When visiting a foreign country you tend to notice a few differences.
Like the fact that fish head soup is a delicacy (yes, with the eyes and teeth still inside) or that they all walk on certain sides of the road opposite to what we, as Westerners, would consider the ‘correct side’ (even though those who ride bikes don’t really stay in their designated lane).
That when eating noodle soup one should slurp as loud as possible to show the chef you like the meal. Or that businessman dressed in black suits and white shirts do in fact travel via bicycle and listen to music. (What would a Japanese businessman listen to on the way to work?)
How restrooms in a foreign country are vastly different than ‘Western’ style. (They even have instructions on how to use a Western, which I initially laughed at but then realized I needed instructions on how to use an Eastern latrine.) Or how shrines and temples are everywhere, and in certain cases the vending machines sell beer.
But there are similarities, too.
Like the fact that even the Japanese take pictures of their food and take selfies. Or how the commute is always one to fall asleep on (if you’re on a train) or become crazy because of (if you’re driving). Trust me on this, the Japanese folks drive just as crazy as we do. If not crazier.
How enjoying a good meal is universal. And relaxation time (in the form of gardens, zen and flower, and hot baths) is essential to being happy.
We even recognized some local eateries (McDonalds) and exercise centers (Curves). The kids chat loudly, snacks are everything, and everyone gets excited over Disney. It was nice to see some common threads weaving us Western and Easterners together. (Aside from the importance of work, school, family, and friends, of course.)
The differences far outweigh the similarities though, but that’s why people travel to foreign lands. To experience new things. To see the world through another culture’s eyes. To learn and grow as humans.
And I’d like to think that this particular Japan trip helped me do just that.
Honestly, the trip could be summed up in one word: Amazing.
I’m glad to be back home. Glad to be back to my routine. Glad to spend time with friends and cook Western food. But I’m thrilled I got to visit a foreign country, and that I got to do it with my family. We made memories to last a lifetime.
I hope the great blogosphere had a lovely few weeks without me!
P.s. – Also, I changed my blog’s appearance around a bit. I’m still deciding if I like it. Comment, people!