Reverse Culture Shock

I recently returned from a two-year stay in Japan. It’s the longest I’ve ever been outside of the U.S., so I was expecting the reverse culture shock to be pretty severe. But as it turned out, it wasn’t that bad. I’ve lived abroad on four separate occasions now, so I guess I’ve gotten used to the novelty of returning home.

That said, there were a couple small things that surprised me:

1) The large drinks in the U.S. are HUGE. A Japanese “large” soda is about the size of a US small or medium, only with no free refills. Japanese people just don’t drink that much; I usually would’ve finished my drink by the time my Japanese friends had taken a sip. I always thought the Japanese drink portions were too small, but I got used to them over the past two years. So when I ordered my first large soda at O’Hare Airport, I couldn’t believe how big it was. I couldn’t even finish it.

2) The roads in the U.S. seem obscenely wide after two years in Japan. A typical American suburban street is as wide as a four-lane highway. And two of those four lanes are just for parking. Again, this isn’t downtown, this is in the suburbs, where there’s virtually no traffic and everyone has a driveway. I guess I’m not arguing for narrower roads or anything, I’m just saying it sort of surprised me…

  • Hey Lars, I have read your book Tonoharu, just yesterday and was a really good experience, a good time during the afternoon. after reading it I saw a movie of Ozu, Late Spring, so I had a very Japanese day. I am also a cartoonist and artist (painter or whatever) currently living here in USA at San Francisco. I am a Chilean, but now, well life is like that, my partner and me had moved our lives to USA. Well, i am just was wanting to say hello, and congrats for your activity and hope to build a real contact, as you will see at my site, I have been also living and working as an artist for the last 3 years (living through that!!!) and well, now that I am here I am looking for people doing the same, fighting for being artists, cartoonists, etc etc etc. I also have published a short comic book (my style is other, you will see) and working in a new SciFi thing. Well, that’s all, hope to met you some day
    and if you are in town please write me, we can share some beers
    thanks for your work and texts

  • Lars Martinson

    Thanks for the kind words! Good luck to you (and to me, and to all of us) in your artistic pursuits!