Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Few Differences

Obviously, living in another culture is bound to have its differences.  We were warned of some things before we left the states, but sometimes you just need to experience things on your own.  There are 3 notable differences that I want to highlight in this blog entry and here they are:

Japanese squat toilet
Western toilet w/bidet & seat warmer

Japanese shower

Shower in Navy Lodge

How to use the shower

Japanese soaking tub
1)Toilets & Showers- After getting off the airplane in Tokyo, I decided to use the toilet.  What is typically a no-brainer in the U.S., just became quite complicated in Japan.  The western toilet had numerous buttons and pictures on how to use it (such as the bidet) in Japanese writing. I felt as though I was doing musical buttons in order to find the correct one that flushed the dang thing.  While the toilet at the airport was fancy, we still had difficulties flushing the one at The Navy Lodge.  It was able to flush two ways.  I also realized after we were here for over a week, that many of the toilet seats are heated.  What a luxury on a cold day!  While one can get spoiled with western style toilets, we also had the chance to use/see the squat toilets out in town.  This can be tricky, but its pretty self explanatory.  There are even grab bars to hold on to.  Out in town people from businesses will hand out tissues with advertisements on them.  Its best to be prepared!

The shower in the Navy Lodge was also hard to figure out at first.  While it is a western style shower with a curtain, the knobs to start it were not.  There were 2 knobs, and 1 happened to be in Japanese. One knob was for temperature, the other was to turn on the shower.  I'm still grateful for the picture on the knob that simulates a shower.  At least I know if I turn the knob to that picture, the shower will turn on.  The house we will be moving into will have a Japanese shower.  Its actually its own room...and kind of looks like a locker room shower.  The purpose of the shower is to clean off with soap then use the tub for soaking. 

2) Cash Society -This has probably been the most difficult for us to get used to: Japan is a cash society.  You will find few places off-base that take credit cards.  We are elated when we find businesses that do....such as department stores, and an occasional restaurant.  The reality we've found is that we have to keep some yen with us at all times.  We opened another bank account on base the first week we were here.  Now we are able to get yen out of an ATM machine.  Bank cards issued outside of Japan cannot be used in Japanese ATM machines.

3) The Opposite Side of The Road- The Japanese drive on the opposite side of the road.  This is odd to see if you haven't been in a country that does this.  So far it hasn't been that bad.  We've been practicing riding our bikes around the base.  I think this is prepping us for driving in Japan.  At the end of next week Justin and I will be taking our driving test (and a written test too).  Let's hope we both pass.

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