Canada Seems Foreign to Me

After eleven years in Japan, Canada feels like a foreign country to me. It’s familiar, but I’ve become used to Japan. Here are some things that will feel strange to me:

1. Everything is so wide open. Many wide streets, open spaces, and even significant gaps between houses.

2. Staff in shops talk to customers.

3. No temples or shrines.

4. Convenience stores aren’t convenient.

5. Less efficient public transportation system.

6. No bento, or prepared meals, in convenience stores.

7. I’ll hear and see English everywhere! A total lack of Japanese.

8. Japanese food will be different. Edo Japan is more Chinese than Japanese.

9. No variety shows on TV like Japan.

10. Toilets are in bathrooms, instead of separate rooms.

There’s more, and I’m sure I’ll be talking about them on video after we’ve moved to Canada.

Ever return to your home country after living in another country for a while and find things a bit strange? Let me know in the comments below.

Allergy Season Is Upon Us

Although it’s still late winter, the allergy season has already started in Japan. Pollen allergies are very common here, and I have become allergic to some pollen since coming to Japan.

The most common allergies to pollen in Japan are sugi (Cryptomeria japonica, or commonly and incorrectly called Japanese cedar) and hinoki (Japanese cypress). Thanks to an aggressive tree-planting scheme decades ago by the Japanese government, a huge number of sugi were planted all over the country. And because of this, the allergy has developed in a large number of Japanese (and some foreigners, like myself). My symptoms are pretty common: itchy mouth, itchy eyes, runny nose, and lots of sneezing.

Before I came to Japan, I had no known allergies. But I became sensitive to Cryptomeria pollen. But that’s not all I became allergic to. Now, fruit from the rose family affect me. I get an itchy mouth whenever I eat most fruits from that family. This includes apples, pears, apricots, peaches, and cherries. Interestingly enough, I’m not allergic to strawberries or raspberries. I don’t like plums, and I’ve never tried loquats, so I don’t know my reaction to those.

If the fruit are cooked or processed in any way, I have no trouble eating them. When I was a kid, I ate canned pears a lot, and I can still eat them that way.

Of course, as I was typing this, I had a severe sneeze attack. That was fun.

Anyone have seasonal pollen allergies?