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In a few months from now, when I back in Camrose, I might do some things others may find peculiar. I might try to enter the right side of a vehicle in order to drive it. Here, the steering wheel is on the right and people drive in the left lane. This is one of the many habits that I developed as a result of living in Kamifurano for the last two years.

When entering someone house I will most likely take off my shoes, place them together facing toward the door and then look for slippers to wear. When I go to the toilet (what is referred to as the washroom in Camrose) I will look for toilet slippers to wear as I use the facilities. When people go to the toilet they change into special slippers that are only worn in that room. It is thought unsanitary to track toilet footwear throughout the rest of a building. It commonplace to wear slippers or inside shoes inside buildings. For example,
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everyone in a school changes footwear upon entering and exiting the building.

When talking to others I will probably bow. Bowing is very common in Japan and it an important thing to do. Bowing is a sign of respect and it used as a way to communicate non verbally. The degree of your bow should differ depending on whom you talking to. I often seen my co workers bowing as they talk on the telephone. I seen many people bow as they pass someone on the street or as they see someone they know when driving a car. It also customary to bow and back out of a room as you exit it.

When I out in Camrose and am thirsty I will most likely look for a vending machine so that I can purchase a drink. In Japan, vending machines seem to be everywhere and they contain a variety of products. I heard about ones that sell umbrellas, electronics, and ramen noodles. The most surprising item that I ever saw was a potato. It was uncooked and looked like it just came out of the garden. Vending machines usually contain both hot and cold beverages. There is often a choice of a few different soups such as corn and consomm I at my home in Camrose at 20:00 (Japan uses the 24 hour clock) I will be expecting to hear the nightly news. In Kamifurano there is news and community event information that airs each night. I made a habit of listening to the broadcast on the radio in my house. I could understand very little of what I heard but I was told that there were announcements about citizen deaths as well as details about special things happening in town. There were even a few times that I heard my name on the news. This alarmed me since I didn know why I was being mentioned. Turns out they were just telling people about a Halloween party that parents could register their children for if they wished to attend.

When I hear songs such as Twinkle Little Star I might think that my laundry or my rice is ready. Many of the appliances in my house in Kamifurano play a song when they start and finish. Hearing these songs made me happy and I never quite got over the fact that they had the ability to do that. The novelty did wear off a bit when I remembered that the appliance work has ended and it was my turn to complete part of a task.

When I asked to sign my name I might not reach for a pen; I might look for my name stamp that I used in Kamifurano. In Japan,
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everyone has a name stamp called Hanko or Han. The stamp is used anytime you are required to provide your signature. You simply press the end of your stamp on an inkpad and then add your name to a paper. My stamp actually says Brenda Null not Brenda Knull. This is because when people saw the spelling of my last name they followed the usual rule of the being silent when an comes after it.

There are many things about Japanese culture that I integrated into my daily life. I become accustomed to the way things are here. I imagine that coming back to Camrose will be a little like I when first moved to Kamifurano. I sure that many cultural habits were evident when I moved to Camrose sister city. It amazing to me how one can adapt to a new culture when being open to it and immersed in it. I sure it won take me too long to get back into the swing of things in Camrose but I will always remember my Kamifurano life.

About the Author

Ralph Lauren