Post # 1
My daughter is moving to Akita City next month and although I think she’ll do great, I’m her mom and, as such, I can’t help but be a little bit of a worry wart. For those bees in Japan, how did you adjust to the cultural differences? My daughter is a full-figured young woman (size 16); will she have a problem finding clothing in her size (this seems to be her biggest concern)?
Thanks in advance for your responses.
Post # 3
@Kimberley25: Lucky girl! Except for the fact that my SO doesn’t live there and probably wouldn’t survive there, I totally wish I lived in Japan! It’s one of my favourite cities in the world!
Cultural differences are not hard to adjust to – everyone is very polite, customer service is always excellent even despite language barriers, the general public is very considerate, and their hygiene is unparalleled. I say to just take it all in, be respectful of public & private properties (throw garbage/recycling where they’re supposed to go, take off shoes at shrines/temples/people’s homes, be very neat if you’re a guest in someone’s place), and just follow what everyone else does. 🙂
One thing she might not know as a foreigner is that when she takes taxis, she shouldn’t close the door after she gets out – they are automatic and it’s considered rude to shove their doors. She might want to mirror people bowing to her – she doesn’t have to, as a foreigner, but it’s polite and it’s what locals do. Also, never stick chopsticks into a bowl of rice so that it stands up vertically on its own – big no-no because it’s what they do for displays at funerals and such.
Just tell her to enjoy it and and soak it all in and do as the locals do! Not hard to adjust at all as long as she’s respectful and considerate – just like most Japanese people. 🙂
With respect to clothing – honestly, yes, it will be very difficult to find clothes above a size, say, 6 or maybe 8 if one’s lucky. I was about a 10 when I last went and all I could buy were stretchy items like loose woolly sweaters and such. I didn’t really buy clothes. The shoes are also small – I’m like a 7.5 in Canada but a 9 or something in Japan, which is one of the largest sizes available. But on the bright side there are TONS of adorable accessories she’ll have access to, like scarves, handbags, knick-knacky jewellery, etc.!
I hope she has a good time, and feel free to ask any other questions you might have! (I’m not Japanese but one of my uncles is and part of my family lives there.)
Post # 4
@Pisces: Thank you so much for your reply! We’ve gone on a massive clothes-shopping expedition, but she’s only allowed two bags, so I will be shipping her winter wardrobe. Yes, we were worried about her shoe situation as she wears a US size 9, but we went to a bbq this weekend for past and new JET participants and it sounds like, if need be, she will at least be able to find men’s shoes in her size. I will definitely pass on this info to her. I did not know about the taxis!!
In speaking with the past JET participants, most everyone I spoke with stayed the maximum alloted time; right now, participants can renew their contract 3 times, for a total of four years.
I’m just glad all these years of schooling are paying off; Japanese studies was her college major. She is being encouraged by one of her professors to come back to school and get her master’s, as well.
Again, thanks! 🙂
Post # 5
@Kimberley25: Wow, she’s in the JET Program? You must be so proud!!! I’ve heard that it’s EXTREMELY competitive and that you have to have an enormous amount of knowledge about Japanese history, culture, economy, etc. If she got into that program, I’m sure she’s going to adjust very quickly. Good luck to her! 😀
Post # 6
@Pisces: Thanks! Yes, it was EXTREMELY competitive; just getting to the interview stage is difficult, let alone getting placement. She is very knowledgeable about Japanese language, culture, traditions, literature, etc. She even took Japanese theater classes (rakugo and yose) and had a performance right before her college graduation last summer. I have been a single mom since she was 7 (her dad moved out of state) and it is very gratifying to know that all these years of encouragement and hard work (on both our parts) has paid off and she gets to (literally) see the world from a whole, new perspective.
Post # 7
Wow! What a lucky girl! I’m in my third year of Japanese language courses right now, and I’m hoping to do the JET program after I graduate! When I was in Japan (and I was about an 8 or 10), I found one outfit that’s supposed to be a one-size-fits-all dress with an elastic waistband, and it DOES fit me, but I’m definitely using the elastic and it’s the most forgiving garment I found. So, yay for shipping a winter wardrobe.
Japan is a lovely place, and again, if she’s studied the language and the culture, she’ll have no problem adjusting. Everyone there is VERY forgiving of foreigners, and if she’s in JET, she’s probably in an area where foreigners are pretty rare and considered a novelty–so they’re likely to be even more forgiving.
To your daughter, がんべってください！