So far the two biggest differences I have noticed between Japan and the United States are its shoes etiquette and its shower/bath procedures.
Bathing in Japan is NOTHING like bathing in America. Thankfully I read a cultural book explaining the concept before arriving, so I sort of knew what to expect. In the United States and most other westernized countries, you shower alone in a single, curtain-covered space. Here in Japan, it’s basically the complete opposite. Each facility we have stayed in has what we call a Bath House. I have pictures to help guide.
Finally, once you are completely clean, you go and soak in this bath (if you so choose). The bath is either hot, or super hot (so, perfect for me!). One can only bathe in the bath when they are completely clean. Soap and shampoo are not allowed in the bath. Some people will soak for hours. Japan has public baths as well, where you can come and just soak in a bath and hang out with your friends (naked) all day and just relax.
These baths exist in Japanese homes as well; there is a shower faucet and then a smaller, 1 person bath for soaking. It is filled at night and then one-by-one members of the family shower and then soak in the bath. I almost prefer the Japanese style of bathing as it means that I have an excuse to sit in a bathtub and not feel so guilty. As our JC’s (Japanese Counselors) say, “The bath is good for the soul.”
Before coming to Japan I could have never showered naked with my friends, but now it’s no big deal. We just get in, do what we have to do, and then just soak in the bath and relax, and have good conversation. I think this experience in itself has helped me to grow as a person and to learn to embrace my own body, and it appreciate its beauty. People come in all shapes and sizes and we are all beautiful. The campers of all ages also shower together; I think about myself at the ages of 12, 13, 14, 15, etc. and I do not think I could have ever done it; but obviously that is just a difference in culture and in being raised in a different environment.