A few thoughts on things that throw me for a loop here in Japan:
Earthquakes. I'm from Michigan, so I've felt maybe one there in my life. I've felt 3 small ones here, and I would probably lose count of how many if I lived in a more major earthquake spot, like Tokyo. Every time they occur I feel freaked out. Afterwords the slight jarring/vibrating is enough to fool my body into thinking it's moving for several minutes, leaving me in a slight state of anxiousness. Of course, there's really no need to worry: it's like the sensation you get if you're in one of those vibrating massage chairs then get out. Last week there was one with an aftershock that surprised me. It's probably the sheer surprise of them that puts my body into an over-sensitive state.
I never have to be embarrassed of what I take pictures of here. The Japanese will always have me beat. I was at school, and we had an earthquake evacuation drill. The kids were ducking and jogging out of school in a quiet, orderly fashion, some holding masks to their mouths as a precautionary to dust/smoke. The school secretary was taking pictures. I'm sure those pictures will help us all relive that wonderful day in the future.
I was in a fifth grade classroom listening to the morning homeroom class meeting. There's the usual greetings, roll call, and uniform name tag check (they all wear a name badge with their year and class number on it). The teacher inquires during roll if they feel ok, have their badges, and also have a package of tissues (that last one... incredibly handy. Elementary kids sneeze and make messes frequently). It's really good that the teacher tries to keep track of who's got the sniffles and such, right? The next question threw me a curve ball:
"Who didn't poop this morning? Raise your hands."
And of course, some students nonchalantly raise their hands.
I had no idea that Japan was that in-sync and on schedule. Shame on my lazy American digestive system.
I should have expected this, because they also get regular teeth, heart, and urine checks. You should have seen my face when I was told what all the small cups on the table next to my desk were for.