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Monday, February 27, 2012

Learning Process

Can you imagine how complicated it is to live in Japan? I have been struggling with a few things. “No” doesn’t really mean “no.” If I’m invited to someone’s house, they automatically bring tea or coffee without asking me. They sometimes ask me if I want to drink coffee or tea. I usually say, “No, thank you. Don’t worry about me.” They bring something anyway. I have to drink it because I don’t like to waste anything.

We had a couple of guests last weekend. I offered them something to drink several times. They said, “No, thanks.” So, I didn’t prepare anything. I didn’t want to force them to drink anything. George returned and told me to offer them something. I said, “I did.” He said, “You really need to offer them something.” So, I told the guests that George insisted. Then, they accepted my offer. They ended up loving the tea I gave them…or were they just being polite??? I often end up throwing some refreshments away because they don’t finish them. This encouraged me to use Japanese size cups…small and tiny.

Another one… My neighbor always reminds me of trash day. Tomorrow is for plastic. Tuesday is for burnable trash which requires a specific bag that’s approved by the city. The second Monday of the month is for cardboard which is picked up at a different location than the regular garbage(whatever that is). The confusion continues with broken china, water bottles, and so on. Everything has its own place and time for pick up. It’s too complicated. I finally picked up a booklet about trash which contains 7 pages. Being housewife in Japan is harder than I ever experienced in the U.S.

You may think, who cares??? Since people in the community are watching me and any rumors spread like wildfire, it’s impossible not to care. Building a good reputation is difficult, but creating a bad reputation is simple.

Did I tell you that I truly miss living in the U.S., but my husband is extremely happy in Japan. My dogs are also very happy, too. What can I say? It’s three against one.


  1. I completely agree! I hate the "politeness" regarding drinks etc. - to me no means no and if I ask and they say no then I take that at face value....
    Our rubbish is not quite so complicated, but I get really confused and end up wandering to our rubbish collection spot sometimes just to check what other people are throwing out on each day.
    I really hope you start to enjoy your life here in Japan a little more soon. Please call in if you are ever over this side of the mountain!

  2. i am a bumbling gaijin and don't always get those food cues. no thank you means no thank you. japanese friends learn soon enough that if they want something, they need to speak up! those who don't, usually don't become friends. :)

    my city (munakata) has the least complicated system i've experienced in japan! recycle days are saturday, sunday and wednesday! there is a central recycle spot in the city (near the public buildings like the library and community center) so we don't have to separate the garbage and set them out on different days. there are still some rules to follow (certain things must be tied, PURA plastic is recyclable unless it's shaped, things like that) and retired persons to police over it, but all in all, it's great. and, if you cannot drive or get to the recycle spot, many neighborhoods organize a pick up (usually involving the kodomokai) which helps out, i think. much better than when i was living in the country-side and could only recycle cans once a month!