To the left, right?

Corine in Japan


A lot of things seem really complicated in Japan. Eating with chopsticks, the traditions for sumo wrestling, the kimono’s… In most cases, either I can probably get used to the difficulties, or I will never have to. However, even after weeks of daily practice, I still have no idea how to adept to the Japanese sidewalk culture. Result: I constantly bump into everyone.

At first I thought I would be fine if I kept walking on the left. Every few minutes I had to keep myself from getting off course, but I persisted and eventually got used to it. This helped a little, but my reflexes keep bugging me every now and then: when I am about to hit someone, my instinct still tells me to jump to the right. I think it will take some time to get rid of this habit; 20 years of practice don’t disappear in two weeks.  

At one point I thought I had almost mastered sidewalk etiquette, but then I went into the subway, and everything fell into chaos. Stairs, passages and platforms each seem to have their own rules, all different from the sidewalk. And there, in my proudest moment, when I finally managed to step aside for someone to the left, my Japanese adversary stepped to the right.

That was it. I am giving up and will instead focus my energy on practising my “excuse me”‘s.

Corine Schuuring

Hi, I am Corine (20), a third year UCM student. This semester, from September until the start of February, I’ll be on exchange to Waseda University, Tokyo. I’ve never significantly been out of Europe before, so it will be quite a Big Deal. About me: I like food (in general), Saturday mornings and online TV-shows. I hope I’ll also like traveling.


Author: Redactie

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