Outsider’s Eyes


It may sound strange, but odd-numbered years always bring me better fortune than even-numbered years. Sorry, I won’t elucidate.

I’ve returned to the United States for the holidays to visit family and friends. Having spent the previous 9 months living in Japan, I’ve wondered how this experience has changed my perception of the US. What would I see differently with outsider’s eyes?

First thing that struck me is the disproportionate amount of over-the-counter/prescription drug commercials on TV. No matter what ails you, it seems there’s a drug to help.

If English is the national obsession of Japan, then dieting must be the national obsession of the United States. I realized this when drinking some diet orange juice for breakfast. Diet *orange juice*? It seems everything comes in a diet form these days. Furthermore, newscasts report the latest findings on diet science, diet technology, diet success stories, etc., etc. Don’t forget the commercials for exercise equipment, dieting books, and dieting drugs (see above).

Speaking of diet, American cuisine is drenched with dairy products. Not that I’m complaining; I love dairy. Fried cheese anyone?

It seems 1 out of 10 cars has a magnetic “hero-ribbon” or “flag-ribbon” stuck to it.

In Japan, the ambient noise is loud and the people will rarely tell you exactly what they think. In the US, the people are loud and usually tell you exactly what they think (about you).

America contains people who think voting for George W. Bush was a good idea. As far as I can tell, Japan does not.

Finally, the American lifestyle is luxurious. Living spaces are huge. Transportation is super-convenient, assuming you own a car, and cheap (if I wanted to drive 45 km on the highway in Japan, it would cost me $14 in tolls). Food is cheap and portions are large.  Also, houses can be heated all day long. In Japan, I can afford to heat my bedroom, but not my kitchen or bathroom. This makes for some really cold showers in the morning (which perhaps partly explains why Japanese prefer to bathe at night).

Comments (14)

  1. moonjogger says:

    Welcome aboad 🙂

    There is a lot of interesting stats in the "Super Size Me" movie – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0390521/

    Happy new year, Cameron!

  2. Doug says:

    Your preference for the odd numbered years is not so strange, only odd.

    Myself, I prefer the odd numbered decades. I am looking forward to 2010. (Notwithstanding the debate of whether the decade will begin in 2010 or 2011.)

  3. Dan sent me a couple of posts relating to the US. This post is a swipe at US citizens charitable donations and perception of the tsunami. I watched six hours of tsunami news the first night, dousing myself in CNN reports. I was rubber necking, only i’m not sure if i was trying to see the tsunami wreck or the CNN wreck. I was in complete awe by the coverage, utterly angry in fact. Although there were loads of interviews with survivors, not a single survivor’s voice shown on CNN was brown. In other words, all we saw were the rich white American tourists. Reports babbled on about what would happen if America was hit with a tsunami, complete with little simulations. As the death toll rose, a special report was given from Alaska where the US last experienced a tsunami. Comparisons were made about the magnitude, the harm, the horror. Less than a dozen people were killed in that one. Reports were given about how to protect yourself from a tsunami if it were to hit New York. Dear fucking god we are a selfish nation. I’m not going to comment on how stingy the US may or may not be, but I agree with her point that there was heaps of coverage of Americans in the regions affected whilst precious little seemed to be of the people that live(d) there. There was also even more coverage about "What if it happened here?", "How can we stop one coming here?" etc. It was quite surreal. It was very inward facing. They seemed more worried about themselves, than being concerned for the people it has actually happened to. The other post is from an American who has been in Japan for the last 9 months. He talks about his perceptions of the US, being away for this long. First thing that struck me is the disproportionate amount of over-the-counter/prescription drug commercials on TV. No matter what ails you, it seems there’s a drug to help. If English is the national obsession of Japan, then dieting must be the national obsession of the United States. I realized this when drinking some diet orange juice for breakfast. Diet orange juice? It seems everything comes in a diet form these days. Furthermore, newscasts report the latest findings on diet science, diet technology, diet success stories, etc., etc. Don’t forget the commercials for exercise equipment, dieting books, and dieting drugs (see above). Speaking of diet, American cuisine is drenched with dairy products. Not that I’m complaining; I love dairy. Fried cheese anyone? It seems 1 out of 10 cars has a magnetic "hero-ribbon" or "flag-ribbon" stuck to it. That pretty much sums up a lot of my perceptions of the place. There are HEAPS of ads about drugs, especially erectile disfunction drugs….