Reverse Culture Shock

Hisashi Tomie, M.D. (Newsletter No.6) 

リヴァース・カルチャーショック Part.1

    This article was written for Japanese people who have
lived in the United States for many years, in addition
to interested US residents.

    If you are planning to return to Japan after more than
three years of absence, you might think about facing
"reverse cuIture shock".
By "reverse culture shock" I mean that you may have
difficulty adiusting your life in Japan as if you were

    Last December I visited Japan after six years of absence,
since I had been reading Japanese newspapers almost
everyday, I thought I kept up with the changes, However,
I faced difficulties in unexpected ways,
First of  all I could not recall son1e words in Japanese,
such as "hand towel served at a restaurant" and "writing
paper". I had difficulty using honorific words and forgot
to bow to others, l felt inexplicable feelings on the street,
Who am I? Obviously I am not an Anterican but I am not behaving
as Japanese, I felt the need to learn Japanese etiquette.
I went to a bookstore and bought some books, It would not
be totally unbelievable that I felt culture shock, since
I have not lived in Japan for six years consecutively.
Since I came over to the States, I have struggled to learn
American culture and American English. During this period
any exposure to Japanese culture and 1anguage was limited.
I think I started to think in English without noticing.
    You may notice some problems in various aspects in Japan,
For example, many people still smoke and go out to drink
after work, Many of them seem calm and quiet and do not
express personal feelings unlike Americans. For exannple,
even in a crowded train I felt a dead silence in Osaka.
In contrast, I found Arnericans are noisy and talking loudly
everywhere, like talking-machines, In Japan son1e features
of democracy such as freedom of speech and freedom of
information seem to rennain far behind the standard of
the States, It seems to nne that n1ass communication such as
newspapers and television and radio programs are under
governn1ent control without Public notice, There are too
many entertainn1ent programs and I could not find good information
sources. In the United States I found many useful information
source, Among television programs, C-SPAN is very informative
since many important political and educational meetings
are broadcast through this program.

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