Tag Archives: culture shock

Getting Used to Canada Again

The big skies of Alberta are so different than the building-restricted skies of Japan. The clouds are different. But I know the clouds can be incredible in summer.


That’s just one difference I can easily get used to. But what about everything else?

So far, supermarkets are no problem. I haven’t used Tap yet, as my bank card doesn’t appear to be activated yet. I have to get that done tomorrow. But the content of supermarkets and Costco are much the same as what I remember with a few differences. A lot more flavours of potato chips, for one thing. Also, we are living in Mill Woods, which has a large Indian population, so lots of Indian foods in the supermarkets.

Getting registered for health insurance was interesting, but turned out to be no problem.

Early closing times on weekends are difficult to get used to. In Japan, everything is open as late as weekdays. Here, everything closes around 5 pm. Very annoying.

The weather hasn’t really been any different than in Japan. It’s been kind of warm. But the sunset is much, much later. Sunrise is a bit later, though.

I thought I’d hear a lot more English than I do now. Actually, this neighbourhood has a lot of Punjabi.

I think the biggest thing I have to get used to at the moment is what to say while shopping. At the cashier, there’s a lot of small talk. Nothing is said in Japan.

Well, there’s more to get used to in the coming days. There’s a bit of exciting news in the next post, coming up soon! If you have any comments, let me know in the comments below.

Culture Shock of a Four-Year-Old in Canada

My daughter has spent only two nights in Edmonton now, and there are so many changes for her, I have to wonder what’s going on in her mind. She’s had a tough, yet exciting couple of days. But there are some things that she hasn’t been able to adjust to yet.

She now has her own bedroom. She loves it. She loves her new bed, desk, and shelves. She’s slept in the room for part of the last two nights, but due to jetlag, she’s woken up in the very early morning screaming. She was alone. She’s not used to waking up in bed alone at night. This will take a little time for her to get used to.

She went to the playground yesterday. It’s a big playground with many children playing. I heard several languages there, including English, Punjabi, and Russian. There are a lot of Sikhs living in this part of the city, and it’s very multicultural. My daughter was told that she needs to speak English, and she understood. She knows that English is a language that she understands, but she doesn’t speak it much. She went up to kids, said “Hello” in English, then continued to speak to them in Japanese. No kids would play with her, because they couldn’t understand her. It’ll take a little time, but she’ll eventually be speaking English fluently.

The water may have made her sick. She was used to drinking filtered pure bottled water. Now she’s drinking filtered hard water. She threw up three times last night, and I had to go to the drugstore to get an electrolyte drink for her. She’s been fine all day, though.

She actually ate regular meat yesterday. For dinner, we had pork chops, and surprisingly, she ate a lot of it. Normally, she doesn’t eat meat like that. She’ll only eat ground meat or chicken, because they’re easier to chew. But she had no trouble with the pork chops.

She’s also not completely sure of my mother yet. She’s only talked to her via Skype before, but now she has her in person all day to talk to. My wife and I went out briefly to get some salad, and we asked her if she wanted to come or stay home. She decided to stay home. Well, she cried, spent time at the den by the front door waiting for us, and then went to bed holding a book. She fell asleep and stayed asleep until about 11 pm tonight. Now she’s wide awake, watching Disney Junior.

Have you ever had a child have difficulty adjusting to a new living environment? Let me know in the comments below.

We Made It to Edmonton Safely

We’re in Edmonton now, and we are going to have to try settling in. Everything is so strange. It’s like a foreign country to me now.

Once I’ve got a spot set up for my computer, maybe tonight, I’ll do a regular monthly review. But starting tomorrow, we have a lot of sorting, setting up, shopping, address changing, school visiting, and registrations. Lots to do.

At least my daughter loves her new bed and bedroom.

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.

The Anticipation of Going to Canada

It’s only two and a half months until we’re in Canada. It’s been more than five years since I’ve set foot in my home country. But this time, we’re going there to stay. I’m going to miss Japan a lot, and there are things I don’t really want to leave, but there are some things I’m looking forward to. They may not be typical things, though.

  • Landing in Vancouver. We will no longer have to worry about lugging around our six suitcases and three carry on bags. How the hell are we going to get to Narita? Actually, how are we going to get those bags from our home in Fujisawa to my wife’s parents’ house? I’ll be glad when my sister and mom pick us up, and we won’t have to worry about how to get them from place to place.
  • Taking the ferry to Vancouver Island. It’s been nearly twenty years since I’ve taken the ferry. I loved it back then, and I’m sure I’ll love it this time. One of the highlights of traveling to the island.
  • The Rocky Mountains. We’ll be driving back to Edmonton through the mountains. That will be great.
  • University of Victoria. I want to see the campus again. As an alumnus, if I had a card for the alumni association, I could use the library any time I wanted. But I just want to see the campus and the surrounding neighbourhood.
  • Downtown Victoria. I lived downtown for a while, and I spent a lot of time there. It’s beautiful. I really want to see it again.
  • Prairie clouds. The clouds in Japan are nice, but there’s something I never get to see here: huge cumulonimbus clouds that bring thunderstorms. Those things are incredible.
  • Big sky. Here in Japan, there are so many multi-storey buildings everywhere. The streets are narrow, and there aren’t many wide open spaces. The sky seems small here. The prairies have a very big sky.
  • Driving. I like Canada’s roads. I feel comfortable on them. The ones in Japan, not so much.
  • Dill pickle potato chips. I just love them.
  • Harvey’s burgers. I love them, too.
  • Central heating. I like to have a warm home in winter. In Japan, no central heating and poor insulation lead to cold homes in winter.
  • People. Especially friends and family. It’ll be great to see them again. But this time, I want to meet as many of my friends as I can.
  • Travel. From Canada, we should be able to afford to travel more often.
  • Lack of city tax and national health insurance premiums. Those costs are so high in Japan. No city tax for me to pay in Canada, and health insurance is dirt cheap.
  • Carpet. That’s right, carpet. We have hardwood floors, which is fine, if you like them, but I love the feeling of carpet on my feet.
  • Bookstores. I look forward to seeing English books everywhere. That’ll be incredible.

Well, that’s about it for now. Some of them are typical, while others aren’t. Any surprises? Let me know in the comments below.

Anticipating Reverse Culture Shock

When you move to another country, you most likely go through a period called culture shock. It’s characterised by a feeling of paranoia, depression, and an intense homesickness. You don’t want to go out, you don’t want to talk to anyone, and you think everyone is talking about you. I went through it. It only lasted a few days, but it was an unpleasant time.

That was when I came to Japan. Now that I’ve been here for more than ten years, I don’t get that feeling at all. Japan is home, and I feel comfortable here. Part of me doesn’t want to leave. I know I’ll be back many times on vacation. If I could make a good career at writing, it’s possible we could stay the entire summer in Japan. But that remains to be seen.

Going to Canada, I’m going to be experiencing another bout of culture shock, or rather reverse culture shock. In a way, Canada is now the foreign culture to me. I’m so used to being around Japanese people, using Japanese public transportation, and going shopping where everyone is Japanese. I can imagine what will surprise me in Canada.

What I will be happy to see in Canada

  • Food! Of course, this is a big one. Specifically, bacon (crispy in Canada), variety of cheese, Chinese food, Panago, Arby’s, Harvey’s, etc.
  • Family. I can’t wait to introduce my daughter and wife to everyone.
  • Driving. I drive in Japan, but the narrow streets can be a challenge. Also, so many people stop on the side of the road blocking an entire lane of traffic. And everyone backs into parking spaces.
  • Hockey. I really want to watch some Oilers games.
  • Skating. Surprisingly, I’ve gone skating more in Japan than I have since high school in Canada. But it’ll be nice to have a free option in Canada.
  • Free health care and education.
  • The scenery. Can’t wait to see the Rockies.

What I need to adjust to in Canada

  • The Japanese food. It’s so good in Japan. I’m used to the real thing. Sushi will be somewhat less appealing. There’s a lack of gyudon, the ramen isn’t the same, and several other things. The bright spot is Tomo Izakaya. Must eat there!
  • Winter. Snow. Having lived in a place that doesn’t get a proper winter, I’m not used to the frigid temperatures that Canada gets.
  • Transportation. It’s so fast and convenient in Japan. The train system is amazing. I wish Edmonton had that.
  • History. Edmonton is a new city, so it doesn’t have the kind of historical sites that Japan has. I live in an area that is so full of history, I can explore here for my entire life and not see everything. I can probably see everything in Edmonton in a week.
  • The scenery. Flat.  It’s all flat. In Japan, I have a nice view of the mountains, including Mt. Fuji.
  • Lack of ocean. I love living near the ocean. Edmonton doesn’t have that at all.
  • Customer service. It’s amazing in Japan. They always welcome the customer, and are polite without fail. In Canada, it’s hit and miss.
  • Cell phones. The cell phone plans in Canada are ridiculously expensive. I like my unlimited calling, unlimited data plan here in Japan with no roaming charges. I can go anywhere in Japan and pay exactly the same thing.
  • Convenience stores. They’re convenient in Japan. Not convenient in Canada. You have to drive to get to one!
  • Work. I think this may be the most difficult thing. I’ve been doing the same job for more than ten years. I have to change. This will not be easy.

Anyone go through reverse culture shock? Let me know how you fared.