Japanese culture can get pretty weird when looking at it from an outside perspective. LIVE JAPAN asked different people about their thoughts about the culture of Japan, and about their personal culture shocks. This time, a woman from the United States, living in Japan for a long time, talks about her unique experience.

(The following reflects the personal opinions of those interviewed only)

1. The Weird Tastes and Names of Original Japanese Food

Japanese food is one of the things that is responsible for one or the other culture shock. Naturally, a lot of Japan’s dishes have their roots in American food culture but usually are uniquely arranged and can taste rather different from their counterparts in the States – at least for someone who is used to the American taste!

“McDonald’s tastes the same, of course, but it is interesting to see that Japan’s McDonald’s offers very Japanese things like the matcha milkshake or McFlurry. The pumpkin fries for Halloween or the chocolate sauce fries, for example, aren’t sold in the States at all! In general, Japan has a lot of unique snack and chocolate variations, especially KitKat. There are so many KitKat varieties here, and they make for excellent souvenirs, I think. The one thing that surprised me the most are the Pocky varieties, though. “Men’s Pocky,” what even is that? Why do you need Pocky specifically targeted towards men? I still don’t understand that.”

2. Why is Japanese Peanut Butter Sweet?

“Peanut butter is sweet in Japan, which really took me by surprise! In the United States, peanut butter is salty, so we naturally tend to eat it with sweet jam. Americans like this salty-sweet flavor combination, I think, so snacks such as caramel popcorn and salted peanuts are popular. Maple bacon donuts were also a trend recently.”

3. Tips Getting Refused?

“The first time I went to a restaurant in Japan, I was really shocked that there is no custom of tipping. I tried to tip my waitress multiple times but she just made a distressed face and kept refusing it. In America, I tip to express my feelings about the service, so I really was a bit culture-shocked when I wasn’t able to do that in Japan. On the other hand, tourists are looked at strange when they do not tip the staff in the States. A wait staff’s salary is generally pretty low so I feel sorry that they cannot earn tips in Japan…”

4. Why Is There Always Only Free Size?!

“I always have trouble with the size of clothes in Japan. Why is there sometimes only “free size”/”one-size-fits-all” available? What does “free size” even mean?! (laughs) Obviously, it’s not made to be worn by everyone, so I feel like it’d be better to…

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