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Thread: For our Japanese readers : Things you should not say to Westerners

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Post For our Japanese readers : Things you should not say to Westerners

    Quote Originally Posted by CC1
    I will say however that to only criticize and not offering valid options on how it should be corrected really does little good. It is very easy to point out that something is wrong, but quite another when you offer valid advise on how to smoothly transition into a better situation.
    In consideration to CC1's above feedback from this thread, I'd like to provide some advise to our Japanese readers as how to better address Westerners so as not to shock them, in relation to my article Common Japanese misconceptions regarding foreigners and foreign countries. I understand that not all Westerners feel the way I feel about these issues, but I also know that a considerable number of people do.

    1. Questions about food

    Do not ask someone "can you eat (something)", but "do you like (something)". We can only say that somebody cannot eat something when they are allergic to it, cannot eat it for religious or ideologic reasons or because they dislike it so much that it makes them throw up. It doesn't matter in what language you ask this question (even in Japanese), it is not a matter of cultural difference about the meaning of "can" (dekiru, taberareru...), but just a matter of accuracy of vocabulary. So please say "what kind of food don't you like ?" and not "What kind of food can/can't you eat ?". If someone ask me if I can eat something, my answer will be "yes", even if I don't like it, as I have no allergies or religious restrictions.
    There is also food which I can it, like, but don't want to eat, because they may be unhealthy or I may be afraid to eat (e.g. beef because of BSE).

    2. Questions about the weather & seasons

    Avoid asking if a temperate country has four seasons like Japan, as it may be shocking for a Westerners to hear such nonsense. The reasons are that
    1) you should know about basic world geography
    2) some countries like the US or Australia are so big that the climate can be very different depending on the region
    3) it sounds like the Japanese are proud of having 4 seasons (why would it matter?) and are stupid enough to think that many Western countries don't.

    To avoid such reactions, ask instead :

    - "How is the climate in your country/state/region/hometown ?"
    - "How is the weather at the moment in your country/hometown ?
    - "Is the weather in Japan very different than where you come from ?"
    - etc.

    If the person has stayed in Japan for at least a year and experienced all the seasons in Japan, you can ask :

    - "Do the seasons start and end at different times of the year where you come from ?"
    - "How would you compare the climate in your country/hometown and Japan/(place where you live in Japan) ?
    - etc.

    From my experience, the problem of many Japanese is asking too simple questions, which sound both naive and stupid, and may be offending if the person who is asked think that the person who ask is only feigning to be naive/stupid. Anyway, it's either one or the other. Interestingly, I did not notice any difference when the question was asked in Japanese, so it's not a matter of linguistic abilities. In fact, even Japanese people who are very fluent in English ask those questions the same way. If they have lived abroad or have (had) a Western partner, they are less likely to ask those questions though.

    3. Questions regarding general abilities

    Just don't ask a foreigner if they can use chopsticks, sleep on a futon, sit in seiza, or whatever.

    If they have been in Japan for some time, your asking will be offensive because you are supposing that they cannot do it just because they are foreigners. This sounds racist and is bound to anger many people you ask (not all though).

    If they have just arrived in Japan, are visitors, or if you ask the questions while abroad to people who have never been to Japan, it will sound like you are proud of being able to do these things while they probably can't because they are not used to them. If people are not offended, they will think you are vain. So just don't ask.

    If you really need to know for example if a short-term visitor can sit in seiza and use chopsticks because you want to take them to a restaurant where they have to sit on a tatami then ask it more tactfully like :

    - "I hope you don't mind if we go to a restaurant where we have to sit on a tatami".
    - "This restaurant doesn't have chairs; is it a problem for you ?"
    - etc.

    In my experience, Japanese people tend to be abrupt when asking such questions to foreigners, even when asking in Japanese. It's usually like "Can you sit in seiza ?" with a tone of voice expecting a negative answer. It's for the least surprising for a culture said to be so indirect, polite and careful of other people's feelings. Or maybe is it a special treatment for foreigners, who cannot possibly need to be asked tactfully (as they don't feel the same way as the Japanese) ?

    4. Addressing a Westerner in a public place

    There are a few rules that should be followed here if you don't want to appear impolite, abrupt, shameless or just weird.

    a) Don't assume that all Westerners are native speakers of English

    b) Don't assume that foreigners can't speak Japanese

    c) Don't talk to a foreigners in a public place just to practice your English, especially if there is no eye-contact before that invite you to do so (e.g.don't do it if they are reading a book, resting, thinking, talking to someone else, walking, etc.). It happened several times to me (and many other Westerners in Japan) to be suddenly approached by some people in the street who apparently just want to speak English (e.g. asking where I am from, etc.). This happened when I was riding my bicycle (waiting at the traffic light), when I was reading in a cafe, walking to work, and even when I was shopping with my wife. This is just rude and should be avoided. Acceptable situations would be at a party, or when your are both sitting in a cafe and make some eye to show that you are interested in communicating.

    d) Don't answer with gestures or think 2min about an answer in English if a Westerner ask you something (e.g. if you work in a shop) in Japanese. Just answer in Japanese. The reasons are that 1) they may not speak English (over half of all Westerners are not native English-speakers), and 2) it can be very annoying to be answered in incomprehensible English or by gestures when one is trying to communicate in the local language. They may also think that you just don't want to talk to them because they are foreigners, as no Japanese would reply like this to another Japanese. So only reply in English if you are confident enough and are sure that the person asking speaks English (e.g. if they have a strong English accent in Japanese or you heard them speak English to someone else).

    5. If addressed by a Westerner in Japanese

    Many Westerners in Japan complain that when they ask something in Japanese to a Japanese person, they will almost always reply to an accompanying Japanese person if there is one. For example, if I am with my wife or another Japanese person and I ask some information to a shop attendant, real estate agent, metro staff, government official, etc., they will ignore me and reply to the Japanese person with me. This is not just annoying, it's plain rude and disrespectful. This situation even happened to me when I was with a Korean friend who didn't speak much Japanese, juts because she looked Japanese.

    The problem is that it happens almost all the time. And even when I continue asking more questions in Japanese (which they always understand easily, so they can see I can speak Japanese), they still don't look at me and insist on talking back to my wife or Japanese friend. This should be avoided at all cost if you don't want to give the image that the Japanese are disrepectful (even insulting) to foreigners and thus maybe racists.

    So don't reply to an accompanying Japanese (or someone who looks Japanese) if a Westerner ask you a question in Japanese. Reply to the person who asked the question.

    Secondly, never reply with gestures (e.g. pointing at the price on the cash register) if a foreigner address you in Japanese (except if you want to appear unfriendly or scornful on purpose). This usually happens to people who do not speak English at all and presume that Westerners can't understand Japanese. So responding with gestures with make you look prejudiced and ignorant. Just answer normally in Japanese.
    Last edited by Maciamo; Apr 5, 2005 at 22:43.

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  2. #2
    Regular Member misa.j's Avatar
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    I think those are pretty good suggestions, particularly if you write one in Japanese as well and get it out in schools and such. I think they will help Japanese to have more consideration when they meet foreigners.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    c) Don't talk to a foreigners in a public place just to practice your English, especially if there is no eye-contact before that invite you to do so
    That reminded me of the time I was at a restaurant with my mother and my aunt in Japan. A couple seated next to us was talking in English, and both of my mother and my aunt tried to get me talk to them just because I had just gone back from the US. I was like, "They are trying to have lunch here. I'm not bothering them just because you want to hear me speak English."
    Oh, dear...
    Last edited by misa.j; Apr 6, 2005 at 13:10.

  3. #3
    目録 Index's Avatar
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    Actually point 4 is important I think. When I was admitted to hospital in Japan, some of the nurses kept speaking to me in English, even though I could speak Japanese better than they could English. One nurse in particular seemed to want to practice her English on me, which is fair enough until you realize that this was a hospital and mistakes could be quite costly. I remember a few instances when she got things completely wrong and it was only because I spoke Japanese that I didn't get a kidney transplant instead of a blood transfusion Finally one of the doctors pulled her into line by asking her why she was speaking exclusively English to someone from Poland

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    Your Goddess is here Ma Cherie's Avatar
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    Nice thread. But how many Japanese people you think will read this? Well, at any rate this should make some difference.
    "Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot."
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    Junior Member DoctorP's Avatar
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    Maciamo...much better when you complain in this manner. Constructive criticism can go a long way, but now you just have to get the Japanese people who are giving you these problems to read this!

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    Anjin Brooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    From my experience, the problem of many Japanese is asking too simple questions, which sound both naive and stupid, and may be offending
    People do this everywhere. An (East) Indian American friend of mine who was born in Chicago and moved to Idaho (not known for being racially diverse) would get stupid questions like, "Do you worship cows?" OR "What tribe are you from?"

    When I was in Japan, I found the silly questions I heard to be kind of cute, funny, and charming, but that's because I wasn't in Japan long enough to be annoyed by it. @Maciamo... You've been in Japan long enough that these things bother you. I'd say just answer, "Yes, we do have four seasons where I come from," and move on. It's all part of being a foreigner in any foreign land. And as a diplomat to your home country(ies), it's best to take such questions in stride rather than to get upset about them, because it's not going to change no matter how long you live in Japan (or anywhere else).
    For information on the pros and cons of teaching at Nova English schools in Japan, check out

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    The Hairy Wookie Mycernius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brooker
    People do this everywhere. An (East) Indian American friend of mine who was born in Chicago and moved to Idaho (not known for being racially diverse) would get stupid questions like, "Do you worship cows?" OR "What tribe are you from?"
    Every time I have been to Canada I have been asked 'oh you drink tea don't you, not coffee'. They get a bit of a shock when I tell them that I drink neither. My cousin, whose Canadian, visited Europe. She got 'Canada? That the north part of the US isn't it?' She was not amused I do it to her on ocassion to wind her up. She just calls me a limey after that
    I've seen things you people wouldn't believe...
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    Anjin Brooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycernius
    She got 'Canada? That the north part of the US isn't it?' She was not amused I do it to her on ocassion to wind her up.
    Yeah, they're usually pretty touchy about that. But Canadians can be pretty easy to wind up.
    She just calls me a limey after that
    Clever come back on her part *insert sarcasm*.

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    Regular Member Tim33's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CC1
    Maciamo...much better when you complain in this manner. Constructive criticism can go a long way, but now you just have to get the Japanese people who are giving you these problems to read this!
    Maybe he could hand out little cards with this weblink on to all japanese people that break the rules?

    I have generally found the seasons and chopstick problem alot and i have not been to japan yet, i get this all the time from japanese people on the net and even my gf's family.

    Im really dreading this point when i go over there and hope they dont get to offended at my answers.

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    Hi, I think that these tips would be overall very helpful. There are a couple tips that I don't agree with and would either modify or take out. First, I guess I don't really understand why someone would be offended if you asked them if they could use chopsticks. They aren't widely used in the west and a lot of people really can't use them well. For the part about coming up to someone and trying to practice English on them I would modify it a bit. I think it is perfectly fine to try to start a conversation with someone who is just sitting there "resting". If they seem disinterested, then you can just wrap it up real quick and move on. I do agree that if someone is reading than you probably shouldn't interrupt though. Anyway, great idea and tips!

  11. #11
    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    Being asked about chopsticks isn't offensive...it's baffling, irritating, odd, and lots of other things....but it isn't offensive.

    The reason it's odd is because 90% of the time you get asked this question is outside of dining situations and is therefore not relevant to anything. If it were during a meal, then the message of the question would be "I am asking out of kindness and trying to help you enjoy your meal." But when just asked out of the blue the message is "I consider you an oddity and am asking you questions to safisfy my own morbid curiosity."

    I also think it is perfectly fine to strike up a conversation with a random stranger....if you have something to say. Where so many people make their social faux pas is by prefacing their conversation with "Can I practice my English on you?"

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikecash
    Being asked about chopsticks isn't offensive...it's baffling, irritating, odd, and lots of other things....but it isn't offensive.

    The reason it's odd is because 90% of the time you get asked this question is outside of dining situations and is therefore not relevant to anything. If it were during a meal, then the message of the question would be "I am asking out of kindness and trying to help you enjoy your meal." But when just asked out of the blue the message is "I consider you an oddity and am asking you questions to safisfy my own morbid curiosity."
    That is justly because it is asked so often when it's not relevant to anything that it makes it (slightly) offensive. The first few times you find it baffling or odd, but once you expect it because most Japanese ask this to foreigners sooner or later, you come to think of it as annoying, irritating or even offensive, especially when it is followed by "oh really, you are not Japanese and you can use chopsticks ! sugooooii neee !" (=> that is really offensive and I have heard it dozens of times).

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    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    I guess different people are offended by different things, or at least take them in different ways.

    I think one of the main differences is that you probably get out and about a lot more than I do in social settings, and meet new people more often than I do.

    I must say, I almost never have these sorts of encounters anymore. But I don't get around much anymore either. These days they're so rare that rather than feeling offended I tend to feel wistfully nostalgic.

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    depending on how you look at it i thnk its offensive
    im not easily offended but i can see how people would be offended by this

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    Anjin Brooker's Avatar
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    When I got the chopstick question I was usually proud to show them how well I could use them. I never got tired of people complimenting me on that. I was even told my technique is better than many Japanese people.

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brooker
    When I got the chopstick question I was usually proud to show them how well I could use them. I never got tired of people complimenting me on that.
    I reacted the same way in my first year in Japan. It slowly got irritating in the second year. Now it's almost 4 years, and as Mikecash pointed out I do meet lot's of new people all the time. So I get this chopstick question at least once a month (sometimes as much as 10x a month). That's about 45 months I have been in Japan. I suppose I have been asked this question (and many others) between 50 and 100x out of about 200-300 people I have met. That's a pretty high ratio.

    I was even told my technique is better than many Japanese people.
    Me too. I have been wondering if it was just so hypocritical compliments, or if so many Japanese really have problems using their chopsticks. However, my wife and her mother visibly cannot use their chopsticks with the same dexterity as I do, and they were the first to compliment me on my skills - something I do not feel proud of anyway, as it just came naturally, without hard practice. I wouldn't feel particularly happy/proud if someone told me that I can turn the pages of a book or put on my choose with great dexterity - well I do feel the same way about chopsticks.

    Now the question is, why do many Japanese have trouble using their chopsticks, and why do they make such a big deal of it. I would never think of complimenting them on being able to use a fork and knife, riding a bicyle or being able to go up a ladder. So why these questions about chopsticks ? The only reason I can think of are :

    - they believe that using chopsticks is a particularly difficult task that merits praise, because they have trouble using it themselves. (they are chopstickly challenged )
    - they don't think that using chopstick is difficult. They are just making fun of foreigners by seeing how they react to hypocritical compliments of no value. (veiled hostility, unfriendliness)
    - they don't think that using chopstick is difficult for them, but they believe that foreigners are intrinsicly inferior to Japanese and therefore cannot learn how to use chopsticks. (racism)

    Can anyone think of another reason why they would ask this question (especially out of context) with such regularity, nationwide, regardless of their gender, age or socio-economic background ?

    In any case, I believe that the first reason is the most likely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Can anyone think of another reason why they would ask this question (especially out of context) with such regularity, nationwide, regardless of their gender, age or socio-economic background ?
    This brings up some questions for me. First, if they're bringing it up out of context I would assume that it's someone that you're meeting for the first time and they are just using it as an ice breaker, or something to keep the conversation going to avoid awkward silence. Am I right? It seems to me that the key here is "out of context."

    In context it seems that the reason could be the same as out of context, or it could be a combination of that and all of the reasons you gave. I don't know how often they see foreigners* using chopsticks well, so it's hard for me to say. I also don't know how often they see foreigners using chopsticks poorly, or how often they see Japanese people using chopsticks poorly.



    *Excluding foreigners to whom chopsticks are a cultural phenomenon, like China, Korea, Vietnam (I would guess), etc.

  18. #18
    Regular Member TheKansaiKid's Avatar
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    I think most of the oft repeated questions that grow old come from a desire to make small talk. zatsudan requires something in common and often Japanese who haven't been around foreigners are baffled about what to talk about in social situations.

    I'm on the record elsewhere as saying I think many of the complaints listed above that bother foreigners are in no way offensive to me. I think these overly sensitive gaijintachi should relax. Since I brought it up before I won't do it again...oops I already did.

    Perhaps a good follow up to the lead post would be appropriate things to talk about in a social or informal situation.

  19. #19
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn
    This brings up some questions for me. First, if they're bringing it up out of context I would assume that it's someone that you're meeting for the first time and they are just using it as an ice breaker, or something to keep the conversation going to avoid awkward silence. Am I right? It seems to me that the key here is "out of context."
    No, no. I can't remember anyone using as an icebreaker or to break an awkward silence. It usually comes well in the middle of a conversation, and not usually at the first meeting (sometimes after I have met the person over 10 or 30 times, but sooner or later this question comes for 80% of the people I have met). I know it may sound unbelievable if you haven't stayed in Japan for some time (a few years) and met lots of people there. But that's how it is.

    How would you explain that even my wife or her family complimented me on my chopstick skills ? It's definitely not an icebreaker, it's not because they don't know me, it's also not for reasons #2 and #3. In that case I know it's because of reason #1 (they have trouble using chopsticks themselves). But I can't believe that 80% or so of the Japanese have problems using chopsticks, although they grew up with it, like Westerners grew up using a fork and knife. I have never felt it was more difficult to use chopsticks. In fact, I sometimes refuse to eat some dishes with a fork/knive/spoon instead of chopsticks. It really depends on the dish itself (can't eat sushi or ramen with a fork, can you ?)

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    Well, that was all I had. I can't think of any other reasons than the ones you listed, given the evidence.

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheKansaiKid
    I think most of the oft repeated questions that grow old come from a desire to make small talk. zatsudan requires something in common and often Japanese who haven't been around foreigners are baffled about what to talk about in social situations.
    It very rarely happens to me not to be able to find a topic of conversation. Remember that there are two aspects about the chopsticks issue :

    1) questions about one's ability to use chopsticks
    2) compliment on one's ability to use chopsticks

    The second one is never out of curiosity and usually not because of a lack of topic for discussion.

    In any case, when I was asked the questioned or complimented, it was when we were already discussing other issues and it came as something like "by the way, talking about food, can you use chopsticks". So it was often already part of small talks, and often in an already 'lively' conversation (not an awkward situation where one doesn't know what to talk about).

    I know it feels insistent on me to repeat this, but I really can't understand what this obsession with the gaijin's abilities to do banal things (chopsticks, futon...) is about. From my experience, after being asked these questions maybe between 50 and 100 times, I can say that most of the time it was not to break the ice, not to make small talks, mostly out of the blue, and the questioners' reaction was typically a great surprise when I told them that yes I could use chopsticks like everybody.

    This surprise at the fact that I could use chopsticks (after answering the question, or when they see me using chopsticks) has made me wondered over the years why they attach so much importance to so such an ordinary thing - while they are not surprised that I can use a bicycle, open a window, switch on a TV, etc. Unfortunately, this was combined with the same disproportionate surprise at the fact that, in spite of being a gaijin, I can eat sushi (yes, even unagi, ikura and kai), sleep on a futon, that my country has 4 seasons, etc.

    From the sushi and natto questions, I have understood that often they ask these questions because many Japanese do not like them. I could understand that some people may not feel comfortable sleeping on a futon or sitting in seiza. I don't mind these questions so much.

    I have recently inquried toward a few Japanese friends, and some of my wife's friends, about the four season issue. I explained to my wife why I feel irritated at this question, and she also knows that most Western countries have four seasons. So we discussed, me, her, and two friends about it a few days ago, and the three of them admitted that they were taught at school that only Japan had four seasons. A few people have contested this on this forum, saying that children are taught that most countries around the world do not have as distinct seasons as Japan. However, my wife and our two friends were sure that, in their case, they were not told that Japan has more distinct seasons, but that only Japan had four season and that's it. I asked whether they were taught that in geography class, but the three of them said it was in "kokugo" (Japanese language) class sometime in the early years of primary/elementary school (they also said "chichai koro kara iwareteiru" => "we were told this since we were little"). All three went to different schools, by the way.

    This has helped me confirmed what I had already asked dozens of people with whom I was less intimate. Japanese people (at least those I have asked) are taught at school that only Japan has four seasons. I admit that the people I questioned were almost only in their 20's and 30's, so it might have been different for older or younger generations.

    The same can be said about blood groups. From my inquiries, the Japanese are taught that they are mostly "A", why Westerners are mostly "O" (partially true, but a gross overgeneralisation as there are as many "O" as "A" in Western European countries). What is more annoying is that they are also taught (from my personal surveys) that these differences exist because the Japanese were farmers in "old times", while Europeans were hunters. As I explained here, it is a blatant lie and completely wrong historically. I was shocked to see that even well-read, intelligent people having studied abroad believe in this, because they have never questioned it since the school days.

    Knowing this, we could wonder why they are taught such blatant lies as part of the national education system - not in one school, but apparently most if not all of them.

    That is where it dawned on me that it could be some sort of nationalistic propaganda known as "nihonjinron". I have explained this here

    I may be one of the few foreigners sensitive enough to feel that Japanese were indoctrinated to believe that foreigners can't do this and that, that only Japan has for seasons, etc. I may be one of the rare persons to take this seriously, but I believe that I am right to think that we are dealing with nation-wide indoctrination based on the "nihonjinron". Japanese people of course do not realise that, and few foreigners have the necessary knowledge of Japanese culture, world history/geography, and psychology of education. I happen to be extremely interested in all these fields, and have the adequate experience of living in Japan for a few years, meeting lots of people. Other people in the same situation as me (as rare as they may be), may lack the sharp critical sense and questioning of the causes and reasons why things are the way they are. People who have spent some time on this forum will know that I am sometimes (often?) overcritical and analytic of things I take at heart.

    I may sound absurd to argue about "chopsticks". But people need to see the big picture. I know it's difficult for someone who hasn't experienced all these weird questions, or hasn't given it a second thought. Maybe it is time for all of you to pay attention to the people who ask you the chopsticks, blood group, 4 seasons or sushi questions. Try to feel how they feel. Try to see through their mind, guess their thoughts, and even better, ask them why they ask these questions, see their reaction and hope they explain their preconceptions. If they don't, ask them whether they think that your country has four season or not. Ask them what they were taught at school. Ask them why it is surprising that a Westerner living in Japan can use chopsticks. Ask them about their blood group and hope they tell you about the "farmer" vs "hunter" theory they were taught. Do it with as many people as you can, then give me your feedbacks here and let's compare the results.

    Please understand that I do not blame the Japanese who ask these questions or hold these beliefs. I blame the people who taught them, and ultimately the Ministry of Education that ordered/advised the teachers to tell those lies or inculcate those misconceptions.

  22. #22
    Junior Member DoctorP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn
    First, if they're bringing it up out of context I would assume that it's someone that you're meeting for the first time and they are just using it as an ice breaker, or something to keep the conversation going to avoid awkward silence. Am I right?

    I don't think that this applies...Japanese (unlike most Westerners) are comfortable around periods of silence and don't feel the need for trivial talk...at least in my observations.

    On the topic of chopsticks being difficult? Even though I can eat with them quite well, I would say yes it should be considered quite a difficult task...at least much harder than just stabbing your prey with a fork!

  23. #23
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    I have recently inquried toward a few Japanese friends, and some of my wife's friends, about the four season issue. I explained to my wife why I feel irritated at this question, and she also knows that most Western countries have four seasons. So we discussed, me, her, and two friends about it a few days ago, and the three of them admitted that they were taught at school that only Japan had four seasons. A few people have contested this on this forum, saying that children are taught that most countries around the world do not have as distinct seasons as Japan. However, my wife and our two friends were sure that, in their case, they were not told that Japan has more distinct seasons, but that only Japan had four season and that's it. I asked whether they were taught that in geography class, but the three of them said it was in "kokugo" (Japanese language) class sometime in the early years of primary/elementary school (they also said "chichai koro kara iwareteiru" => "we were told this since we were little"). All three went to different schools, by the way.
    I've never taught like that only Japan had four seasons.
    Maybe they only hesited to say that they were indifferent to geography. I forgot many math formulas I learned. In that sense, I can share your friends' feelings.

    A bit off-topic, but when your wife has the same critical mindset as yours, it would be very nice of you to start a thread about Japanese education and the J Teacher's Union or 日教組.

  24. #24
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CC1
    On the topic of chopsticks being difficult? Even though I can eat with them quite well, I would say yes it should be considered quite a difficult task...at least much harder than just stabbing your prey with a fork!
    Is it ? Not for me. I finish every single grain of rice in my bowl by picking them one by one with my chopsticks. I don't feel like I have to pay more attention than doing it with a fork or spoon. I guess it just depends of used to it you are, and more importantly what kind of food you eat (nobody will eat a beefsteak with chopsticks). Do you normally use chopsticks everyday ? It only took me a few days/weeks to get completely used to it. I don't see why even the slowest Japanese learner would have a problem after 20, 30 or 50 years of daily usage.

  25. #25
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pipokun
    I've never taught like that only Japan had four seasons.
    Well, you are from Osaka, so maybe that's a difference between Western and Eastern Japan, like for where to stand on an escalator, the liking of natto or the hertz of electronic equipment. (just kidding)

    Maybe they only hesited to say that they were indifferent to geography. I forgot many math formulas I learned. In that sense, I can share your friends' feelings.
    No, my wife and one of my friends have travelled a lot around the world. This friend is quite good at geography. Unlike many Japanese he knew that, compared to Europe, Hokkaido was at the same latitude that the North of Italy, not the same latitude as England or Scandinavia as many people answer. Yet, he remembered clearly being taught at school that onlt only Japan has four seasons, although he knows that it's not true and also wondered why they were taught such things.

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