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What is the Difference?

Fourteen years ago I came to Kagawa. I can’t believe how fast the time has moved. It is really unbelievable to me. But I love Kagawa. I love living here in Takamatsu. I love coming to Otemae and seeing people who are kind. And of course, I love meeting and talking with students. I think that I am the luckiest guy from Canada in all of Japan. It has been a great time, so I need to say thank you very much. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I think that it is very interesting to be a Canadian guy in Kagawa. My home in Canada, my life in Canada, was very different than my life here in Japan. There are many things that are different between Japan and Canada. I want to share with you some of the things that are different between my world so far away, and this world here in Takamatsu.

One big difference is the level of sound. In Canada people are noisy. They talk all the time. People talk to strangers everywhere. No place is silent. The bus, the train, a shopping center, a supermarket, a park, and even on the street. People will stop and talk to anyone. People talk to anyone and everyone. It is a very noisy place. In Japan, people sometimes talk to other people they don’t know, but usually, many people can be quiet or even silent in a bus, or train, or a shop. That is a very big difference.

In Japan, people do not give a tip to the waiters and waitresses at a cafe. In Japan, people eat more rice than bread. In Japan, people bow and do not shake hands so much. In Japan, many people have business cards and exchange them many times with others. In Japan, the convenience stores have many, many different things. In Japan, the streets are usually very safe, the streets are very clean, taxi drivers wear gloves and uniforms, and many people are very polite.

Japan has a feeling of belonging to a group, many students have club activities in junior high and high school. People drive cars after they finish high school. The age of becoming an adult is 20 in Japan, but 18 in Canada. Japanese snowmen are two big snowballs, but in Canada they are three big snowballs. Japanese people often wear a mask if they have a cold and easily understand social distance. Canada is not so good at both of those things.

There really are a lot of differences between Canadian people and Japanese people. We eat different kinds of foods. We have different sports and music. We like different kinds of fashion and have different hobbies. And those differences are interesting things to talk about and share. I know that Otemae has a great overseas program to take students to Vancouver, Canada, and I hope that it will continue again when the COVID 19 issue is better and it is safe to travel again.

But even though there are so many things that we do differently, there are also many things that make us the same.

Japanese students worry about tests and the future. Students in Canada are the same. People in Japan worry about their friends and family. Canadians are the same. Japanese students love music, enjoy dancing, like to talk with friends, play sports, watch TV, and spend a lot of time on Youtube and Instagram. Canadian students are very much the same.

Many times when we are watching the news, or have the media push into our lives, we get a message that people from other countries are impossible to understand, and that experiences outside our country are dangerous. While it is true that Japan is very safe, and if you go outside of Japan you should be careful, you will also see that people are very similar in many ways too.

People all over the world love their friends and family. People everywhere think about the future. Everyone has hope for a good life. Everyone has a need to be safe, to have a home, to have friends, to have an education, and to make plans for the future. There is much much more that we have that is similar as people than things that are different.

When the corona virus is under control, and when it is safe to travel outside of Japan again, I hope you will come to my country of Canada. I hope you will see that people in Canada are the same as you. Also I hope that when you are outside of Japan you will look back at your own country and see how incredible, beautiful, and unique Japan is in the world. That day is coming soon!

Thank you very much and have a great day!