Every time my Japanese friends meet my friends from the United States, they would always want to ask the same questions about the States to see if their knowledge or images of are actually true. One interesting thing about Japan is that people are not as interested in foreign culture and trends compared to other countries. (Those who make an effort to communicate with foreigners are different.) For example, many of my high school friends have not heard of the Kardashians or know the latest global fashion trends, as Japan has its own celebrities and trends. Therefore, the standard image of the U.S. may be quite interesting.
1. Everything is HUGE
Especially when compared to Japanese sizes. Some examples are houses and food portions. Urban houses in Japan often do not have enough space for a garden, much less a pool. The land itself is much smaller to start out with. Regarding food portions, it is pretty obvious when comparing the size of a fast food store menu. For example, a Large size McDonalds’ drink in the U.S is 1.5 times bigger than that of Japan. In fact, the American Medium size is even bigger the Japanese Large size!!!
2. Junk Food
The McDonalds example above reminded me of this one… junk food. Many people imagine that the U.S is filled with junky, fast food. Most of the famous fast food chain stores in Japan are from the U.S; McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Dominos Pizza, Krispy Kreme … you name it.
3. Overweight People
This one also doesn’t surprise me either, considering the stereotype listed above. In Japan, it is not that common to see someone that is extremely big… maybe except sumo wrestlers. Even sumo wrestlers are quite muscular, so they are actually not obese. Also, remember that we tend to squeeze ourselves into tiny spaces like capsule hotels, crowed ramen shops, and of course the rush hour trains. However, in comparison, Americans work out more often and tend to more buff.
4. Guns are a household item
I guess the TV news reports created this stereotype. Many people, including me, are surprised when hearing that over the counter medicines are more difficult to obtain than a gun. (There are many requirements such as prescription and the amount you are allowed to purchase are limited.) Needless to say, most Japanese people have never touched a gun before, much less shot one.
5. Multicultural Hub
Japan is certainly a much more homogeneous society than the rest of the world. Therefore, the image of U.S. as a multicultural country is pretty common in Japan. For example, the U.S. does not have an official language at a federal level, indicating that all cultures are welcome. However, as multicultural the U.S. is, I feel that in recent years, acceptance for different cultures is decreasing as various regulations are being put in to effect. There was even a movement to make English the national language this year.
Here were five brief stereotypes my friends often have of the U.S.
What were your stereotypes of Japan before visiting? Were those stereotypes true?
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