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You know when you've been in Japan too long when...

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I found this on a US forum board, of all places:




You know when you've been in Japan too long when....


...you notice you've forgotten how to tie shoelaces.

...you rush onto an escalator and just stand there.

...you find yourself bowing while you talk on the phone.

...you think US$17 isn't such a bad price for a new paperback.

...you don't hesitate to put a $10 note into a vending machine.

...when you are talking on the telephone to your parents and your father says, "Why are you interrupting my explanation with grunts?"

...you see a gaijin get on the train and think "Wow, it's a gaijin!"

...you start thinking can-coffee tastes good.

...you have trouble figuring out how many syllables there really are in words like 'building'.

...when you wait for the first day of summer to wear short sleeve dress shirts.

...when the first option you buy for your car is a TV set.

...you don't think it unusual for a truck to play "It's a Small World" when backing up.

...you really enjoy corn soup with your Big Mac.

...you think the opposite of red is white.

...you leave your expensive bottle of Royal Salute with a sleazy barkeeper and don't worry.

...you appear for your first skiing lesson with brand new Rossignol high performance racing skis and an aerodynamic racing suit with color matched goggles. And then snowplow down.

...you buy a potato-and-strawberry sandwich for lunch without cringing.

...you phone an English-speaking gaijin friend and somehow can't bring yourself to get to the point for the first 3 minutes of the conversation.

...you stop enjoying telling newcomers to Japan 'all about Japan'.

...you think 360 yen to the dollar is a reasonable exchange rate.

...you automatically remember all of your important year dates in Showa numbers.

...you think every foreign movie title contains the word 'love.'

...people stop complementing you on your Japanese, and start asking you where you had your nose and eyes done.

...you still remember your first drive in your brand new Toyopet.

...you think Masako is beautiful and Hillary is cute.

...you noticed 7-11 changed its onigiri wrapping houshiki for the third time.

...you find a beautiful new way to eat natto.

...you are not worried about speeding in the rain, because you know the cops are only out there in good weather.

...you think birds cry.

...you think "English literature major" is a polite way to say peanut-brained bimbo.

...you are not surprised to wake up in the morning and find that the woman who stayed over last night has completely cleaned your apartment, even though you'll probably never ever meet her again.

...you get blasted by a political speaker truck and think "sho ga nai..."

...you think its cool to stand in the "Japanese only" queue at Narita Immigration.

...you go to New Zealand and consider traveling around by train.

...you develop a liking for green tea flavored ice cream.

...you're talking to your mother on the phone, and she asks you what "genki" means.

...you think the best part of TV are the commercials.

...you think wet umbrellas need condoms.

.. your mother talks about "you foreigners."

...you have mastered the art of simultaneous bowing and hand-shaking.

...when you think it's alright to stick your head into a stranger's apartment to see if anybody's home.

...your hair is thinning and you consider it "barcode style".

...when you find nothing unusual in a television commercial for candy in which a model dressed in a high school girl's uniform comes up behind another model dressed in a high school girl's uniform, grabs her left breast, gives a devilish grin, and skips away.

...you think the natural location for a beer garden is on a roof.

...you think nothing about seeing 20 ads for women's' sanitary napkins during one movie.

...you have run out of snappy comebacks to compliments about your chopstick skills.

...you think "white pills, blue pills, and pink powder" is an adequate answer to the question "What are you giving me, doctor?".

...you have discovered the sexual attraction of high school navy uniforms.

...when you no longer find anything unusual in the concept of "Vermont curry".

...you think 4 layers of wrapping is reasonable for a simple piece of merchandise.

...you don't find anything strange about a city that puts a life sized, red-and-white painted Eiffel tower imitation in its center, as well as a scale model of the Versaille Palace for its Crown Prince.

...you are only slightly puzzled by "Melty Kiss."

...a new Gaijin moves to your neighborhood and you know immediately you will get his mail for a while.

...you think the meaning of a red traffic light is: "Hurry up! Ten cars now in quick succession, and then we'll think about slowing down."

...when you get on a train with a number of gaijin on it and you feel uneasy because the harmony is broken.

...you ask fellow foreigners the all-important question "How long have you been here?" in order to be able to properly categorize them.

...when looking out the window of your office, you think "Wow, so many trees!" Instead of "Wow, so much concrete!"

...you think NHK is "the Japanese BBC."

...you think curry rice is food.

...the Yakult lady knows you by name.

...you think it is quite OK to play volleyball with 12 people per team.

...when in the middle of nowhere, totally surrounded by rice fields and abundant nature, you aren't surprised to find a drink vending machine with no visible means of a power supply...

...and when you think nothing of it when that lonely vending machine says 'thank you' after you buy a coke.

...it takes fifteen seconds of deep thought to recall the first name of the President of the United States.

...you have a favorite bush to pee behind.

...a non-Japanese sits down next to you on the train and you get up and move. You're not prejudiced, but who knows what they might do?

...you are outwardly appalled to see someone pour miso shiru over rice, but do it in private yourself (neko meshi).

....you only have 73 transparent, plastic umbrellas in your entrance because you have donated 27 to the JR and various taxi companies in the past few months.

...you have over 100 small, transparent plastic umbrellas in your entrance even *after* donating 27 of them to taxis and JR recently.

...you realize it's perfectly reasonable for the Post Office to designate you as the local redistribution agent for all letters addressed in yokomoji.

...when you absolutely do not possess the ability to mispronounce Japanese words "like a non-Japanese would."

...when you pay over 7000 yen for a Captain Santa T-shirt without blinking an eye.

...when your arguing with someone about the color of the traffic light being blue or green...and you think it's blue.

...you think rice imports should be prohibited, because Japanese consumers would never buy imported rice.

...when you think one kind of rice tastes better than another kind.

...you get a "Nihongo ga joozu" and feel really insulted.

...you see a road with two lanes going in the same direction and assume the one on the left is meant for parking.

...when you think Japan actually has only four seasons

...when you pull out your ruler to underline words.

...when getting ready for a trip you automatically calculate for omiyage and you leave just the right amount of space in your suitcase for them.

...when having gaijin around you is a source of stress.

...you watch the grocer's with interest to see when the price of mikans will break.

...on a cold autumn night, the only thing you want for dinner is nabe and nihonshu.

...you return the bow from the cash machine.

...you can't find the "open" and "close" buttons in the elevator because they're in English.

...when you think children should have to walk around in the freezing cold with only short sleeves and shorts up to their butt (to make them strong!).

...when you think that coffee goes perfectly well with squid pizza.

...you can do arithmetic using man, oku, cho and kei.

...you sympathize with your Japanese friend because her daughter is baka because she wears spring tops with winter skirts and you both sit down to try and see what can be done about this wild child.

...you count things using the ni no shi no ro no ya no to song.

...you can't read your kids the Three Little Pigs without giggling when you get the part about "Not by the hair of chinny chin chin."

...you bow to other drivers who give you the right of way.

...you fully understand the concept of "cute culture."

...you look forward to the porno reviews at midnight on Fuji TV.

...when you believe that the perfect side dish to eat with a juicy, deep-fried pork chop is a pile of raw, tasteless, shredded cabbage.

... it doesn't surprise you that a case of beer has the same per unit price as a single can.

... you think cod roe spaghetti with chilled red wine is a typical Italian dish.

..."natsukashii" comes out of your mouth instead of "what you're saying makes me so nostalgic that I must look like one of those wide-eyed manga characters with a tear rolling out of my eye."

...walking into a crowded bar full of non-Japanese makes you nervous, because they "look dangerous."

...you buy a Christmas cake on Christmas Eve.

...you walk to the local seven eleven in your wife's shoes.

...you run for the Yamanote line pushing people left and right, jump on the train holding the doors open to let your bag follow you on. Because you know there will not be another one for at least a minute.

...you no longer pay any attention to what anyone does when you sit down beside them on a train.

...when you accompany your "no" by the famous waving hand-in-front-of-nose.

...when you're impressed with a girl with a 94 cm bust.

...when you write or phone home and say things like "In Japan we..."

...you find yourself apologizing at least three times per conversation.

...when you let your car idle for half an hour while you go shopping.

...you find your self asking all your foreign acquaintances what their blood types are.

...you find yourself practicing golf swings with your umbrella on the train platform.

...you take practice golf swings on the train platform *without* an umbrella in your hand.

...you buy an individually wrapped potato in the supermarket.

...you think that "Lets SPORTS yOUNG gAY CluB" is a perfectly normal T shirt logo for a middle aged lady.

...you have to pause and translate your phone number into English before telling it to someone.

...you have a friend who lives in an apartment building called CREME SODA.

...you order a "bottle of draft" in a pub.

...you are speaking in English but all references to money are in Japanese.

...you pull up at a gas station and wait for a bunch of Norman Rockwell type attendants to jump out and clean your windshield.

...when you say that one of your hobbies is "doraibu."

...you think no car is complete without a tissue box on the rear shelf and a feather duster in the trunk.

...you ask a gaijin colleague who wears short sleeves in October, "Aren't you cold?"

...lunch is yesterday's leftovers out of a Hello Kitty bento box.

...when you draw a sharp distinction between "English" and "English conversation."

...you use the "slasher hand" and continuous bowing to make your way through a crowd.

...all of your December Sundays are reserved for Bonenkai hangover recovery.

...back home, you are disappointed when Dominos doesn't have corn pizza, and the driver is disappointed when you forget the tip.

...you glance at the clock and accurately predict the next line of dialog in the TV dorama.

...you feel an irresistible urge to point your windshield wipers outwards when you park your car in a ski resort.

...you go to a coffee shop in your home country and order "American coffee."

...you put eleven 10 yen coins in the vending machine before you notice it's sold out.

...you see some real cleavage and think WOW!

...you buy tickets to a Tigers' game and spend time practicing the cheers.

...you have to think about it to remember what a 'check' is.

...when you develop the fine sense of Japanese manners that prevents you from facing traffic when you take a leak outside.

...you start shunning foreigners you meet far away from your metropolitan abode in Tokyo (they're probably not worth talking to, you know).

...you remember when shouchu was not a chic drink drunk by high school girls, but rather one drunk under the railroad tracks by construction workers who never take off their haramaki.

...you remember when the average Japanese person under about 30 did not have a telephone.

...you remember when telephones were almost always placed near the front door and next to them was placed a little box or jar to receive 10 yen coins from people who stopped by to 'borrow' your phone.

...you remember when public telephones had just been put out on the street that could be used for out-of-city calls as well as inside the city, and had a sign on them to indicate this new high-tech function.

...you remember almost no bars who could think fast enough to refuse a Caucasian client. Nobody expected them. But then nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition either.

...you have copies of nengajo post cards from a Showa date.

...you claim a seat at a Wendy's by putting your bag on it, fully expecting it to still be there when you return with your burger.

...when you start saving up for a Japanese burial plot.

...you get excited by words like: "health," "soap," "fashion," "image," and "pink."

...you are willing to travel enormous distances just to take a bath.

...you mistake ownership of equipment for possession of skill when discussing your hobbies.

...you expect the elevator girl to announce every floor for you, even if you are alone with her.

...you stop saying "doitashimasite" when the vending machine thanks you.

...you keep interrupting a perfectly good English conversation with regular exclamations of eh, un, ah, heeey, and oh yeah (aizuchi).

...somebody crashes into you and you apologize, insisting that the accident was your fault.

...you watch Rex three times but don't bother to see Jurassic Park.

...you think you know the meaning of "internationalization."

...when you read "lets fit together" at your local sports club and don't immediately think of sex.

...when paying $2000 in gift money to the landlord of your new apartment doesn't make you really angry!

...the English rendition of any Japanese company president's corporate welcome makes perfect sense to you.

...you consider it acceptable to watch a classical concert on NHK BS in mono while the baseball is broadcast in stereo.

...you go home for a holiday and ask your dad which rubbish bin to use for burnables.

...you see Japanese people on the street who remind you of people back home.

...you expect to have the plot of a detective story explained to you both before and after the showing on TV.

...you feel perfectly normal stepping out of a bank with $50,000 in cash in a cute paper bag in one hand, and a box of soap in the other.

...you think menchi-katsu, kim-chee, and coffee sounds like a good breakfast.

...you're at an American restaurant and wonder why there's no bottle of Tabasco on the table.

...you begin to spell last names in CAPITAL LETTERS.

...you vaguely think about visiting New Orleans to get a glimpse of "the real America."

...it does not strike you as strange that an attractive, fashionable and career-minded young woman who went to high school in the United States, graduated from Harvard and studied at Oxford has never, at least as far as the Imperial Household Agency can tell, had a boyfriend.

...you are back home and expect chocolates on Valentine's day.

...you have mastered the art of run-walking to create that important busy image.

...you are surprised the urinal does *not* flush automatically when you walk away from it.

...it does not annoy you when a map is oriented in a direction other than north.

...it is worthy of comment when a little English passage on a T-shirt or cereal box is not all that bad.

...you think nothing about a residential building covered from top bottom in white bathroom tiles.

...you're considering buying an ashtray for your bicycle.

...you think that, in a crowd of Japanese, the presence of another foreigner breaks the wa, although for some reason your presence doesn't.

...you start saying things like: "Yes, I can't do this."

...you face driving winds and wade through knee-deep water to get to work.

...you go to a public beach and leave all your litter behind in the sand, for the benefit of tomorrow's visitors.

...when you beat the "obatarian" to the last seat, and actually think you won a victory.

...when on a visit home, you say something like "Wow, a dollar buys so much!" and are surprised to find everyone looking at you funny.

...you stun yourself with the reverberation you put into the "r" of the Bakayarrrrrroh! you let rip at the chimpira who'd just triggered his automatic umbrella too close to your face.

...if the words CM, OB/OG, TPO, and OL all make perfect sense to you.

...when get into the habit of mentioning to people that they're gained weight when starting conversations.

...when you try to get a girl to "teach" you her phone number.

...if you think you're actually worth the salary you earn.

...when the neighbor asks to borrow some nori and you have it in at least 3 varieties.

...you think Budweiser is a famous international beer brand.

...when the footprints on the toilet seat are your own.

...when you pull up to a stop light at a completely level intersection, but engage the hand brake anyway.

...you think there is something vaguely sinister about open spaces, healthy trees and grass.

...you believe that Tokyo has four seasons, even though it rarely snows.

...you hear a news story referring to a crime as an 'accident' and don't blink an eye.

...you are convinced there are no illiterates in Japan.

...you don't hesitate to serve Calpis water to foreign visitors.

...when your daughter goes to swim school twice a week for over a year and she has not been taught to swim and you understand and do not question it and think that run-on sentences with no subjects like this are normal.

...if you remember having to request an international phone line.

...when, on a trip home, you say out loud exactly what you think 'cause that's what people do here.

...you read the store name "WARE HOUSE" as "WA-RE [our] house," instead of "warehouse."

...you think those clear plastic umbrellas keep you dry.

...when you have no problem with a pencil case that proclaims "the Earth is not only for a human."

...when you use the word "sharp-pen" and can't remember the English name [it was 'mechanical pencil' last time I checked].

...when you begin all sentences with: "ano-ne"

...you plug your waapro into a consento and consider a pipe cut and don't understand why your friends say you speak funny.

...you hate Dave Specter because he speaks better Japanese than you.

...somebody asks directions, you don't have the slightest idea where they're talking about, but you give them directions anyway.

...you have an irresistible urge to state the obvious.

...you can't have your picture taken without your fingers forming the peace sign.

...when you have a heated discussion with four other people, and you all have the same opinion, but you take turns actively stating that opinion again and again, getting more and more excited in the process.

...when you ask your wife if the rice cooker has been set for breakfast

...when, back home, invited to a dinner party, you try, *discretely* to take off your shoes

...when back home, in a public place such as a restaurant or a coffee shop, you are really disturbed by the sound of the conversations in your native language.

...when you believe that buildings are made by incubating the site in blue plastic sheeting for nine months.

...after breaking your wari-bashi apart, you clash the two together to get any splinters off.

...when you rush home from work to catch the last few minutes of sumo.

...you first let yourself in and then (from the inside) knock on the door and shout "hello".

...you walk through your neighborhood, and a house that was there yesterday is gone without a trace, and you don't blink.

...when you begin to think the holiday that falls on December 25 is spelled, "X'mas".

...when you hear Christmas songs in February and don't have a "Japan attack."

...when you always say 'Christmas song' instead of 'Christmas carol.'

...when the Christmas music in the stores does not make you feel at all sentimental like it used to.

...you've discovered that the real meaning of fatherhood is never being able to take a bath by yourself.

...you don't even do a double-take at seeing, next to a display of whistling kettles at Seiyu, a device for testing the whistle of a kettle before buying it.

...when you mentally convert your dollar assets into yen to figure out your personal wealth.

...if you can remember when Kirin was advertised as coming from the sparkling waters of Mt Fuji.

...you have learned the art of riding a bicycle while holding an umbrella over your head.

...when you spend 200,000 yen for two nights and three days sight-seeing in Kobe (travelling from Yokohama, two adults and one child who still travels and lodges free) and don't get angry.

...when you use phrases like "abundant nature" in letters.

...when you buy a ski rack for your car, but you don't own any skis.

...When you are visiting relatives in your native country (and when you think of it as "visiting" and not "going home") and the phone beside the bed rings early one morning and, in a daze, you pick it up and mumble "moshi moshi." And then when the person on the other end says something in English about "is this the right number?" to half-knock you out of your daze and you mumble "hello hello."

...you are turned away from a club because you are not Japanese, and you are not offended.

...you think that 10 visits to the dentist to fix a tooth is reasonable.

...you decide to take a foreign visitor to see an old temple, a kabuki play and Ginza.

...when a "bike" is never a bicycle.

...you think "white" is the color for cars; except for Ferraris, in which case it is "red."

...you believe shizen jyutai is an "act of God".

...during the thought process, you start sucking your teeth.

...you gargle at least four times a day and make all the hacking sounds when emptying your mouth into the sink.

...it is natural to drag your feet.

...you say little things like "Ara?!" or "Are?!" when conversing to English speaking individuals.

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scouser! that is exactly what I was going to say the other day but forgot.


I have not been in Japan long enough as some of the items in the list don't strike any chord with me. Although "...during the thought process, you start sucking your teeth" gets to me. It is always accompanied by "hhhhmmm, maaaaybe. I will think about it". To which I say (just to be a prick) "so that's a no?". You should see the squirm. I almost never do this, except to one or two people here that I want to make wish that they didn't have the job.

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