Everyone in Japan is your mom: a tale of unwanted advice

Recently, an unsightly blemish set up shop on my chin. I’m not entirely insecure (things happen, right?), but I tried my best to cover it with the limited makeup skills I have. However, it’s rather humid here and apparently I rub my face a lot, so it made a reappearance. Usually students don’t mention these things. The elementary school students do occasionally, but they don’t have much room for criticism. Neither do junior high school students, so they don’t talk.

Older women, on the other hand, love to point out my facial imperfections. I walked into the tea room recently to pick up my lunch, and almost instantly the nurse asked if that huge spot on my face was a pimple. I told her not to look, in a cute way because I’m used to this now. But I really wanted to tell her it wasn’t her business. She told me it’s probably because I’m tired. I should rest, she said. Another lady in the office told me having a pimple on your chin means someone is thinking about you. So that was sweet, but it didn’t change the fact she noticed the thing.

Another time, the nice office ladies gave me enough food for lunch to feed four small children. I’m practically a child myself, I don’t need this much food. Naturally, when I arrived at my assigned classroom for lunch, a student sharply pointed out that my lunch was huge and that if I finished it, I would get fat. He was 8. What 8 year old knows that too much food makes you fat. Oh right, Japanese ones.

I’m really not complaining here. It’s a wonderful thing that children understand food and nutrition, much unlike their American counterparts (is that rude? I can’t tell anymore). I also don’t really mind old ladies pointing out my temporary flaws. It’s cultural, right? I’m learning a new culture. It’s just bizarre still to have so many people around me look after me and give me advice I didn’t ask for. I’m an adult! I know where pimples come from!

What I’m getting at is that if you come to Japan, or go to any foreign country, roll with it. Accept these little tidbits of seemingly weird stuff. Maybe sometimes it’s rude, but most of the time, it’s just a difference in culture.


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