Going through a lot of my old pictures from when I first got to Japan 4 years ago brought back a lot of those feelings! So here's some of the things that gave me those feelings of culture shock (that I guess now seem perfectly normal!)
It's not unusual to see grown men dressed up like a schoolgirl with cat ears and Alice in Wonderland.
And they're usually more than happy to let you take a picture!
Cat Cafes exist. Not only do they exist, but some come with a plethora of dress up options for the cats in question.
This was at Cateriam Cat Cafe in Shimokitazawa - and I can assure you no cats were harmed with the hats!
Maid Cafes also exist. Nothing shady or seedy - but they will call you Master or Princess, and do a "magic spell" over your food to make it more delicious.
You can also get a polaroid with one of the maids, who will usually encourage you to wear any variety of headgear they have available. I chose bunny ears on this occasion!
And, they'll give you a membership card, too...
It's all for repeat visits - you can essentially "level up" if you keep going back! (I've never gone past Level 1)...
Fashions are quite different from what I was used to.
Granted, this was in Harajuku - but overall in Japan things at most stores aren't necessarily what I would wear! Also, the sizes are very, very petite for the most part. That goes for both clothing and shoes. I'm a size 8 shoe which is pretty much the average in the States or Australia, but here I might as well be Bigfoot!
KFC delivers. So does McDonalds.
I know some countries around the world other than Japan already do this - so it might not be exciting news to some of you! But when I first saw a KFC motorbike like this parked outside a house in my neighborhood, you better believe I had an "OMG WHAT WHAT WHAAAAAT?!!!" moment. It's both super convenient, but super dangerous for a person's waistline.
Crowds are a regular thing.
I remember when I used to complain about "crowded events" in Australia. Or when traffic was bad. Here, I feel like depending on the time of day there's always traffic (you get used to dealing with it!) and most touristy spots, especially in the city, will have crowds. It doesn't stress me out as much as it once did, but for a gal who had been living in a relatively small town in Australia before Japan, it was definiely a shock to deal with so many people all the time!
Some things, like fruit, are more expensive than I was used to.
And this is special gift fruit - so it's not all priced like this (I went for the extreme example in the picture!) But overall, things like fruit and veggies do tend to cost more than they did for me back home. In saying that - the fruit is SO delicious here. You never get bad floury apples or strawberries that have half of the punnet moldy or mushy. I guess it's a case of getting what you pay for!
Slurping your food is not only okay, it's encouraged.
I'm still not 100% used to this and I find it hard to slurp, because I guess I've grown up having it hammered into my brain that it's not nice to slurp when you're eating! My husband has spent over half his life in Japan though, and will slurp his noodles and soups without a second thought. I have to always remind myself not to shoot him dirty looks about rudeness!
If you take your dog to the groomer, when you pick them up they'll probably look like this!
Each time we take our pup to the groomer, he comes home with a commemorative shot that seems to be seasonally based - like this one he had at Christmas! (I still don't know how they manage to get him to sit still so well!)