Expats in Japan, you know the feeling: After years of working towards your goal of somehow, someday living in Japan, you finally made it to the land of mochi and Harajuku. But you’re not really living in Japan, no, you’re drowning in it. It wasn’t what you expected it to be (how dare your years of research, whether in school or from anime, deceive you!). And you cry and you curse your naivety for ever thinking you could just pick up and move to such a strange land.
But then one day, you have a clear, identifiable moment when everything seems to come together and you just have to stop and smile to yourself, thinking, “I’m doing it. I’m really doing it.” It’s these little moments that eventually trickle together and without realizing it, you’re walking on water, swapping "oyaji-gyagu" with the best of them and craving sashimi for dinner.
Let’s take a look at what 20 foreigners on Japanese website, Niconico News, identified as a time they really felt like they had gotten the hang of living in Japan.
Unsurprisingly, starting to actually like Japanese foods that at first they hated was a common response from foreigners. When homesick expats hoard peanut butter like its gold and bring back suitcases full of maple syrup and cheese, its no wonder a change in tastes was such a big moment for them.
“When I became able to eat raw fish (sushi, sashimi, etc)” (Greece, early 30s, male)
“When I was finally able to eat sushi.” (Syria, early 30s, male)
“When I understood manzai comedy, when I was able to eat sashimi, when I was able to feel comfortable at the onsen…” (Tunisia, late 40s, male)
“When I became able to eat a considerable amount of Japanese food, was able to understand television news programs, and when riding the train was a piece of cake for me.” (Netherlands, early 30s, male)
“I can eat natto, I can also speak in both the Kansai dialect and standard Japanese, and I often eat different kinds of seaweed like 'mozuku' and 'mekabu.'” (Germany, late 30s, male)
“The beef imported to Japan isn’t very good, so recently I’ve only been eating domestically raised beef. I absolutely hated natto, but now I love it and eat it every other day. I also react to things in Japanese now. I’ll say things like 'uso!' (no way!) and 'machigaeta!' (I messed up!).” (Mali, late 30s, male)
“I have come to know the deliciousness of 'onigiri' and soba that at first I didn’t appreciate” (South Korea, late 30s, female)
From learning to bow to a change in utensil preferences, getting used to Japanese culture was also a common answer:
“There’s a ton of stuff. When I speak Japanese, when I use onomatopes (words for sounds) and gestures, when I bid someone farewell and bow many times. There’s a lot more…” (Iran, early 20s, female)
“When I bow.” (USA, late 30s, male)
“When Japanese words naturally creep into my conversations with other Filipino people.” (Philippines, late 40s, female)
“When I started feeling that chopsticks are more useful than a spoon and fork.” (Thailand, late 30s, female)
“Whenever I talk about cleanliness and hygiene with a Japanese person and I share the same opinion.” (Indonesia, early 40s, female)
“Whenever I get along well with a Japanese person I meet abroad” (Peru, early 40s, female)
Other smaller moments were noted by expats in Japan:
“When I get drinks with a Japanese person at an izakaya [Japanese-style pub].” (Turkey, late 20s, male)
“When I’m moved by the blossoming of cherry trees.” (Brazil, late 30s, male)
If you’re new to Japan and you have yet to experience any moments like these, don’t lose heart, you’ll get there. Living in Japan, or any foreign country for that matter, is filled with the highest highs, but also the lowest lows. So hang in there. Japan is a wonderfully confusing, awesomely crazy, brilliantly baffling place. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Source: NicoNico News
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