30 November 2015

Adapting to Living in Japan as a Western Woman

A few years ago there were a bunch of memes circulating social media sites titled ‘First World Problems’.

First World Problems are defined as ‘relatively trivial or minor problems or frustrations faced by people living in First World countries (implying a contrast with serious problems such as those that may be experienced in the developing world).’ In other words, they are memes created by those living in a privileged society, poking fun at themselves for voicing such petty complainants; most of which are common and relatable among other privileged groups around the world.  

Here are some examples:

Since moving to Japan I’ve observed many commonplace Japanese customs which are completely foreign to me, highlighting how Westernised my lifestyle and mindset has been up until this point. Each day I get to experience new fascinating and often amusing ways of completing daily tasks. Some of which are far more logical or innovatively genius and make me question why the hell we haven’t introduced them into our own country. Then there are those things that will be forever ingrained into one’s core beliefs and comfort standards due to decades of exposure and familiarity. These ingrained preferences I’ve developed are constantly being challenged or reshaped each day as I attempt to grow accustom to my new Japanese lifestyle. While most gaijin (Japanese word for foreigner) make such sacrifices in an attempt to gain a more authentic Japanese experience, they also inevitably find certain aspects difficult to comprehend or openly embrace.   

Lo and behold, these commonly shared frustrations have spurred me to develop my first series of memes, somewhat inappropriately titled ‘Western World Problems’. While I recognise that some of the frustrations I mention are not exclusive or entirely representative of Western cultures, most of my Western gaijin friends would vouch that they too have had similar thoughts.

If you are greatly unfamiliar with Japanese traditions and culture, aide from making you giggle, I hope that these light-hearted memes expose you to some unique quirks and inspire you to one-day visit for yourself. The culture is steeped in very old traditions and a complex set of social norms. I plan to continue to share my experiences and thoughts through the creation of more comical memes. 

Please feel free to comment below if you have any Western World Problems to contribute.


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