What I Never Knew about America

           So I have returned from my trip to America, and this is a post I have been looking forward to making.  I made many notes while I was away so I would leave you with an entertaining read that I bet you never thought about nor knew before.  Here is my list of things I never noticed, about America/Arizona.


           Americans are rather friendly.  I knew we were nice in that you could approach anyone and have a polite conversation with them, but I just didn’t know how friendly we were until I had been living in Japan for over a year.  Americans were also greeting each other with a smile, always happy to answer questions, and generally just being nice to one another.  Don’t get me wrong, Japanese are also very nice and friendly, but on our commute to work or travel, Japanese don’t tend to smile, wave, or say a hello as they pass one another along the way.  They very much keep to themselves.  They also don’t really engage in conversation when at the checkout counter.  In America, I noticed that almost every single person had a conversation with me during check out.  Never really got that in Japan.  Maybe once in a while to ask about where I am from but that was it.


           This might be something Arizona specific, but there were a lot of blue skies.  As soon as I landed it was one of the first things I noticed.  The skies were so blue.  I don’t remember the last time I saw blue skies in Gunma if not for a brief moment.  There are very few times that the sky is clear in Gunma.  Very very few.  It is usually quite cloudy.  All the time.  I always get confused and think it is going to rain, because in Arizona, clouds mean rain.  It doesn’t mean that in Japan.  Nope.

           On the same clear skies topic, I also don’t remember the last time I saw the moon in Japan.  I saw it so many times while I was visiting my family.  I kept staring at it in awe because it was so wonderful and I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t seen it in so long.  It was like finally getting the world’s best imported candy, and tasting it for the first time.


           There are sidewalks.  I didn’t really notice this before, but Japan doesn’t have any concrete sidewalks.  The US is filled with them, but Japan just uses asphalt and sometimes brick tiles.  There also really isn’t a very clear path to walk on, it is just a section of the road blocked off my either a curb or trees for pedestrians.  I think I prefer sidewalks though.  They are much more smooth to walk on.


           The roads are huge.  I mean, I knew we have more space because we are a larger country, but my goodness are we wide.  On a similar note, there are no pickup trucks in Japan.  Absolutely none.  I think we saw one once but it was a Ford that was imported and it wasn’t here for very long.  I didn’t know many many Americans have large SUVs or pickups. 


           Homes have grass.  Actually, just grass in general.  No one has grass planted in Japan.  If they do have something that looks like grass, it isn’t.  It is fake grass.  Nowhere has grass.  Japan just doesn’t like grass or something I guess.  I don’t know why I was surprised by this, it was just something I noticed.


           Chick-fil-A.  More specifically, Chick-fil-A sauce.  I took one bite of that and oh my gosh!!!!  It was amazing.  My mouth had forgotten what it was like to behold something so glorious.  I could have eaten that all day!  We seriously need Chick-fil-As in Japan.  We have KFC.  They use the same chicken.  It wouldn’t be so hard to just open a Chick-fil-A in Japan.  Seriously, what’s up with that?


           This is the only negative one I noticed, but we are very wasteful.  We have paper for things that shouldn’t require paper.  We use extra food when it isn’t required.  I went out to dinner and ordered a burrito at a restaurant, and the portion size I got was enough to feed a family of 4!  Why the heck is it so big?  And people wonder why there is a health and weight problem in the country.  Even if you take the food home to eat later, there is no guarantee that it will be eaten, because it may get soggy, or you may have more dinners and completely forget about it.  What a waste! 

           Water is also wasted.  At a restaurant, I am glad that they give you complimentary glasses of water, but is it really necessary to refill my glass after every sip?  What if I only want to drink just that one glass and nothing more?  The amount of water that they just poor down the drains bothers me only in the ironic sense.  I personally believe that it is literally impossible to waste water because the Earth just naturally reproduces it, but there are many places, in Arizona especially, that claim there is a water shortage, yet they allow restaurants the ability to waste more water than people would at home brushing their teeth or flushing the toilet. 

           We also use too much paper.  Restaurants give you 30 napkins to go with your to go burger, and bathrooms just use way too much paper.  I like what Japan does much better with the bathrooms.  They just eliminate anyway for you to dry off your hands unless you bring your own hand towel.  I also think this is more sanitary.  You have to touch less things while in the bathroom, and you always use a clean towel to try your hands that no germs have touched.  The paper towels just sit there, collecting all the germs from flushing toilets, and coughing sick people, but your personal hand towel sits nice and safe in your secure purse, and is only taken out after you have washed your hands.  I think we need to get rid of blow driers and paper towels in the bathrooms in America, and force people to just use their own towels.  It would save paper.  

           On a related note, although I was happy to throw something away without having to think about which trash bin it belonged, I did feel a tad guilty about not having a place for my bottles or cans.  I didn’t care too much about plastic and paper mixing together, but for some reason, bottles and cans going in the same bin just bothered me. 


           Anyway, this was my list of things that I had never noticed before, while I was visiting my family.  They short of shocked me but it was fun to figure them out.  I felt that I had learned new things about my culture, and new things to tell my students.  So all in all, it was a wonderful learning experience.