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Getting Used to the Metric System

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One of the first things you will find different in Japan if you are American is the metric system. Many loathe the idea of having to get used to another system of measures but after adjusting you will find that it isn’t so hard. Here are the first things you should make sure you understand.

Here is a resource for conversions: WEBSITE

Liters: This isn’t a foreign concept to most since drinks are sold by the liter in the States. In Japan most liquids are sold in liter quantities. There are about 4 liters in a gallon, so remember a small price difference can make a decent impact on your overall cost when filling up your tanks.

Grams/Kilograms: There are 454g in 1 pound. This is hard to visualize. Many things are priced by 100g increments (roughly ¼ pound), so remember this when you are purchasing meats, fish, and produce. The price can appear to be incredibly cheap on the sticker or sale sign, but take the time to check.

For larger weights you will be purchasing by the kilogram and that is almost 2 ¼ pounds.

If you step on a scale in Japan this will be the unit of measure.

Centimeters: If you are tall, everyone is going to ask you exactly how tall. There are 2.54cm in 1 inch, so be ready to do the conversion because your students will have no clue how big an inch is. You might also want to measure your doorways so you can remember to duck if you need to.

Meters/Kilometers: Distance can be incredibly hard to visualize when you are used to the mile. There are 1.6km in a mile. Your navigation systems are going to use this unit and 500meters is a lot further than 500feet. Make sure you get a good idea of distance so you don’t crash into any combinis while making that “turn” Siri is telling you about.

Kilocalories: No… 1 kilocalorie is not 1000 calories in this context. You will find kcal on your nutrition labels and it is the same unit that is used in other countries that is listed as calories. You might also find food labels with kJ listed on them. This stands for kilojoules and about 4kJ is equal to 1 calorie. It is good Japanese practice to learn how to read food labels.