Monday, April 30, 2007

culture shock

It was 6 years ago today that I moved from Hawaii to Japan. We lived in Satoshi's company housing for the first three months then found a place to live. I wrote a little bit about it here, but wanted to tell you a little more.

The first thing that threw me off when living in Japan is that there are no appliances in the apartment, no washer or dryer, no refrigerator, no stove, not even a light fixture! Just an empty box. You even have to bring in your own curtains. In fact, that is how you can tell if someone has moved--the curtains are gone.

The first week in Japan, we lived off bakery and convenience foods,things that didn't need to be heated up because we couldn't heat them up.

At night, I would sit in the kitchen and wait for Satoshi to come home from work, I had no books to read, no television to watch, no computer, and was lucky that the housing gave us a light bulb for the kitchen! We didn't even have a phone then, so once a neighbor had to come and tell me that Satoshi would be late! Talk about feeling sad, lonely and homesick then!

Anyway, the adventure I wanted to tell you about is buying home appliances from the electronics store.

This excerpt was taken from my email dated May 4, 2001: "...Yesterday we went electronic appliance shopping. This is an art form. You go into an electronics store and go through all the different types of appliances that you need. The salesman then takes you to each area that you select and figures out which model/type you need. After going through alll of this, he comes up with an estimate. After getting this estimate, you negotiate a lower price. The first store that we went to gave us a quote of 510,000 yen (about $5100). After a little negotiating, we got him to go down to 458,00 yen (about $4580).

With this estimate in hand, we then went to another store to get their estimate. They came up with 458,000 yen (about $4580). We then lied and said that the other store's estimate was 430,000 yen (about $4300). After about 20 minutes of waiting (because he had to call the main office), he brought the price down to 442,000 yen (about $4420) plus 6 cans of beer. We told him we didn't need the beer, so could he bring the price down to 440,000 yen (about $4400). After another 20 minutes, we got the price we wanted..."

Talk about culture shock! I'll post more of these little tidbits here and there.

Have a great week!


Anonymous said...

That is culture shock indeed, Kat! What a story!

Anonymous said...

That sounds exactly like Korea - I remember the shock I encountered when we moved back there for a few years, walking into the apartment and seeing nothing but our boxes! Luckily, our neighbour lent us a portable gas stove till we could buy our main kitchen appliances...but all I'll say is that in the first week there, I ate enough ramen to last me a lifetime!

Jann said...

too bad he wasn't throwing in 6 bottles of wine-the price would have really gone down!

K and S said...

Thanks Ivonne!

Wow Ellie that must have been a LOT of ramen!

Hmmm, Jann, I wonder if he were throwing in wine, we would have taken it :)

Take care everyone!

Anonymous said...

i didn't realize you can do that there. it's neat that you can barter like that in japan. and lie to get a lower price! -bourgogne

K and S said...

I know Bourgogne! You would think the electronics stores would call each other up to see what they quoted, but I guess they sell things at whatever price they wish unless the price is decided by the maker.

Take care.