You’ve been in Japan Too Long when…
This is a post of the collected list of "You've been in Japan too long when..." gags which were published on various Usenet groups like soc.culture.japan and fj.life.in-japan, back at the dawn of the Internet, in the mid-1990s. Long-term residents of Japan will chuckle at some of these, while those who haven't lived in Japan will no doubt scratch your head and move on quickly.
Note: the images in this post are obviously not from the 1990s, or else I would be a time traveler.
You've been in Japan too long when...
...you notice you've forgotten how to tie shoelaces.
...you rush onto an escalator...and then just stand there.
...you find yourself bowing while you talk on the phone.
...you think US$17 isn't such a bad price for a new paperback.
...when you are talking on the telephone to your parents and your father says, "Why are you interrupting my explanation with grunts?"
...you see a gaijin get on the train and think "Wow, it's a gaijin!"
...you start thinking can-coffee tastes good.
...you have trouble figuring out how many syllables there really are in words like 'building'.
...when you wait for the first day of summer to wear short sleeve dress shirts.
...you don't think it unusual for a truck to play "It's a Small World" when backing up.
...you really enjoy corn soup with your Big Mac.
...you think the opposite of red is white.
...you leave your expensive bottle of Royal Salute with a sleazy barkeeper and don't worry.
...when you sing FEN's "Here's what's happening around the Kanto plain" song aloud in your car while air-drumming. (This is the U.S. military radio station.)
...you appear for your first skiing lesson with brand new Rossignol high performance racing skis and an aerodynamic racing suit with color matched goggles. And then snowplow down.
...you buy a potato-and-strawberry sandwich for lunch without cringing.
...when you do "yanki-zuwari" (delinquent squatting) while waiting for a bus to come.
...you phone an English-speaking gaijin friend and somehow can't bring yourself to get to the point for the first 3 minutes of the conversation.
...you think 360 yen to the dollar is a reasonable exchange rate.
...you automatically remember all of your important year dates in Showa numbers.
...you think every foreign movie title contains the word 'love.'
...you still remember your first drive in your brand new Toyopet.
...you wonder why Prince Akihito is already getting grey hair, and why you don't see much of the Emperor these days.
...you noticed 7-11 changed its onigiri wrapping houshiki for the third time.
...you think birds cry.
...you are not surprised to wake up in the morning and find that the woman who stayed over last night has completely cleaned your apartment, even though you'll probably never ever meet her again.
...you get blasted by a political speaker truck and think "sho ga nai..."
...you think it's cool to stand in the "Japanese only" queue at Narita Immigration.
...you go to New Zealand and consider traveling around by train.
...you develop a liking for green tea-flavored ice cream.
...you're talking to your mother on the phone, and she asks you what "genki" means.
...you think wet umbrellas need condoms.
...your children call you Otoosan/Okaasan.
...matter of fact, you've never even been skiing, but the rack looks great on the car...
...you have mastered the art of simultaneous bowing and hand-shaking.
...when you think it's alright to stick your head into a stranger's apartment to see if anybody's home.
...your hair is thinning and you consider it "barcode style".
...when you find nothing unusual in a television commercial for candy in which a model dressed in a high school girl's uniform comes up behind another model dressed in a high school girl's uniform, grabs her left breast, gives a devilish grin, and skips away.
...you think that you can impress foreigners by drinking Budweiser.
...you have run out of snappy comebacks to compliments about your chopstick skills.
...you think "white pills, blue pills, and pink powder" is an adequate answer to the question "What are you giving me, doctor?"
...when you no longer find anything unusual in the concept of "Vermont curry".
...you think 4 layers of wrapping is reasonable for a simple piece of merchandise.
...you don't find anything strange about a city that puts a life-sized, red-and-white painted Eiffel tower imitation in its center, as well as a scale model of the Versaille Palace for its Crown Prince.
...you are only slightly puzzled by "Melty Kiss."
...a new Gaijin moves to your neighborhood and you know immediately you will get his mail for a while.
...when you get on a train with a number of gaijin on it and you feel uneasy because the harmony is broken.
...you ask fellow foreigners the all-important question "How long have you been here?" in order to be able to properly categorize them.
...when looking out the window of your office, you think "Wow, so many trees!" Instead of "Wow, so much concrete!"
...when you find yourself thinking "great, it's almost time for Paul Harvey, have to turn on the radio."
...you think NHK is "the Japanese BBC."
...the Yakult lady knows you by name.
...when in the middle of nowhere, totally surrounded by rice fields and abundant nature, you aren't surprised to find a drink vending machine with no visible means of a power supply...
...and when you think nothing of it when that lonely vending machine says 'thank you' after you buy a coke.
...it takes fifteen seconds of deep thought to recall the first name of the President of the United States.
...you have a favorite bush to pee behind.
...a non-Japanese sits down next to you on the train and you get up and move. You're not prejudiced, but who knows what they might do?
...you are outwardly appalled to see someone pour miso shiru over rice, but do it in private yourself (neko meshi).
...when you absolutely do not possess the ability to mispronounce Japanese words "like a non-Japanese would."
...when you pay over 6000 yen for lipstick and realize a few days later how much you really spent. (Or 7000 yen for a Captain Santa T-shirt.)
...when you're arguing with someone about the color of the traffic light being blue or green...and you think it's blue.
...you are proud of yourself for beating the system by buying a case of Labbatt's Blue for 160 yen a can.
...you think rice imports should be prohibited, because Japanese consumers would never buy imported rice.
...when you think one kind of rice tastes better than another kind.
...you get a "Nihongo ga joozu" and feel really insulted.
...you see a road with two lanes going in the same direction and assume the one on the left is meant for parking.
...when you think Japan actually has only four seasons
...when you pull out your ruler to underline words.
...when getting ready for a trip you automatically calculate for omiyage and you leave just the right amount of space in your suitcase for them.
...not only do you overcome your childhood training and spit out the mikan membranes, but you discover the knack of peeling the mikan so that the peel forms a neat receptacle for you to spit the membranes into.
...when having gaijin around you is a source of stress.
...you watch the grocer's with interest to see when the price of mikans will break.
...on a cold autumn night, the only thing you want for dinner is nabe and nihonshu.
...you return the bow from the cash machine.
...you can't find the "open" and "close" buttons in the elevator because they're in English.
...when you think children should have to walk around in the freezing cold with only short sleeves and shorts up to their butt (to make them strong!).
...when you think that coffee goes perfectly well with squid pizza.
...you can do arithmetic using man, oku, cho and kei.
...you sympathize with your Japanese student because her daughter is baka because she wears spring tops with winter skirts and you both sit down to try and see what can be done about this wild child.
...you count things using the ni-no-shi-no-ro-no-ya-no-to song.
...you can't read your kids the Three Little Pigs without giggling when you get the part about "Not by the hair of chinny chin chin."
...you bow to other drivers who give you the right of way.
...you fully understand the concept of "cute culture."
...you look forward to the porno reviews at midnight on Fuji TV.
...when you believe that the perfect side dish to eat with a juicy, deep-fried pork chop is a pile of raw, tasteless, shredded cabbage.
...it doesn't surprise you that a case of beer has the same per-unit price as a single can.
...you think cod roe spaghetti with chilled red wine is a typical Italian dish.
...natsukashii comes out of your mouth instead of "what you're saying makes me so nostalgic that I must look like one of those wide-eyed manga characters with a tear rolling out of my eye."
...walking into a crowded bar full of non-Japanese makes you nervous, because they "look dangerous." (This was passed on to me second-hand, I'm not that far gone, yet.)
...you buy a Christmas cake on Christmas Eve.
...you walk to the local Seven-Eleven in your wife's shoes.
...you run for the Yamanote line pushing people left and right, jump on the train holding the doors open to let your bag follow you on. Because you know there will not be another one for at least a minute.
...when you accompany your "no" by the famous waving hand-in-front-of-nose.
...when you're impressed with a girl with a 94 cm bust (Hosokawa Fumie).
...when you write or phone home and say things like "In Japan we..."
...you find yourself apologizing at least three times per conversation.
...when you let your car idle for half an hour while you go shopping.
...you find yourself asking all your foreign acquaintances what their blood types are.
...you find yourself practicing golf swings with your umbrella on the train platform.
...you buy an individually wrapped potato in the supermarket.
...you think that "Lets SPORTS yOUNG gAY CluB" is a perfectly normal T-shirt logo for a middle-aged lady.
...you have to pause and translate your phone number into English before telling it to someone.
...you have a friend who lives in an apartment building called CREME SODA.
...small skinny hairless men turn you on (for ladies).
...you are speaking in English but all references to money are in Japanese.
...you pull up at a gas station and wait for a bunch of Norman Rockwell-type attendants to jump out and clean your windshield.
...you think no car is complete without a tissue box on the rear shelf and a feather duster in the trunk.
...you ask a gaijin colleague who wears short sleeves in October, "Aren't you cold?"
...lunch is yesterday's leftovers out of a Hello Kitty bento box.
...when you draw a sharp distinction between "English" and "English conversation."
...you use the "slasher hand" and continuous bowing to make your way through a crowd.
...all of your December Sundays are reserved for Bonenkai hangover recovery.
...you glance at the clock and accurately predict the next line of dialog in the TV dorama.
...you go to a coffee shop in your home country and order "American coffee."
...you forget about July 4th, but get all worked up over Tanabata.
...it takes you three attempts to fill in a check correctly (happened to me last night).
...you have to think about it to remember what a 'check' is.
...you start shunning foreigners you meet far away from your metropolitan abode in Tokyo (they're probably not worth talking too, you know).
...you remember when shouchu was not a chic drink drunk by high school girls, but rather one drunk under the railroad tracks by construction workers who never take off their haramaki.
...you remember when the average Japanese person under about 30 did not have a telephone.
...you remember when telephones were almost always placed near the front door and next to them was placed a little box or jar to receive 10 yen coins from people who stopped by to 'borrow' your phone.
...you remember when public telephones had just been put out on the street that could be used for out-of-city calls as well as inside the city, and had a sign on them to indicate this new high-tech function.
...you remember non-wanman ("one man") buses in the Tokyo area. Buses still have signs which say wanman to tell people that there is no ticket-taking person.
...you remember with great fondness what it sounded like to hear hundreds of geta hitting the pavement when the light changed to green for the pedestrians waiting to cross at the Sukiyabashi intersection in front of Asahi Shinbun headquarters.
...you have copies of nengajo postcards from a Showa date.
...you claim a seat at a Wendy's by putting your bag on it, fully expecting it to still be there when you return with your burger.
...when you start saving up for a Japanese burial plot.
...you get excited by words like: "health," "soap," "fashion," "image," and "pink."
...you are willing to travel enormous distances just to take a bath.
...you mistake ownership of equipment for possession of skill when discussing your hobbies.
...you expect the elevator girl to announce every floor for you, even if you are alone with her.
...you keep interrupting a perfectly good English conversation with regular exclamations of eh, un, ah, heeey, and oh yeah (aizuchi).
...somebody crashes into you and you apologize, insisting that the accident was your fault.
...you watch Rex three times but don't bother to see Jurassic Park.
...you think you know the meaning of "internationalization."
...when paying $2000 in gift money to the landlord of your new apartment doesn't make you really angry!
...the English rendition of any Japanese company president's corporate welcome makes perfect sense to you.
...you consider it acceptable to watch a classical concert on NHK BS in mono while the baseball is broadcast in stereo.
...you remember when Kin-san and Gin-san celebrated their 50th birthday.
...you go home for a holiday and ask your dad which rubbish bin to use for burnables.
...you see Japanese people on the street who remind you of people back home.
...you feel perfectly normal stepping out of a bank with $50,000 in cash in a cute paper bag in one hand, and a box of soap in the other.
...you think menchi-katsu, kimchee, and coffee sounds like a good breakfast.
...you're at an American restaurant and wonder why there's no bottle of Tabasco on the table.
...you begin to spell last names in CAPITAL LETTERS.
...it does not strike you as strange that an attractive, fashionable and career-minded young woman who went to high school in the United States, graduated from Harvard and studied at Oxford has never, at least as far as the Imperial Household Agency can tell, had a boyfriend.
...you are surprised the urinal does *not* flush automatically when you walk away from it.
...it does not annoy you when a map is oriented in a direction other than north.
...it is worthy of comment when a little English passage on a T-shirt or cereal box is not all that bad.
...you think nothing about a residential building covered from top bottom in white bathroom tiles.
...you think that, in a crowd of Japanese, the presence of another foreigner breaks the wa, although for some reason your presence doesn't.
...you face driving winds and wade through knee-deep water to get to work.
...you go to a public beach and leave all your litter behind in the sand, for the benefit of tomorrow's visitors.
...when on a visit home, you say something like "Wow, a dollar buys so much!" and are surprised to find everyone looking at you funny.
...you stun yourself with the reverberation you put into the "r" of the Bakayarrrrrroh! you let rip at the chimpira who'd just triggered his automatic umbrella too close to your face.
...if the words CM, OB/OG, TPO, PA and OL all make perfect sense to you. (TV commercial, male or female alumnus of a school, time/place/object, parking area and office lady.)
...when you get into the habit of mentioning to people that they've gained weight when starting conversations.
...when you try to get a girl to "teach" you her phone number.
...when you pull up to a stoplight at a completely level intersection, but engage the hand brake anyway.
...a job arrives at your door on Saturday evening, to be done by Monday, and you don't blink.
...when your daughter goes to swim school twice a week for over a year and she has not been taught to swim and you understand and do not question it and think that run-on sentences with no subjects like this are normal.
...if you remember having to request an international phone line.
...when, on a trip home, you say out loud exactly what you think 'cause that's what people do here.
...when you visit Tokyo and make a bee-line for Kinokunia and the Virgin megastore.
...you read the store name "WARE HOUSE" as "WA-RE [our] house," instead of "warehouse."
...you think those clear plastic umbrellas keep you dry.
...when you have no problem with a pencil case that proclaims "the Earth is not only for a human."
...when you use the word "sharp-pen" and can't remember the English name [it was 'mechanical pencil' last time I checked].
...when you begin all sentences with: "ano-ne"
...you plug your waapro into a consento and consider a pipe cut and don't understand why your friends say you speak funny.
...you hate Dave Specter because he speaks better Japanese than you.
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...somebody asks directions, you don't have the slightest idea where they're talking about, but you give them directions anyway.
...you can't have your picture taken without your fingers forming the peace sign.
...when you have a heated discussion with four other people, and you all have the same opinion, but you take turns actively stating that opinion again and again, getting more and more excited in the process.
...(for males) slightly embarrassed by something when in company, you reach behind and put the flat of your hand behind your head, give a little smile, a sharp intake of breath, and start, but do not finish, a small bow.
...after your shower, you catch yourself pulling on your shorts with the towel still wrapped around your waist.
...when you ask your wife if the rice cooker has been set for breakfast
...when, back home, invited to a diner party, you try, *discretely* to take off your shoes
...when back home, in a public place such as a restaurant or a coffee shop, you are really disturbed by the sound of the conversations in your native language.
...when you believe that buildings are made by incubating the site in blue plastic sheeting for nine months.
...after breaking your wari-bashi apart, you clash the two together to get any splinters off.
...when you rush home from work to catch the last few minutes of sumo wrestling on NHK.
...you walk through your neighborhood, and a house that was there yesterday is gone without a trace, and you don't blink.
...when you begin to think the holiday that falls on December 25 is spelled, "X'mas".
...when you hear Christmas songs in February and and don't bat an eye.
...when you always say 'Christmas song' instead of 'Christmas carol.'
...you've discovered that the real meaning of fatherhood is never being able to take a bath by yourself.
...you don't even do a double-take at seeing, next to a display of whistling kettles at Seiyu, a device for testing the whistle of a kettle before buying it.
...if you've written "XYZ" on the message chalkboard in Shinjuku station that appears in City Hunter.
...you have learned the art of riding a bicycle while holding an umbrella over your head.
...when you spend 200,000 yen for two nights and three days sight-seeing in Kobe (traveling from Yokohama, two adults and one child who still travels and lodges free) and don't get angry.
...when you use phrases like "abundant nature" in letters.
...when you buy a ski rack for your car, but you don't own any skis.
...you think taking ten visits to the dentist to fix a tooth is reasonable.
...when NHK warnings about landslides, heavy rains, lightning or fog make you feel reassured that someone is benevolently watching over you.
...when a "bike" is never a bicycle, always a motorcycle.
...you think "white" is the color for cars; except for Ferraris, in which case it is "red."
...when you go into a coffee shop and head right for the Golgo 13 manga.
...you are doing your thing at a urinal and are not in the least disturbed by the two old ladies who are cleaning up and chatting within aiming distance.
...you feel constrained to comment regularly on how good beer tastes after a hot bath as if you'd just discovered it.
...when you know there aren't nine prefectures in Kyushu.
...you are embarrassed because you don't have the NHK sticker on your door and the neighbors do.
...you draw an 〆 (shime-kiri) on the envelope flap after sealing it.
...you think "for beautiful human life" is a nice advertising slogan.
...you are jealous of your friend because the camera strap that came with his new Minolta camera says "With you for the best scenes of your life" and yours doesn't.
...you are disgusted by the thought of someone eating miso soup with a spoon.
...you've passed through all the Three Stages of Gaijin Eye Aversion when meeting other foreigners.
...while eating dried, shredded ika (squid) with your beer, you say things like, "if my friends at home could only see me now."
...you know instinctively that Matsuda Seiko comes before Matsutoya Yumi in a karaoke book.
...you are not surprised when, in an old home in rural Japan, you use the bathroom, only to find a giant color poster of James Dean staring at you in the hallway
...you think James Dean is one of the most important actors of the 20th century.
...when you have sung the theme song to Uchisenkan Yamato atop Mount Fuji, a bottle of "Regain" in hand and are proud of this fact, and have a picture of it on your homepage (true story).
...when you hear words like "crunky generation" "mooney man" "Bongo Friendy" "charmy green" and "mapple" and do not get the heebie-jeebies.
...if you have, at any time, been engrossed in an "easy reader" novel or other work intended for ESL learners (Love Story, 1500 word level, I couldn't put it down).
...when you have an ATM card in your wallet called Happy Time Card Dick.
...when you think that JET is Japan's Peace Corps.
...when you can't remember whose picture is on all the money and coins from your native country.
...when your hair turns white upon hearing of a gaijin friend who slept in his tokonoma because he thought that was what it was for.
...if you think that people from America can't pick up things on the floor with their feet but Japanese can.
...when "short-timer" gaijin say to you, "So, you gonna stay here forever or what?" and you get annoyed.
...a foreigner who just got here asks "is it legal to have beer on the train?" and you laugh out loud.
...when that same foreigner who has just arrived as a "theory about Japan" (such as "everything is about death here") and you listen with mock interest, making mental notes to add to your "you've been in Japan too long page when" page later
...when that same foreigner says something like, "After I learn Japanese..." and you smile privately to yourself.
...if, right now, you're not sure what year it is in seireki (the Western calendar system).
...if you have great difficulty using a romanized Japanese-to-English dictionary because you are thinking in a-ka-sa-ta-na order instead of alphabetical order (the truth can hurt).
...if you don't wonder that all Japanese believe their ancestors were samurai.
...when you are uncomfortable using the word "bathroom" for "toilet" since they're really totally different.
...when you know what it is to wake up in the morning and find a chopstick wrapper with a girl's phone number on it.
...it is mendokusai (a pain in the butt) for you to differentiate between count and non-count nouns in English.
...when you have learned to substitute 'tissue' for the word 'Kleenex' because you know that everyone will understand you better.
...when you know what an 'American dog' is.
...when you put on your jacket and slippers, go down to the Daily Store and pick up a package of Perky Bit (it's frozen chicken nuggets).
...when you've noticed a marked tendency to say 'this one' instead of 'this' when using the word as a noun, because there are two separate words in Japanese.
...if, while home for Christmas, you go up to a clerk in Mervyn's and ask them where the toilet is, causing them to look at you strangely (apparently I should have said 'restroom' or something).
...if you have mastered that squeezing a lemon slice with the chopsticks thing so that you don't get lemon juice on your fingers.
...when you pronounce the 'e' in 'aloe'...
...if you think a pine tree is found in tropical locales.
...when you tell someone your TEL.
...if you love Coffee Jelly like nothing else.
...when you read a book about the 100 Most Influential Men in History and wonder why they left out Emperor Meiji and Clark-hakase.
...when you are at home with Melon Bread.
...when you find it normal to eat curry wrapped in a donut flavored piece of bread.
..when in your home country, you take all your bills to the local 7-11.
...when you finally accept the fact that OIOI is "marui" and not "oi! oi!"
...when you can count singing the ni-no-shi-no-ro-no-ya-no-to song
...you can remember when the "meter drop" on a taxi was 110 Yen.
...you initiate the applause when a drunk finishes his song on the last train home!
...at a Japanese restaurant in the States you call out to the waitress "Summasen!"
...you get disgusted when a "foreigner" tosses his business card on the table to you.
...someone asks you your blood type (nani gata) and you answer "Gata Gata".
...you are ignored at a government office because everyone is afraid of having to try to deal with you in English. So, you catch someone's eye and INSTANTLY give a quick head nod knowing they will "knee jerk" nod back and having recognized your presence must ask you what you need.
...you are asked what kind of gasoline you want and you reply "Hai Auk". (All true)
...you find an old foreign exchange receipt that shows you got 360 yen for your $1.
...you long for the days when a bowl of curry rice was 150 yen at the Kobe Curry House.
...you automatically fashion a chopstick holder out of the waribashi wrapper by tying a simple knot with it.
...you know how to make a 1 yen coin float in a cup of water (float a piece of tissue on the surface, carefully place coin on tissue, gently knock tissue under the surface without touching the coin, carefuly remove tissue).
...you return to the states and find it odd that there is no speaker blaring music for you when the pedestrian crossing signal is 'walk.'
...you return to the states and discover, much to your annoyance, that you simply can't function without a car in most major cities.
...you discover most of your caucasian friends simply cannot sit "Japanese" style on the floor (seiza) and wonder why you are not in pain when you do.
...you actually look forward to the bip bip beeep tone that most TV stations broadcast every hour on the hour right before a show starts.
...when you practice "safety driving."
...when you get frustrated at your 'baka gaijin' friends constantly asking you "How do you say ________ in Japanese?" while visiting home.
...when you can't type Rome without typing Roma.
...if, at any time, you've allowed people back home believe you were a foreigner to mask something you did wrong (like going into a restaurant in California and asking for a 'non-smoking' table).
...when you're back in your home country and you actually CRAVE Japanese food to the point of getting an upset stomach.
...when your home is a big city in the states and you're actually afraid to go outside while you're home... in your own neighborhood. (I was petrified for a good month; I'm from NYC)
...when you overhear a conversation in Japanese and listen intently snickering knowing that they don't expect you to understand what they're saying.
Wow, did you actually make it this far into the list? Thanks for reading this list of You’ve Been in Japan Too Long When… jokes from the dawn of the Internet. Have a great rest of your day!
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