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It takes a lot of courage to venture into a different culture. An expatriate employee may be at a loss when facing differences in business practices. A foreign student may be struggling to communicate in the local language. A traveler may experience culture shock. Still, by experiencing a world or values you didn’t know, you can find a new enjoyment of life.

San Diego Yu-Yu has selected some sidesplitting stories from intercultural experiences contributed by our readers. Let’s take a look at the fascinating gaps between different cultures. When we can share laughter, we can halfway achieve the understanding of other cultures, overcoming the language barrier.

Please enjoy the nonfiction accounts, “Intercultural Fun Theater,” where you are the main character.

San Diego Yu-Yu is looking for your intercultura experiences. Respectable content only, please. Format: Standard Japanese (non-cursive); Horizontal text flow; No more than 400 characters; Word-processed manuscripts welcome; Pseudonyms accepted. Please send to the following address

 

 

 
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otsuya_small.gif Stunned by a Japanese wake
My friend Mike is currently teaching English in Japan. Recently, his landlord passed away. So, he attended the landlord’s wake, which was the first time for him to attend a Japanese wake....
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obaasan_small.gif Where’s my car?
Do you sometimes forget where you parked your car? I do. It’s no laughing matter especially here in America. What if you don’t remember where you parked in a typical huge parking lot....
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nampa_small.gif Do you have the time?
I’m a female student who is learning English in San Diego.
The other day, when I was walking in town, an American guy suddenly approached me and asked, “Do you have the time?”  I thought he tried to pick me up.
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bonsai_small_2.gif Self-assertive bonsais
A middle-aged American woman moved to the next door. She loves to take care of her giant bonsais in the shape of a cube, heart, etc. I’d almost say that's her reason for living. I can’t help thinking that ....
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titanic_small.gif What Is Love?
In the fourth year of my studies in America, I met my current husband at a university in San Diego. When we were thinking about marriage, we knew we would have a hard time, especially in dealing with my parents…
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kind_japanese_small.gif Very Kind Japanese People !?
I am a homemaker, who is married to an Italian American and has been living in the US for twenty years. Although I’ve been here for so long, my English skills have not improved as much as I wanted. Yet, when I …
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sio_small.gif Embarrassing “Salt Pile Power” 
Before coming to San Diego, I lived in Compton in Los Angeles County for about three months.months. It has been known as one of the high crime areas in Los Angeles where there is a lot of violent crime
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tama_small.gif On the Ball 
When I lived in Tokyo, I went to Tsukishima with my American boyfriend to eat monja-yaki (a savory pancake). It’s a taste of Tokyo’s old town, so I wanted to try it once while living in Tokyo. When we arrived there ....
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bath_small.gif “Is it with a bath?” “No, please come on foot”
On my first visit to the US, I arrived at a bus terminal in San Francisco and called a hotel to make a reservation. “Do you have a vacancy tonight?” I asked and the hotel employee replied, “Yes we do.”

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kenka_small.gif Overly Polite Japanese
As a foreign student from Taiwan, I went to Japan for my studies. Just like other foreign students in the US, I first attended a language school in Japan before going to college there. In that school, there were more

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tatoo_small.gif Japanese Character Tattoos Popular in America
Tattoos are popular among young people both in the US and Japan. Some people have small patterns or the names of their loved ones engraved on their bodies, whereas some serious enthusiasts have …
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downtown_small.gif Scary People in Downtown
I don’t like Downtown so much because I am afraid of some scary-looking people aimlessly standing around there. But, one day, I had to go there alone by car. I thought I knew very well where and how to get around

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door_free_small.gif What Is Privacy? 
After coming to the US, I couldn’t get used to American types of restrooms for a while. In a public restroom, such as one in an airport or a school, a compartment typically has a gap of 20-30 centimeters … 
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stone_small.gif “Ishi no Ue nimo Sannen (On a Stone for Three Years)…”
X years ago, I got an assignment from an employment agency with which I had been registered as an interpreter. My job was to serve as an interpreter for a dinner meeting between a group of Japanese

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 speaker_small.gif The Hustle and Bustle Rhapsody of Japan 
When I was in a train station in Japan, I heard constant announcements by an employee: “On Platform 3, an express train bound for ØØ is coming. It will stop at… [listing all the station names] An express train

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matsui_small.gif My Husband’s Baseball Analogies 
We are a family of three who have been living in the US for three years because of the husband’s work. Since we started living here, my husband has become a big fan of Major League Baseball and lost interest in
.…
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oseibo_small.gif An Example of American Practicality Liked in Japan 
The American bridal gift-giving custom is very handy. A couple who are getting married pick items they like and register the items in a gift registry at a shop, while their friends and families check the registry … 
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dogs_small.gif Our Dog’s Love and a TV Trial
Jumping over the 2-meter fence, Mr. Chief, our dog, went to see his beloved girlfriend, Miss Chelsea. He enjoyed a brief meeting with her and came home. A few days later .…
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unko_small.gif Baby Talk Bound to be Misunderstood 
Small children often use “onomatopoeic words” that imitate real-world sounds made by animals or things. For example, to describe a dog, a Japanese child would say “wan-wan” while an American kid would

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gomidashi_small.gif Container Grandpa 
If you are fortunate enough to have nice neighbors, your life in America is enjoyable, making lots of good memories. Our next-door neighbors are a kind Jewish elderly couple. On every Christmas, their family and

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bentou_small.gif An Amazing Lunch 
Some years ago, my friend K-ko and I started living with separate families in the US on a short-term homestay program. I became used to living here, with nothing to complain about, but K-ko, whose mentality … 
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dishwasher_small.gif Close Encounters of Ignorance
Encounter 1. All the following happened when I worked as a user support rep for a computer company. A customer got upset when I asked, “[Is the machine] up now?” He said, “I’ve been standing up for quite a while.”…
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car_small.gif A Mystery of a Drive-through 
Eighteen years ago, I lived in a rural area of the state of Washington as a foreign student. One day I needed $40 or so in cash, so I walked to my bank with a Venezuelan friend. When we arrived, the bank had already

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20_small.gif A “Geta, Geta” Laughable Happening
When I just arrived in the US as a foreign student, I went out to buy daily necessities. My student life in a dormitory would start the next day, so I walked to Kmart from my host family’s home. I put things that I …
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7_up_small.gif Incredible Techniques 
Ms. N, who has been living in the US longer than I, says that she gave up speaking English with correct pronunciation long time ago. Rather, she’s got incredible techniques for speaking “understandable” English.… 
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video_small.gif Mita, Mita, Mita!!
Lately, I’ve often visited a rental video shop. One day, I went there to rent a suspense drama. I took a “Tuesday Suspense Theater” video from a shelf and noticed something was handwritten on its label. I looked at it.…
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syabusyabu_small.gif Sashimi Shabu-Shabu
A Japanese friend visited me here in San Diego and we decided to go out to eat shabu-shabu (sliced beef boiled with vegetables). We asked a Brazilian friend to come with us, so three of us went to a restaurant

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toile_line_small.gif An American Day for a Japanese Restroom 
In the US, when a public restroom (such as one in an amusement park) is crowded, people would form a waiting line for the entire restroom, not for each compartment. The first person in the line would take .

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 jail_small.gif Almost Wanted
When I just moved from California to NY, my car still had the California license plate. That’s why I didn’t pay much attention to quite a few parking violation tickets that I had already received from NY.  
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cards_small.gif I'm Not Your Nephew
I came to California to study English twenty years ago. I wanted to experience an American life, but I was not good at speaking English at all; I had to start at Level 2 (second class from the bottom) at the

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benki_small.gif Different People Have Different Customs 
When I lived on a US base in Japan, about thirty American children went to a local preschool. One day, the mother of a student suggested a potluck party, inviting Japanese teachers. She was an American who

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soushiki_small.gif Intercultural? 
Here is something sweet. An American friend of mine is now in Japan as an exchange student. One day, he was invited to a birthday party by a Japanese student. After thinking about what to buy as a present

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restroom_small.gif Coeducation 
My son became a college student at UC Berkeley and started living in a dormitory there last fall. The other day, I visited him at the dorm and was stunned.... I went out to the hallway to go to the bathroom and saw .… 
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ikkokkudou_small.gif Do You Know the Ikkokudou?
While reading YU-YU, I found an article about the Ikkokudou’s performance coming to San Diego. I asked my mother if she knew the Ikkokudou, and she answered with confidence, “It’s a company that

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dosoku_small.gif  Almost True, But Not Quite… 
My American friend K said, “I’ve heard that Japanese sleep on the floor, partitioning the room with paper.” That’s almost true, but not quite.... On another day, he said, “I’ve heard that ‘The Izu Dancer,’

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hougen_small.gif  A Disaster at a Rural University 
Twenty some years ago, I studied at a state university in a rural town of Idaho. I had to take some units in the humanities to meet the general education requirements. I didn’t want to have trouble with English,…

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sushi_sand_small.gif American Style Sushi 
My husband is an American, but he likes Japanese food very much, especially sushi. But, we are not so well off as to afford to go to a sushi restaurant. Also, tuna or yellow tail is a luxury for us. Thus, for us … 
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nekojita_small.gif Hakodate Ramen
The “Japan Rail Pass” is a discount ticket that only foreign tourists and Japanese living overseas are eligible to buy. A travel agent said, “It’s very useful in Japan where railroad transportation is available throughout .…
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breakfast_small.gif What Kind of Guy Is My Husband? 
We are a couple, happily married for three months. My husband works for a leading computer-related company and earns a lot of money. We met in a Japanese class at SDSU, and he is sweet enough to still try …
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 agedoufu_small.gif Survival English 
A grandpa who lived in Fresno spoke awesome “survival” English. To be precise, he was a younger brother of my grandmother, but he was like a grandpa for me. His life was like a drama of a very eventful

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tumaranai_small.gif Japanese Tea Has a Taste of “Nothingness”? 
My American friend R speaks Japanese very well, but is critical of Japanese culture and customs. He said, “When I visited Japan, someone gave me a gift, saying, ‘Here is something petty for you.’ How come … 
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sentou_small.gif A Soup at a Public Bath?
I am a Taiwanese who is very interested in Japanese culture and language. I lived in Japan for a long time and had a variety of experiences there. Early on, I had a hard time because
I was still learning the …
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clock_small.gif Time Goes Back?
Mrs. K’s son has turned six and become able to read the hands of a clock/watch. One day, Mrs. K told him, “Tonight, we’ll switch from summer time to winter time. At 12 o’clock at night, the time will be

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letter_small.gif Dear Mr. American….
An American acquaintance of my husband went to Kochi on Shikoku Island of Japan as a junior high school teacher on a limited contract, but decided to live there permanently because he fell in love with a local …
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kokujin_small.gif Visiting Treasure Island
I went to Las Vegas with my parents who were visiting me from Japan. At a gift shop in Treasure Island Hotel, there were a lot of products with pirate logos. My mother found a coffee mug that she liked.  
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halloween_small.gif  First Experience of Halloween
On a Halloween day, the wife of Mr. Y (my husband’s boss) heard that a haunted house was set up in their neighborhood, so she decided to go there with her kids. On leaving home, she told her husband

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coupon_small.gif I am a Coupon Warrior 
When I was engaged in a demanding job in Japan, I had to make a special effort to find time for shopping. After I became a “freelancer” (i.e. jobless), things changed. I used a lot of my spare time to look for

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gift_small.gif Shopping for Yourself 
Here in the US, you spend a lot of money at the end of the year because you give Christmas presents to your family, relatives, and friends. Starting in the late-November, shopping malls get very busy. Up until …
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toire_small.gif What to Do with the Japanese-Style Toilet? 
Different countries have different types of toilets. A type unique to Japan has the toilet bowl built in the floor and you straddle it and squat down, instead of sitting on it. This is called the “Japanese-style.” I heard … 
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carchase_small.gif Some Happenings on Cars
<Part 1> I needed to guide a friend by car, so I asked her to follow my car. While I was leading, she suddenly speeded up and passed me at a high speed. “Why?” I said to myself and desperately followed her.

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mexcan_small.gif An Endless Journey 
It seemed that our bathroom had been leaking water downstairs. A plumbing specialist came to fix the leakage. Removing the tiles, the guy skillfully finished his job. For an American, he is very deft. He told us …
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