Japan can be a baffling and confusing place. I can tell you how strange it is, but until you experience it yourself, it’s something you’ll have to sit back and be bewildered with. With some things you have to shrug, say okay, and move on. Others will leave you with your brows furrowed trying to figure out exactly what happened. I’ve lived in Japan awhile and here’s some things I don’t understand about Japan.
Boys Holding Hands
One of the things that continually bewilder me in Japan is the level of touching I see between my male students. When I first arrived in Japan, it was shocking. As a high school student in America, I never encountered boys sitting in each other’s laps, grooming each other, or holding hands.
If school boys in America did this, he would be considered gay and some school mates may ostracize him. I haven’t been in high school for eight years; therefore, I don’t know if this has changed, but I hope this generation is more accepting of homosexuality.
When my youngest sister visited me in Japan this summer, she was surprised by two of my senior boys holding hands. Knowing the boys personally, I know one is gay and the other isn’t. My sister couldn’t believe this open display without others batting an eye. In America, it would be more accepted for school girls to hold hands rather than school boys.
The first time I encountered boys sitting in the other’s laps, I was walking into class. My students watched my bewildered expression as a few girls started giggling. One was straddling the other while both had their arms wrapped around each other. I watched, curiously as the straddler groomed the other’s hair and gave advice on how to pluck his eyebrows. In this situation, I just shrugged my shoulders and started class as I usually did.
It was shocking, but I accepted it as something that was accepted at my high school. I then began to ask myself, who defines what is masculine and what is gay? Why is it right? Why is it wrong? I still think it’s strange (because of what I’m used to all my life), but was I looking at it the right way before?
My next misunderstanding with Japan is my beef with Crocs. While the shoes are practical for comfort, why are they so popular? I think they are the ugliest shoes on earth and should be used for children. Part of the reason for their popular in Japan is how easily they slip on and off. Many places in a school and official setting require you to take your shoes off. Perhaps Crocs save time in tying your shoes or reduce the struggle to get your shoes on?
I, personally, would never wear Crocs, but one of my close friends at school loves them and bought many pairs in America. Apparently, this ugly shoe is also expensive in Japan. Double whammy for another reason I refuse to wear them.
Bambi Walking in Heels
My last misunderstanding with Japan comes with the way some women walk pigeon toed in heels. I’ve been told walking helplessly is cute and makes them look helpless and young. While I understand Japan’s need and desire to be youthful…Where did they learn to walk this way? (Or why weren’t they taught to walk properly?) Heels already are terrible for your back, and I can’t imagine walking like that would be too.
For women who literally have their feet turned in and can’t help it, that is understandable, but I don’t think so many women have this problem. Walking in heels is all ready bad for you and can cause an accident, but to purposely walk pigeon toed creates a small hunch to balance the center of gravity.
Le sigh. I think these are some things I may never understand about Japan. What don’t you understand about Japan?