1. All phone cameras come with a built in sound that clicks loudly when the phone takes a photo. You can’t turn this sound off. Apparently this is to prevent people taking photos up skirts.
2. Japan obviously was never big into Christianity, so there aren’t that many churches and stuff, but they still have Jehovah’s witnesses here. Everyone I know (well, almost) seems to have recieved a visit from a Japanese Jehovah’s Witness. Usually they can’t speak English so you can just pretend not to understand them – they will, however, still leave you with the translated English pamphlet, which proclaims that the depraved sins of the west are damning us all, and has a helpful colour drawing of this concept being characterised by a seven-headed Jezebel.
3. Paying your TV Licence is entirely voluntary here. (So no change from Liverpool for me then.) I think S had to fill in a form when he first got here that asked whether he watched TV much. Even his Japanese boss told him to say no, not so much.
4. Grown men wear Hello Kitty slippers. Sometimes sparkly ones. On the train. Which wouldn’t be quite so funny if the rest of their assembled outfit wasn’t supposed to look so mafia.
5. Men pissing in public is socially acceptable. This is especially true in the country, where it is not uncommon to see an old guy going up against a lamppost, but then there aren’t exactly lots of public conveniences out in the fields so nothing shocking there. Actually the public urinals are often open facing and you can see straight into them (I’m not perving, honest!), so maybe Japanese men lose their shame about this sort of thing early on.
What’s more strange is to see it in the city; it’s not just a 2am thing either. The other week S got on the bus in town, which waits for about 10 minutes at the bus stop before leaving, when he looked out the window and saw some old man pissing on the bus stop timetable. Which is about ONE metre away from the idling bus. In front of a whole busload of people looking out the window. The time? 6pm.