Top 10 questions I was asked by Japanese People

I’m turning Japanese…

I spent nearly 5 years in the Land of the Rising Sun and I absolutely loved it. The food, the kindness of the local people, the food, the great travel destinations, the food… did I mention the food? Because the food is AMAZING!

ME

Anyway, I like to write a little bit about Japan on this blog, as it’s still such a big part of my life and it seems people love reading lists, so here is one for you with all some of my answers alongside them. I would like you to know that I was asked some of these questions almost every single day, sometimes repeatedly by the same people.

1) Can you use chopsticks?
Yes. In the UK, Chinese food is very popular and so most people can use chopsticks and learnt at a young age –> I would then show people that I carry my very own My-Hashi when out and about in Japan, in order to do my little bit for the environment.

My-Hashi are chopsticks you carry around with you, instead of using wooden ones that shops provide = better for the environment :)

2) Can you eat Natto? Raw fish? Rice? (The list is endless…)

I think everyone can eat anything. It doesn’t mean I like it, but I believe you should try everything once –> Because of this, I discovered I like natto and rice crackers, I don’t enjoy eating little fish that are still alive (same goes for living lobster/ octopus) or pounded rice cakes (mochi) however I have yet to have sushi that I didn’t enjoy.

Natto is made from fermented soybeans and doesn’t have the nicest of smells…

3) Do you speak Japanese?
Normally, when I say konnichiwa (hello), I will be complimented on my absolutely amazing Japanese. Errrr… it’s one word and most people in the world know it. After nearly 5 years living in Japan and studying Japanese at university, I would like to think I can speak the lingo. I have to admit I’m losing the writing skills quickly though, as I don’t use them at all now which is such a shame.

4) Are you from America?
I got asked this a lot. I looked in school textbooks and Japanese people learn the phrase: Where do you come from? so I was confused why they didn’t just ask me that. I wish they did…

5) Why are your eyes blue?
Many people I met had never seen blue eyes – especially the children. They would always ask if I wore contact lenses and stare into my eyes – cute :)

6) What language do they speak in England?
I often went to Kindergarten in my countryside town as a Coordinator for International Relations. The kids would sometimes see me and cry or run away scared. I played with them and soon they would learn to trust me. They would ask some hilarious questions, eg: If I travelled home to England every evening to be with my family?/ Where in the world is England? (I deducted they didn’t know when they asked me how the weather was in America and if I liked Hamburgers). Usually they would know that people in America speak English, and children are taught American-English at school. So I often had to tell them that ENGlish came from ENGland – and when I showed them the characters for the two words 英語 and 英国 they could see directly that the two words had the same character.

7) Are you Catholic?
It always seemed important for people to know if I was Catholic or not. I’m not, in fact I have a little bit of a lot of religions in my family, as well as a lot of different cultures mixed in me. I loved explaining all of this to Japanese people – how a half-English-half-German lady ended up living in their lovely little Japanese town – you could literally see the confusion all over their faces.

8) Are you married? When will you get married? When will you go home to England to find a husband?
I was over 25 and not-married. Was I looking for a husband? Did I have a boyfriend waiting for me in England? When would I marry? What about children? How many children did I want… the questions were endless.

9) When will you leave Japan?
I was loving my life, eating delicious food every single day, had so many amazing friends and a good salary which meant I could travel lots and enjoy life, alongside a job I loved. I never really had a plan to stay in Japan forever, but I didn’t want to set a date for when I would return to England. I didn’t even know if I wanted to return to England, or become a farmer in South America, or… so many options! A really hard question to answer…

10) This only happened once, but it was my favourite ever question! A group of children ran up to me and asked me if I was an alien…
I was speechless and highly amused…

*Disclaimer: I do not mean to offend anyone by this post – I spent most of my time in Japan in a small countryside town, where many people had never seen a foreigner before or come into close contact with them and I based my blog post on these experiences. I’m sure I would have been asked very different questions if I had been located in a big city.*

Have you ever been to another country and been asked random questions? :)

5 Comments

  1. I have lived in Japan for 7 years now in total, and I haven’t been asked most of the questions on this list! I think that this is probably due to having lived in big cities the whole time I’ve been here (Tokyo, Fukuoka and Yokohama).

    I have found that a good way to stop a lot of the questions is to be married to a Japanese man, as when people hear that they assume that I am sticking around for a while and that Japanese culture isn’t completely alien to me. I do get people asking if I have a perm a lot (I have naturally curly hair), and once one of the people that I met spent about 3 minutes staring into my eyes (which are green), which was fairly unnerving! I also get asked when I’m going to have children a lot, normally followed up by a comment about how adorable my children will be, which puts a lot of pressure on my hypothetical future children.

    I did used to get asked if I could eat sashimi a lot, normally when I was eating sashimi, which is a weird time to ask, really!

    • Hey Jen,
      I had the perm question a lot as well – I remember going to the hairdressers in Japan was always a bit weird, as ALL the people working there would marvel at my hair and come and stroke it etc…
      I always marvelled at why the chef would ask me if I could eat sushi/ sashimi when I was in a restaurant ordering raw fish… did they think I was just going to look at the food and drink tea? So funny…
      You should pop over to my little town and see what questions they ask you – I’d love to know :)

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