Culture Lesson #7: Yet Another Culture Lesson Learned the Hard Way

For the most part, Japan is a cash culture. One must be prepared to pay cash at all junctions where money exchanges take place. Finding an English-speaking ATM to give me cash was an all-encompassing quest and a source of unending stress upon our arrival that thankfully abated after four months of acclimation.

In the months post drop, I’ve found a reasonable tour guide who leads docile ExPats by their nose rings around Tokyo. Her email confirmation appears in the mail with the usual, “Fee is 5000 Yen, Please put in an envelope with your name written on the outside.” I’ve never understood her need for envelope collection since one does not get the tour map until the fee is paid. Always seeking additional ways to cut excess waste from a redundant system, I elect to skip the envelope and hand her the fee.

After the conclusion of the last tour, I was rooting through the “Year of the Rabbit” door decorations when Tour Guide meandered over.

“Ouiser- did you see the darling money envelopes over there?- You know you’re never supposed to just hand someone money- it’s considered extremely rude.”

OOPS

“The Japanese think money is dirty. You always put it in an envelope. That’s why I always ask my tour participants to put the money in an envelope.”

Well than just say so. Either I’m the only one to whom subtlety is a mystery or the other sheep already know the rules. Given that most of these women are unable to ride the subway unassisted, I suspect the former. People such as myself don’t deduce concepts- we need to be told outright.

Of course it makes perfect sense as no one actually exchanges money touching hands in Japan. Instead the money is placed on a tray and passed between individuals. I place the money or credit card on the tray, the clerk picks up tray and removes money, clerk puts change on tray and gives to me, I remove change from tray and put in my purse. Always. As a confirmed touch – me – not, I have adopted this system readily. The thought of a stranger’s hands gently caressing mine as the fondled change is lovingly placed in my hands brings bile to the throat.

In this blog- what’s the relevance? Other than another Culture Lesson learned the hard way- Gift giving and money. The big holiday celebrated in Japan- as in China- is New Years and the traditional gift is money. Usually given to children. The money is given in a special envelope called a otoshidama-bukuro.

In Japan, the envelopes are decorated and multi-colored vs. China where the envelopes are always red and contain money in denominations of 8. (8 rhymes with the word for prosperity and the character looks like the symbol for double luck with two “0″ ) In both countries the currency contained within must be new.

Unfortunately, my nieces and nephews are expecting a Japanese Christmas with a full on Japanese New Years to follow. I’ll be shopping all day.

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162 Responses to Culture Lesson #7: Yet Another Culture Lesson Learned the Hard Way

  1. Shannon Chatlos says:

    So interesting! And as always, extremely entertaining!

  2. The Nose says:

    You are quicker than me. I would not have learned until back slapped with said envelope like a pair of white gloves. Following no doubt, personally handing out 100 dollar bills that had first been rubbed in my butt crack. I’m sure you would have laughed your ass off for the next 6 mos, so thanks for saving us both the humiliation (because we know, your laugh, like your withering stare, is FAMOUS the world over…….Ah, I’m reminded of the entire waitstaff of a quiet restaurant in a posh London neighborhood rushing in under a second to our table to investigate what could possibly have caused such an outburst —car bomb? Rat? Hair in our Plum Pudding? No, just the sisters sharing a good laugh at a birthday dinner!!) I Miss You!!!!

  3. Fancy shmancy money holders. Thanks for the post!

  4. auntbethany says:

    I had an accompanist in college who was totally miffed that I handed her money without an envelope one day. She was almost to the point of tears, but I believe she was actually more angry than saddened by it. At any rate, she made me cry because I felt badly about the whole ordeal. How was I to know that it’s considered an insult in her culture?

    Great post…congrats on FP!

  5. This post is so interesting and I love the pictures of the “otoshidama-bukuro”.
    It seems to me like these ‘envelopes’ are themselves forms of art!
    Congratulations on getting FP!!!

    http://littleexplorer.wordpress.com/

  6. im glad you were freshly pressed so i could find you…plan on reading lots more!
    http://dearexgirlfriend.com/

  7. Money trays? Like, really??
    That’s a first.
    Different peoples different cultures!
    Whilst it is rude to ignore someone coughing here in Nigeria (your fault or not); every cough must be followed with “Sorry” and empathetic expressions. Now imagine my shock in the UK when my coughs were blatantly ignored or when someone coughed and I responded saying “Sorry” only to be replied with “No, it’s not your fault”.
    There should be something in prints covering stuff like this.

    Congrats on being freshly pressed.

  8. Ambro Wright says:

    Wow, I have lived on Okinawa for almost 8 months and have never known that. I always see the trays, and sometimes I use them if the cashier isn’t paying attention to me when it’s time to hand her the money. Thanks for this! It seems like I am learning something new every day about this place.

  9. Fascinating!

    Money guru (and annoying woman) Suze Orman would have a field day with this line of thinking — she’s always talking about how people who have an aversion to money (and end up broke) are the ones who were taught that money was “dirty” when they were little.

    Personally, I think she’s full of it … but your post reminded me of her little anecdote.

    Well, now you know! ;)

  10. Its interesting to know the enveloper culture in Japan.
    Very informative post, Keep posting !!

  11. silentchills says:

    Great blog! I’ve really enjoyed reading, it’s really informative. I’ve lived in Japan in the past and will be moving back after I finish college. I’ll be checking back for more of your posts. がんばる!

  12. rtcrita says:

    My children will love this. Although, they may already know it. They both are interested in all Asian cultures and speak a little Chinese (my son had 2 years in school), Japanese (my daughter had 1 year and they both have self-taught themselves some), and Korean (from friends and acquaintances who have taught them words and phrases and given them books). They hope to one day visit Japan, and I hope they get the chance. I’m sure they would be very interested in your blog. I will pass your site along to them.

    I love your header, too.

  13. Even if you see it like something impractical or silly, just be polite and do it.

    I bet they’ll care about the way you respect their traditions… we should copy them in a thing or two :)

    • amblerangel says:

      SO TRUE!!!! “When in Rome do as the Romans” is the phrase to live by when in someone else’s back yard. People respect you if you respect them by respecting the culture.

  14. Great post! We have moved our family, 2 dogs included, to Vietnam and Haiti, where we now live, so I fully appreciate your confusion. In Vietnam you must always pass money with TWO hands, the same with business cards. It’s considered polite.

    My blog is about our current mis-adventures in Port-au-Prince, if you would enjoy watching the comedy of errors faced by a fellow ex-pat-blogger. I have one post called “An unfortunate incident involving the international trafficking of canines and what I haven’t learned since then,” about moving my dog to Hanoi!

    Congrats on being freshly pressed!

    Happy Holidays from Haiti,
    Kathy

  15. gene says:

    ah, yes, the New Year’s gifts. I remember that from my time there as an exchange student. if you get the chance, order or eat or whatever one of the special New Year’s Dinners, o-sechi…something or other… riori, maybe? and eat some ‘mochi’. even better if you can participate in the making of mochi. kinda neat…..

  16. sannekurz says:

    My sons – 9 and almost 15 – are obsessed with going to Japan, all Japanese in general and trading cards as well as origami in particular. – So great to read your insights! Living in Europe, we are saving up money to do the big dream holiday one day – if I don’t get a shoot taking me there before. And: I’ll take your hints with me! – By the way: any chance to find the instructions for the red envelope somehwere?? – DANKE DANKE!

    • amblerangel says:

      You have to bring them- there’s a great Origami store here that has 4 or 5 floors and nothing but Origami instructions. Of course there is the Pokemon store which I’m sure they would love. If you end up making the trip, drop me an email and I’ll send you the details! GOod luck

  17. I’ve been to Japan when I was small. Can’t recall this tradition. But I do remember that their envelopes were exquisite!

  18. Joe says:

    WOW! That’s really amazing and funny.

  19. runtobefit says:

    I have to hand it to you…this is a great post!! Errr…I mean…I have to give it to you in an envelope…this is a great post!! Thanks for the lesson :-)

    http://www.runtobefit.wordpress.com

  20. educlaytion says:

    This is a really interesting post. A lot of peeps talk about other cultures and it’s kind of stale. That’s wild that’s it’s rude to hand someone money! If I ever head to Japan, I’ll be consulting your site a ton. Have a great day.
    http://www.eduClaytion.com

  21. raiu9 says:

    Wow, this is so interesting. I love Japanese culture and want to visit the country one day, even though I don’t know a lick of Japanese. Great post!

  22. Amblerangel — You can hand me cold hard cash and skip the envelope any day! just sayin’

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    Blessings,

    Ava
    xox

  23. That is certainly something I never knew before. And what great colors for the money envelopes. Congrats on being freshly pressed.

  24. Hmm. I have never heard of the “dirty money” etiquette rules before. Cultural differences are so interesting, aren’t they?

    • amblerangel says:

      There are so many interesting “quirks” in the other cultures that one has to really look at without judgment – I find it fascinating…. which is a good thing right now I guess!

  25. metaphase says:

    “Well than just say so” – made me laugh. As you know, the Japanese are never going to “just say so”, and I think she may have when she said to put the money in an envelope. tee-hee. Oh, live and learn.
    Good luck in learning!

  26. brokenbunny says:

    WOW WOW WOW WOW! Loved this post! :D
    great!!

  27. CrystalSpins says:

    I like the last envelope. It’s lovely. My family has resorted to giving money rather than gifts too. I find it less personal, but far more practical.

    Crystal
    http://www.crystalspins.com

  28. Arun G says:

    Nice Post and Information. Today actually I learnt a new culture lesson!!!

  29. Always interesting to read about other cultures.

  30. it is always fun to learn other cultures and meet interesting new people. when you enjoy the ride culture shock isn’t so bad.

  31. Hail, fellow expat! I like your “about me” blurb and am going to copy it. You are not alone in being harassed for updates! I started my blog for the same reason. Found you by the random shuffling of the WordPress home page and look forward to hearing more.

  32. inperspire says:

    Loved your pictures of the money envelopes and the learning of culture. What a great post!

  33. Michelle says:

    Hi! I just stumbled upon your blog and think it’s great!! I’m currently living in Spain (I married a Spaniard), and have begun a blog as well. Do you mind if I include yours in my blogroll? I’m trying to gather a few expatriate blogs and websites, just to provide a few resources, and I think yours would be awesome. ;) Let me know, thank you so much! :)

    • amblerangel says:

      That would be great! Have a wonderful time in Spain- we were all set to go last summer but our move to Japan trumped our trip! We are still looking forward to a trip so I’ll look forward to reading all about it! Thanks!

      • Michelle says:

        Thank you! When you make your way over to Spain, make sure to visit the Southern region! Most people tend to head for Madrid and Barcelona, but the South is another world entirely! Sevilla, Granada, and Cordoba are totally worth it!! My top favorites are Granada, Barcelona, and Sevilla, in that order ;) I’ll begin posting a bit more about Spanish culture soon.

      • amblerangel says:

        Ahh- We were headed from Madrid South- I didn’t think the Offspring would tolerate the focus on architecture in Barcelona. But the bulls, food, beach and history from Madrid South I thought would keep even those devils mildly amused…..

  34. Having lived in Germany as an American, I have also encountered a few of these cultural surprises (and their culture is a lot more similar to ours, overall). I clicked through from freshly pressed and am now very glad, because it’s a good thing to know! Thanks for the insight…

  35. No wonder! When I went to Japan, I was constantly wondering WHY they had to have some tray you put money on. It seemed to be useless in my opinion, until I read this post.

  36. Doug M says:

    Yeah, I had a similar experience where we wantd to make a donation to a certain temple in Kyoto that gave us a nice tour behind the scenes. We had no envelop and were leaving that day, so I said to my wife (who’s Japanese), “Well let’s just make a donation”, but she flatly refused until we could at least wrap the money in some paper.

    Glad she stopped me from making a similar mistake. I guess it kind of makes sense since just giving someone money in such a formal situation is a bit crass. I just wasn’t sensitive to that until now.

    Lesson learned. :p

  37. odorunara says:

    I’ve been here about 1.5 years (after getting an M.A. in Japan Studies), and I get really nervous when there’s no tray for my money. I’ve seen some of the newer people try to take the money out of a cashier’s hands when she was about to do the count-out-and-fan-out move to show that all your paper bill change is there. (Which, by the way, I love.) I also like the money trays because they probably cut cut down on the passing of germs–who knows how many colds I caught working retail in college from physically handing customers money or credit cards.

  38. Doug M says:

    Ah yes and I know about otoshidama because my daughter gets a ton of these for New Year’s when we visit Japan to see her relatives. Really, some pretty big cash altogether. It helps that she’s the first grandaughter of that generation. :)

  39. Evie Garone says:

    Very interesting and educational…thanks for sharing. The envelopes are beautiful. whenever I see things like that it whets my appetite for origami all over again, one of the million loves of my life. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    evelyngarone.com

  40. tokyobling says:

    Haha… great story. Yes, it took me awhile to figure it out/get used to it as well. Now I have a nice collection of the little envelopes you show up there, they are really quite interesting! But 5 big ones for a tour?! Must have been a very exclusive gathering! And to think that I lead my friends around for free when they are new and green here in Japan! (^-^;)

    • amblerangel says:

      I became aware there was a problem when the term “exclusive gathering” was used to describe an event I attended. It was then I realized that there were too many zeros on the tour cost. Thanks Tokyo Bling. I’ve virtual toured Tokyo and beyond in the past through your OUTSTANDING blog site- which I love and read/admire every day. Thanks.

  41. enjoibeing says:

    very interesting and a good read. very fancy money holders. good post =]

    http://enjoibeing.wordpress.com/

  42. toranosuke says:

    I love the money trays. While it may seem bizarre and inefficient at first, I find it helps avoid the awkwardness of pouring coins into another person’s hand, the awkwardness of passing money. And this way, you can see very neatly and cleanly in the tray how much is there.

    In any case, I often skip the envelopes just because it’s so much bother. Where am I supposed to get envelopes from? It’s an extra expense, and an extra bother, to go out and buy envelopes… but anyway, yeah, I’ve often paid back sensei with just straight cash, just because it’s easier and more convenient. But I know it’s wrong; I need to get into better habits about this stuff.

    Finally, though I’ve always only received fresh new crisp bills in such envelopes, somehow it never occurred to me that one should have to put fresh crisp bills in them, rather than the ratty ones from your wallet. Though, that said, I rarely ever seem to have ratty ones to begin with in Japan; unlike here in the US, where a fresh crisp bill seems the rarity.

    Thanks for an interesting post!

  43. aixxx says:

    Very interesting. But I have to say as a Japanese that it’s not THAT strict of a rule or tradition as it’s made out to seem. I do hand my money directly to store clerks’ hands (and they give me my change into my palm no problem), and I do put not-so-new money in the otoshidama bukuro and give it to my niece and nephew. It might be all formality you are speaking about. :-)

  44. fukutoshin says:

    That’s some insight! I love those money trays, I can lay every coin out for scrutinization without worrying about them rolling off the counter tops or having problems prying them off the smooth surface. And the cashiers wait patiently as the customer count out the small change. And the best thing about it all, no accidental or not so accidental caressing of hands when money exchange hands.

    I love traveling in Japan and her culture, and boy am I so envious of you getting a chance to live there permanently. This blog is definitely on my subscription list from now on :) Congrats on being FP.

  45. Gina says:

    Oh, how I wish America would adopt money trays! I hate physical contact with strangers. GAG! Makes my skin crawl. And I’m working a seasonal retail job – which involves cashiering. I don’t want to think of the number of people I accidentally touch every day…

  46. I enjoyed reading this post, but it’s not simply the money that’s considered dirty. The act of exchanging money in a relationship, even a business one, and however tenuous, is considered in bad taste in Japan. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like asking a friend to pay you for a favor, or like receiving a unusually expensive gift from a casual acquaintance. The Japanese are intensely sensitive about obligation in relationships. Sure, they love getting money, whether as a gift or as payment, just like us. But they don’t want to admit they receive money from you, because it means they are obligated to you, or are in a position of service to you. The only time this doesn’t seem to apply is when you give money to children or bring a host o-miage, those obligatory gifts of candy, manju or souvenirs you’re expected to give while traveling or following a trip.

    In the end it is incredibly complicated. My parents, who are traditional Japanese, keep saying I can’t possibly understand because I was raised in the U.S. And I confess I’m glad I don’t entirely.

    • amblerangel says:

      Thanks for your comment that was a great clarification. I’ve found these customs have very deep roots that can be hard to understand and or translate. That explains why this custom is reserved for children… I will also make sure that I give gifts to people versus money in situation where I may have given money in the past. You saved “my face” !!!

      • odorunara says:

        Yeah, those お祝い envelopes are great for that! (For weddings, general celebrations, etc.) Even for giving money, there are rules, though. For a wedding, you’re supposed to give it in three bills. 30,000 yen (in 3 10,00- yen bills) is the baseline for 20-somethings at their first job, but you can do 20,000 yen in 1 10,000 and 2 5,000-yen bills. A coworker explains that it has something to do with the kanji for happiness (幸 or 喜, I can no longer remember which one.)

        Giving knives and scissors as gifts is a big no-no for weddings (and in general), as it symbolizing the cutting of ties.

        Giving things in sets of 4 is another thing you’re not supposed to do, because 4 (四, yon) can be pronounced shi, which also means death (死).

        So many rules!

      • amblerangel says:

        I did know to stay away from anything 4 related but the knives- that’s good to know! I can’t count how many steak knives Spouse and I got when we were married….Thanks for the insight

  47. Margaret Ivory says:

    gorgeous…may I have one with a million dollar bill in it, please…lol….these are so pretty!

  48. Great post! Cultural differences are always fascinating.

  49. chaikadai says:

    I have never really had to move countries. Just within my city, moving every year or so. Now, that I declared to my parents that I am moving out my house is pretty much in a bag pack. I keep house-hopping. I’m pretending that my Jan I would have four walls I could call my own. This blog is extremely refreshing and exciting. I’ll be back to read more and partake so in your experiences.

    Love,
    Sam,
    facilitator

    • amblerangel says:

      It’s good to practice moving within your city so that when you’re ready you can spread your wings an move out of the country. Moving is good for your state of mind- keeps you open to new things. Rock on.

  50. cyanyears says:

    Wow, interesting stuff. I would have definitely done the same thing. I intend to make my way over to Japan at some point, so thanks for the warning. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  51. lilymylove says:

    ehh……..so interesting!

  52. Desiree E. says:

    Very interesting, I’d love to visit Japan one of these days, and I had no idea about the envelope thing. I grew up in Hawaii and have been influenced by Japanese culture (and Chinese culture), and my family would do the money in the envelope for New Year’s. But I didn’t know they practiced that in their daily lives.

    Thanks for sharing, I love reading stories of ex pats…always something new to learn!

  53. Hi..

    Been here in Mie, the last 2 months, never knew the reason, why the trays were used, or why the cashier gave me odd looks, every time handed him the money… …..

  54. Alannah Murphy says:

    Great post, fascinated with Japan, and have always wanted to go there. In a way, I think their idea of not liking money being handed to them makes great sense. Money is dirty, who knows how many people have touched it before you did etc. Congrats for making it on Freshley Pressed, hope you keep blogging about Japan. Very interesting indeed.

  55. That was brilliant. We seriously take for granted that every one is the same. One of the comments above- suggested a little book. Perhaps you shoudl start one….. the do’s and dont’s.
    Looking forward to reading more of your blog!!
    http://husbands4hire.wordpress.com

  56. I stumbled upon this entertaining account when I saw you Freshly Pressed today…and about time too, I must say. Since reading your first post, I have been moving backwards through the blog ferreting out other gems you have written. It makes for extremely interesting read :-) Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  57. rob. says:

    I’ve got to say, that this is the first time I’ve ever come across a “freshly pressed” that I fully intend to continue reading. You’ve got some great and really interesting posts.

  58. ishikawablogger says:

    Great post! We tweeted it on the Ishikawa JET Blog twitter feed: http://twitter.com/#!/ishikawajetblog

    Not to toot our collective Ishikawa JET horn, but our site has a lot of information about living in Japan. Ishikawa is much more rural than Tokyo, but it might be helpful.

    Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

  59. gauravwrites says:

    One of friend my friends recently went to JAPAN for higher studies…He faced the cultural obligations described above…
    Very intresting post ,informative..

  60. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed…I was wondering why so many people had come to my blog from yours! Good luck dealing with the new blogging pressure :) The nice thing is that you have a great storyteller’s eye for picking out and sharing things “foreign” and making them accessible to people all around the world. It’s an enviable quality!

  61. bertbad says:

    “Please put in an envelope with your name written on the outside.” – her words.
    “Well than just say so. ” – your words.

    She did just say so. Learn to take (obvious) cues and you won’t be seen as such a barbarian.

  62. mia1984 says:

    Chinese-Indonesians call money in red envelopes they give out during Chinese New Year “ang pau”. :)

  63. Congrats on being Freshly pressed! Different country different culture! I remember my culture shock when I moved here from Russia. I really loved your article, it’s very interesting and I am signing up for your blog, so keep me post it (literally:) )

  64. dazzyrue says:

    I took Japanese in high school and college and always felt they didn’t teach us enough about the culture. I have always wanted to explore Japan and look forward to reading more of your interesting posts!

  65. The French also use money trays, and I got some funny looks from cashiers until I figured it out. I was traveling alone, so I didn’t get the background at the time. I’m heading back in January, to live there for a while this time. Now that you’ve given me the idea, I’ll ask someone about the trays!

    • Goldilocks in France says:

      An update from France: I am very surprised to find that money trays have almost disappeared in the last 10 years, at least in this good-sized town. It might have something to do with the electronic cash registers, which take up more room?? None of the new stores have them, and in the boulangeries and other small shops the money trays are there but are ignored.

  66. I learn something every day……very intriguing. We had a teacher from Japan stay with us when I was in High School, I love different cultures.

  67. This is very interesting! I love cultural “quirks” like that (or at least, things that seem like quirks to me as an American). I kind of prefer it to the American system in theory, as it sounds more respectful, but I also think that the added time for transactions would irk me. Your blog is so interesting, though; thanks for posting and congrats on being Freshly Pressed! :)

  68. poeticpiper says:

    Love the blog. Check out my new art blog at http://art-shelbysart.blogspot.com :) Keep blogging!

  69. Tokyo Jinja says:

    Stumbled across your blog on freshly pressed! Read a bunch (particularly the parenting posts) and thought about how spot on and funny you are! Then I peeked at your photo and realized I know that hair!!! See you around school….we can chat about life in the blogosphere…I’ve been blogging all fall, about Japan too, but a very different side of it.

  70. alastor993 says:

    Great post! And I feel your pain, I moved to China, Shanghai, four months ago and some things are just so so so very weird here!
    I’m planning to go to Japan after three years here, so I’ll check your blog every now and then! Thanks to you I might be able to avoid learning the lessons the hard way.

    http://lizaroos.wordpress.com

  71. Rachel says:

    Ahhh I just moved to China a few months ago, and I keep learning cultural lessons the hard way too! I wish people would explain customs rather than assume that I already know them – I don’t! Best of luck to you and navigating Japanese culture!

  72. colin Roo says:

    This is interesting, I live in Korea and of course they don’t want to follow suit with the Japanese. Money, along with anything else is exchanged and received with two hands to show respect. Glad you posted this. If I ever go now I know to place my money on the table and not directly to them.

  73. From what I’ve observed and been told, japanese culture sounds like the complete opposite of american culture in so many ways. I can’t even begin to understand how fundamentally different it is and the radical shift in perception. Maybe one day I’ll get to visit and observe firsthand.

    http://atomsforgreen.wordpress.com

  74. Ooooo – nothing like learning cultural customs the hard way. I feel for you. I’ll say this for the money envelopes – they have great designs (at least the ones you posted.) I wonder if the kids collect them over the years? -Jen
    http://sasfiction.wordpress.com

  75. calogeromira says:

    Wonderful images from Japan.

  76. kayoyama says:

    I wish to go to Japan someday..

  77. batikmania says:

    I always like to get to know other culture, and Japan is one of my favorite ;) Thanks for sharing this. I must remember not to give or receive money straight from Japanese’s hands ;) Always prepare envelope, then. Or tray :p (sorry, bad joke)

  78. Amy P says:

    Thanks for this post! I’ve had one of those New Year’s envelopes all my life, my grandmother gave it to me. Now I know what it is! Mine has a cat hiding behind a screen door, about to pounce on a mouse. Good luck with the rest of your culture lessons!

  79. kdaddy23 says:

    I enjoyed this – reminds me of my first time in Japan and the culture shock for me was out of this world! But I came to love Japan during my first time there so that when I went back the second time, I felt as if I were at home – and I didn’t make all of the mistakes I made the first time!

  80. Not to get off topic of your post, but to highlight what you said in the beginning: Japan is indeed a cash culture. I learned that the hard way when I visited last year. What a frustrating thing! Back to the topic of your post, everything in Japan is wrapped and packaged beautifully. The makeshift/last minute-style wrappings that may be acceptable in the Western world are considered straight up barbaric and insulting in Japanese culture. Great post! :)

    • amblerangel says:

      So true! I’m such a terrible wrapper (of packages haha) that I’ve resorted to finding a Japanese woman to wrap presents in the cloth style wrapping for me- I forget the Japanese name right now….

  81. That is an informative post. Thanks

  82. Pingback: Culture Lesson Japan- Notes on Moving « Mbconsulting's Blog

  83. lbwong says:

    Nice post! Just like Christmas, red envelopes are more plentiful when you a kid lol…looking forward to hearing more about your stay there! Congrats on Freshly Pressed! LB

  84. Amblerangel,

    Nice post! I spent a summer in Japan once and then studied the language in college and have been back a few times since. I love the culture and hope to keep up with some of your other posts! I can totally relate to the money trays!

    Veronica Samuels :)
    http://www.worldmomsblog.com

  85. carol says:

    Thanks for sharing your exerience moving to another country. I’d love to have you be a guest blogger on my website, http://www.ChanngingZipCodes.com. if you’re interested. I’ve moved over twenty times and share tips and humor about moving.

  86. Sheryl Stark says:

    great blog…My husband and I are planning to move to Jamaica. He will be an expat and I will be a returning ciz, but on visits I find that I may have some culture shock.

    • amblerangel says:

      I think every move one is faced with culture shock! Everything takes getting used to and it’s all new. 6-24 weeks is the timeframe when culture shock hits the hardest for most people (I was told when we moved by our “Assimilation coach) and 6 months is the magic number for making the conversion to feeling like it’s home. Good luck! Jamaica is BEAUTIFUL!

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