After a year of living in Japan, I returned back to Canada to see my family for Christmas. Here are some of the differences I noticed in Canada:
- Women have more curves and like to reveal them. Many women wear tight fitting jeans or low cut shirts. The average cup size must be two sizes bigger. In Japan women usually dress conservatively, but some enjoy short skirts. Low cut shirts are rare. Japanese people care more about brand names. Young Japanese women seem very high maintenance, e.g., frequent beauty salon or hairdresser visits and expensive makeup.
- Service in Canada can’t compare to the service in Japan. I waited 30 minutes for a combo at Taco Bell. When I got it, it was cold. This is unimaginable in Japan.
- Suits are a rare site in Canada. I think they’re only used for funerals. Even here, though, people dress more casually. I didn’t see one person wearing a suit during my visit to Canada. At certain times during the day in Japan, it’s common to be on a train where everyone is wearing a suit. Many women in Japan have to wear office lady uniforms.
- You can pay with debit or credit cards anywhere. This is only possible at major department stores in Japan.
- Food is big and cheap. You can buy 4L of milk, 2L of Coke, jumbo vegetables and boxes of cereal, and 200 tablets of Tylenol for $10. Fruits and vegetables are half the size for double the price in Japan.
- Deodorant! You can only find a few kinds at pharmacies in Japan. Because I like to try different products, I tested a few. None of them worked. They were initially fragrant, but that faded quickly. They didn’t decrease the smell of body odor, nor reduce sweating.
- Ethnic diversity. There are so many colors and cultures. We truly have a cultural mosaic in Canada. I think we work hard at trying to integrate our cultures together, too.
- Houses have insulation and central heating. Outside may be freezing cold during winter, but inside is warm and cozy. It’s perfect for relaxing and watching TV. It’s a comfortable environment for getting naked with your significant other. Insulation and central heating may be one of the answers to Japan’s low birth rate. Japanese air conditioners work well in the summer, but they’re inefficient in winter. Many Japanese people use an air condition, a hot carpet, a kotatsu (heated table), and a kerosene stove all at the same time to stay warm in the winter.
- People have free time. Everybody seems to have time to relax and enjoy something. The laid back lifestyle and normal work schedule has everybody happy, well rested, and sociable. 60 work weeks are not rare in Japan. This may be the other answer to the low birth rate crisis.
- People are fat. People of all ages are fat. The standards for fat are completely different, too. Someone who is considered chubby in Japan can be considered normal in Canada. I’ve lost weight since I’ve been in Japan. Some Canadian elementary school students are heavier than me. Japanese people are usually lean and slender, even in their 50s, unlike most Canadians.
- Everybody is direct and open with each other. After a year of living in Japan, I’ve gotten to know many different people. I’ve noticed a lot of Japanese people are nervous, even with close friends.