May 18, 2018

Cultural differences in a mixed relationship, part 1

Cultural differences in a mixed relationship, part 1 photo

Me and my husband have already known each other over seven years. Seven years with many ups and downs. There have been many happy and great situations but also some not so good experiences. Living in a mixed relationship (he is Japanese, I'm German) can make life sometimes very complicated but also funny. Of course there are many situations which are typical in every relationship, but having a different cultural backround and language can make it even more difficult to be together. Besides those typical culture and language problems, I want to write in this article about the very small differences my husband and I experience in our daily life very often.

Don't forget to lock the door 

When I stayed over a half year during my work and holiday at my husband's apartment it happend quite often that I forgot to lock the door. In most of the areas in Europe when you shut the door it will be automaticly locked without having to do something else. Unfortunately this is not the case in Japan. To lock the door you really have to use a key and lock the door, otherwise it will be open and everybody can go in. Especially during the beginning of my stay in Japan it happend often that I forgot to lock the door and I was outside the whole day without knowing it. Luckly nothing bad ever came of this and, of course, I learned my lesson and now always check twice if the door is really locked.    

Shopping every day 

Always when we visit Europe my husband is very surprised that, in most cases, all stores are closed on Sundays and public holidays, and of course most of the restaurants are closed too. Sunday is for resting and spending time with the family, that's why in many countries, where Christianity is the main religion, stores are not allowed to open. This can be troublesome for people who are not aware of the custom, but as soon as you get used to that situation, you can prepare yourself. I grew up in Germany, that's why it is so normal for me that everthing is closed. It was a big surprise, when I heard everthing (except some small stores) are open on Sunday here in Japan and you really can go shopping every day. It is very convenient, but I also feel bad for all the workers who have to work every day.  

Ventilate the house 

The first time I opend all the windows in the morning to let fresh air into our apartment, my husband thought that I was crazy. Especially during the winter, he still thinks that I want to kill him.  

For a German, this is something so normal. We call it „lüften“ which just means to ventilate the room. It is for getting rid of the bad, used air in the room and also for killing the bacteria in the bed sheets. In Japan I just do it in the morning, but when I lived in Germany, I did it at least twice a day. Even in many apartment rental contracts in Germany it is written that you have to do it. It keeps the moisture outside and protects the apartment from mold.  

Still my husband doesn' understand why I'm doing it, he just gave up complaining about it and at least we never had mold problems in our apartment.   

Consumption tax 

I'm standing at a supermarket cashier, already with the exact coins for the drink and onigiri in my hand and suddenly the cashier tells me a totally different price. I've got very confused and speechles. In the end I just payed what she told me. After checking the receipt I realized that all the pricetags at the supermarket are without consumption tax. 

That means that you always have to calculate 8 % consumption tax extra to the price. Sometimes you also find the price including the tax on the price tag, but usually it is written in very small text. In Germany all price tags really show what you have to pay, all including the consumption tax, which makes it way easier. I don't get why stores in Japan don't have the same system. As a buyer I don't care about the price without tax. I just want to know what I really have to pay.    

Those are just a few experiences, more will follow at part 2.   



I´m a german girl living in the center of Tokyo, but my true love belongs to the countryside of Japan (especially Chiba and Hokkaido). I love traveling in Japan and explore hidden areas.
I want to help people with my articles to get in touch with the Japanese culture and all the beautiful places you can explore.

Besides traveling around, I love trains, handcraft and my little rabbits.

1 Comment

  • helloalissa

    on May 18

    I thought it was funny your husband didn't like you opening the windows a little in the morning. I got the impression that in Japan the windows are opened sometimes during winter for fresh air because at first I wondered why. Now I like to do that myself, although not for very long when it's cold outside. It does help a lot with the condensation on the windows during winter.