Life in Japan

From Japan Back to Germany – Major Reverse Culture Shock

As you hopefully know by now, I have left Japan.

Actually, I left Japan quite a while ago, but didn’t want to write about it immediately, because I wanted to take my time “saying goodbye to Japan”.
The other reason is that I had to deal with a major “Germany to Japan reverse culture shock”.

I thought I might sound more mature and make more sense if I wait until things have calmed down – and they have. But you know what? Screw that!

Back then it was hell and when I googled I didn’t find a single blog post where somebody sounded like they REALLY had huge problems dealing with reverse culture shock after leaving Japan. That’s why I decided to give you the whiny, uncensored version after all.
So, hopefully if somebody else is ever in my shoes, they will at least read this article and know that they’re not alone! cute emoticon with heart

From Germany to Japan Reverse Culture Shock

Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany.

I knew that I would have to deal with a reverse culture shock.

I’d been in Japan for almost a decade. And people who know me well, know that I wasn’t really fond of going back to Germany. I wanted to leave Japan (read: take a Japan break) for all the reasons I’ve mentioned in a previous article, but I didn’t particularly want to go back to my home country.

In order to understand why I was hit THAT hard by this reverse culture shock, I need to tell you this first:

I never hated Germany. I never thought there were any truly annoying or bad things about Germany. I didn’t leave Germany because I didn’t like it there. I left because I simply wanted to live in Japan.

But living in Japan taught me things I had never noticed before and suddenly I saw my home country with different eyes.
I’m sure that’s very common for people who move to a completely different culture.

Of course, I also noticed what was much better in Germany compared to Japan, but to be honest the things that I liked about Japan and suddenly found annoying about Germany prevailed.

This is not something that came overnight. But the longer I stayed in Japan, the less I could imagine life in Germany.

I haven’t exactly been back very often. I think I visited Germany only 3 times (2 weeks each time) in those 7 years.

I decided to go back to Germany for the lack of other destinations I really wanted to go to. Pathetic, huh?

But that’s probably one of the major reasons why I was hit by reverse culture shock that hard.

 

What I really hate(d) about Germany

A lot of the things I was afraid of, really were the way I imagined them in my nightmares.
Self-fulfilling prophecy anyone?

  • I was afraid of the higher crime rate.
  • I didn’t want to deal with the insanely high taxes.
  • I didn’t want to eat the partly unhealthy food.
  • I didn’t want to deal with the weather.

And those are just a few things.

 

Back in Germany, here’s how I felt and what I discovered:

 

Safety:

At first I was really afraid to be outside alone as soon as it got dark.
In Japan I’ve travelled mostly on my own. I’ve been on streets I’ve never seen before in the dark many times – and I never had to be afraid of anything. Germany doesn’t exactly have a high crime rate, but it surely has gotten worse since I had left. And all the recent news at that time certainly didn’t make things better.
I even bought a pepper spray just to feel safer. cute sweat drops
I know, I know. I’ve calmed down by now – which doesn’t mean that I’m careless. But I’m a lot more relaxed now.

 

From Germany to Japan Reverse Culture Shock

Food:

I hated the fact that I couldn’t just walk into the next supermarket or conbini and buy a pre-packed super healthy bento.
I rarely cook. For me those healthy bentos were ideal! They’re cheap, the ones in the supermarket are freshly made and they’re well-balanced and healthy. I could just toss them into the microwave at home or at work and eat away.

In Germany, there’s nothing like that. Not to mention that we don’t even have convenience stores at all!
And on Sundays EVERYTHING is closed. No shopping on Sundays for me anymore.
But the food thing really got to me. My body also needed some time to adjust to German food again. German food surely isn’t unhealthy, but I do miss fish and natto. And I don’t dare to eat anything raw here.

 

From Germany to Japan Reverse Culture Shock From Germany to Japan Reverse Culture Shock

Weather / Seasons:

I admit that I didn’t come back at a good time. I had months of cold and grey weather with lots of snow. I know why I never wanted to live in Hokkaido. cute emoticon mukatsuku
While we still had minus degrees and lots of snow, Japan could already enjoy plum and cherry blossoms with mild temperatures.
That definitely didn’t help my overall mood at that time.

You’ve probably heard how Japanese people are proud of their “4 seasons in Japan” – and I always thought: “What’s that? We also have 4 seasons.”
But once I moved to Japan, I understood. The weather in Japan is very stable. You know exactly what to expect. You know exactly how the weather will be next month. You can put away your winter clothes and you can be 99% sure that you won’t need them again.
You can take off your winter tires (if you even need any) without having to worry that it’ll suddenly snow again.

Each and every month is accompanied by different plants. Nowhere else have I ever seen it being so distinct.

In Germany it’s different. It does snow in May, it could become super hot in October … you never know if it’s too early or too late to put away winter clothes etc.
Someone like me who enjoys being outside, taking photos, REALLY cares about that kind of stuff. cute emoticon shiawase

 

Bureaucracy and Taxes:

I had not yet set one foot into Germany and I was already overwhelmed with paper work.
Whoever said that Japan’s bureaucracy is crazy, come to Germany and dare to say that again.
Preparing to leave equaled tons and tons of things I had to fill out. I heard from my American co-workers that none of them ever had to deal with that much crap. “Welcome back to Germany”, huh? cute emoticon disappointed
And don’t even get me started on taxes! Consumption tax 19%, taxes on EVERYTHING!!! (church tax, anyone?) ….

 

Cost of Living:

Whoever said that Japan is expensive is a liar.
I’m well aware that it depends on where you’re from and what you’re used to, but now I’m finally able to compare living expenses of the Japanese countryside with the Germany one. And there are a lot of things that are more expensive in Germany: car insurance, gasoline, items for daily life (barely any 100-yen shop thingies).
I could save a lot more money back in Japan. Period.

 

People and Cultural Diversity:

I can already see the comments coming, so let me say this first: I’m not trying to be racist here, I’m just trying to tell you how I felt and what I observed when I came back to Germany.

It’s needless to say that Japan is a very homogenous culture. You rarely see non-Japanese people unless you’re living in a big city or near major tourist spots. You might see Asian people, but you might not be able to tell at first sight whether they’re Japanese or not. So, it’s all very homogenous. No big surprises. All you ever hear all day is probably Japanese, maybe some English here and there.

So, coming back to Germany and suddenly having this cultural diversity was a big shock. I don’t mean it in a negative way, although I felt overwhelmed at that time. It’s just SO different.
And after being away from home for so long, I was looking forward to hearing my mother tongue wherever I went. But in fact, now I rarely hear a language I understand. At least in Japan I understood 95% of the languages that were spoken around me.

In the past decade, while I was gone, things have changed A LOT. When I was still a university student migrants mostly lived in the big cities. I remember sitting in the bus heading for my university and being the only person who actually spoke German.
Nowadays, you also have this in the countryside. And there’s also the refugees here in Europe that have flooded most European countries.
It’s just something that takes time to get used to. While for others this was probably a slow process, for me it’s all so sudden – and also seems extreme if I look back at how things were in Japan.

At first I had the feeling of being a foreigner in Germany more than I ever felt that way in Japan.

I hope you get what I mean. ^^; …..

 

From Germany to Japan Reverse Culture Shock

Everyday life:

Remember when I was ranting about the medical care system in Japan?
Screw that! I was so shocked once I was back in Germany! I had a hard time finding any doctors who would take me in. Most clinics had stopped taking in new patients. And for most clinics the next available appointment was in 4-7 months.
This NEVER happened in Japan, EVER!

I regularly have to go to clinics which is why I know so much about medical care in Japan.
That’s probably why I had a hard time adjusting to German clinics again. Not in a bad way, but it was still funny.
At first, I had a really hard time entering a clinic without putting on a surgical mask. In Japan it was so normal, especially during the flu season.
After my examination I wanted to sit in the waiting room, because I waited for them to call my name, so that I could pay. Normal in Japan, not necessary in Germany. You can just leave! So awkward! cute emoticon laugh

It also took me forever to get used to the EURO again. Whenever I paid for something, I just couldn’t find the right coins. So embarrassing…

Also, dealing with people in general took a few days or even weeks. It’s different. I cannot describe it well, but it’s certainly different.
I think I bowed too much. My mannerism was still too Japanese at first. Even my friends hugging me was something I had to get used to again because that’s something you rarely get to experience in Japan. Most Japanese people (even friends) won’t hug or shake hands. Barely any physical contact.

 

The language:

That wasn’t really something bad, but my brain needed some time to adjust. For almost a decade I had only used Japanese and English, rarely German. Of course, once the switch was fully turned on, it wasn’t an issue anymore. I have the feeling that my German grammar is still weird at times, but who cares. But I did have the feeling that certain things could be expressed a lot better in Japanese and for quite some time I didn’t like the German language.

 

All the tiny things add up:

This might not sound too bad to you. It doesn’t even sound that bad to me now.
But back then it was hell for me. And those were just the major things. I guess what really got to me were all the tiny things in everyday life that were so different. SO MANY TINY THINGS that I barely can remember all of them now.

And I was desperate because all the people I had asked and all the blog posts I found were only talking about a few weeks or a few months of culture shock. It took me almost half a year to calm down and to somewhat get used to life in Germany again.

I’m still not entirely happy with how things are in Germany but at least I can imagine living here again.
I guess that alone was worth the hassle of leaving Japan.
Now, I know that I can live in either country. And I also learned to appreciate a few things in Japan even more.

 

From Germany to Japan Reverse Culture Shock

Hohenschwangau Castle in Bavaria, Germany.

Please note that a culture shock is something very personal.

It mainly depends on the things you care about the most. I’m well-aware that a lot of people probably shrugged about some of the points I mentioned because they wouldn’t care about that stuff.
I never had a culture shock when I moved to Japan. I don’t know why. Maybe I knew a lot about Japan already, I already had visited Japan before and I REALLY wanted to live there, so it wasn’t difficult for me to deal with stuff that was different or annoying.

I wasn’t exactly fond of coming back to Germany. On top of that it’s my home country, so I expected to know how things work here just to realize that I didn’t. And I think THAT’S what had caused this really strong reverse culture shock when I left Japan.

Having a major culture shock in my case meant that I really hated everything about Germany at that time. I couldn’t see any of the good points of Germany and I also forgot about all the bad things in Japan. In my mind EVERYTHING was much better in Japan and that I must have been insane to have left Japan.

 

Reverse Culture Shock – The Cure:

What cured me eventually was time, but also a change of my mindset. I just convinced myself that I’d move back to Japan for sure once a year is over. And with that, I suddenly could deal with things a lot better. Now, that the culture shock phase is over, I’m fine even if I think about staying in Germany longer – or maybe even forever.

Meanwhile I’ve discovered a lot of Germany’s good points, things I would miss when I’m in Japan again. But that’s material for yet another blog entry, so stay tuned. cute thumb up

 

Now it’s your turn:

I’d love to hear about your experience with culture shocks or reverse culture shocks and how you dealt with them!~

68 Comments

  • Hi
    Ich musste gerade so lachen, als ich deinen Blog gelesen hab und mir wurde einiges wieder klar. Ich war nur ein Jahr in Japan, als Austausch mit der Uni und mir ging es ähnlich wie dir als ich wieder zurück kam.
    Selbst nach einem Jahr verlernt man Deutsch etwas, mir schwirrten so oft nur die Japanischen oder Englischen Wörter im Kopf rum, aber kam nicht auf das Deutsche Wort. Schon am Flughafen wollte ich wieder zurück, die Leute waren einfach unhöflicher und es war einfach nur kalt. In Japan bin ich in Ballerinas und T-Shirt rum gerannt und hier musste ich die warmen Klamotten wieder rauskramen. Als ich in den Zug einsteigen wollte, mit einem 30kg Koffer, niemand half mir die meisten nörgelten eher rum das ich so langsam war. Ich wollte eigentlich gleich wieder in den nächsten Flieger und wieder zurück. Ich stand auch an einem Sonntag vor einem Laden und war erstaunt das er zu war, hat gedauert bis ich mich damit angefreundet hab. Und JAAA ich vermisse die Conbini!! Wenn man Nachts oder am Wochenende noch Lust auf was hat, bekommt man hier nichts. Ich vermisse das Essen in Japan sooo sehr und die Kirschblütenzeit, Sakurafrappu ausm Starbucks….*seufz*
    Das Leben dort war so viel einfacher, ich hatte einen gut bezahlten Job und konnte mir ab und an was leisten. Hier hab ich einfach immer nur Geldsorgen und jeder will immer mehr haben, ich kann mich hier Krumm machen es reicht nie. Manchmal bereue ich es sogar das ich zurück gekommen bin ;)

    • Wir sollten eine Selbsthilfegruppe eröffnen! ;)
      Und mit Starbucks und Co. wollte ich gar nicht erst anfangen. SO SCHLIMM! ;___; ….

      Das mit den Conbinis könnte doch eine Marktlücke sein. Ich kann mir gut vorstellen, dass das gut in Deutschland ankäme (auch mit dem entsprechenden Essen dazu, versteht sich). ^^

      • Selbsthilfegruppe ist eine gute Idee. Letztes Jahr hatte Starbucks im Sommer einen Matcha Latte hier im Angebot, der war aber leider gesüßt und auch nur für kurze Zeit da.
        Ohh und der Apfel Eistee!!
        Conbini wäre Ideal! In anderen europäischen Ländern gibt es die ja auch schon, warum nicht hier?

        • In Deutschland gibt es viel zu wenig Starbucks-Filialen, wenn man das mal mit Japan vergleicht. Und als ich endlich eine gefunden hatte, war ich vom Angebot bitter enttäuscht.
          Und es ist ja nicht nur Starbucks, in Japan gibt es so viel zur Auswahl (Dotour, Tully’s etc.), dass man manchmal wirklich vor der Qual der Wahl steht. ;)

          Gute Frage. Vielleicht denken die meisten, das Angebot einer Tankstelle würde ausreichen?
          Und man kann doch am “heiligen Sonntag” keinen Conbini betreiben! T_T …

          • Die ganzen Donut Läden oder der Croissant Laden mit den Erdbeer Croissants oder Banane Schoko….*sabber*
            Uhh jetzt hab ich sowas von Fernweh! Ab und an mach ich einen eigenen Japantag in Düsseldorf, gehe japanisch essen, in das Cafe und gehe einkaufen. Früher war es noch besser, da es ein Purikura gab, der Laden hat leider dicht gemacht.

  • Hallo,

    eigentlich gehöre ich eher zu der “stillen Leserschaft” deines Blogs. Aber heute möchte ich auch mal was dazu sagen.

    Als ich vor nicht all zu langer Zeit gelesen habe, dass du wieder nach “good old Germany” zurück gekehrt bis, dacht ich – aha – mehr viel mir dazu nicht ein.

    Ich war zwar erst einmal in Japan gewesen, aber das hat gereicht um zu wissen, wohin ich wirklich will. Natürlich ist es bis dahin noch ein langer (vlt. auch doch kurzer Weg) aber ja ich bin mir sicher ich weiß wo ich den Rest meines Lebens verbringen will.

    Nicht das ich Deutschland “madig” machen will, aber Deutschland ist nun mal Deutschland. Angefangen von der Mentalität unserer Landsleute bis hin zu unserem Wetter.

    Gut auch in Japan mag nicht alles Friede Freude Eierkuchen sein, aber es ist auch nicht schlechter.

    In diesem Sinne – genieße mal für ein paar Tage dieses sonnige Wetter. Weiterhin viel Kraft und Ausdauer um den “Kulturschock” – zu überwinden.

    Ich freue mich jetzt schon wieder auf neue Berichte von dir!

    PS: Das mit den Conbinis würde ich mehr als super finden – aber vergiss bitte nicht – du bist hier in Deutschland :)

    • Hallo Karina! :)

      Freut mich sehr, dass du dich dazu entschieden hast, was zu schreiben. ^__^

      Es kommt wirklich immer auf die jeweilige Person an. Man kann nicht sagen, dass Japan generell besser ist als Deutschland.
      Wie du schon gesagt hast, gibt es auch an Japan schlechte Seiten. Das muss letztendlich jeder für sich abwiegen.
      Daran arbeite ich ja selbst momentan auch noch. ^_^;; …

      Vielen Dank! ^___^
      Und ich hoffe, dir wird es in Japan dann tatsächlich so gut gefallen. :3

  • I enjoyed reading about your time re-adjusting to Europe! I’m from the UK and am moving to Japan in October. I’ve lived in France and Switzerland before, but never felt much culture shock – I think a lot of European countries have shared culture, so the main difficulty I faced was the language barrier. Japan on the other hand I think will be something else!

    It makes me wonder though – having an adventurous life living in exciting and different places, do you think that you’ll be able to just settle and live in one country?

    • I think that there’s not such a huge difference between those Western European countries, so I suppose culture shock is not really an issue. But I can’t speak from experience. ^-^;

      That’s a really good question. I’m currently trying to figure that out myself.
      I might just not be the kind of person who can have a family and settle down somewhere. We’ll see! ;)

  • Glad to hear you’ve recovered :)

    After I was here (er…there, from your perspective) for over 10 years, I returned home (America) for a few months. Over the previous 10 years I had only visited twice. (I love my family, but visiting just never really seemed like a big deal to me. Now that I have a child, visiting so that he can see his grandparents is much more important). Before that trip, knowing I would be trapped in America for a few months, I fully expected reverse culture shock. But… nothing. Oh, I recognized many many differences, most of them I was not happy about, but at the same time I was able to just shrug my shoulders and go back to doing things the way I did before I moved to Japan. I guess I am just too easy going to experience any culture shock. (I didn’t have any problems when I moved to Japan either)

    So I was never really shocked. Also I am usually a very positive person, and I don’t think that changed one bit. But many things did disappoint me. Most of them the same as what you mentioned, actually. No konbini was tough… I missed my green tea and my train beer. I didn’t really like having to drive again either.

    Language was by far my biggest annoyance. In Japan, I can easily tune out the world. In America, it proved much tougher not to listen to everyone. Going to a cafe… people are complaining about their kids (which annoys me… People shouldn’t talk badly about their own kids), complaining about politics, complaining about… well pretty much everything. Of course it is similar in Japan in any large place, but I can easily switch off my listening and be blissful in my ignorance of the world… in America couldn’t stop listening!!

    It was also sad to see no one walked anywhere nor were bicycles common.

    Finally, my photography suffered a lot over those few months, a very bad thing considering I make most of my living from photography. Just nothing was interesting to me, even things that would have made perfect stock images and sold easily just seemed far too boring to me. It was all too familiar, whereas in Japan even if I have walked a path hundreds of times, something always proves interesting enough to inspire me to take hundreds of photos.

    Anyway, I hope things keep improving. Of course you do realize the best cure for reverse culture shock, don’t you? Returning to the country! (Journaling is also good… and cheaper)

    • Hm. But don’t you think it was maybe because you knew you’d only stay for a short time and eventually return to Japan?
      For me, changing my mindest thinking that I’ll return to Japan after a year, made a TREMENDOUS difference! ^_^;

      I find what you mentioned about “tuning out” very interesting.
      I’ve never really paid attention to that. I suppose it’s easier for me NOT to listen when people around me speak something other than German, but I guess I’m good at tuning out in general. *g*

      I hear you on the photography issue.
      In the first few months here I didn’t touch my camera AT ALL!
      The weather was bad and there was NOTHING I was interested in, nothing I considered worth taking photos of. ^^;
      It’s gotten a bit better, but I fear nothing gets me as excited as the sights in Japan. [/geeky]

      We’ll see what I decide to do eventually. Baby steps. ;)

      • You could be right. Knowing me, I don’t think my reaction would be different, but then again, I don’t know. It could also be a factor that I’m married to a Japanese person, so even if we did stay in America I would know visiting Japan would be easy.

        I’ll tell you, the only time I can remember being even slightly shocked was when I returned to America after my first trip to Japan. I had visited Kyoto and stayed in a weekly mansion for 2 weeks. It was my first time in Japan, and I loved it. Anyway, when I came back and got off the plane in Indiana, I was just shocked at how many tall, fat white people were everywhere. (In Indiana, it is somewhat homogenous just like Japan. Whites are like 90%, blacks maybe 6%, hispanics around 3%, and other minorities, fractions). I remember sitting on a chair waiting for my suitcase to come around on the luggage spiny thing, and just staring around in a state of disbelief.

  • Hi Jasmine,

    sehr interessante Eindrücke – kann ich gut nachvollziehen. Ich war zwar nur zwei Wochen in Japan aber man gewöhnt sich sehr schnell an die positiven Dinge des Landes und empfindet hier Vieles als schlechter – die Höflichkeit ist da natürlich ziemlich weit oben auf der Liste ;).

    Was das Wetter angeht: Mein nächster Japan-Besuch führt mich sicher in wärmere Gegenden, da bin ich mal gespannt. Hier geht es jetzt ja auch stark aufwärts, da sollte sich Deine Laune auch bessern und Du kannst wieder mehr Zeit draußen verbringen ;).

    Guten “Start” weiterhin.

    Liebe Grüße

    Pierre

    • Hallo Pierre!

      Witzigerweise war das bei mir ganz anders. Nach meinem 1. Japanbesuch (3 Wochen), war ich zunächst ganz froh, wieder zuhause zu sein.
      Mir sind recht schnell viele Dinge aufgefallen, die mich an Japan genervt haben.
      Aber umso länger ich wieder in Deutschland war, umso mehr habe ich gemerkt, dass es in Japan noch so viel gibt, was ich erleben und entdecken möchte.
      Und so kam es, dass ich nach Japan gezogen bin. ;P

      Wo geht es denn das nächste Mal hin? Kyushu? Okinawa? ^_^

      Ja, auf den Sommer in Deutschland freue ich mich. Der Sommer ist – zumindest für mich – eines der Dinge, die in Deutschland wesentlich besser sind als in Japan. :D

      Vielen Dank! (^-^)/~

  • When I moved to Japan in 1989, it was a massive culture shock for me on a lot of levels. On one hand, the Japanese weren’t these fearsome people whom having failed to defeat the U.S. in World War II were going to take us over economically. The people were mostly very friendly, often wanting to practice their English on me. I kinda dug the bowing thing. That may be a result of growing up in Alabama and Florida, where manners, being polite, and acknowledging people in their vehicles coming the other way on the highway were all commonplace.

    On the other hand, shortly after I arrived in Japan, I was taken by a group of fellow Air Force airmen to see some of Japan. One place we went to, which was way off the beaten path, had a sign at the door in English saying, “No whites.” Looking back, that probably meant “no gaijin”, but one of the black guys in our group looked at me and said something like, “Now you know what its like to be a brother back home.” They all laughed because it was all part of the newbie initiation.

    Another culture shock for me was anime and manga. Back then, Ranma 1/2 was a new anime series, playing in the late afternoon. So imagine my shock when I see a scene showing a naked girl in the bath, with her nipples clearly visible. It was a similar story with manga as some shounen manga titles had topless nudity in them back then. And then there was that late Sunday night show that was always on, whether in the shop I worked at, or in the day room of the dorm, which had cute Japanese babes in bikinis, and would show the whackiest sexual positions, review the latest Japanese porn videos (with the women’s breast being seen), etc.

    Japan had its good and its bad, but for me, my two years in Japan were a great experience. I hope to go back for a visit someday.

    • It seems that you had quite a cultural shock when you moved to Japan. But what happened when you returned home? :)

      Haha, I can see why you were shocked about these things.
      I already knew about all of that stuff, so it couldn’t shock me anymore, but I still think it’s not good that they have certain manga unsealed at a spot in shops where little kids can easily access them (the 16+ ones and the bloddy ones).

  • Thanks for your article, as always :) For me, however, there are two important things missing in your article which I was actually looking forward to read.

    If I ever go back to France, taxes, security, food, all that really aren’t my concerns. They would be, for a little while but that’s okay. People diversity neither. Those are just external factors for me, wherever I go I would get used to them, adapt my life and everything will be fine.

    For me the two important things are :

    1) Social life. Japan is the country of Honne and Tatemae. Not sure how you feel about that but for me this is a huge minor for Japan. Everyday, most of our social exchanges are based on it and when we get conscious about it we know that most people aren’t exactly saying what they feel or think. Today I sometimes feels alone surrounded by people. Interestingly, older Japanese people often have all those barriers down and they share deeper thoughts. For me, going back to France would be equal to being surrounded by friends with love, stories to share everyday, cry and laughter, watching TV all together, smoking pot (no, don’t do it anyone! haha) under the stars on the beach sharing dreams, etc. I don’t think any of that happens here, in comparison with France the social life is… really bland. You probably understood it by now but that’s the part I find the most difficult here. I need good friends I can trust and exchange with all my heart. I need life to be happening and surprising. Maybe I should have mentioned but I come from a small southern French town so obviously the difference with a metropolis like Tokyo is huge.

    2) Life goal. You talked about it in your previous article I think, you couldn’t start a family here and that is why you moved back. To give a chance to that family to exist. Is that right? Something else is work, hobbies. You traveled a lot in Japan, your blog was a huge part of your life. Now you are in Germany this hobby is kind of over (sorry, I am harsh :p). Are you just happy with a life goal as starting a family life or are you looking for/starting a new hobby or project? For me the biggest issue with going back would be: but what would I do in France? (maybe the same… a Totoro Times in Japanese for Japanese people traveling to France haha). Goals or dreams are important to stay alive. Switching to a new country is usually excellent for those dreams to pop-up but going back in a country is often thought as a step backward, back from a dream.

    I am curious about what you think about those two points :)

    Can I disagree with one point though? “You know exactly how the weather will be next month.”. I wished that was true. Tomorrow is sunny. Bam, rain. Tomorrow is rain. Bam, sunny. For one year and a half now, the weather forecast has been mostly wrong every week-end. But sorry, maybe you were just talking about the temperature changes :p

    Sorry, that was long! But you can see I really want to know more :p Thank you (again)!

    • You’re probably missing those because I mainly talked about what shocked me here in Germany, focusing on the “bad things”.
      What you want to hear would be popping up in a blog post where I talk about the good things in Germany instead. ;)

      1.) I totally hear you! That was ONE reason why I wanted to go back. But I also need to say – in all honesty – I’m still not sure if that’s enough to keep me in Germany. I’m someone who can live well completely on her own. Where other people go insane being too lonely, I feel still very comfortable. (I know, I know …)
      So, while I think that social life in Germany is certainly better, I have yet to figure out if that is going to be enough to keep me in Germany.
      (I have the feeling I sound quite cold-hearted, huh? ^^; …)

      2.) I’m really surprised that this is becoming such a huge topic. Yes, that was certainly ONE reason, but a minor one. I haven’t even TRIED to find someone to have a family with. I also don’t try it now. I just thought that in general it must be easier in Germany. I haven’t figured out yet if that’s something I even want for myself. Like somebody else mentioned, I might just be a person who is unable to settle down in one place. ^^;
      You know, I already fulfilled my dream in Japan. I found new dreams while I was there and fulfilled them as well.
      I suppose yet another reason for me to move (not back to Germany, but just MOVE) was in order to find a new dream. I don’t know if this’ll work, but it was still better than staying in my comfort zone doing nothing new.

      Haha! I agree! The weather forecast in Japan is HORRIBLE!!!!!
      I remember standing in a small village in Oita Prefecture where it was pouring while holding my phone where the weather app told me it’s sunny at my current location. That kind of stuff happened often.
      Nah, I was talking about temperature changes. ;)

      • Thank you for your reply ^^

        1.) I envy you! I would love to be able to live alone, to travel alone and work alone. I always need someone with me but if I didn’t, I would do SO many things! I am always slowed down by always seeking for somebody to work with, to have fun with, to walk around with… and Japan, especially Tokyo, is not a good place to be “needy”. People are too busy (at doing nothing often actually).

        2.) You must let us know what you new dream will be. Maybe it will inspire us :) I just hope you come back to Japan someday and come to Tokyo say hello ^^

        I am looking forward to the “good part” article now :)

        • If I had always waited until I found someone to do things with, I would have NEVER seen and done as much as I actually did.
          I bet it would have been a lot of fun doing and exploring all the things with others, but I’m glad I did them anyway. ^^

          I will. :)
          Thanks!

  • Schon ueber ein halbes Jahr? Hui…

    Bis jetzt war ich nur fuer kurze Besuche zurueck in Deutschland.. Aber ja.. Wenn ich jemanden ausversehen angerempelt habe, habe ich mich verbeugt und “Entschuldigung” gemurmelt.
    Oft habe ich fast meine Bahnstation verpasst, weil ich drauf gewartet habe, dass die Tueren der Zuege von alleine aufgehen..

    Die kleinen Dinge sinds…

    Conbinis gehen nicht wegen des Ladenschlussgesetzes. Ein Hoch auf Deutschland!
    Es wird ja immer mit den armen Verkaeufern argumentiert, aber mal ehrlich.. In anderen Laendern gehts auch, andere Branchen arbeiten auch am Wochenende und nachts, da juckt es auch niemanden, und weil es nachts und Sonntags mehr Geld gibt, gibt es sicherlich viele Freiwillige fuer die Schichten…
    Wie sich damals im Kino immer alle um die 100% Feiertage gerissen haben…

    Naja.. Ich denke immer noch, wenn man Japanisch genug beherrscht und nicht in einer bekloppten japanischen Firma landet, ist Japan toll ^_-

    • Uhm, ja …. ^^;

      Zugfahren …. darüber alleine könnte man schon ein ganzes Kapitel schreiben.
      Ganz ehrlich, die Deutsche Bahn könnte sich ruhig mal ein paar Scheiben von Japan abschneiden. Gerade das Ticketsystem ist eine mittlere Katastrophe und von Sauberkeit und Pünktlichkeit fangen wir jetzt gar nicht erst an. ;)

      Ich verstehe es auch nicht. Man könnte damit sogar noch mehr Arbeitsplätze schaffen. :(

  • Interessant, daß Du am Ende doch zurück bist – aber irgendwie hatte ich mir ja schon so was gedacht. Beruflich und privat eine Perspektive zu haben ist einfach sehr sehr schwierig in Japan…

    Den Reverse-Culture-Shock kann ich _sehr_ gut nachvollziehen, war ähnlich bei mir (auch wenn ich ja deutlich früher als Du wieder zurück bin).

    Ich denke der große Unterschied ist halt, daß man deutlich mehr individuelle Freiheit hat im Sinne das man seine Entscheidungen nicht so sehr von anderen bzw. Reaktion anderer abhängig machen muss. Das ist subtil, und wenn man sich an Japan gewöhnt hat, dann merkt man zuerst gar nicht, was man damit gewinnt. Wenn man das nicht als Vorteil realisiert (viele Japaner die im Ausland leben sehen diesen Vorteil nicht, sondern nur die Nachteile), dann wird’s schwierig hier…
    Und natürlich ist das Gras immer grüner auf der anderen Seite, aber deutsche Verwaltungshandlungen und Ämter sind schon so ein Thema für sich…

    • Für mich sah es in Japan beruflich besser aus als momentan in Deutschland, aber privat / sozial stimme ich dir zu. ;)

      Ja, “drüben” ist es immer “grüner”. ;)
      Am Ende muss jeder selbst entscheiden, was einem am wichtigsten ist und dementsprechend abwägen, welches Land das besser erfüllen kann.

  • Hi,
    I am Japanese.
    I born in Japan and graduate Japanese college and went to California to study English for 2 years.
    Since this was my first time away from Japan, I must be started to fantasize about Japan. I could only remember good parts of Japan and started to forget bad part of Japan while I was in USA. (or I did not realized bad part when I was in Japan. ) Anyway, when first time I came back to Japan, I had reverse culture shock! I still remembered the day when I arrived back in Japan, I was kind of panic and dizzy to see so many people and everyone walking fast….I just felt so busy….
    Couple weeks passed by, I started to frustrated (and angry) about people are so fussy about everything in Japan.
    Such as when I go to coffee shop, I can’t remember I ordered tea or coffee, they brought many equipment just to drink coffee/tea…. In USA, everything is so practical. They bring empty cup with hot water & teabag or waiter/waitress pour coffee for you)
    Or when I went to boutique for shopping T-shirt, I realized it’s their service but I felt OVER service. After they rapped for you (some department store wrapped with wrapping paper), they carried bag for you until the door. I understand that might be security reason (so the customer will not steal on the way out?), but I felt that “I can carry that piece of T-shirt!!!!”.
    And funny thing is if it is not customer service area, I felt people are cold and very unfriendly especially in Tokyo.
    I was carrying suitcase and carrying bag all by myself to take train to go domestic airport, I realized there was not elevator or escalator at some small station so that I have to bring down the stairs suitcase or carry bag one by one. Which means I have to leave one of the bag unattended while I am carrying 1 of them! Not only I felt inconvenient, no one, not even one person who offer for help! Instead, I felt people are thinking “What the heck are you carrying so many things in middle of Tokyo” (But about that, much later I learned the lesson…..when I travel to UK by myself, I saw the sign at train station “Carry the bag only you can handle yourself”. And I thought this is true so since then when I travel alone, I do not carry the bag that I cannot handle myself!!)
    But yes, I felt that how elder people, who is using wheel chair or people who has small babies take public transportation!
    For weather, I missed Central heating in winter/Spring and Central Air-Condition in Summer time at my parent’s home. (So when I go to toilet, I do not need to run back to room…!)
    I guess I also it takes about 6 month to get used to the life in Japan.
    After 6 years later, I moved to Hong Kong, Canada and back to USA (but East Coast) and traveled to Europe (UK by myself and Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy by UK base tour), I am away from Japan for almost 20 years. (Of course I visit back family 1 per year or 2 though) All these year, what I learned is every country has good parts and bad parts. There is no perfect country. So wherever I live, I tried to look for “Good parts” in each country and make myself to have comfortable home!
    I still love and misses Japan after left for 20 years especially food, convenience for packed food, friends and family, quality clothe (and fashion), steady economy, safety. And nowadays, I think hard where can I live when I am really old like 70 or 80 years old. Every time when I think, conclusion is I do not think I can live anymore in Japan unless isolated town…..I don’t think I can handle with so many people, busy life and need to care so much what other think about me. (Sometimes foreigner with different skin color can excuses certain things but because I or my daughters have Asian skin color, people in Japan expect us to act or speak certain way…..And if I don’t, people in Japan judge you…..) But who knows! I might living in care home (Yorou-in) in Japan in future!

    • Hi!
      That was VERY interesting. Thank you so much for taking the time and sharing your experience with us!

      Reading your comment I felt like I probably had a little culture shock whenever I visited Tokyo. I hate big cities. They stink, are loud and there are way too many busy people rushing from A to B. Tokyo is no exception. I feel so tired every time I stay there. ^^;
      And I know exactly how you feel. I often have too much luggage as well. Sometimes people offered their help but if they looked even weaker than me, I politely rejected their kind offer. ^^;

      It must be exciting to have lived in so many different countries. I wonder if one can get used to “culture shocks” and generally adapt more easily.

      I know. I’m also thinking hard about where I want to live once I’ve retired, but for now I should focus on deciding where to live in the next decade or so. ;P

  • Hi,
    first of all I’m also German, but only living in Tokyo since around 10 months so far. At this point I don’t want to even think about going back to Germany at all. I left not only with the wish to finally live in Tokyo longer than just a short visit, but also to start a new existence outside of Germany as I’m still completely fed up with it.

    Before leaving, I couldn’t ignore many of the facts about Germany, that you also mentioned, any longer. Criminality and constant subtle fear of it in many situations is a big one. This honestly (and crime statistics confirm that) goes along with the increasing ratio of unskilled foreigners without the will and necessity to integrate, and the additional high ratio of general people on welfare.
    In fact, in my home area (Ruhrgebiet; Ruhr area) I daily experienced feeling more and more as an outsider: in public places and transport less and less German is spoken, people are often aggressive, careless and highly intrusive. Getting loudly pointed out because you wear clothes someone doesn’t like was almost normality.
    I ended up trying to avoid public transport and wearing things that could cause attention (mini skirts, high heels, bold colors, unusual designs etc).

    Maybe I’m simply too sensitive for Germany, but currently I simply wish to continue living here in Tokyo for as long as possible.

    Living here as a visible foreigner has many good points. You don’t get measured by Japanese standards and no-one intrudes your personal life. For now I’d rather be asked a few times a day when I started learning Japanese than random acquaintances and politics telling you how to live your life.
    I found very close friends in other ex-pats with various nationalities here, even though I acknowledge the difficulty to find likely as close relationships with Japanese.

    In the end, I simply hope for everyone to find his personal luck wherever one chooses to live. Hopefully you feel completely at home and comfortable soon again.

    • Hi, Hikosu!

      You’re kind of at the point where I was many years ago. Although I planned to only stay in Japan for a year, I realized rather quickly that one year wouldn’t be enough and that I didn’t want to go back home yet. Unlike you, though, I wasn’t fed up with Germany at all. It’s really strange that I started to kinda hate Germany while being away from it. *g*

      Interesting. I had the feeling that I had to take care of certain things a lot more in Japan.
      People would stare at you if you don’t wear make-up and stuff like that. And of course as a foreigner you always stand out.
      I prefer blinding in here in Germany, but there are the things that you mentioned as well. Certain things would be completely normal in Japan, but people will think you’re crazy if you do or wear them in Germany. *g*

      I’m glad to hear you have found very close friends in Japan. That’s very important after all. :)

      I also hope that I’ll find a place soon where I can truly say I feel at home and comfortable. ^__^ Thank you! :3

    • Again, an opinion that cements a growing view that both my partner, myself, and a growing number of people who are NOT completely in love with Japan are noticing:

      People that absolutely love Japan tend to be of one political view, and one which finds its utopia in a homogenous society like Japan.

  • Deine Rückkehr nach Deutschland habe ich auf Twitter verfolgt und mich immer wieder gefragt wann du hier auch endlich damit rausrückst ;-).
    Einen Teil deiner Probleme kann ich nicht ganz nachvollziehen, die medizinische Versorgungslage in der Pampa ist aber in den letzten Jahren komplizierter geworden, v.a. wenn man wie du zu einem Facharzt muss.

    Ich selbst hatte nach einem Jahr WH keinen bewussten Kulturschock in Bayern, war froh wieder von der Insel runter zu sein und würde da auch nicht mehr leben wollen. Urlaub mach’ ich dort aber nach wie vor gern :-). Matcha-Latte schmeckt in Deutschland einfach nicht, egal, welche Mischung man auch mit rüberbringt.

    Meine Gedanken zur Asylbewerberproblematik würden den Rahmen hier sprengen – die Straßenkriminalität ist in den letzten sieben Jahren allerdings nicht gestiegen. Vor den Ausländern davonzulaufen und woanders einer zu werden finde ich allerdings ganz schön absurd.

    • Ich musste erst einmal selber damit “klarkommen” bevor ich es hier poste. Ich hatte mir schon gedacht, dass es darauf einige geschockte Reaktionen geben würde und solange ich selbst noch in einem Schockzustand war, wäre dabei eh nichts Gutes dabei rausgekommen. ;P

      Ich sag ja, ein Kulturschock ist was sehr persönliches und individuelles. Je nachdem, worauf du Wert legst, wirst du dich über ganz andere Dinge aufregen. ^^

      Freut mich, dass du für dich einen klaren Schlussstrich ziehen konntest. Mir fällt die Entscheidung nach wie vor schwer. Ich bin immer noch am Überlegen, wo ich letztendlich leben möchte. Vielleicht wäre ja ein ganz anderes Land tatsächlich mal reizvoll (nein, nicht Österreich oder Schweiz). ;)

      Das habe ich ja auch nicht gemacht. Also vor den Ausländern weglaufen. *g*
      Mir ist das nur jetzt bei meiner Rückkehr eben extrem aufgefallen und gleichzeitig habe ich das Gefühl, dass ich sie jetzt besser verstehe, wo ich selbst lange Ausländer war. ^-^;

  • Great blog!

    When I first came to Japan as an exchange student on a one-year program, we were educated a lot about culture shock and homesickness. I didn’t have problems with either if those…but there were no classes on reverse culture-shock and that hit me like a brick wall when I came home! I totally didn’t expect it and it caused depression-like symptoms. It was my senior year of college and I couldn’t get myself out of bed to go to class (full of noisy Americans!) some days. A daily conversation was: “Hey welcome back! How was Japan?” “Thanks…uh, it was great.” End of conversation. I just couldn’t relate to folks as smoothly as before.
    Thankfully I lived with a dear friend who’d also just gotten back from a volunteer stint in Afghanistan of all places, and we read a book “The Expert Ex-patriot” that reassured us we weren’t crazy and to expect a kind of grieving process as part of re-entry. The book is geared toward missionary/volunteer/Peace Corps types, but I highly recommend it to anyone who invested a lot in a “second home” country and has had to return.

    • Haha, Ria, I was just the same. I also didn’t have a culture shock or was homesick.
      Maybe people like us are hit much harder with a reverse culture shock then? Thanks for the book recommendation. :D

      I see you’re back in Japan now? Hope you’re doing fine. ^___^

  • Als ich nach meinem erstem Jahr Japan damals 2007 – 2008 wieder deutschen Boden betrat, war der umgekehrte Kulturschock auch immens. Ich hab mich allerdings kaum getraut, darüber zu schreiben oder zu reden, denn es gab wenige Leute, die es nachvollziehen konnten. Mein damals-Freund-heute-Mann hat mich ja auch für 3 Monate zurück nach Deutschland begleitet, danach ging es erst in die Fernbeziehung. Ich bekam also meistens Kommentare wie “Warum bist du denn jetzt schon traurig? Ab Oktober, da kannste dann traurig sein.” Es hat wirklich niemand verstanden, dass mir mein Leben in Japan gefehlt hat. Ich war doch auch nur ein Jahr dort und habe 22 Jahre davor in Deutschland gelebt, wie könne mir also mein Leben in Deutschland auf einmal so fremd sein? Aber das war es. Die Menschen waren so groß und stoffelig und meine 平和ボケ-Seifenblase war weg und ich zog von meinem selbstständigen Wohnheimleben zurück in das Haus meiner Eltern und ach und überhaupt -.-‘

    Heute ist es absolut logisch für mich, dass mein Kulturschock in Japan sehr gering ausfiel – ich war nicht nur gut vorbereitet, ich habe einfach erwartet, dass alles anders ist und es hat mich daher nichts richtig geschockt – während mich der umgekehrte Kulturschock wahnsinnig hart getroffen hat. Wie kann mir meine eigene Heimat nur so fremd sein? Natürlich kann sie das! Nicht nur die Heimat hat sich geändert, man selbst auch. Dass man da nach so vielen Jahren, wie du sie in Japan verbracht hast, dann auch mal sehr viel länger als ein paar Wochen oder ein paar Monate braucht, ist auch nur verständlich. Für mich war der Abschied von Deutschland auch immer einfacher als von Japan, einfach weil ich immer genau wusste, wann ich das nächste Mal in Deutschland sein würde – mein nächster Aufenthalt in Japan war meist ungewiss.

    Jetzt, wo ich vorerst fest in Japan lebe, war es nach einer Woche Urlaub bei meiner Familie tatsächlich ein kleiner bittersüßer Abschied von Deutschland, denn nun ist es umgekehrt: Ich weiß nicht, wann ich das nächste Mal für längere Zeit in Deutschland sein werde ^^; Man macht es uns Weltenbummlern aber auch wirklich nicht leicht :P

    • Ich verstehe dich total. Hätte es nicht besser sagen können.
      Haha, ich liebe deinen Begriff “平和ボケ-Seifenblase”. Muss ich mir merken! ;)

      Mir ging es ganz ähnlich. Ich war immer ein wenig traurig, wenn ich nach einem kurzen Urlaub Deutschland wieder verlassen musste, aber sobald ich wieder in Japan war, war das auch wie weggeblasen. Es ist wirklich nicht leicht, wenn man ständig irgendwie zwischen zwei Stühlen / Ländern sitzt. ^^;

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