10 Signs You’ve Been in Japan Too Long

Today is a very special day in the JWs household. No, it’s not a birthday. Not an anniversary, that was last month. No, we’re not pregnant (sorry Moms and Dads).

Our contracts in Japan end on August the first, which makes August the second, exactly six months from today, our first day of post-JET freedom. After four years – the average length of a university undergraduate degree – we will be leaving our jobs as “Assistant Language Teachers” in Japan and moving on to new adventures.

While we have enjoyed our time in Japan, and it has given us the opportunity to, among other things, be the “exotic” people that couldn’t attend our high school reunions because we’re “abroad” (and we are both much more popular at high school this time around, by the way), we are more than ready to move on. That and we are beginning to exhibit many of the worrisome signs of people who’ve been in Japan too long, which brings me to the main purpose of this post…

You know you’ve been in Japan too long when…

  1. You know all the best new songs of the ’10s well enough to sing at karaoke… because you learned them from newer-comers at karaoke.

    Japan's Relationship With Karaoke - Venn Diagram

    Japan’s Relationship With Karaoke (via HuffPost)

  2. You latch on, perhaps somewhat desperately, to anyone you encounter who you actually have something in common with (besides just also speaking English or also being a foreigner).Pick me - Chandler
  3. You regularly discover you have forgotten an English word you used to know… and you haven’t necessarily  replaced it with the word in any language.

    i forgot how to cat

    …or maybe it’s just that I’m sounding more and more like an internet cat…

  4. You get personally offended when someone you give way to in traffic doesn’t bow and/or flash their hazard lights and/or beep their horn to thank you… and then wonder if it is somehow your fault.Thank you wave
  5. You don’t hesitate to order a vegetarian anything, despite being a dedicated carnivore… because you are confident there will at least be bacon.homer vegetarian
  6. You initially react to the latest news out of America with something along the lines of: “America is danger!”Guns in America
  7. You find yourself using blatantly incorrect grammar and other crimes against the English language, such as the above, on a regularly basis… something which you initially started doing to be funny/ironic, but now can’t stop. Let’s speaking English!Never trust Japanese English
  8. You catch yourself, when alone in public places, audibly humming “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh?!?” (Sounds like a very drawn out “hey”) when you see something surprising. Or interesting. Or sometimes just for no reason at all.

    Japanese "eh"

    It’s common for entire groups of people to exclaim “Eeeeeehhhhh?!?” In unison… The Japanese “Eh” really puts the Canadian one to shame.

  9. Your first thought when your train is delayed, especially in or around a big city, as sad as it is, is “another one bites the dust.”

    Train delays suicide

    “Half of train delays are from suicide” – source

  10. You bow involuntarily when you are saying thank you, excuse me or goodbye to someone… when you’re on the phone.

    Bowing on the phone

    Bowing on the phone is like smiling. They say the person on the other end can tell. Source

  11. You play through your head how, when you’re back in your home country, you will navigate everyday scenarios in Japanese… only later realizing you will be able to use English.

    Japan bath etiquette

    …For example, how will I explain to the lifeguard in Canada why I forgot to wear a bathing suit…

…and, finally, you try to make a list of ten things but just fail to stop, because there are so many. But I’ll spare you the rest. Suffice it to that we are very much looking forward to the post-Japan future, despite the many people and things we’ll have to leave behind and all the uncertainty the future will bring. See you soon, Canada!

Fellow expats, what are some of your symptoms? You know you’ve been in (country) too long when…


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