails), take pictures...no need for a computer really.
14. Everyone is required to learn English in middle school.
Almost everyone I've spoken with can speak at least a few words or phrases in English. But most people prefer not to - it's just like me preferring not to use the 4 years I wasted taking high school Spanish.
15. Morality and Policy are a close pair in Japan.
For instance, if a guy walked into a hospital drunk and sporting a bloody fist from a drunken fist fight, the doctor could refuse to treat him at all, or charge him the full amount out-of-pocket (the guy wouldn't be allowed to use insurance). All on the basis that he was drunk, and therefore brought it upon himself.
16. Don't be late.
They won't mention it, but if you're late it's considered very rude. It's rare for a Japanese to be late to anything. Because of this, it is almost expected that you exercise the same courtesy.
17. Attentive (almost Aggressive) Customer Service.
Amazing. It almost makes you feel humbled seeing them try so hard to please.
Whenever I get my lunch at the school cafeteria, there are at least 2 people who bow and say thank you for supporting their business. You can't help but bow back!!
But sometimes it can seem a little bit aggressive. In department stores for example, you can't simply walk into a shop and look around. As soon as you enter, someone will bow and follow you around to assist with any questions, or interest you in some product. Their attentiveness makes me feel a little suffocated sometimes - please give me some room to breathe! I haven't even decided if I want to buy anything yet!
18. Manga is CHEAP!
Well, most of the common paperback ones anyway. It really depends on how old the series is I think. As long as it's not a new release, it can sell for ?Ç¬ï¿½300 or ?Ç¬ï¿½400 (equivalent to $3 or $4 USD)!
In the U.S. I always understood crepes to be the equivalent of super-flattened pancakes with all kinds of bad but delicious fillings - fruits, whipped cream, chocolate, ice cream...yum <3. But here it's amazingly popular. More than donuts!
They sell them at stalls especially around crowded shopping arcades (that's what they call them, arcades o_o), and the price usually ranges from ?Ç¬ï¿½350 - ?Ç¬ï¿½600 (about $3.50 to $6 USD). Not so bad.
20. Girls & PARFAITS
Parfaits might be about as popular as crepes, if not more so. It's actually a French frozen yogurt dessert, and like crepes, it's usually made of fruits, ice cream, whipped cream, cakes, and candies. Here I've also found Japanese-style parfaits - mochi, dango, and maccha-flavored ice cream (maccha = green tea). Parfaits are most recognizable by the fact that it's served in a glass, usually in various shapes.
Here it's about as commonly seen as ice cream cones! There's a bit of a gender stereotype that says all girls love this stuff (not too hard to believe I guess), but I definitely know a few guys who would LOVE to try some.
Expensive though - the cheaper ones are about ?Ç¬ï¿½500 (about $5 USD), but the average price is about ?Ç¬ï¿½1,000 (about $10 USD) -_-.
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