Sakura Mentor

The Shocking Truths about Japan from an International Student’s Viewpoint
Lai Hung Wei Updated in February 2021

Konnichiwa and salam sejahtera! One of the most interesting things of studying abroad is getting exposed to a foreign culture. I remember experiencing cultural shocks on quite a number of occasions especially during my first year in Japan.

Japanese are highly passionate about their work. They feel proud to be part of a team and always strive to find new ways to contribute to the community. Japanese are also highly observant. They notice and pay attention to every tiny detail that most of us would overlook. This drive them to be perfectionists and be extremely careful not to make any mistakes. For example, my Japanese seniors in my laboratory would always check their email at least 3 to 4 times before hitting the “send” button, regardless of who the receivers are. This is also probably why we seldom hear accidents happen due to unethical constructions in Japan.

Most Japanese live a simplistic life in small houses, probably due to their high estate price. However, this doesn’t mean that Japanese houses are small and stuffy because of all their belongings. Instead, Japanese furniture companies came up with cleverly designed furniture which could make use of any space they could get. For example, a foldable bed that could also be a cupboard, or, a dining table that could be shrink down to a coffee table with some simple manoeuvres. I have visited Japanese homes on several occasions and no matter how common the families may look like, I would always find something there that could amaze me.

Photo AC: himawarin

Japan is one of the cleanest countries in the world. Funny though, it is very hard to look for a rubbish bin whenever you go in Japan. The community here have high level of awareness to the surroundings and would always bring their rubbish home themselves. This is exceptionally true when they have fireworks events (花火大会). The Japanese would always clean their surroundings and leave no rubbish at the picnic area. Another astonishing habits that Japanese have is there are lots of old people that would volunteer to collect rubbish around the city during weekdays. I believed this is something rather difficult to find in most countries.

Photo: Pixta

There are tonnes of other cultural shocks that I experienced during my stay here. 500 words is definitely insufficient to list out everything I faced. Different people may have different perspective on various issues but I believed that the Japanese is definitely a race worth learning from.