For as long as I can remember, I've always had a special place in my heart for Japan. Japanese culture and values have shaped my identity today. The first time I got introduced to Japanese culture was through anime 22 years ago. For me, anime is so much more than precise detailing and intense story plots—it is a window to Japanese philosophy, architecture and lifestyle. While I adore Japan, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would get married to a Japanese one day!
More than a couple, we're best friends. I love how he keeps it real and doesn't sugarcoat the truth. He's my biggest cheerleader, and I'm grateful to have someone like him who I come home to. Living under one roof, I'd be lying if I said his habits did not rub off on me. Here are 10 important life lessons I learned from my Japanese partner.
While I love my butter chicken and bhindi masala, deep down, I know it isn't healthy for my body and skin. After living with my husband, I realised that he uses less oil, no masala, no butter or spices in his cooking. Most of his food is boiled, steamed and loaded with fresh ingredients and vegetables. You may have to develop a taste for Japanese food to enjoy it, but once you do, you'll get hooked on to it for life. Because I eat clean and fresh now, my body feels better too. Digestion is easy, no bloating or sloppiness experienced, fewer trips to the loo—I've never felt healthier!
If you've visited Japan before, you would realise that everything runs on time. The trains are never late, and work meetings start on time—punctuality equals professionalism there. This quality has started to become a part of my life too. I now show up 10 minutes earlier to events, meetings and functions and low-key get ticked off when someone is late (and doesn't apologise for it).
For Japanese people, respect is a two-way street. You have to give it to receive it. Being kind and polite costs nothing, but the impact it can have on the world is powerful! It doesn't matter how big of a person you are and what you do for a living, every human being is entitled to respect and kindness. I've started to smile more often and greet new faces—it makes their day and mine too!
Not just my husband, but every Japanese person I've met doesn't like mixing their professional and personal lives. They can switch between work mode and home mode easily. This quality helps them to keep the peace in both areas of their lives. No drama, more happiness.
From a very tender age, Japanese children learn how to cook, clean and take responsibility. This makes them more independent when they grow up. Unlike some parts of the world, one partner looks after the household chores and the other finances involved in running a family. In Japan, everyone is made independent so that they don't have to depend on anyone to meet their basic needs. I love this quality! After all, independence = freedom.
My Japanese partner taught me that there is a fine line between being lonely and alone. I've got the look for going alone for a movie or to a restaurant. Somehow it's strange to step out without having company. Not for Japanese. They love going out to the movies, shopping malls and cafes by themselves. There's nothing unusual about being able to enjoy your own company. On the contrary, it should be encouraged!
Japan is known for its capsule hotels and tiny living spaces—that's because the land is scarce. Hence, when you visit a Japanese home, you will only find the basics. Living a minimal and clutter-free lifestyle is encouraged.
To perform effectively and efficiently, the Japanese follow a 5s methodology - sort, set in order, shine, standardise and sustain. This means going through your stuff, deciding what's necessary, organising the ones you need, cleaning them and making sure that this process is done regularly (similar to Marie Kondo's philosophy).
There's never been a time when my partner turned up empty-handed when we met after a long time. And this is not just with me, but for everyone, he meets. No matter how big or small the gift is, a lot of thought goes into it. I like this quality, and today, even I've started to put thought into the gifts I bring for people.
Not many guy friends here follow a skincare routine, but my husband does. In fact, every Japanese person takes great care of their skin. More than investing in makeup, they focus on skincare. Sheet masks, face serums, essences, toners and even pimple patches—the Japanese are obsessed with skincare. Maybe that's one of their secrets to youthful, glowing skin.
Being able to look your best, and maintain hygiene is one of the best ways to make a great first impression. Short nails, moisturised skin, good posture, neat hair, wrinkle-free clothing, polished shoes, good smell—are hygiene habits that can help earn brownie points in the real world.
These life lessons I learned from him have not only made me more confident but happier and healthier as well.
Featured Image: Writer's Own