There are many cultural differences between countries around the globe. As a Japanese, I believe Israel is the complete opposite of Japan in terms of people and the way of living.
We all know that Israelis sound a little aggressive when speaking Hebrew (Please don’t take offense). When I was sitting at a table in a street food restaurant, I thought that my friend was “having an argument” with the cashier. However, when I asked him if everything was alright, he simply replied “I was just ordering sabich”. I was baffled, my friend sounded and looked upset, yet he was merely ordering his food. I still think that Israelis spend too much energy on “just ordering food” but it’s amusing and never fails to put a smile on my face.
On the other hand, Japanese speak so quietly (when they are not drunk) that we even have an unspoken rule which is that we shouldn’t speak in the elevator. Another example here is to avoid arguing or having conversations which may be offensive to someone else, even when we are in the right. It all comes down to the custom of giving each other space, something that is deeply inherited in the Japanese culture. I like and dislike this “respectful” custom/culture because it shows that you have respect to one another, but it also does seem like false modesty too.
The Way of Living
It is quite frustrating to live in Israel sometimes. For instance, dealing with bureaucracy can be challenging and you need quite a bit of `huzpah` to get things done; like receiving a parcel from overseas or going to Misrad Hapnim amongst other things. Moreover, online shopping can prove to be difficult, as the online shopping system has not quite developed, even though Amazon has recently entered the Israeli market.
However, in Israel, there is happiness and passion abound. People work hard in Israel but for their passion and for their happiness. People here truly believe that they can make a difference in the world. Entrepreneurs are literally creating cutting-edge innovations every day. People are more alive than any other country I have seen. Israel is a truly a land of contradictions.
I grew up in Japan with the knowledge of how developed Japan is. It was quite comfortable, maybe too comfortable with everyone doing the same things. Uniqueness is hard to find when it comes to society. Everyone goes to university after high school, and then enter the work force after university because it is normal to do so. There wasn’t time to truly think what it is that I want to do or want to achieve in my life. Furthermore, many people are working dutifully but not purposefully in Japan. They work for money and for their family. I know people say that this is the reality. It is the reality because they gave up pursuing something meaningful in their life. Don’t get me wrong, I do not mean that it is bad to work for money and family but the question is ‘Are you happy?’ I feel like many Japanese tend to put aside their happiness and to work obligatorily. Yes, Japan is developed in many ways but I do not believe Japanese put an emphasis on self-development.
Before I came to Israel, my perspective of this country was pessimistic. I simply thought that many conflicts are actively going on here. As soon as I arrived here, I realized that I was completely wrong about it. Like many others, I was a victim of media propaganda which showed me a false image of what Israel and Israelis are truly like. Israelis are warm caring people, and I dare to say that sometimes I feel safer in Israel than Japan.
On my first week in Israel, I heard the sound of a car crush nearby my apartment and quickly went out to see if someone was hurt. When I arrived at the scene, a car seemed to have hit a pole on the sidewalk while the driver was trapped inside. Turns out I was not the only one to rush for help; it seemed to me like the whole neighborhood came to give a helping hand. Not a minute passed, when rushing, came the yellow motorcycle ambulance to treat the trapped driver. That was the fastest ambulance I have ever seen that came to an accident site. A few minutes after, more ambulance reinforcement, police and fire fighters were all at the scene. Even though in their daily life, Israelis seem to spend most of their day arguing about politics and getting frustrated with life. However, in a time of need they all unite together to aid wounded strangers, host families in their home who need shelter during war times and contribute their share to the greater community. I personally really like that.
As you can tell from the title, I am Japanese and no, I do not like sushi. Though, I do love the food in Israel (Finally, I found food paradise) and my favorite food here is sabich, shakshuka and anything which has tahini inside it. I am still learning Hebrew and improving on my huzpah. I have been living in Israel for 8 months, and I cannot wait for many more months of adventure, meeting vibrant people, trying new foods and playing Matkot on the beach.
These day's I am looking for an opportunity to join the Israeli job market.
Written by Tomonori Kaneko