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This post was edited on March 6. A couple of weeks ago I left Japan after spending my last semester there on exchange. It’s earlier than first planned, but life Norway was calling. I’ve learned a lot of language and I’ve learned a lot about culture. Overall I’m happy with my term and what experience I have from it. Now that I’m back I know there are definitely things I will miss and things I will be happy to have foregone. Here is my list of 6 of each, in no particular order.

What I will miss about Japan

  • The amazing snow quality of Hokkaido ski resorts.
  • Onsens. THE Japanese hot spring baths. Ultimate relaxation extravaganza in inside and outside naturally heated pools with Japanese harp music in the background.
  • Affordable and absolutely great dining (as opposed to Norway). The Izakaya is a mix of a bar and a restaurant and there are so many of them in the big cities that you often find them stacked up to 5th floor in buildings lining the main streets.
  • Trains that are on time as a universal norm. I don’t take a lot of trains from Bergen, but the last time I did, I almost missed my flight from Oslo
  • Japanese television. It’s just different, and it should be.
  • Tsubakihara sensei. My Japanese language Teacher. A humorous and wide hearted old lady who lives life with a smile
  • If you’re thinking about going to Japan do not let what I write from here make you think more than half a second about not going. This is whether you are planning a trip or an exchange study. There are so many things I love about Japan, but my relationship with the country is one of love and hate. I also realize that some of the criticism I have might not be too constructive; I point to problems but not to solutions. I still choose to share because I think it is an important part of my impression. Now stop here and bring with you the 6 good points, or take part in the rest of my experience.

    What I will not miss about Japan (edited for excess passive aggressive content)

  • Not knowing what people actually thinks. The Japanese are very empathic. They will very rarely express anything that can hurt you, including saying the word “no”.
  • Living in the dirtiest dormitory in the country. If I was the Japanese prime minister I would make sure Japanese teenagers had mandatory military to among other things, learn how to appreciate a clean living space.
  • The “think inside the box” perspective that some people have.
  • Observing how society demands so much from the individual that there is little room left for individualism. Although my experience and knowledge is limited, this is a feature of the Japanese society that plays out stronger than in any other culture I know. It has many implications. For example, the bar for being perceived as selfish is a lot lower than in “Western cultures” although this is more true for Japanese people than for foreign people. They tend to cut outlanders come slack.
  • An education system that most of all values information reproduction, as opposed to independent and creative thinking. Japanese teenagers spend countless hours studying for reproducing information at entrance exams for high schools, universities and eventually jobs.
  • Last, of trivial nature I will not miss the electrified pools at Onsen baths. Yes, water with electrical current running through it. Makes all your mucles cripple untill you get out.
  • Now I could have continued and I probably should have written more about how extremely safe Japan is. How peaceful the people are. How great Japanese nature and the whole atmosphere of the country is. How devoted Japanese people are to their close ones. These are among the things can make life in Japan a very good and livable one, and they are most definitely among the reasons that I will go back there again.

    2 Comments

    1. There’re no jobs in Norway. You know you wanna come back to Japan!

    2. There are many good reasons for going to Japan but I think you’re mistaking Norway for somewhere else 🙂


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