Watermelon Culture Shock

Whenever we encounter a new culture, there is the possibility that we may have some culture shock. Culture shock is the feeling of confusion, disappointment, or surprise about something when someone visits a country or place that they do not know. When I first came to Japan, I had a number of culture shock moments, but there is one that comes to my mind whenever I think about buying a watermelon.

In the summer of my first year in Japan, I was invited to a barbeque and was asked to either bring drinks, a watermelon or paper plates, napkins, chopsticks, etc. I thought it would be easiest to get the watermelon, so I volunteer to pick one up. On the day of the barbeque, I went to the supermarket and found myself wishing I had not volunteered to buy one. I was having culture shock. The watermelon I needed to buy was ¥3,000 (this was in 1998). I couldn’t believe it. ¥3,000 for a watermelon! Watermelons are supposed to be cheap. I was expecting to pay around ¥500 as they were less than $5 in my hometown in the U.S. at that time. Despite not wanting to, I bought the watermelon. The barbeque was a lot of fun, but in the back of my mind, I was still having culture shock over how much I spent on that watermelon.                                    Erik