A good meeting with a British guy

I met a British guy at the supermarket. It’s very rare in my hometown. My English teacher said that there are only three native English speakers in my hometown. I’ve already met two of them, so he may be the last person.

He was reading Japanese magazines, so I said “Can you read it?” He said “No.”.  He was looking at pictures in the magazine.  I know learning Japanese takes a long time. He isn’t Chinese, so he has to learn Kanji (Chinese characters). Then we started our conversation.

He was surprised by my helmet because my helmet is exclusive for bike riding. He said I’m the first person he’s seen in my hometown who wears a professional bike helmet. He also said you should wear a bike helmet when you cycle in the Britain. (Is this right?) On the other hand, you don’t need to wear a helmet in Japan. Though Japan’s bikes are very different from Britain’s bikes, I want to say we should wear a helmet in Japan for our safety.  We found out that we have a same hobby, bicycle, and interests.

He taught me his name, and I said I’ll send a friend request in facebook. That was a good meeting. I looked for him in facebook, but I had a problem. There are five people with the same name. I couldn’t find him, so I sent a couple of requests. I hope my request will reach him.

Isn’t she Japanese?

I have a favorite female singer now.  I like her clear voice. Surprisingly, she isn’t Japanese. I didn’t notice that she is Korean. Her pronunciation seems perfect, so I thought she is Japanese. I’m wondering how she learned this perfect pronunciation.

Reverse Culture Shock (2) Japanese people work so hard

When I went to a Japanese diner, Yoshinoya, one middle aged woman worked there. Though she was the only worker in the diner, there were almost 10 customers. I knew her salary wasn’t so high and she didn’t receive any tips, but she worked really hard and was very polite to us.  I thought that Japanese are so earnest in the workplace.
At the same time, I thought she was making herself less valued because she didn’t receive enough support from her company and I guessed shed didn’t ask for any support from her company. Japanese people sometimes work just for the sake of work itself, not for salary. It seems to be a virtue of Japanese, but now I can say that this virtue is one of the causes that lead to the recent depression in the Japanese economy.  I didn’t notice it before I go abroad. This is what I really want to write in my Journals. I’ll write about this topic more in another article.

Reverse Culture Shock (1) “lack of diversity”

I came back from NYC to Japan three week ago.  Although I recovered from jet lag, I’m still suffering from reverse culture shock. I want to write about it.
I was scared when I got to Tokyo Station, because there were many people and almost all of them were Japanese.  As you know, NYC has a variety of people.  People are very different from each other.  Tokyo is totally different from NYC in this respect.
I noticed people were standing only on one side – the left side – on the escalators at Tokyo Station.  If you were in a hurry to somewhere, you could run up along the right side of the escalators. This is an implicit rule in Tokyo.  I’ve never seen this kind of rule in NYC.  I remember people stood on both sides of the escalator at Grand Central Terminal. Can you imagine what I thought when I saw this scene in Japan?  I was just scared.  I felt weird even though I’m Japanese.
I want to say the word “diversity”.  I’m wondering why Japan lacks of this kind of “diversity”.  This diversity is the biggest difference between Japan and the U.S.

Reverse culture shock towards Japan

I was watching people in the Time Warner building, nearby Columbus circle last Friday.  There was a variety of people.  I like this diversity.  I like watching people in NYC.  I can’t see this scene in Tokyo.  I think most Japanese people don’t understand what I feel when I see this diversity. It’s comfortable for me to see different people in a same place.

At Central Park’s ice rink, I could see two gay couples and one lesbian couple.  I’ve never seen gay people in Japan.  This culture isn’t acceptable in Japan.  I thought what an open mind  Americans have.  On the other hand, if I do different things in Japan, normal Japanese people criticize me publically or secretly.

Of course, I know there is discrimination in the U.S., but Americans are trying to change this.  I like this attempt. Even though many problems exist in the U.S, now I prefer the U.S because of their open mind and willingness to change reality.  I really admire this open mind in the U.S.

My opinion seems too radical for normal Japanese who have never been to foreign countries.  Recently, I’ve been thinking it’s quite difficult for normal Japanese people understand diversity and the open-mindedness of the U.S.  I’m also thinking I shouldn’t say this kind of thing in Japanese.  What I feel now is a reverse culture shock to Japan.

Visiting MoMA

I visited MoMA last Saturday with my friend.  MoMA made me think about the definition of art.  Many works were too artistic for us to understand.  We talked about what were the criteria for good work.  Who decide whether a work is good or not?  We couldn’t figure that out.

I saw very famous pictures that I saw in my school textbooks.

Les Demoiselles d’Avignonby Pablo Picasso

I and the Village” by Marc Chagall

These two works were my favorite ones.  Of course, there were more famous works very closely.  We talked about how much we would have to work to compensate for any valuable art we might happen to damaged.  I remember the Met tragedy last month; a woman damaged a Pablo Picasso work accidentally.

An article about the tragedy: Woman’s tear in Picasso slashes value by $65M

If you visit New York, you can see many famous works directly and easily.  There are so many museums in the city.  I am sure you will be surprised to have this precious opportunity.

Central Park Ice Skating

I skated at Central Park last Friday.  Central Park’s ice rink was less crowded than Bryan Park.  I think there was only one tourist (me); the skate rink was for New Yorkers.  It was a wonderful experience in NYC.  After skating there, my legs hurt and I became hungry.  I realized that skating burns a lot of calories.

My first American Barbecue “Dinosaur Barbecue”

I went to an American Barbecue restaurant in Harlem last Thursday.  The restaurant name was “Dinosaur Barbecue

It’s a completely American place.  I thought this place looked like a traditional American movie.  I was the only Asian person in the restaurant; other customers were white and black Americans.  I could understand the reason why there were filled with only American, because the dishes were completely American ones.  I didn’t know almost all their names.

You should have a guide to introduce you to American culture.  If you don’t know any good guide, you can’t go this kind of place by yourself.  I went there with my American friend, so I could enjoy their dishes fully.

There are uncountable restaurants in New York City, you can enjoy many countries cuisines.  In spite of this variety, it seems difficult to visit unknown cuisine restaurants because you don’t know them.  You need to have a good guide to enjoy them.  Your friends who are from different cultures may help you.

Like iPhone’s applications

I have four-language exchange partners now.  All of them re Native English speakers, but three of them aren’t American.  One is a Canadian, another is a Singaporean, and the last person is a person with dual nationality, Hong Kong and the U.S.  Since I came here, I’ve met many immigrants.  I’m thinking what factors are attracting immigrants from all over the world.

Now, I think that the U.S. is like an iPhone of an iPod touch, and immigrants are like iPhone’s applications.  While a platform is always same on an iPhone, applications are always changeling.  An iPhone can continue to stay good because of this application’s improvement.  The coutry like the U.S. is equivalent to a platform in this thinking, and immigrants are applications.  The United States good because many immigrants always come to the U.S. ; the nationality of immigrants changes each time.

On the other hand, Japan doesn’t accept immigrants eagerly now. Almost twenty years ago, Japan was much better.  Japan hasn’t changed their demographic of workforce well to adjust to the changing world economy.  I think that the reason why Japan was good was just that they were lucky.  My theory is that Japan’s economy was suitable for the world economy from after Worl War Two to twenty years ago. Now, Japan isn’t suitable for the world economy.  Japanese people need to change themselves to keep up with the world economy.  While the U.S is always changing, Japan isn’t.  I’m thinking how Japan will change in the future.

Momofuku Ramen in New York City : Japanese Ramen culture has took hold in the U.S.

I went to a Ramen restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar last Wednesday.  American people run the restaurant, so it seemed different from Japanese ramen restaurants.  The atmosphere was stylish, and women who worked there were very cute.  Ramen restaurants are usually cheap and reasonable places in Japan, but they are unusual and expensive places in the U.S.

The taste of Ramen was soy-source based; it was good.  Though American chef cooked it, the ramen tasted the same as the ones in Japan.  There were also soft-boiled egg and dried seaweed, I was wondering whether they were acceptable for American people.

The price was…around 20 bucks for one ramen.  Can you believe it?  One ramen costs around 20 dollars in New York City.  Japanese cuisine is unusual in the U.S, so it’s expensive.  I know it.

I saw two Americans eating noodles with ketchup, I’ve never seen anyone who adds ketchup to noodles in Japan, I also found there were ketchup bottles on every table.  Americans tried to use chopsticks, I noticed half of them couldn’t use it well.  I thought that Japanese Ramen culture has took hold in the U.S.