It’s the little differences

I love learning about foreign cultures. It fascinates me to see all the different ways people from all over the world come up with to do the same thing. That is why I am usually more interested in the little differences, rather than the more obvious, big differences.

I think Vincent Vega, in the movie Pulp Fiction, said it best when he said:

Vincent: You know what the funniest thing about Europe is?
Jules: What?
Vincent: It’s the little differences. I mean they got the same shit over there that they got here, but it’s just… just there it’s a little different.

pulp fiction europe
Vincent (left) and Jules (right) discussing the little differences, in the movie Pulp Fiction

A good example of one of the little differences is a Japanese taxicab. In Japan, the interior of a taxi is decorated with white, lacy fabric. In Belgium, such fabric is usually only found in the homes of old-fashioned grandmothers. To see it inside a taxi seemed very funny to me. Another remarkable difference is that Japanese taxi drivers sometimes wear a navy-like hat and they always wear white gloves.

Japanese taxi inside
The inside of a Japanese taxi
Japanese taxi driver
A Japanese taxi driver – mind the white gloves


18 thoughts on “It’s the little differences

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    1. When I was studying Japanese, prior to moving to Japan, one of the lessons we had was explaining to the taxi driver how to get to the destination. I thought it was a bit weird that the driver wouldn’t know how to get there himself. But I take it from your comment that that is a fairly realistic situation?

  1. I was riding a cab last night and though it was quite humid outside, it wasn’t hot. It was actually rather cool temperaturewise. Turned out it was too cold in the cab with the air conditioner on and I told the driver as much but at the same time I told him he didn’t have to turn it off if he felt it was too hot as he was very properly dressed in his suit.

    We kept the air conditioner running but he had it turned down as low as possible.

    1. Compromise is a beautiful thing 🙂 When I was living in Japan, I also used the airconditioner mostly for controlling humidity and would put it at around 28°C

  2. Loved the pulp fiction reference, I don’t know if it’s the same or not but in Australia we call those white cloth things “doilies” and as you said it’s something that old people usually have haha.

    1. The taxi in the picture is the one that picked us up from the airport and therefore one of the first things we saw in Japan. At first it was hard to take the doilies seriously but afterwards I saw that all taxis have them.

  3. And how about the “shape” of Japanese taxi? They all look like old cars from the 70s-80s, while infact they are brand new! 😀

  4. That screen shot from Pulp Fiction and theme of cultural differences makes it impossible for me not to share this, It’s an uncannily accurate voice-over of the hamburger dialogue scene, done in a thick West of Ireland (Kerry) accent.

    One thing that impressed me about Japanese taxis was how they automatically opened the back door of the vehicle such that customers didn’t ever have to touch the door handle, or any part of the taxi.

    1. I actually saw this clip a few months ago on The Graham Norton Show (which I adore). One of the guests was Quentin Tarantino and Graham showed him this clip. This is the interview: If you start watching around 5:15, you’ll see a very funny bit about the twist scene. It then goes into the bit about the Kerry accent at 6:25. It is indeed uncanny how good that voice-over is.

  5. Every cab I took in Tokyo was immaculately clean, air conditioned, and had pleasant drivers. When we arrived at the Beijing airport, we came upon a door-slamming top-of-the-lungs fight between a cab driver and his passenger. Welcome to China!

    1. I agree! It gives a sense of order and security. And perhaps it also gives a sense of pride to the people wearing the uniforms? I never asked anyone about that though ^_^

      1. I would love the opposite. Every job in shorts and flip flops. Cab drivers, politicians, police officers and pallbearers.

        1. I bet you would, altough I’m not too sure how much you would like it during winter in Belgium. I also doubt if you will get away with that as a fireman :-p

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