07 January, 2010

Should I cringe or not?

There are a few things we are doing in Australia that are no-nos in Japan. Sometimes it makes me feel uncomfortable, then I have to remind myself that it is okay to:
  • Have shoes on seats - in Japan, no part of the shoe should touch the seat. Not much of a problem except if you have little kids who want to rest their feet on the waiting room seat or kneel up and look out the train window. As this is always a public issue (in private we don't have shoes on anyway), it is something I've had to be very vigilant about. I cringed slightly the other day when our 10 y.o. lay down on the seat in a waiting room.
  • Walking while eating - we're seeing this a little bit more now in Japan than we used to. Not something we do a lot of anyway, but it is sometimes pretty inconvenient to find somewhere to sit while eating when you're out.
  • Crossing my legs out wide - as in with my knee sticking out to the side rather than neatly tucked into my other knee. Actually Japanese seem to cross their legs way less than foreigners do anyway.
  • Cross my legs when sitting on the floor or stretching my legs out. These are masculine ways. Females are to tuck their legs underneath them or discretely to the side. Murder for any length of time!
  • Leave my shoes on inside - it just feels all wrong.


Hippomanic Jen said...

I don't think my knees or hips would cope with the sitting on the floor neatly thing.

It must be difficult suspended between two cultures, because it's often not that one way is any better than the other, it's just what is expected by a different set of rules. Very hard if you don't know the rules, or they don't apply somewhere else! I had no idea how rude I would be considered in Japan!

KKCambLogos said...

I can relate! Not just Japanese the not sitting cross-legged on the floor. Unfortunately for the girls in my classroom, there just isn't room for them to sit "correctly" when we are on the mats. Hmm, have to think about this one!

I still cringe at shoes or feet on furniture, no matter what country I'm in! And I have to cover my footstool with a towel, otherwise it would be so grimy it wouldn't be worth having.

Hang in there!