Japan was isolated from the world for centuries. Although it has changed a long time ago, the cultural differences between the Japanese world and Europe are huge. Moreover, Slavs are a very specific group of citizens of Europe. When these two cultures meet, the confusion might be strong. We grow up in a completely different environment, surrounded by the different patterns, societies, etc. Although we seem to like each other a lot, the first meeting of Japanese with Slavs might be confusing to both sides. There are many aspects that might be surprising to Japanese, but let’s talk about five of them!
1. Slavs don’t have vending machines everywhere
Japanese people are really crazy about them. Some time ago you could even find the special vending machine with used pants. Vending machines were a true obsession of Japanese people a few years ago, now it is just a part of their culture. I remember one of the students who came for student exchange to Poland. I asked him what did he like the most about nightlife in Poland, and he said that these machines where we buy bus tickets at night because it reminded him of Tokyo. Well… That wasn’t funny!
2. We don’t like to stay at work late
Japanese work a lot, much more than a typical Slavic person would like to work.
Japanese people are workaholics, they also have a completely different philosophy of work than Slavs. While we fight for the reduction of hours we have to spend at work, Japanese people take the topic of work very seriously. Their system of values is different than in Europe. If Japanese must stay at work longer, he doesn’t feel as bad as most of Slavs. They often grow up in faith that they live to find a good job and work as good as possible. Sadly, Japanese suffer due to the workaholism.
3. Smile means something different
Japanese people have a completely different system of communication than Europeans. Sometimes it’s shocking, but compared to Slavs, their way of showing sympathy or antipathy is different. I was shocked when I realized that what means when a Japanese person who doesn’t know you well, is too kind to you and smiles a lot. Many of them behave this way when they actually want to…kindly get rid of you.
4. Our soups are different
Have you ever eaten Japanese soup? There are many different variations, but generally speaking Japanese people like soups like Miso (traditional Japanese soup consisting of a stock called “dashi” into which softened miso paste is mixed, there are as many regional and seasonal recipes as Japanese people). When they see Slavic soups, rich and sometimes boiled for many hours, they are shocked. However, I’ve noticed that they still like our soups.
5. We celebrate reading Manga because they are expensive
In Japan, they buy Manga like we buy our daily newspapers. Nobody really cares about the daily newspaper, right? Of course, some specialists in Japanese comics might say that some editions are extremely expensive and that the topic is deeper. However, I was really shocked when I realized that one of my friends during her stay in Japan collected a lot of Mangas from the trash. Many tourists do the same!
Therefore, when you meet Japanese who are in our part of the world for the first time, be kind and understanding. Although, we all are the citizens of the world, sometimes we need a while to understand each other, to get used to the reality of the foreign country. And believe me – when a Slavic person lands in Japan, we also face a cultural shock.