1. The first thing that my mother-in-law did upon my arrival in Japan was introduce me to our neighbors in 17 houses! There, she handed me a towel while she introduced me to each and everyone of them and I remember bowing to them while handing each of them towels.
2. I learned that I have to leave my shoes outside before entering the house. I remember sitting on the floor or tatami mat as the Japanese call it while they gave me a form of green tea (it tastes so different than the one we have here in the States) and a snack which they called “okashi”. Also you have to accept what the Japanese offer or they would be offended.
3. I learned that the best way to communicate with the Japanese is through hands by simply pointing your fingers and saying “hai” all the time even when you don’t understand what they’re saying. I noticed that most of the time, they just wanted to hear confirmation of what they were saying.
4. I learned that when you are taking a shower, you have to be clean before you can get inside the bath tub. Also when you’re done you shouldn’t throw away the water because Japanese like to save and they occasionally use it to wash their clothes. I did this once and my mother-in-law reprimanded me and told me to save it next time.
5. The Japanese are so disciplined and they love order.
6. Driving in Japan is different than in the U.S. The driver is on the right side and the road are so narrow. Drivers often bow to each other for small courtesies like giving way to each other.
7. In case you haven’t noticed by now bowing is a big part of the Japanese culture and I got so good at it because I did it everyday whether it was to offer a simple greeting or to comment on the weather.
8. Their customer service is perfect and they go out of the way to help you. In the big department stores, they have greeters lined up on both sides of the entrance with their gloved hands greeting customers with their head bowed. If you want something wrapped they do it for free complete with ribbons and put in a special bag- and not a plastic bag at that.
9. You cannot see a tattered or old car in Japan because it cost more to have an old car. If you have a car, it is compulsory to checked by a mechanic. Inspections are required when a car turns 3 years old, then every 2 years until the car turns 11.
10. If somebody dies in your neighborhood, you had to take a leave of absence for about 3 days (that is usually the amount of time it takes to cremate the body). As soon as you get a telephone call that somebody died in your neighborhood, all of the people involved have to be present in the house where the dead lived and discuss what to do and who would do certain tasks like what kind of food to cook, who would go to the cemetery etc.