Asian Squatty Potties.
Everyone who has ever been to Japan hates the ubiquitous Squatty Potty. Japanese people try to explain or excuse it with specious claims of “but it’s more hygienic than a western toilet because no part of your body touches it!” Maybe, but it is also impossible to aim as you crouch like a frog over a tiny basin in the floor, which is why people wind up missing the squatty potty altogether and pissing everywhere, which is the reason why Japanese train station bathrooms STINK of fetid urine. I gave it a go once, in the spirit of international relations, but from then on I staunchly refused to squat. I can eat raw eggs, I can bow to invisible people on the telephone, I can do “Japanese” things, but I draw the line at wading through someone else’s pee-pee.
Gaijin Girl Bridge Troll Syndrome.
‘Gaijin’ means foreigner, and bridge troll is what many western women turn into the minute they land in Japan. The gaijin boys with anime idealizations are off chasing the Japanese girls, leaving the gaijin girls to try their luck with the Japanese boys — who are often bemused/intimidated/flat-out terrified by gaijin girls, with their bootylicious gaijin curves and their feminism and their un-ladylike behaviour and their inherent inability to provide an aesthetically pleasing packed ‘o-bento’ lunch like mom makes, complete with mini hotdogs shaped like octopi (push black sesame seeds in for eyes!). Japanese boys also lack the thrusting confidence of gaijin guys, leaving gaijin girls to resort to laying it on thick like mayonnaise on a Japanese pizza if they want to get a date. When I first got to Japan, I had a major-scale crush on this one Japanese guy, who told me flat-out- he didn’t see me “as a woman.” Bridge troll level: over 9000.
So-called “Charisma” Men.
To briefly explain, Charisma Men are ‘Nice Guys’ who come to Japan from western countries, usually after a painful adolescence spent never getting the girl. They are usually drawn to Japan by the allure of anime. Upon touching down in Japan, something magical happens and they ‘henshin’ (transform) into the hottest guys around, attracting really cute Japanese girls with zero effort. See, a very small subset of Japanese women, ones afflicted with “white blindness”, (it’s a thing) sometimes have trouble telling when a guy is a creep because they are too distracted by his exotic foreign-ness. When a Charisma Man encounters a western woman, (who represents every bitch who chose the good-looking, confident dude over him back in the homeland), he temporarily loses his powers and reverts back into his true ‘Nice-Guy’ form. The only recourse for Charisma Man is to pretend the western woman is invisible or else treat her like the foul bridge troll she is, lest she reveal his true appearance. I have met a good many Charisma Men in Japan, and they all made my skin crawl.
Demented drivers and bicyclists
Japanese people ride their bicycles everywhere, and do so exclusively on the pavement (or ‘sidewalk’ to you ‘Murcans). Also, because they are so Japanese, most of them are too polite to ring their bell to let you know they are behind you, and instead opt to zip past you silently on all sides. You basically have to walk a perfect straight line at all times in Japan because if you veer off at any moment you will almost definitely get mashed by a Japanese lady on a mamabike with three kids strapped to it. Japanese people also have TV screens in their car dashboards, so they can enjoy their favourite TV show WHILE DRIVING. This is the kind of stuff nobody believes at home. In fact, nobody will ever believe you about anything at home — Japan is just too damn crazy.
Cavalier cruelty to animals and disrespect for animal rights.
See yakuza-backed pet stores replete with designer kitties, puppies, monkeys, toucans and meerkats, city parks stuffed to bursting with heart-wrenching colonies of abandoned, half-feral kittycats missing eyes, paws, or bits of tail, and the art of eating seafood while it’s not quite dead yet and can still feel pain.
I don’t mind the curious gaze of adorable little peachy-cheeked kids, or the kindly, interested glances of wrinkly Japanese grannies. I’m talking about the sullen schoolgirl trying to kill you with her eyes. The old fart salarymen who glare at you with brazen contempt. The manicured, plucked and Louis Vuitton-bedecked young woman whose mouth drops open with utter disgust when she claps eyes on your unwashed foreign self. If you simply must STARE at the foreigner, please to rearrange your face first so it doesn’t look like quite so much like someone is trying to force feed you poop. Because that is never a good look.
The fact that any smartphone you buy in Japan makes a huge, conspicuous SNAP noise whenever you take a picture.
No, you can’t just disable it. See, Japan is so rife with perversity that every single phone or picture-taking device sold in Japan has to be programmed to make that snap sound, BY LAW, to prevent perverts taking pictures up schoolgirls’ skirts. Because of this, my Instagramming was severely compromised. It was embarrassing trying to take pictures with my Japanese iPhone. It felt like everyone in a 3 mile radius kept turning around to try to figure out what was making a noise every time I wanted to snap something COMPLETELY INNOCENT OMG. It’s already weird that I have a bizarre, stereotypically Asian habit of photographing my food — the SNAP just draws extra attention to it.
The fact that, having lived in Japan, you can never go home again.
You will never be the same. For the rest of your life, you will sweat miso soup and cry warm sake. Well, not really. But, yeah, kinda. Japan has a singular ability to GET to you like no other country you will ever visit. You’ll be dreaming of cherry blossoms, all-you-can-drink karaoke, and naked communal bathing for the rest of your days. Of course, you could always go back…