09 August, 2014

Culture shock in clothing

This US blogger serving in Djibouti continued with her series about culture shock by talking about clothing: http://www.djiboutijones.com/2014/08/culture-shock-in-pictures-clothing/ (I linked to her post about grocery shopping here).

Our experience, again, isn't as extreme, but we are shocked at some things.

Skin
When we come back to Australia we are always shocked at how much skin we can see. On our first home assignment short shirts were in fashion (lots of muffin tops!). Our second HA found maxi dresses with lots of cleavage showing. On our third HA we haven't hit summer yet, but still there is lots of skin. Tight shirts and short shorts on people who shouldn't really be wearing those things.

Japan is generally more modest than Australia and we like that. As you can guess—less skin, rarely a plunging neckline, or a naked waist. Shorts have gotten shorter, but mostly for young women. Men occasionally wear shorts now, but it is still not easy to find shorts for men in the shops. At the Curves gyms you aren't allowed to wear tank tops or pants above the knee. It is shocking to see what Australians exercise in!

This is something I never want to get used to in Australia, but that is another topic altogether.

School uniforms
Our front entrance in Japan. It's easy to find your shoes,
they're all here.
Of course a big personal shock for the boys has been school uniforms. In Japan at an American-style international school they don't have uniforms. In Australia it's school uniforms. 

The other day we went to a shopping centre straight after school and the boys were shocked: people might see us in our uniforms. They were interested to see how many other children were there in uniform too!

Our eldest son is learning a bit more about ironing. He has to iron his school shirts, and he's doing a good job.

They're getting used to the uniforms. We haven't heard many complaints recently. Nonetheless our eldest is very much looking forward to "free dress day" next Friday.

Shoes
Another clothing shock is shoes. We're simply not used to wearing shoes inside. Our house in Japan has one main entry where all our shoes are kept. Our house in Brisbane has three entry/exit points. We keep our shoes at one, but what happens when you want to go out the other? It gets complicated. 

We're trying to adjust and assure visitors that it is okay if they wear their shoes in our house, even if we don't. But I'm not yet comfortable with kids running in and out, trekking dirt, leaves, grass etc. through my house.

3 comments:

Georgia said...

With the exception of school uniforms I'm sitting here in Florida resonating like a temple gong. For you this time it's only a year ;-)

The Mother Experiment said...

Ah the shoe dilemma. We have an old pair of thongs at the back door for when we go into the yard. We don't like people wearing shoes in our home. It is definitely ok to ask people to take their shoes off at the door. It must be weird for your boys having to wear shoes in class! Karlee

Wendy said...

Yes, thongs will work well when it is warmer. It's hard when you've got socks on, though. I've had to make a new rule we've never had before: No socks on concrete!
The other challenge is that we have two back doors and one front door, so where do you keep the shoes/thongs/slip on outdoor shoes?
They don't really like their school shoes, but they're used to wearing shoes inside at school. The younger two wear "indoor sneakers" at school in Japan, changing in the corridor outside the classroom. The high schoolers just wear their outdoor shoes everywhere. It is a western-style place. Actually there are lots of places in Japan where you wear your shoes inside, most shops, for example. Our church also (but not all churches).