Culture shock is the feeling of disorientation, uncertainty and anxiety that can be felt when trying to settle into a new location.
Though these problems that arise from encountering a completely different culture are troublesome and difficult to deal with, they can be decreased by taking active measures to blend in and adapt to the new culture instead of taking a stance against it.
Experiencing Culture Shock in Tokyo
New travelers to Tokyo are likely to encounter culture shock due to the many unique aspects of Japanese society different from the traveler’s own. For example, Japan’s larger city locations, like many large Asian cities are notorious for being extremely crowded and difficult to navigate. The difference in language also poses a considerable addition to disorientation and anxiety.
Japan is also home to many weird and wonderful practices, for example the prolific amounts of anime and manga goods as well as toys, cute objects and collectibles that are actually aimed at adult markets.
The cuisine may also pose a problem for hose inexperienced with traditional Asian food as travelers can also be easily bombarded by the ranges of different foods available that are completely different from the westernized rolls of sushi and heavily battered fried tempura.
The lack of ‘home’ or European brands or the consequent high prices of these should they be found is yet another issue that is difficult to tackle.
How to Reduce Culture Shock
Though there are difficulties associated with travelling to a different country that can only be handled by spending large amounts of time actively getting used to the new environment travelers can also take steps in order to reduce the effects of these difficulties.
For example, a measure organized travelers can reduce the effects culture shock may have on their plans and adventures in Japan by familiarizing themselves with the Japanese culture even before they leave their home countries.
It is important to keep an open mind and try to avoid comparing the new culture with anything travelers have experienced before or happen to prefer. Being open to new activities, sights and experiences also allows travelers to be open to new chances and opportunities.
Homesickness plays a large part in adding to the likelihood if travelers suffering from extensive culture shock. They may find themselves unable to cope with the new environment due to the constant comparisons they may make between the new place and their home countries. For this reason, it is important to address these issues in order for travelers to be able to work through their difficulties and consequently adjust.
Whenever travelers find something they dislike about their new environment, or something about their home countries that is ‘better,’ it is a good idea to also immediately list a positive aspect of the new environment. In this way, travelers are less likely to constantly question their decision to move or their ability to reside in the new environment.
In a country like Japan, which is full of interesting and different things to experience, travelers should really take the chance to participate in any activities that even remotely interest them so they do not miss any new opportunities.
Coping with the Japanese Culture
Due to the unique nature of the Japanese culture, travelers may find they often feel pressured to adjust or easily drowned by the amounts of new knowledge they feel they need to commit to memory. When these feelings are present the best thing to remember is that though there are certain practices that need to learned, new comers to Japan are not expected to immediately learn the ins and outs of the culture.
It is more important to enjoy the learning process which can be partly entertaining as well, rather than just treat it as a strict studying environment or ‘sink or swim’ situation. Keeping an open mind and an understanding outlook is often all it takes to slowly pick up on the nuances and interesting aspects of the Japanese Culture.
Travelers who wish to spend large amounts of time should also remain aware that it is impossible to immediately adjust to the extreme changes in social and physical atmospheres. It is a good idea to allow for relaxing and exploring without pressure of learning to really acclimate to the new environment.