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!~

70 Comments

  • Its interesting you mentioned the safety factor. I feel very safe here, yet I’m only a few stops away from an area that’s heavily “Western”. It was dark, and a friend took me through the bar area (an area that I’ve purposely stayed away from due to lots of Western drunkenness and violence.) I couldn’t stop looking around to make sure no one was coming out of somewhere. It was weird and uncomfortable to feel like I had to be on the alert all over again. It wasn’t until 20 minutes later when I was walking back to the apt building by myself, that I was able to slow down walking and relax because I was “safe” back in my little town. It was all the exact same feeling I get when I’m back in the U.S., always on the alert, needing to be ready for anything to happen. =/ Its exhausting.

    This is good to mentally prepare for when we go to Germany. On a similar note, I was briefly talking with someone who’s in Berlin, and she was complaining that she couldn’t ride her bike in the street because there was so much glass on the ground from drunks throwing their beer bottles down. That’s kinda sad to hear that goes on.

    I know you said the taxes were bad, but 19%??! Wow, that’s painful. Ps…you’re off the hook. ;) I know we haven’t emailed in awhile, and its obvious it wasn’t going to workout, but just wanted to state it for all intents and purposes. :) :)

    • The majority of people I’ve met feel safer in Japan compared to their home country in terms of crime. Natural disasters are a different story, of course. :)

      The 19% consumption tax isn’t the worst, it’s the fact that over 40% of your income are melting away due to taxes. In my eyes it’s insane. I know there are other European countries where it’s even worse, but still … :/

  • Du sprichst mir mit den meisten Dingen aus der Seele (einzig die Arzt Probleme habe ich nicht erlebt).
    Du hast auch dieses Wetter Phänomen perfekt beschrieben. Ich tu mich dabei immer schwer das anderen verständlich zu machen. Bzw. einem Japaner der nach der besten Zeit fragt um Deutschland zu besuchen erklären, dass das eigentlich eine Glücks Sache ist mit dem Wetter.

    Ich war nur für ein Jahr dort im Studium. Auf dem Hinweg hatte ich keinen Kulturschock, Heimweh nur an Weihnachten nach dem ich Heiligabend mit meiner Familie geskyped hab.
    Zurück in Deutschland war ich nicht mehr ich selbst. Der Kulturschock zurück nach Hause hat mich voll erwischt.
    An meiner Uni gab es ein Programm mit Studenten aus der ganzen Welt, wir wurden schnell zu einer Art Familie, die sich um einander gekümmert hat. Diese Familie zu verliehen und zu wissen wir kommen so nie wieder zusammen bzw werden und teilweise nie wieder sehen tat war auch sehr schwer. Mit Japanern selbst bin ich zwar nie wirklich auf diese persönliche herzliche Ebene gekommen mit denen ich mit Freunden hier in De komme. Aber dafür hatte ich dort meine ‘Familie’.
    Mit meinen Freunden hier bin ich zum großteil nicht mehr… Hm warm geworden. Es war schwierig… Ich hab mich halt auch verändert. Als ich einer guten Freundin versucht habe zu erklären was mich bewegt und ich gerne wieder zurück nach Japan möchte kam ein: “Du vermisst es nur, Auswandern halte ich für übertrieben. Ich liebe London auch, aber ich will deswegen da nicht gleich hinziehen.” (anmerkung: sie war je zweimal für 5 Tage in London bisher…) aber wie soll man solche Gefühle verstehen wenn man es nicht erlebt hat? Ich hab dort ja keinen Urlaub gemacht.

    Ich glaub ich hab auch ein halbes Jahr gebraucht um wirklich wieder hier in de anzukommen… Hinzu kam aber noch das Scheitern einer Beziehung die das ganze verkompliziert hat.

    Schlimm fand ich auch immer die Nachfragen: “wie war Japan? Bist doch sicher froh wieder hier zu sein!” hab dann oft nur genickt, gelächelt, “mhm” gesagt und versucht die Tränen zu unterdrücken.

    Und ich werde in ein paar Monaten wieder zurück nach Japan gehen, für ersteinmal drei Jahre. Und was soll ich sagen? Ich hab riesen Angst… Ich weiß es wird nicht so sein wie beim erstenmal, man kann einfach nicht zweimal im gleichem Fluss schwimmen. Aber ich freue mich tierisch.

    • Hallo.

      Schön, dass du Weihnachten ansprichst. Heimweh hatte ich zwar nicht, aber es war schon SEHR gewöhnungsbedürftig zu sehen, dass an Weihnachten quasi gar nichts passiert und auch die Art und Weise, wie Silvester gefeiert wird, war erstmal seltsam. Später fand ich es sogar angenehmer als bei uns. Ich renne sonst eh immer nur kreischend vor den Feuerwerkskörpern weg. ;)

      Ich denke, da habe ich bei meinen Freunden echt Glück. Die meisten konnten zwar nicht wirklich nachempfinden, wie es mir ging, aber hatten sehr viel Verständnis dafür. Einige von ihnen hatten mich auch in Japan besucht und konnten daher gut erraten, warum mich dieses oder jenes so geschockt hat in Deutschland. ;)

      Ich hoffe, dir wird es auch ein zweites Mal in Japan gefallen.
      Ich hätte überhaupt kein Problem damit, sofort ins nächste Flugzeug nach Japan zu steigen. Ich hätte auch keine Angst. Aber das kann man nach 7 Jahren wohl auch nicht anders erwarten.
      Bei dir ist das ja eine völlig andere Situation, aber für mich hört sich das so an, als wäre es die absolut richtige Entscheidung.
      Viel Glück!

      • Ja Sylvester war auch ein kleiner Schock… Ich meine ich “wusste” dass Japaner Sylvester eher ruhig angehen, aber etwas wissen und etwas erleben sind doch zwei paar Schuhe…

        Ich glaube meine Freunde wollten es zwar verstehen konnten es aber nicht, das hat bei weitem nicht alle betroffen. Aber eine sehr gute Freundin und meine Familie eben nicht, ich glaube das hat es so schwer gemacht. Ich wünschte ich hätte damals solch einen Eintrag wie jetzt von dir gelesen, dann hätte ich mich evtl. für nicht so merkwürdig gehalten.

        Danke für deine aufmunternden Worte :) Ich glaube die Angst im Moment ist auch dadurch begründet dass ich noch so viele Dinge erledigen muss und nicht so recht weiß wann ich das alles schaffen soll.

        • Ich hätte mir auch gewünscht, dass es bereits einen ähnlichen Artikel gegeben hätte. Man kommt sich ja wirklich so vor, als wäre man nicht normal in dieser Phase. XD

          Das kann ich mir vorstellen. Ging mir bei den Vorbereitungen zum Working Holiday damals ganz genau so. :/

  • Hi Zooming!

    Im so glad to read your post!I left Japan after the earthquake in 2011 – I lived in Spain and then Munich, Germany for 2 years before returning to Australia. But man, when I got back to Sydney the culture-shock hit me hard. Everything was so expensive; and everyone was rude; and couldnt line up properly; and played music on the train; and the food was rubbish and BIG; and I couldnt find work; and there was security guards everywhere; and I was arguing with people all the time, it wasnt good. Its been 2.5 years now – and some days a good, but others are not … I dont think I can shake off Japan. I think it changed me permanently. Its so good to read your story because I thought I was weird for having so many problems with my home city.

    But, as things have changed in me – things must change out of me. I will move back to Japan in 2 years when I finish my masters. I cant see myself coming back either. Maybe Dublin, or Rome in 10 years – but no more “homeland”. I truly feel the Japan is my home now.

    Thanks for the insight!!

    • Hi Mikey!

      Oh, yes. I remember there were a lot of people who left Japan after the 2011 quake.
      After living in Munich you thought that Australia was expensive? (O__O”) … Uh, oh! I don’t even want to imagine how expensive it is there then. ^^;

      It’s so weird that after living abroad for some time, you suddenly notice how crappy your home country is. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one with thoughts like that.
      I wish you all the best for when you go back to Japan! ^___^

      • Oh yeah man, Sydney makes Tokyo look positively cheap-o! My monthly rent in Tokyo for a 1 bedroom flat is the same as my WEEKLY rent for a 2 bedroom flat here now! Its crazy! I know its relative to income but I get paid more here – but I have less money…. anyway

        Im glad to read your post because after a few years of feeling like this I was starting to think I was weird ha ha… It comes in waves – yesterday it hit me hard I suppose … reading your post made me very natsukashii about it all

        but we keep moving forward right? I hope your social network in Germany is supportive and helps with these feelings

        M_M

        • I agree. When one talks about how expensive life somewhere is there are so many things to consider.
          If you take everything into account, then maybe life expenses are similar in Japan and Germany. Salaries might be higher in Germany, but after taxes not much is left – which simply means that you’ll have a lot more money available in Japan.

          Yes, we HAVE to keep moving forward. I’m sure we’ll both figure something out eventually. :)

  • You have fear for crime in germany and travels 7 years alone by japan ? That’s a little bit insane ;). In my little village it’s a crime when i forget about once week the grass to cutting :) Welcome back at home .

    • In Japan you can walk along a road in the dark and usually don’t have to fear ANYTHING – even in big cities. In Germany I regularly was so frightened when walking home in the dark.
      Luckily thus far nohting happened, but there were some dangerous situations already here in Germany. And recently I feel it has gotten more dangerous even in the German countryside.

      Glad to hear that there are still peaceful villages like yours out there! ;)
      And thanks! :D

      • It really comes down to personal experience, which is anecdotal.

        My partner had her wallet stolen in only one country: Japan.
        My friends had never had bicycles stolen except here.

        That said, the first time I had ever seen anyone outright steal something was when I visited Amsterdam.

        It is all anecdotal.

        The problem for me in Japan is that if something bad happens around: murder, theft, kidnapping, it is ALWAYS blamed first on foreigners. And yet, it rarely is the fault of foreigners.

        If we are to take anecdotal evidence as fact, Canada is the safest place on earth. I never once saw a pickpocket, a murder, a house break-in. So what? They happen all the time. Japan has fewer murders. That is wonderful. But pickpocketing happens all the time. Japan isn’t immune except in the minds of people that can’t accept that they don’t live in Japan.

        • It’s still a fact that Japan is one of the countries with the lowest crime rates in the world.
          And for me personally it all comes down to how safe I actually feel. (And yes, my bicycle was stolen in Japan as well. *g*)

    • Well after I came back to Germany I wasn’t really scared, I was just a bit suspicious in crowded places that I will be pickpocket. In Shinjuku i walked with a open backpack across the whole station and didn’t even thought about it. Yes I felt saver in Japan but back here in Germany I don’t feel or felt threatened.
      Also I didn’t had problems to go out alone in the dark (I am a woman also) and I live in a big city.

  • Oh ,I hear you :-(
    I can totally relate.
    I remember, I expected to be disappointed in things or feeling uncomfortable for diverse reasons after moving to Japan ,but instead, all was as expected ,or ,even better in Japan ,once I moved there .
    Not only I didn’t have any culture shock ,it was the most natural feeling to be there. All seemed just as it should be .
    Leaving Japan was my decision, for some reasons I already regret, and I still feel hitting my head in the wall for leaving ,even several years passed .
    My reverse culture shock is gone though, but I still think every day ,how much nicer is in Japan.
    I’m having a family ,so it’s not up to me to move back at any stage ,and hubby is totally unkeen.
    What can I do.. .Im hoping to do better next life ,lol

    • I felt pretty much the same when I moved to Japan.
      It’s too early to say if I regret my decision, but if so, I luckily just can return to Japan. ^_^;

      And Japan is not out of your reach. It’s still quite possible to move their once your kids have grown up, right?

  • Even though I’ve only been to Japan as tourist (4weeks in autumn and 4weeks in spring) I must say I’ve experienced a quite different shock. After seeing how beautiful a country can be (Japan) I tend to notice more beauty back home (Germany).
    For the first time in my life I’ve noticed how many beautiful cherry blossoms there are out there. And the red wine leaves that brighten up so many boring walls in autumn. Even though the maple trees are not as numerous in Germany as in Japan – they are at least a bit gorgeous as well ;-)

    the one thing that really hits me every time is my association of train station and FOOD. All my friends think I’m weird for considering going there to eat. :-(

    As a unrelated note: I started packing my own bento to stop the craving :/

    • OMG, Eva!!

      You actually sound a lot like me after my first Japan vacation! ^^
      I’m exactly the same especially when it comes to food.
      Back then I also started packing my own bento boxes, but that was not enough.
      The food was definitely one major reason why I wanted to live in Japan. ^_____^;

      • My big question to you as a frequent convenience shop bento buyer is: did you consider how much trash is created every day because of this constant rush to buy all the time? Disposable bento culture creates:

        masses of plastic thrown away
        loads of cars and lories with engines running for hours a day around convenience shops
        extra packaging
        because it’s easy: rinse and repeat

        When I didn’t think about what I was doing, I would purchase bento. But when I realised that all of that plastic would just end up burnt in an incinerator and all so that I could have a lunch for 500¥, I quit.

        Bento can be good. But the culture around it is horrific, dirty, and completely against what should be the norm in 2015 of good self-governance. But I guess that is what blind Japan-love really is about: being able to conform to a system which is foreign, and non-white, and therefore gets the pass, especially on consumption, trash, smog, etc., that would NOT pass muster in most post-industrial countries around the world.

        I would LOVE to live here if only it wasn’t so filled with smog and throwaway culture that foists fumes, noise, etc. on you at every juncture. Japan is so beautiful. But the modern society that lives in it is disgusting.

        • Well, that’s in fact one thing I didn’t like. Whenever possible I used my own hashi, my own bags etc.
          I wish a lot more Japanese people would be aware of that…

          I wouldn’t mind at all using my own tupperware or bento box to reuse every time for supermarket or conbini food.

          The smog is rarely a problem btw. Maybe if you live in a big city and of course whenever it comes over from China, but in the countryside the air is really fresh and nice.

  • I tumbled on this web site upon researching for my re-visiting Japan. I have been to Japan numerous times , and I conquer with what you have mentioned here. I live in US and I can see your point of view. I do admire you expressed your opinion. I am sure someone, like someone here in this comment section would have disagreed with you. Only those walk your shoes would understand it.
    I had a thought of moving to Japan for the first time I visited there in the early 2000. But then there would be the negative sides that I have not seen it in Japan. Grass is always green on the other side, right ? There is one certain thing that it is always exciting to live in another country, living in a different culture – my opinion. I have been around the world and the thought of residing in another country is always on my mind. And I am in the process of picking one country to live permanently. Home where the heart is. It is taking times to adjust, and I am sure someday looking back, you would be so glad that you have had a wonderful experience.

    Btw, this is the great web site for those who have not been to Japan, or for those want to re-visit. Japan is still my number 1 place on earth to visit.

    • Hello! :)

      Thank you very much for your nice comment.
      The grass certainly is always greener on the other side. ;)

      It never really gets boring to live in a different culture, but once you’ve adapted, you might not get excited about all the tiny things anymore. I’d love to explore yet another country, but then again settling down somewhere also sounds nice.

      I’m glad to hear that Japan is still your number 1! ^____^

  • Hi Jasmine
    I dont mean to be disrespectful with your return struggles, but as a brazilian I cant help but laugh when someone became worried with crime rates travelling between developed countries. Brazil probably have, at least, the double of the crime rate than Japan and Germany together, and even there I feel safe in some deserted areas late of night. I think your fear is most psychological than anything.

    But, It’s interesting look through your perspective. It’s pretty shocking read you complaining about german bureaucracy when I’m so accostumed to think they as a example of efficiency!!!

    You’re so passionated and enthusiastic about your Japan experience that this intensified your reverse shock. It’s this passion that stand your blog above others and attracted me, even when travelling through Japan is not my favorite activity in respect of the land of rising sun.

    Also, I need to confess that even I dont bought the “german are rude and cold people” line, I’m baffled how could you can be so kawaii and charismatic. Have you suffered some dna mutation?! And, I’m quite disappointed that you dont commented any shock about “Deutschland straightforwardness” x “Japanese Honne-Tatemae culture”! :P

    My best wishes to your return to Germany and before I end, more two mandatory jokes:

    Is the eastern sea really so blue?
    How do you feel being so Big in Japan? X)

    • Well, this post is already old and I certainly have adapted to Germany again.
      While I feel safer now, I still would say the same about crime and safety now. Of course, there are countries where it’s REALLY dangerous, but I’m only comparing Germany and Japan here as these are the only two countries I’ve ever lived in. And yes, it’s also partly a psychological thing, of course. :)

      Yes, Germany is a great example of efficiency but they also stick to rules TOO much even when they make absolutely no sense and only make things more complicated. *shrugs*

      That’s certainly something I’ve talked a lot about. I’ve even written an essay about the whole “honne vs tatemae” topic. But I think I haven’t elaborated it at all on my blog yet. Thanks for mentioning it. That might be an interesting read for the future then. ;)

  • Greetings!

    DISCLAIMER: For the of multi-cultural exchange, I would like to request a strict ENGLISH-ONLY rule, at least for those interested in commenting this post.

    First things first: I love your blog. As if the content was ripped from my mind and incorporated here…

    I would like to start with a request (to everyone) to clarify if there yet a level above “reverse culture-shock”…?

    What? You might think…. Let me explain what I mean.

    Everybody knows “culture shock”. This term is known in every language in every country by all groups of the society. No need to explain.
    By far less people do even know the term “reverse culture-shock”. Generally only those who actively experienced it or had dealing with people who were touched by it, or researchers (who would not know about the mental implications like you described them because they are completely objective and detached from the matter).

    Probably totally UNKNOWN to everyone (except myself of course) would be what I call (totally imaginative, feel free to suggest a better term) the “reversely-BIASed forward culture-shock” or RBFCS-syndrome (… yeeees,!! hit me!).

    So WTF does this mean? Get to it, pal…. you might be thinking.

    The RBFCS-syndrome is like “reverse culture-shock”, only that you experience it BEFORE you even leave your home country, live abroad and finally come back to experience it.

    Have you ever had the feeling, that whilst you are STILL in your country, that so many things around you just do not seem right.
    I experience the first signs of RBFCS when I was 11 or so,… then I asked my parents ‘WHY all the shops are closed on Sundays and on national holidays.’ And if it wouldn’t better for the shop owners to earn some extra buck if they opened their shops on these days… I asked that because I grew up on the countryside with ONLY nature around… Noting that would excite young teenagers, except for roaming the woods with my friends. But you get thirsty then and carrying bags full of water on your body… not very cool from the perspective of a 11y old. So why didn’t the shop right next to the forest entrance have open???????????? Carrying some money is much easier that carrying pounds of water…

    I was immediately cast a ‘pagan’ by my fellow country folks back then and even my parents did not understand why this would be an issue at all.
    More so when I started to go to the university, where a convenience store would LITERALLY have had improved my performance and output by at least double (due to the fact that I am a night owl type who works best during late hours and sleeps in late too. Very nonbiri like okinawa :-)

    Anyhow, although the countryside during my youth had stable and warm summers, this all changed when I went to university in the northwest part of Europe, where the weather is ALWAYS SHITTY (say what you want, I HAVE PROOF!!!!)

    I always though (still never had left Germany for Japan or any warm country for that matters) that the weather around me must have been the worst on the planet. Many years later my wife explained to me that I was in error. The reality was that I am one of those strange freaks of nature called “Ame-Otoko” (Rain-Man)… so it’s basically MY fault not that of the climate around me! (Puhhh… good to know that some thinks can be explained in an easy and absolutely rational way!)

    Also, I always found that Caucasians (not so much the black community though, fortunately) from developed countries tend to be rude and lack manners and politeness. More so north-west Europe but I noticed the fact all over France, UK, Germany+Swiss+Austria, Danmark+Scandinavia, Northern-Italy… The people were (and even more so ‘are’ right now I guess) just unfriendly, I never like it. Probably due to the lack of strong sunlight. (Sunlight brightens peoples minds up a bit,… That’s why I always feel good in southern Italy, Spain and Greece. Even turkey!)

    Anyhow, I could go on and on with the list of things I found strange about my country only to discover that there was a (at least ONE) country out there who showed me that if you want it, there is a way to fulfil some of the needs you did yearn for all these years. But this would bloat the post so I will only on a per-question basis. If someone is interested I will elaborate more on this matter.

    SIDENOTES:
    1) I have NO IDEA why you people are complaining about how unstable the weather is in Japan. For many years living in Japan now (although always the same countryside only) the one thing that IS predictable is the weather. The weather channel here is correct most of the time and slightly off during the rain season only… I cannot speak about the rest of the country and especially Okinawa hit us always with rain… with compliments from the Rain-Man…

    2) In Japan, every month (in average) there is one report on television about some girl or kid or senior murdered. Or a combini robbed. In the EU, there were almost NEVER any serious reports on murder and the like on television. Why????
    (Don’t say because of course the authorities cover it up in EU).. Lately the reports on US AMERICAN foreigners (servicemen stationed in Okinawa mostly) is increasingly popping up in the news where some GI rapes or otherwise kills a local. Or the ospreys incidents etc…
    Also, in Japan you will not see patrol cars going around like crazy … in most of the EU countries you will. Especially in Germany.
    However, this DID make me feel very safe in the EU… (this’ one of the things I cannot complain). In Japan I miss the omni-presence of the police making their rounds. I guess they are busy filling out their work-sheets and stamping them with a million time with their office seals…

    Best to all of you.
    Eddy

    • I get what you mean, but I never had it.
      For me things in Germany never felt off …. UNTIL I moved to Japan. And now I know better.
      I don’t know if I did myself a favor, because I will never see Germany (or Europe) with the same eyes. And by moving to Japan I might have noticed something that I would have never noticed otherwise. But eventually that’s a good thing and I’m so happy that I decided to move to Japan.

      I have experienced something different, though. Before moving back to Germany I already was anticipating the reversed culture shock. And partly it was even worse from what I was expecting. Maybe that falls more into the category “self-fulfilling prophecy”.

      On your side notes. I miss how stable the weather was in Japan. I really do. And that comes from the queen of rain women! -_-;

      Err … if I look at what has been happening in Europe in the past few weeks, I feel that the world has gone crazy. I don’t feel safe here. Never have – and it’s only getting worse!
      While in Japan they only worry they had in the past few weeks was when Pokemon Go is finally going to be released ….

  • I’m reading this several years later, and it was helpful for me. I was only in Japan for 2 weeks and it’s been very difficult for me to come back to California. I’ve been back for a week already, and I’m shocked by how sad and uncomfortable I feel. I definitely feel like Japan as a culture fits more with who I am as a person, and seeing the disrespect and general disregard for others has been overwhelming. I may never move to Japan, but I’ll take your suggestion and at least think about my next trip to ease the weight of this shock. Thanks!

    • I’m sorry to hear that.
      It’s rather unusual to feel that way after just a short stay in Japan, but maybe it’ll make you think about your current life and you’ll be able to take it from there.

      Good luck! ^_^

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