“Liberté, égalité, fraternité” (freedom, equality, fraternity) is the famed national motto of France. With that in mind, there are a lot of things about France that inspire an atmosphere of freedom, but how exactly do those values differ to that of Japan?
We asked two women to tell us what surprised them the most when they came to Japan – one of our past French interviewees, and a half-French, half-Japanese woman who was born and raised in France!
(The following is based on personal opinions of those who were interviewed)
1. Public Facilities: The Quality of Free Services is Amazing!
In Japan it’s totally normal to use restrooms for free anywhere, including at stations, restaurants, convenience stores and even public facilities! But in France, public toilets usually charge a fee, and there is often no toilet seat, so they aren't the nicest of places. Many people will use a café or restaurant’s bathroom instead. It looks like Japan's high-quality toilets continue to surprise people from around the world!
On top of that, there are quite a few free services at restaurants, such as free glasses of water and hand towels.
2. Fashion: People Value Trends Over Individuality?!
Japanese values come through even in their fashion choices. French people will tend to put their own individual twist on things even when following trends, but Japanese people tend to pay homage to western fashion.
Japanese people seem to think that trendiness equates to quality. Our interviewees said they would “prefer to see some of unique Japanese individuality.”
3. Food: There’s Such a Variety, and it’s all so Cheap!
Our interviewees sang Japan’s praises: “Great food in Japan is so cheap, and the variety is amazing!” Just in terms of lunch, there are so many places in Japan where you can eat for one coin (500 yen). But at tourist spots in France, lunch can be even more than 2,000 yen!
From fast food to reasonably-priced <@teishoku@i|> (set meals), Japan is second to none when it comes to variety of food. With the 2020 Olympics coming up, that diversity is only going to expand further!
4. More Food: I Don’t Mean to be Rude, But What is That Pastry?
In Japan, France’s sweet “mille feuille” pastry is very popular, but it seems that the Japanese have been pronouncing it somewhat differently!
“The French pronunciation is more like ‘mil fei’, meaning ‘a thousand leaves’. But if you use the Japanese pronunciation, ‘mil fi’, in France, it will sound more like ‘a thousand daughters!”
There are a lot of foreign words in Japanese that are pronounced using katakana, but sometimes they can sound a bit off! To Japanese people who aren’t used to the French language, they might think that “mil fei” and “mil fi” don’t sound much different, but the meaning really is! Japanese people need to be careful when ordering food in France...!
5. Love: I Have no Idea What Japanese Men Are Thinking
“In comparison to French men, it’s really hard for me to tell what Japanese guys are thinking. If you’re in a relationship, it could prove quite tricky!”
In Japan there is a phrase, the “herbivorous man”, which in short means men who aren’t interested in relationships or marriage. On a slightly less extreme scale, there are a lot of men who aren’t very clear when they try to make a move on a girl, and it can be quite difficult to figure out just what they’re thinking.
Of course it depends on the person, but for the most part French guys are very clear when they’re interested in a girl. Surely it makes relationships a bit easier to be clear about what you want, no?
Marriage: There Are so Many Stereotypes About Love and Marriage in Japan!
In Japan it’s seen as late to get married after 30, and if you’re over 35 people are less likely to want to marry you. Japan just seems to be overflowing with rules and quirks about relationships and marriage, almost as if there are more than there were before! In France, it’s perfectly normal to think that you’ll fall in love several times, and that people will marry and re-marry without thinking much about it!
Also, compared to Japan, there are a lot more people in France who are basically married without having an actual wedding. The French way of thinking is that what is important is the couple’s relationship, and it’s up to them as to how they choose to show that.
How did you find it? As a writer I found this to be a very interesting insight into the values of the French! And after hearing what our interviewees had to say, I hope that the Japanese can find their own individuality, and realize how great this country actually is!