Ask Kelly! エピソード3







Today's Question: What surprised you in Japan?

When I looked at the recent “Ask Kelly” questions, this was definitely the most popular question!


So, here is a (partial) list of things that surprised me, an American woman, when I started living in Japan.

Japanese ATMs are closed at night!

In America, you can use an ATM anytime– midnight, 3am, whenever!


The purpose of an ATM is that you can always access your money– especially when the bank is closed.


But not in Japan! (Why, Japan?!)

Sandwich bread is sold in cubes.

When I came to Japan, I was surprised that most shokupan is sold in one size: cube size! In America, we sell loaves of bread that are very long, like the bread in this photo– sometimes there are 20 slices of bread!


I was also surprised that you can buy a pack of 3 slices of bread, or 5 slices of bread. What do Japanese people do with 3 slices of bread? Do they make 1.5 sandwiches? I don’t understand this.

Megaphone cars are the worst!

My neighbors in Japan are very quiet. In my apartment, my neighbors don’t play loud music, they don’t have noisy parties, and they don’t watch TV at a loud volume. Everyone is very quiet and respectful.


But, outside? There are some very noisy people!


My least favorite thing in Japan is the gaisensha. These are the worst! Dear Blog Readers: if you become politicians in the future, please find a better way to communicate with people, and don’t use a megaphone car. I will vote for you!

Women in Japan ride bicycles while wearing skirts and high heels!

In American schools, we are always telling children to be safe when riding a bicycle. We tell children, “wear a helmet!” and “be careful when you ride your bicycle in the street!” In my hometown, people usually wear sports clothing when they ride their bicycle.


So, when I came to Japan, I was very surprised to see so many women riding a bicycle wearing skirts and high heels! I saw many high school students riding a bike while wearing a skirt, and I’ve seen women cycling in high heels many times. I always think 2 things: 1) “Isn’t that dangerous?” and also, 2) “Wow, she’s so cool!”


Readers, if you’re riding your bicycle this summer while wearing your high heels, please be careful!


Wasei Eigo?!

I am continually surprised by English words that become popular in Japanese– especially when they are used in an unusual way!


For example, I often hear people in Japan say “Let’s dancing!”, but this is incorrect– the correct grammar is “let’s dance!” (We don’t say “let’s going,” we say “let’s go!”)


The newest wasei eigo phrase I’ve heard is “keep social distance!” However, I don’t hear Americans saying this. Usually, we tell people to “practice social distancing.” In this case, “practice” means 「実践」.

Customer service is amazing!

Many visitors to Japan agree with me: Japanese customer service is amazing!


The first time I noticed Japan’s customer service was at the airport. After I arrived in Narita, I used an airport limousine bus to get to Tokyo.


The passengers waited in line for the bus, and some airport workers came to help put the suitcases into the bus. They put each suitcase onto the bus very carefully. I thought, “Even though they’re just objects, the workers are handling the suitcases very respectfully.”


But, the most surprising moment was after that. I was on the bus, looking out the window, and the suitcase handlers were standing in a line. When the bus departed, the workers bowed to the bus.


This happened 10 years ago, but I still remember that moment. Even though their work was finished, the workers stayed to see off the passengers. At that moment, I felt that the workers were not just doing a job, but they were taking care of people. That kind of customer service is common in Japan, and I think it’s very special!

That's all for this episode. Thanks for reading, and have a great summer vacation!