Photo of the Shinkansen 700 from the front

Photo:Takeshi Kuboki

5 Expectations vs Realities of Japanese Culture

Coming to Japan for the first time, you will find that your expectations might be to see a metropolis city with incredible technology and state-of-the-art facilities. Or maybe you expect to see the traditional side of Japan with its beautiful shrines and untouched landscapes.

The reality is in fact everyone's expectations entwine depending upon what people see when they step into Japan for the first time. Is Japanese food expensive? And are there advanced robots everywhere? So here are five things you might expect about Japan but the reality might change your opinion of the country!

Pepper-kun the robot

1. All Japanese technology is advanced and hi-tech!

Is it? Yes and no. Not everything is as awesome as Softbank's robot, Pepper-kun, sadly! The Softbank robot is probably one of the coolest demonstrations of technology you can see around Japan! The technology in Japan is indeed amazing as you can ride super-fast bullet trains, go to a robot resturant and have a singing voice synthesizer who holds concerts around Japan.

That being said, here and there you will find Japan still using the same facilities and technology as other developed countries do. Even in the capital of Tokyo, there are companies still using outdated technology, sending fax documents and expecting resumes to be sent by post. You might also find some shops selling cassette and VHS tapes. It goes to show Japan is impressive but you will still see the same old-school technology that other countries use too!

Japanese and foreign friends together

2. "Japanese people can speak English!"

When it comes to English, a good majority of Japanese people can read and write but many of them do not want to speak English. The thing is, schools teach English by textbooks and the lessons are mostly in Japanese. So because there is hardly any English spoken in their classes, Japanese people have to study hard and venture out in order to practice and become more fluent. They learn how to understand English but have less practice speaking English.

There are a number of study aboard programs, English conversation schools (eikaiwa) and language exchanges that help many Japanese learn and speak more English. But many people who are less outgoing or less dedicated to English prefer to stick to speaking Japanese, and when tourists need help, they tend to respond in Japanese.

3. "The Japanese are short and wear too much makeup"

Japanese cosmetics are amongst the most popular beauty essentials that many use around in the world. However, the stereotype that Japanese people wear too much makeup is simply not true. Get on public transport and not everyone will be wearing makeup. Many tourists might assume so because of the shop assistants in beauty and fashion, as well as the advertisements around Japan, but

And is everyone short in height too? No! Japanese people range in height as much as people from around the world do. The average height of women is 158cm (5''2) and men average 172cm (5''7), but you'll also find tall and short people everywhere around Japan.

katsu curry

4. "Japanese people eat more fish and vegetables!"

Everyone assumes Japanese people are so slim and healthy. And the reason everyone thinks this is because of the amount of sushi, sashimi and vegetables that they consume. Right? Nope!

In actuality when you come to Japan, you'll find that people eat just about everything. On top of that, there seems to have been a diet change in the past few decades. The increase in fried food, and calorie-rich foods such as cheese and curry, is showing among Japanese people's diets. If that is not enough then you might have noticed the increase in Western food chains spreading around Japan, such as Subway and Krispy Kreme.

It may not be as easy for vegetarians and vegans to find tasty food here as they thought it would be but for anyone who loves meat and fish, Japan is just right for you!

Gyomu Super supermarket

5. "Buying food in Japan is expensive!"

Some supermarkets in Japan can be pricy indeed but you can find reasonablly-priced items if you look in the right places. The price of fruit and vegetables is the only exception as they have small scale farming compared to most places in the West. But apart from that, there are cheaper options if you keep looking.

If you are living in Japan and are experiencing the trouble of finding cheap groceries, here's a tip. Supermarkets discount the food they sell from the evening to closing time, with discounts ranging from around 20% to 60% at most, especially if it's meat, fish and produced stock.

And for cheaper supermarkets? You have a few options: Gyoumu Super, Daiso, Seiyu and 100 yen shops. These places offer relatively cheaper groceries, including baked goods, frozen food and basic necessities.

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