Wednesday, April 11, 2012

On home ground


Reverse culture shock

Is your Japanese partner ready to meet the family?


About a month later, we flew to Sydney to meet my parents, and I’d say my bf was far more nervous. His first time in another country; the pressure of speaking English all the time; and as he said, “traditionally, men don’t get along with the father-in-law”. I took the precaution of booking us into a hotel for the first few nights, even though my family insisted we should stay with them. Sharing a bathroom and wondering whether to wear pyjamas to the breakfast table would just be added stresses. He also felt better that although my folks picked us up from the airport, we could go straight to the hotel and he could shower and put on clean clothes, before "officially" meeting my family. 

Try to be sensitive to your Japanese partner’s anxieties. I had to assure him that jeans and a jacket would be absolutely fine for the first visit. Also, tell them the shoe policy at your family house – whether you take them off or leave them on. Unless they’ve done a home stay overseas, they might have a lot of little questions.

My bf wanted to get my family something typically Japanese, but I counselled against bean paste-based sweets, knowing my mother had tried and disliked them. In the end, we went to Mitsukoshi and got a beautifully wrapped box of assorted rice crackers and some green tea. Then he worried they wouldn’t be able to make Japanese tea properly, so he bought a small traditional teapot as well. He went to a lot of trouble to choose just the right gifts, so I made sure to let my family know that it was kind of a big deal, so they could make a bit of a ‘ooh, wow, that looks great!’  type fuss – Aussies can be a bit too casual about this stuff sometimes.

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