Cultural differences are to be expected when moving to a foreign country — and this TikToker outlines the ones he’s experienced first-hand since relocating to Tokyo, Japan.
Ryan Crouse (@ryanthetwat), a 21-year-old Tokyo-based TikToker with 645.1 million followers and 16.4 million likes, has been using his platform as a means of chronicling his experience as an American in Japan. Before spontaneously purchasing a one-way ticket to the idyllic country, Ryan was a college student in New York City.
In late February, he posted a video entitled “things in Japan that would send an American into a coma,” which outlined five key differences of living in Japan versus the United States.
The first and arguably most notable difference? The supposedly mandatory ‘shutter sound’ on Japanese smartphones.
“Every single phone in Japan has the shutter sound when you take a picture… even if you take the picture on SnapChat or any app and you cannot disable it,” he begins.
“This is required of the government because they wanted to stop men from taking photos of girls without them knowing. So if you buy a phone in Japan, it has the shutter sound and you can’t turn it off.”
The same goes for camera phones manufactured in South Korea.
While the shutter noise on mobile phones with built-in cameras isn’t something that is required by law, the decision to integrate them was, according to Akky Akimoto for The Japan Times, one that was “taken up voluntarily by all Japanese cellphone vendors” in response to the proliferation of camera phones and subsequent rise in “up-skirt” photography in densely populated public spaces like subway trains.
According to Japanese mobile provider NTT Docomo, the shutter sounds cannot be disabled as a means “to prevent secret filming or other privacy issues.”
Ryan further explains that the shutter sound is constantly heard in high-traffic places like museums.
The TikToker, however, revealed the way people have worked-around the sound.
“What a lot of people do to get around this is when they travel to another country they’ll use that time to buy an iPhone or just any phone and bring it back to Japan. When I had to get a new iPhone, I bought it in America and had it shipped to Japan because I was not going to deal with that shutter sound.”
Per Engadget writer Matt Smith, however, voyeuristic photographer still persists in the form of downloadable apps that “allow users to take photos on iPhones and other smartphones with no faux shutter sound,” noting that while the image is typically taken in a lower resolution, creepy people can still find a way to be creepy.
Ryan moves on to his second point, which is that “people in Japan will literally sleep anywhere.”
“It’s extremely common to see people sleeping on the train. Sometimes they’ll even fall asleep on your shoulder,” he revealed, citing that work days can exceed 12 hours there.
While many, if not most countries may believe otherwise, napping in public or on the job is culturally accepted in Japan.
According to The New York Times, working to the point of utter exhaustion is referred to as “inemuri” which, per Brigitte Steger, a senior lecturer in Japanese Studies at Downing College, Cambridge, translates to “sleeping while present.”
Ryan then discusses his third point, the “Shibuya Meltdown” a term popularized by a viral Instagram account (@shibuyameltdown) that showcases images of Japanese workers who, after a tiring day at work, go out to drink and “literally fall asleep anywhere in Shibuya” until they either wake up to go home or back to work.
The former New York-based influencer then goes on to reveal that in Japan, moviegoers sit through the credits at the end of the film — something that Americans don’t usually do.
“I feel like some people do this in America, but I think for the most part you just get up and leave.”
The final difference Ryan highlights is how common it is to be scouted as a hair model if you are “conventionally attractive.”
“Hairstylists will just run up to you and ask if they can cut your hair for free,” he explains.
“It’s happened to be but I’ve said no because you have to do a specific haircut they want and I just like cutting my own hair.”
The informative video has since garnered 18.5 million views, 4.5 million likes and more than 13,200 comments.
Many TikTokers praised Japan’s mandatory shutter sound.
“Shutter sound is a good idea that can make people feel more safe,” wrote @cedeissupercool.
“I honestly like the thoughtfulness behind the shutter sound ON, the US would never put us first like that,” wrote @xoxoxoxoxoh.
Other users criticized the country’s lack of work-life balance.
“Everyone talking about the shutter sound but the work-life balance is absolutely atrocious, how is that even legal?” commented @piiraataa.
As more Gen Zers make the move to foreign countries, videos like these give audiences a thoughtful look into the differences that vary across countries and cultures.
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