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Eriko Nakamura - Nâââândé ??!

French Ben

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Eriko Nakamura – Naaande ?

Summary: Eriko Nakamura is a famous Japanese woman who married a French guy and moved to France. In this booklet, she outlines all the cultural differences that make Japanese people say "Nââââândé??!" in France.



Japanese people coming to Paris experience the Paris Syndrome and become crazy. It’s dirty and people are in a bad mood. When anything goes wrong, the Japanese will start blaming himself, while the Parisien will accuse the other one. Japanese people feel guilty and hat they did something wrong when the Parisian waitress ignores them or the taxi drivers complains that he missed a street.

A few things that shock Japanese people in Paris: people who blow their nose loudly, arrive late without apologizing, through their cigarette butts from their balcony

Eating out

French people invite each other at home and spend the evening fighting about politics. If you arrive on time, it is considered rude. It’s polite for French people to be half an hour late. They eat very late and seem more interested in fighting than in the food, including women. This is especially true during political campaigns and before elections. In Japan, they would be afraid of disagreeing and making other people upset, whereas it seems it was the goal that French people were seeking. Even those who stay quiet get their opinion asked and get interrupted before they can finish.

French people start with appetizers, then the dish, then another dish, then salad and cheese, then dessert, then coffee then digestive alcohol, while moving from the kitchen to the living room twice.

Meeting someone

In Japan, it’s a big faux pas of being a single minute late. French people arrive at least 10 minutes late and don’t apologize. Japanese people have everything planned. If they say you will have three minutes to speak from 4.47 to 4.50 pm, they will be on time.

French people seldom start meetings on time; you usually have to wait in the corridor, nobody pays attention to you. Most meetings are not planned and end up with the conclusion that people need to meet again.

Japanese people hand out business cards first thing, take it with both hands and read it for a while and puts it on the table. French people might take notes on it.

The subway

French people often give their seats to older or pregnant women and help you carry your stroller up the stairs. In Japan people don’t do those things, and women get groped on the subway. French people have musicians on their subway, Japanese people line up very neatly in front of the doors.

Tokyo is so big that the subway was made to be comfortable, it is clean and has AC. It is never late, Japanese people can plan for their transfer by the minute. They won’t speak loudly, eat or put on make-up. Men might read an erotic manga, though.

Parisians don’t read or use their phone, they just wait for their stop, look sad, get disturbed by beggars with sob-stories and crackheads yelling about the president.


French clerks can chew gum and speak loudly to each other about their personal problems while scanning your items. And you need to bag your groceries yourself.

Japanese clerks bag them very delicately, wear gloves and never touch your items if they touch money. When a new line opens, French people will rush in while Japanese will stand in line.

French butchers are like nobles, they have lots and lots of meat. In Japan, roosters and hens were seen as messengers from shintô gods and couldn’t be eaten. Each dynasty would start with a ban on meat. During Edô (1615-1868), butchers were shun from society. Their shops (kemonoya) were in the outskirts. Even today, Japanese people don’t eat a lot of meat.

Department stores

You get greeted by irrashaimase, employees rush to help you, there are toilets for kids, terraces where you can have a drink and keep an eye on them. It’s generally very enjoyable to spend time there. Everything is always clean and ready from the first minute.

In France, if you arrive at the opening you will see employees still preparing the shop and putting on some makeup, cleaning up, talking to each other. In the evening, they are reluctant to help you, will flat out ignore you, speak rudely and snatch things out of your hands.

In Japan,  if the CD you buy doesn’t work, they will apologize profusely, give you a new one and the store manager will come and meet you at your company to offer you another one personally.

French people don’t mind changing clothes outside of changing rooms. Japanese people would never do this.


Japanese weddings are very codified, there is a time for everything and the ceremony is very meticulously planned. There is an MC called chikai. The program has been rehearse by the newlyweds several times. It is either from 11 to 3 pm or 5 pm to 9. Everything is on time by the minute. Gifts are forbidden, so everyone gives money. The bride’s gown is a rental.

In France, the newlyweds’ friends show vacation pictures, make sexy jokes, the parents give speeches with jokes where only their table laughs. The bride’s gown is bought. It’s messier but more fun.


In France, policemen are so tactless they had to receive training for not inflicting a second trauma to Japanese victims. The Japanese kôban’s main task is to give directions to lost travelers. They can lend you money to get back home if you lose your wallet with the promise they give it back in 2 days. If there is anything happening in your building, they will knock on every door, apologize and thank you for your cooperation. They don’t carry weapons. The okami have very good reputation in Japan. They are always helpful and polite.

In France there are lots of documents to file in, you have to keep them and if you have any question, you will rarely find two employees who give you the same answer.


When Japanese subway employees strike, they do it from 5 to 7 am, wear a black armband and start work again at 7 am so as not to inconvenience travelers.

In France, everybody goes on strikes: Air France, the subway company, the train company, the electricity company, the welfare, the post offices, the radios, museums, nurses, doctors, lorry drivers, txi drivers, teachers, highschoolers, students, lawyers and even soccer players. And they try to inconvenience as many people as possible by doing it during the end of year, holidays and peak seasons.

They do it loudly and take the whole road. In Japan, they do it quietly and take only a part of the sidewalk. France is a country of rights, Japan is a country of duties. As Kennedy said: Do not ask what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.

In France they even do pre-emptive strikes to “protect the public service”. If they wanted to do this, Japanese people would work twice harder to show everyone how well they can help things go. Workers unions who call for strikes in the public sector can be jailed for up to three years.


As soon as you walk in, a waiter yells ohayôgozaimasu, another one brings you water and says ohio geosimasu. In France, they approach you with “what will you get?” and might slam the bill on the table as soon as you order. They don’t apologize it they spill something, clean it up in front of you, whereas the Japanese waiter would apologize profusely, and bring you another clean cup of coffee.

In Japan they are polite but they might charge you more if you don’t come often. It’s like a gaijin tax. But you can eat for cheap, they bring you a hot towel and a fresh one.

But Japanese people slurp their noodles and eat very fast whereas French people always take the time to relax on a terrace, enjoy their time and go slowly, as if they weren’t working in the afternoon.


In Tokyo, you can hail a cab and get one any time of the day or night. They are always clean, say irasshaimase and drive you carefuly, without trying to rip you off. French cab drivers can be on the phone loudly, listen to the radio and try to make a quick buck off you. If you protest, they tell you you should have taken the subway instead.

In Japan, cab drivers have fixed salaries so they wouldn’t try to rip you off. In France, they might refuse you if the fare is too small and if you don’t go in their direction.


Japanese TV has talentos – people who make silly jokes. It’s always the same stupid, repetitive jokes that French people don’t laugh about. But the Japanese are super shocked to see naked women and couples about to bang in ads for cheese and banks in France.


French people like to ask each other their plans for the weekends. They like to go out with friends, go to the their second home in the countryside dressed in casual clothes.

Japanese people spend the weekend at home, maybe go shopping but stay with their family. The only time they go to the countryside is during the golden week.


Preschool is awesome for Japanese kids. But as soon as they turn six, they already have a competition to get into the best primary schools (shôgakkô). Each week, a group of students is in charge of erasing the board, prepare the gym room and take attendance. Everyone takes part in cultural, sports  and artistic events, dressed in uniforms. They go to evening classes and very seldom go to friends’ houses or birthday parties. Kids have a lot of pressure and learn good manners very early, stay very well-behaved around their family or their parents’ friends.

French kids talk back to their parents like they were friends, say “shut up” to them. Parents take it and minimize it, saying “it’s the age they behave stupid like that”, let kids play loudly when everyone is sleeping in the early morning and do not scold them when they loudly complain that the waiter brought them subpar fries.

But Japanese people don’t make kids anymore. Hiring a nanny is just too expensive.


In Paris, buildings are either houses or offices, by law. So it's all quiet at night. But in Tokyo, there can be different kinds of businesses in the same building, like a nightclub, an office and a restaurant. There are plenty of neon lights on buildings. At 6 pm, salarymen swarm out and are accepted everywhere, whereas Parisians have to face a bouncer who gets to decide who can walk in. And once inside, they don’t even have fun – French people spend their nights looking at each other, talking and picking up girls, even by talking about their job.

Japanese people tell apart the ke (daily life) and hare (non-daily). Even in suits and costumes, Japanese salarymen can have lots of fun. Even when they are drunk, they are not violent. In Ginza, classy hostesses put back drunk guys in taxis, always smiling and saying okiosukete, matta irashitekudasai.



In France, nobody wants to look like their neighbor. They all want to look different. Japanese women all want to dress the same. Magazines are like catalogs full of “uniforms” for work, weekends, dinner with the husband, etc. French magazines are more to help each woman find her unique look.

In Japan, from the Prime Minister’s wife to the janitor, every woman will want to buy the same Louis Vuitton bag. They have a taste for equality and conformism. No head should stick out.

The ones who stick out are teenagers: cosplayers in Harajuku and their kawaii attitude to look like little girls. Japanese men love these women who look like little girls.

Some girls go from Sweet Lolita to Gothic Lolita, Wa Lolita (traditional Japanese), Fruit Lolita, Cyber Lolita, Country Lolita, Horror Lolita, Punk Lolita, Industrial Lolita and finally stay-at-home mom.


Parisians have a 75 in their license plate and use it to judge other drivers. France has so many roundabouts. They push cars around them when they want to park. Paris is small and parking spots are rare.


Japanese sidewalks are pristine. French sidewalks are cluttered with dog poop, old chewing-gums, cigarette butts and dirty papers. In Japan, escalators and lifts actually work, all the time. People do not litter, except on Hanami where everyone does it, once a year. Citizens clean up streets. In Paris, only building caretakers sweep, and only do it in front of their door.

In Paris, a group of Japanese people called Green Bird now sweep the streets and clean up around touristic places. When French people walk in dog poop, they minimize the issue and say it’s lucky to step on it with your left foot.


In Tokyo there are public toilets everywhere and they are free. In Paris, when you go to a theater, you have to line up to go to the toilets as there aren’t enough for everyone, which is pretty embarrassing. Once inside, girls speak loudly from one stall to another one and slam doors. You might want to go to a pub to use their toilets but they will make you understand that you need to be a customer to use them. Then they still might be clogged, reek of urine with toilet paper and cigarette butts lying around the floor, when the toilets aren’t closed for renovation.

French toilets in bars or restaurants also have a timer that turns the light off. Japanese people don’t have this as everyone turns the light off when they leave.

In Japan there are no janitors in schools. Kids sweep their own classroom, clean the toilets every other week. If your class does a poor job, you can bet the other class is going to leave you a dirty toilet when it’s their turn to clean it up. So they learn to clean up well.

In 2004, Japanese homes had more electronic toilets than computers. They diffuse music as Japanese women would be horrified if someone heard them, which is why they keep flushing the toilet in France. And the toilet paper in France is way too hard. Japanese toilet paper is incredibly refined and smooth. Japanese people go to France with their own TP.


French people want to tan, Japanese women want to stay as white as possible. Since the Heian period (795-1185), women must be super white. They want to have their skin as smooth and perfect as possible. Women need to have makeup at work. They spend at least half an hour a day preparing for work.

French women do not hide the imperfections of their skin, their freckles or beauty marks. They just wear a bit of lipstick. But they often do not really cleanse. The average Japanese woman uses around 5 different lotions to remove her makeup.

New Year’s Eve

In France, people always gather for the New Year, eat with friends, do the countdown and kiss each other on both cheeks. Japanese people stay home, change the paper of the shoji (Japanese doors), replace broken objects, air up their tatami and pay their debts before the omisoka. (New Year’s Eve). It’s impossible for them not to have some omochi, chewy rice paste and toshiko-soba, some soup with noodles that are called kake – “debts” that you have paid.

In Japan, Christmas is like a Valentine’s Day, you are supposed to have a date on that day.


In Japan, you are very well-treated. The staff welcomes you as soon as you walk in, the doctor is on time, he doesn’t press you, tries to make you feel better about your general state and you go home with a small package his assistant made for you, with the precise number of pills that you need to take. If you have to undress, you go behind a yukata and a female assistant is always present.

In France, you need to call and wait for at least three days before they can take you in. You arrive in a gloomy place with nobody to welcome you, and have to sit and wait for half an hour with a pile of old magazines. The doctor greets you with “Our turn” and asks you to undress even if he is alone with you. That would be a national scandal in Japan – both the doc and the patient would commit suicide.

He interrupts the visitation to take a call and speaks out loud, scribbles a bill and says “30 euros” and no other polite word. You have to go to the pharmacy get the medicine yourself and you find out that he prescribed way more pills than you need.


Both ryokan and love hotels can count on very attentive staff. In love hotels, the way in and out are different, everything is made so that you don’t run into anyone you might know. They cover up your car plate in the parking lot where they have reserved a spot for you. Even in small hotels, they will take your luggage.

In France you might arrive early and be asked to wait for 3 hours. The computer doesn’t work so the employee tells you he can’t do anything before the boss arrives, while watching a soccer game on TV. He might refuse to let you leave your luggage in the hall in the meantime. The boss might scold him in front of you. You need to ask for help if you need someone to carry your luggage, and the guy who does that will moan at every step.

In France, they have queen size beds. But Japanese couples prefer sleeping in separate beds, they sleep better this way.


In Japan, almost all men go to hostess bars. Lots of couples are sexless and it’s often because of the guy. He often doesn’t want to have sex with his wife and develops a fetish for erotic videogames, manga and highschoolers. They like lolicons – lolitas that look super young. You see them in every manga, every TV show. Lots of highschoolers sell their used panties. Japanese men often steal panties that are drying in the sun.

On Valentine’s Day, the French husband offers lingerie to his wife.


Once married, a Japanese couple is nothing more than a couple of parents. They do not need to get along, they only need to be from the same social class, share the same values and agree on the children’s education. Lots of marriages are still arranged by professional matchmakers.

French women, on the other side, would never accept that their husband comes back home super late every night and spends the weekend with his friends, customers or boss. No French woman would accept that their husband gets muted to the countryside and that he doesn’t offer her to tag along. But in Japan, it’s commonplace. Couple life is more of a contract than a love story. The husband goes to bars with friends while the wife stays home. Japanese women usually go out for lunch with friends while their husband gets his own takeaway noodles.

Japanese husbands often struggle to find a gift that their wife will love; they do not know much about her. The French husband usually still expresses his love and says he finds his wife pretty.

Japanese women are the ones managing the money and give their husbands an allowance. They seldom go out. When they are invited, their husbands are very seldom invited as well. French people would never invite someone without their significant other. In France, the couple is a unit. Not in Japan.

Edited by French Ben
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