7 Cultural differences: Japan vs Ireland

Living in a different country sounds attractive to some who love experiencing a new culture. They might find a strange custom in other countries or come to question your own.

I have lived in Dublin for only a month, but I have already experienced many cultural differences that I would like to share with you.

My name is Maho Morinaga and this is my travelogue. 

1. Different types of hair

If you travel to Japan, what you see is black-haired people everywhere. Partly because Japan is located in Asia where people tend to have black hair biologically. 

It is an island isolated on the continent of Asia and you can say this made it difficult for our culture to accept “outsiders”.

2. More multicultural, more foreigners, more languages

Although Ireland is also an island, you will see many people from European, African and some from Asian countries in Dublin. 

This means several different languages can be heard anywhere in the town. You can say Ireland is more accepting of outsiders. 

Going back to the topic of hair, you are more likely to see a combination of blondes, brunettes, afros, red hair and multi-coloured hair. 

As an English student myself, I try to listen to others while I am on the bus or walking down the street with a drowsy head in the morning. I sometimes panic that I cannot understand a single word they are talking. 

After a while, I realise that the people I am listening to might not be speaking English, but rather Italian, Spanish Portuguese or French.

3. Transportation differences

Like Japan, Ireland is a huge user of coins for monetary transactions. The buses only accept coins if you get on them. Notes are never accepted. 

If you cannot bother checking each coin every time you use a bus, there is a Leap Card. You can top up this card and use it by telling the driver where you are going or placing the card in front of the reader.

As for transportation, each bus stop has an unique name. In Japan, bus-stops on the opposite sides of the road share the same name. But in Ireland, bus-stops having the same names are rare.

4. Use of Post/Eircodes

Like Japan and other modernized countries, Ireland uses postal codes which is called Eircode. 

From my little observation, it is equivalent to a postal code but more functional. Eircode is distributed to each property. 

5. Why aren’t the traffic laws obeyed

The Japanese are famous for following every rule. If the traffic light was red, we would never cross a road even though there was no car coming. Here in Dublin, a Japanese national would be shocked to see the sight of people crossing a road whether it is green or red.

Having lived here for a month, I started to understand the reason for this. It takes longer than it does in Japan for the light to turn green. Pedestrians here, myself included, become impatient in the end and cross the road when cars are not coming.

6. The drinking culture

As I mentioned above, the Japanese are modest. It is unbelievable to have a drink at a pub on Monday, or even in the middle of the week. Even my classmates who are from other European countries have asked me several times, “Going to the pub tonight?”

It might make you feel good to drink on whatever the day it is and break a shell of Japanese customs as we say “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. I wonder how the Irish deal with a hangover and work on the next day, or do they ever have a hangover?

7. The Weather

At last, I will talk about the Irish weather. I was wearing a sleeveless shirt the day before leaving Japan at the end of August.

On the first day in Ireland, I had to dig into my suitcase to wear a long-sleeved shirt and jeans because of the cold. 

The temperature goes up to 21 degrees maximum and drops to 11 to 13 degrees in the morning and at night. It is mostly dry, unlike Japan’s high humidity.

Luckily enough, I’m having nice autumn weather for a couple of weeks, but I can slightly see my breath in the early morning already. I am shivering as winter is around the corner.

Maho Morinaga
Maho Morinaga

One comment

  1. As an Irishman living in Japan, I have to dispute “It is unbelievable to have a drink at a pub on Monday, or even in the middle of the week.” Izakayas operate during the week in Japan too and I’m pretty sure that’s alcohol I see those businessmen and women drinking. On top of that many people told me they drink beer at home with their dinner almost every night.

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