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7 Super Embarrassing Things I’ve Done In Japan

Every time I leave the house, I pray I won’t do or say anything embarrassing. But then more often than not I end up embarrassing myself anyway. I’m just one of those people. Humiliation follows me around like a dirty shirt.

I’ve graded these embarrassing moments out of 5, taking into considering the number of witnesses (!!!) and the level of humiliation felt in that moment. But, I get embarrassed easily, too. Like, “I find it embarrassing to buy cat litter” level of shyness. You’ve been warned.


The Sushi Pig

Embarrassment level: ☆☆☆☆☆

Once, I went to eat sushi with one of my roommates at one of the Prince Park Hotel’s restaurants. The Prince Park Hotel is a super fancy hotel in downtown Tokyo, in case you didn’t know. And to mark the occasion, I was wearing my new pink dress.

I’d read somewhere that it was socially acceptable to eat sushi with your hands, and I didn’t want to make a mess of the fancy sushi, so I decided using my hands would be the neatest course of action. So as I’m stuffing my face, I can see the staff behind the counter looking at me, but I didn’t know why…

It wasn’t until later that I found out yeah, it’s acceptable for OLD MEN to eat sushi with their hands, not young women. So I was a slovenly pig, that’s why they were looking. But…that’s not even the worst. To add insult to injury, when I stood up afterwards to show off my dress, IT HAD SOY SAUCE STAINS ALL OVER THE FRONT. I seriously just wanted to crawl into a hole and die. So. Supremely. Embarrassing.

Here is a picture of the actual sushi I ate that day, stolen from my Instagram:

faux pas Japan

The sushi from Prince Park Hotel’s restaurant.

The Runaway Shoe

Embarrassment level: ☆☆☆☆☆

One super rainy day in spring, I was crossing a busy downtown street quickly before the light changed. I was wearing these flimsy denim flats and one literally slipped off my foot halfway across, and I had to hop across the street on one leg with a soaking wet foot, my sopping shoe dangling from one hand and all those cars watching (and laughing).

To this day, I still consider this one of the most embarrassing things that has ever happened to me in my entire life.

The Lost Girl 

Embarrassment level: ☆☆☆☆

Once on a long-haul flight to Japan, I just HAD to get up and get some pretzels, which were all the way at the back of the plane. Before I got up, I memorized my seat and row so I could find it again, but the plane was huge and I got a little confused on my way back. A young Japanese guy about my age was standing and talking to his friends. He asked me if I was lost, and I said yes, and I thought that was the end of the conversation.

He started walking up the aisle without saying anything else, and then he stopped to (what looked to me) talk with his other friends. I only found out later, after squeezing past him twice going back and forth looking for my seat, that he had found my seat for me and was trying to help. But since he was standing there I didn’t see my seat, and I didn’t know he was trying to help and…gawd, this was the most embarrassing thing to happen to me on an airplane, I swear. Poor guy had to just continue walking up the aisle like nothing happened while I obliviously barreled around looking for the seat and passing it like four times.

Here’s a photo I took at an airport. Not actually related to this incident, but, it’s an airport so it’s kind of related.
embarrassing moments in Japan

“Leave Space for Walking!”

Embarrassment level: ☆☆☆

Okay this one is not so much embarrassing for me as for this old man. Once while standing on the subway platform waiting for the train, a stumbling old man yelled at me in perfect English, “LEAVE SPACE FOR WALKING!” and shoved past me. I was so stunned and hurt. But I also wondered, I was practically the only one there, so why didn’t he just walk behind me?

As I stood there embarrassed, I could hear a group of teenagers giggling, and I thought they were laughing at me. But after he walked past I realized that – I kid you not! – the man’s pants were down a full four inches and you could ACTUALLY SEE HIS BUTT as he shuffled down the platform. I don’t know if it was because he was a little crazy or senile or what, but it made me feel a whole lot better.

Sausage Legs

Embarrassment level: ☆☆

One time I was shopping at Don Quixote in Shibuya buying a pair of pantyhose. When I got to the checkout, the young man at the counter pointed to the size on the tag and asked me if it was okay, and said there was no returns. I got all flustered, pointed at my legs and asked him if he thought the size was okay. The poor guy was so embarrassed, and then I was embarrassed for embarrassing him…just awful. (In case you’re wondering, the tights ended up being a tight squeeze but I made it work).

Damn the Guidebook

Embarrassment level: ☆☆

This one wasn’t too embarrassing. Before I really started studying Japanese, I learned in the Lonely Planet guidebook that you could say “ii desu” if you don’t want a bag at the checkout. I tried it out once at a Family Mart, and the guy’s reaction was enough to tell me this is NOT the correct phrase! Poor guy just furrowed his brows in confusion. Damn that Lonely Planet. Lies!

The Photo Op

Embarrassment level: ☆☆☆☆

I already mentioned this in this post, but anyway, when I went to the grand opening on the Dominique Ansel Bakery in Ginza, Dominique Ansel himself was there overseeing the show. It was kind of like seeing a mini celebrity, so I was excited once I realized it was him. I watched another girl ask him to pose for a photo with her and the staff took it, and I wanted to do the same. But being the awkward and embarrassing person that I am, I just couldn’t. Instead, I made several fake outs, like, holding my camera as if to take a photo, but not doing it; and then taking several steps toward him and then losing my nerve and backing up.

If I thought I was being discreet, I couldn’t have been more wrong, because eventually I looked up to see a young couple staring at me with their judging eyes. “Oh, god,” I thought, “They witnessed my socially awkward fail! Act natch, act natch, act natch…” The girl looked away politely, but the man continued to stare and made me feel even worse. Face palm. Hate that guy.

And I never asked anyone to pose for a photo that day, or ever again. LOL.

social faux pas Japan

Photo of Dominique Ansel I took before I realized it was Dominique Ansel.

Phew! That’s the ones that come to mind. Bet you can’t top those ^-^’ 

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