We're unlike the Japanese in many ways. Two differences come to mind, and both are unpleasant.

One is how we Westerners smell. The Japanese don't like to be with us in crowded spaces, particularly elevators. Our bodies give off a disturbing odor we're not aware of. It probably has something to do with diet.

The second involves a sandwich. Seen in an advertisement on American television, someone is biting into a huge sandwich with its contents spilling out and splashing on the floor. This is considered desirable. In Japan, it's just the opposite. Thinly sliced bread with crusts removed offer tidy delectables. Of course, quite a few must be eaten to match the American monster.

There is, however, an offset I've always found amusing and somewhat entertaining. In a soba parlor, the noise of the diners slurping their meal is almost overwhelming.