Indicators that demonstrate I am assimilating comfortably into my new country:
Eating rice and random pickled things for breakfast
Exclaiming with almost orgasmic delight, “Mmmm, oishi!” (delicious) when eating food that others have offered. Even when the food/ tea/ whatever is vile, it is polite to go to the opposite extreme and compliment it – as opposed to, “This could do with a little salt/ sugar/ is best served as pig swill.”
Bypassing available western toilets in favour of a ‘squat’ toilet
Sniffing with gusto and enthusiasm when I have a cold or am eating curry/spicy food
Nodding vigorously and saying ‘hai’ (yes, I hear you, I understand etc) continuously when conversing with others – even other foreigners
Standing in the doorway after boarding the train, thereby blocking people’s passage, but securing my own hasty exit when my station rolls around. (And this couldn’t be a valid post without a train reference, could it?)
Addiction to mabo. It’s actually a Chinese dish that is very popular here and I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the rest of my life. “Mmmm, oishi!”
Having my own gaijin (foreigner) version of bowing
Love of sake
Pouring other people’s drinks/ soy sauce etc, and waiting for them to pour mine
Preferring to eat with two sticks – ie hashi (chopsticks), rather than a knife and fork
Removing my shoes before entering my home, anyone else’s home, change rooms in department stores, tatami rooms in restaurants etc, without thinking twice
I am considering buying a handbag* and a pair of high heels. But only considering.
The national obsession here is food. I reckon 90% of television programs involve food in some capacity. I don’t give a toss about food. I eat because I have to, and consider it a mighty waste of time and energy. If I never ate again it would be too soon.
Yet the majority of the points I have made refer to food. What the… ?!
* I have an avid hatred of women and their freaking handbags – regardless of where I am living. Women in Tokyo favour huge designer numbers that hang from their elbow, which then swing into your face when they stand over you in the train. What the hell do they have in there? They’re the size of mini-backpacks. The bag I took to Bali for a two-week holiday was only slightly larger than these freaking handbags. However, the people here dress immaculately and I am getting slightly paranoid about being the scruffy alien. What I wear would be perfectly acceptable in Melbourne, but the Japanese have raised style to a whole new level. Same for the shoes. Could be time to ditch my runners and platform shoes for something a little more… refined. The tomboy goes posh. Arghhh!