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The Little Things

Those little things that you notice that are different from home:

Multi-purpose Tissues: I have not seen a Western napkin since I arrived. Tissues are used for noses, mouth, hands, and those further south regions as well. It’s BYOT in all the school facilities, from the canteen to the restroom. In a nice restaurant they might deposit a small package of tissues on the table. In some of the working-class barbeque joints, there is a roll of toilet paper provided on the table.

Grocery Bags: In addition to tissues, you must also remember to bring bags with you when you go shopping. Bags are not provided, but for those people who forget you can purchase them right at the check-out area. And none of this complimentary bagging of groceries. That’s your job. One store had long tables right after check out for you to transfer your items from your cart to your bags.

Umbrellas: Not just for rain. The campus is a veritable sea of umbrellas, protecting the ladies from the harsh rays of the sun. The occasional guy will wield one, but it’s considered slightly less manly to do so.

Produce Purchases: Buying produce requires that you take all items to the weighing station to be weighed and labeled. If you perhaps didn’t know this there is a small scene when you are checking out. I’ve abandoned produce several times as I didn’t notice the weighing station. They seal the bags with this little machine and then slap the price sticker on. The tape they close the bags with makes reusing them trickier. Bags have suddenly become a precious commodity.

Vitamin-Bottle Gum: Chewing gum is sold in what looks like vitamin bottles.

Plates: I can’t find a normal one. I have a 10-pack of paper plates I found at the school market that I’ve been trying to conserve.

That’s it for now. More to come.

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4 thoughts on “The Little Things

  1. Patricia says:

    The grocery shopping experience is very similar to what happens in France. I actually love weighing my own produce and slapping the sticker on the plastic bag. I know, I don’t need much to be entertained. 🙂

  2. Meghan Janssen says:

    I love this. The bagging your own groceries and vitamin-bottle gum situations are exactly the same in Japan. The weighing and labeling your own produce is the case at many grocery stores in France. Lucky for me, the first time I brought produce to the check-out without the appropriate labels, the cashier generously took me back to the back of the store and did it for me, allowing me to observe and take mental notes for next time. It is amazing how we so often blithely assume that our own familiar daily habits are universal.

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