A Brit Abroad with Gabriel Kidd: Cultural Differences

After my last diary was posted, Shingo Takagi approached me at Korakuen Hall and said he had read my diary. He told me he enjoyed it and that the history I had wrote about was very important. I haven’t spoken to Takagi San many times, but from when I have spoken to him and from watching him fight I can see he is very proud of his heritage. Of course, his fighting style is very much the Classical Japanese pro wrestling style, but there’s a lot of other things about him that you can see he’s very proud to be Japanese.

I see on his social media that is his spare time he likes to visit shrines and temples. His costume, his moniker etc.

I think that is very important. You should be proud of where you come from and represent it as best as you can, and I aim to do the same in the future.   

To follow on from this subject, since I have now been in Japan for 10 months, I want to talk about cultural difference between England and Japan on a couple of points.


Respect –

Respect seems to be a common stereotype for Japan. In comedy sketches or TV skits when Japan is mentioned, respect always seems to be mentioned alongside it, but when you come here you really understand why.

Obviously, I didn’t go to school in Japan but it seems to be taught to children at a very young age to be respectful. From what I know of the Japanese school system it’s quite strict and respect is always enforced, where as English high schools try and do the same thing but it seems more laid back.

What I have noticed the most is the respect held for Professional Wrestling.

If I was in a pub in the UK and mentioned to someone I had just met that I was a pro wrestler, the most common response would be “You dress up in little pants and fight other men for a living?”

But in Japan, if a stranger finds out you’re a pro wrestler they are instantly impressed and tend to congratulate you. That’s one of the main reasons I love Japanese pro wrestling.

There is also more of a hierarchy system built into the Japanese culture with the use of the terms “San” and “Kun.”

San is the word you’d use for someone who is your senpai (your senior.)

And Kun is the word you’d use for someone younger or lower in the system than you. People follow that system strictly and it creates the groundwork for what helps build a very respectful culture.


Bars and restaurants –

I guess this can be tied into parts of the American culture too, but I’ve found it mainly happens in Japan.

It does happen, but I feel it’s a lot more rare for people in England to go to a bar or restaurant by themselves. They are seen more as a place you go to with friends to socialise. Yet Izakayas and bars in Japan seem to appeal to the people who want to go out and eat alone.

The closest thing from England & Europe that I can compare and izakaya to would probably be a Spanish tapas bar. Small meals and bar food that you can snack on whilst drinking. You can of course go to an izakaya with friends, but from what I’ve seen it tends to be people on their own or very small groups of 2 or 3.

Obviously at the moment we can’t go to these places due to COVID-19, but I really like this aspect of the Japanese culture. I’m a very Individual person who doesn’t mind being on my own at all. You can of course do it in the UK, but its much more common here and it feels a lot more relaxed. If I was in a bar in England on my own I think people tend to look at you and think, “Hasn’t he got any pals?”

There are a lot more cultural differences between England and Japan, but those are the 2 that stick out the me the most.

I enjoy a lot of different aspects from both cultures and of course there are some aspects from both that I also don’t like, but those points are what makes them different from each other.

If you can, go and experience both! It’s been really interesting to live in japan for this amount of time and experience the differences.

I’d highly recommend it!

This diary entries track of the week –

I don’t actually know any Japanese songs that would be perfect to fit this entry, so maybe it’s best I leave it out again this time:)