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Maciamo
Feb 1, 2005, 21:38
I would like to prove once and for all that Japan indeed is a unique society, as about any Japanese would claim. Well, at least it is unique to Western eyes, as Japan may share numerous similarities with its Asian neighours. Here is a summary of my observations of the Japanese people and mindset established after 3,5 years of 'research'.

To assess this uniqueness of the Japanese culture, I did not include material differences (different architecture, food, etc.) which can easily be copied or exported, but only psychological ones (what make the people different). In fact, I have only concentrated on one particular aspect of the Japanese midset : its shallowness (so this study is totally biased from the start, as it does not include anything else). I could very well do one to prove how much more polite, disciplined, or respectful the Japanese are. But it is not the object of this analysis.

The purpose is not to animadvert, excoriate or disparage (sorry, couldn't resist lol), but on the contrary emphasize the idiosyncracies of the Japanese mindset as opposed to the Western median.

The observations hereafter only represent a trend that characterize a majority (i.e. at least 50%) of the Japanese population (sometimes only for one gender group). It may apply to an overwhelming majority of the population (nearly 100%), or only to just about half of it. But still, please take it with a grain of salt and a good sense of humour. Have fun !

- their favourite topic of conversation is food
- when travelling abroad, they care little about the local culture except food
- when they do not talk about food, they talk about money or sex
- The proverbs "money doesn't buy happiness/love" or "don't judge a book by its cover" have no significance in Japan
- clothes do make the man in Japan (which explain the success of brand clothes, black suits and even that of cosplay, bunny girls or the importance that Japanese women attach to their wedding dress)
- people indeed do not get treated the same way (be it in a shop, by government officials, by the police or whatever) depending on how well they dress and look.
- they think an opuent and expensive wedding is necessary for appearances' sake (even if that is way above their means)
- some Japanese companies have a tiny head office in Tokyo (esp. Nihombashi) just for appearances' sake, as it is said to give them a higher status.
- they judge people from their appearance and tend to be easily prejudiced (e.g. toward foreigner-looking persons)
- they use gestures and speak strange Japanese to foreigners who address them in fluent Japanese (or before they have a chance to speak), as if they had convinced themselves that somebody who didn't look Japanese could not possibly understand their language
- however Japanese language is so deficient in vocabulary and acurate expressions that it has to borrow thousands of new words from other languages every year
- the structure of Japanese language is so inflexible and clumsy (no relative sentences, few tenses, few nuances) that Japanese people end up speaking with isolated words (often adjectives, see below) rather than making full sentences.
- they can't debate and dislike serious intellectual discussions (probably due to the language issues mentioned above)
- there are very few intellectual programmes on TV (documentaries, debates, political analysis, social phenomenons, literary discussions...), due to a general lack of interest of the population
- people on TV usualy repeat the same few adjectives all the time (oishii, omoshiroi, hidoi, kirei...) , as if they were linguistically challenged.
- people in everyday life actually do speak like mentioned above
- they ask the same routine dumb questions to foreigners ("can you use chopsticks; can you eat sushi, is there 4 seasons in your country, etc.")
- they tend of lack sexual morals and don't mind cheating "as long as their partner doesn't know"
- they have casual sex with several partners without protection and don't worry about STD's
- they have a computer but don't know much how to use even quite simple functions, due to a lack of interest for technology
- they throw away a dysfunctuning electronic equipment (e.g. computer) or machine, rather than try to repair it
- they call an plumber, electrician or carpenter to repair things in their house, because they are not interested in DIY (Japan is a service country par excellence, due to people's lack of knowledge or interest in a wide array of things)
- they go to juku after school because they sleep or are too slow to learn at school (slowing down the teacher's rythm) and can't assimilate the necessary knowledge to pass the exams. They still end up learning much less than European children in foreign languages, history, geography and critical thinking.
- manga, porn and fashion magazines account for over 90% of convenience stores' literature.
- shops staff repeat "irasshaimasse", then "domo arigato gozaimashita" like robots to anybody that enters or exit, even if the same person comes in and out three times in 5 minutes
- they can't think by themselves, and believe the media, commercials or what people tell them much too easily
- they buy on impulse rather than after careful comparison and analysis
- there are virtually no magazines that test and rate products such as electronics, books, movies, games, etc. They only introduce these products without critical commentary (because the makers/sellers would sue them for being critical !)
- they are a nation of followers that suffer from the "sheep syndrome" => if every jumps in the river, let's jump in the river too ! (i.e. lack of critical and independent thinking)
- as a result, when something becomes fashionable, everybody must have it (e.g. Louis Vuitton handbags), even if that means it looses its uniqueness or originality.
- when a restaurant is "introduced" on TV, one can be sure that it will be full to the brim for the week to come, then people will forget about it as quickly as they had rushed on it (just to show how influenceable the Japanese are).
- they think that most women are just good to serve tea, smile, be beautiful and make children (I mean, the cultural influence is so strong that many Japanese women also think so, not just men)
- politicians are corrupted and inefficient beyond redemption, because they only care about themselves, and not the nation's welfare.
- people accept that politicians are as mentioned above, because they don't expect their own kind to act in a more virtous way
- men don't mind paying huge sums of money just to chat with bar hostesses, because they can't get a girlfriend (sad) or feel that it give them some form of status (shallow)
- about one out of three Japanese men frequents or has already been to one of these hostess bar.
- not being married after the age of 35 or 40 can hurt some people's credibility or status, as people think that there is 'something wrong' with them
- they care a lot about marriage, but little about the eventuality of divorce, so that prenuptial agreements are almost unheard of, because people 'don't like to think that bad things could happen' - while Westerners cannot not think about this eventuality and be prepared for it. Similarily, very few Japanese write their testament. Japanese seem to worry a lot, but rarely about things that matter most.
- many Japanese fathers do not think that they have a role in their children's education. This is so culturally ingrained that in case of divorce, the mother almost always get the exclusive custody of the child(ren), and the father often 'never' see them again - and often doesn't care much anyway.
- they find pleasure in asking foreigners what kind of Japanese food they can't eat - even if they can't eat it themself (never really understood the purpose of those questions)
- many Japanese are convinced that their nation is "unique for being unique" (i.e. they think that all the world is a big melting-pot, but Japan is the only country that is 'pure' and homogenous, which makes it unique, and they are the only nation to enjoy such uniqueness.).

okaeri_man
Feb 1, 2005, 22:15
actually theres a lot of truth in all that...

i like how you started with "their favourite topic of conversation is food". lol. i'll probably reply again tomorrow; this thread is really 40 threads in 1!

Pachipro
Feb 2, 2005, 00:11
I cannot debate you on any point you have listed. You said it all! It is all true!

silver angel
Feb 2, 2005, 00:42
I just learned a lot. It's odd though, sometimes people automatically assume that Japanese are highly into technology, but I guess not...

ragedaddy
Feb 2, 2005, 01:37
- shops staff repeat "irasshaimasse", then "domo arigato gozaimashita" like robots to anybody that enters or exit, even if the same person comes in and out three times in 5 minutes

Yeah, talk about annoying when going to Uniqlo and you will hear "Irashaimasse" and "Go Yuukuri Douzo", at least 2 times a minute. Sometimes I seriously wanted to say, I heard you the first time so zip it, but to rectify the annoying voices, I put on my head phones. That way I didn't have to listen to the constant greetings, because after a while this can drive a sane person nuts.....!

GaijinPunch
Feb 2, 2005, 10:05
I'll throw out my two yen based on 7 years of research.


- their favourite topic of conversation is food
well... when that's all that's on TV, can you blame them?


- when travelling abroad, they care little about the local culture except food

I'd completely disagree here. When my wife and I go anywhere, even a city where we have friends live, she will spend almost no time with them, and about 90% of her time doing touristy crap... almost none of it food. Also after living in Hawaii, I see hundreds of Japanese monthly getting their pictures taken in front of the statue of the old King, which is miles from Waikiki mind you.


- when they do not talk about food, they talk about money or sex

This one is news to me. I think the fact that most Japanese are part of the seniority based system, there's not much mystery as to who makes what, thus not as taboo to talk about. About the sex thing... if you're talking about men... well.. .what do you think American men talk about? :D


- The proverbs "money doesn't buy happiness/love" or "don't judge a book by its cover" have no significance in Japan

I hate to admit it, but I think the money one is kind of misleading. It doesn't buy happiness, but it definitely makes many aspects of life a lot easier.


- people indeed do not get treated the same way (be it in a shop, by government officials, by the police or whatever) depending on how well they dress and look.

This is very true. I was in a wreck w/o a license. The police man called his chief to ask what to do. He said, "I think he's okay. He looks like he makes money!". My jaw dropped.


- they think an opuent and expensive wedding is necessary for appearances' sake (even if that is way above their means)

Americans share this obsession I'm afraid.


- however Japanese language is so deficient in vocabulary and acurate expressions that it has to borrow thousands of new words from other languages every year

How do you think English came about? Japanese are just late to the game.



- the structure of Japanese language is so inflexible and clumsy (no relative sentences, few tenses, few nuances) that Japanese people end up speaking with isolated words (often adjectives, see below) rather than making full sentences.

You should be thankful for this one though --- means it's easier to learn, yeah?


- they can't debate and dislike serious intellectual discussions (probably due to the language issues mentioned above)

Believe me, they can -- they just don't... at least not when you're around. I used to share these thoughts, but eventually learned I was wrong. Their langauge is FULLY capable of conveying such meanings... most foreigners learning it, however, are not.


- there are very few intellectual programmes on TV (documentaries, debates, political analysis, social phenomenons, literary discussions...), due to a general lack of interest of the population

Again... is this unique to Japan? No way! In fact, America is 1000x worse! When I left the states for Japan, the X-Files & Seinfeld were at the top of the ratings. Both fiction, but you still at least had to think to some extent. Now it's American Idol and reality shows about fat people.


- they ask the same routine dumb questions to foreigners ("can you use chopsticks; can you eat sushi, is there 4 seasons in your country, etc.")

Do you have Japanese girlfriend? When will you get married?, etc.


- they tend of lack sexual morals and don't mind cheating "as long as their partner doesn't know"

Yeah, but in my stint, the 4 worst people I knew about this, two of whom screwed around on their wives were western (1 british, 3 American). Don't get me wrong, the Japanese guys were dogs too, but not on a regular basis.


- they have a computer but don't know much how to use even quite simple functions, due to a lack of interest for technology

Same on this side of the pond. How do you think IT get such good jobs all around the world?


- they throw away a dysfunctuning electronic equipment (e.g. computer) or machine, rather than try to repair it

My theory on this is that it would actually cost to much money getting it to the repair shop. Not everyone has a car... I never did. If I had to pay 3000-4000 yen each way to take a TV in a taxi to the repair shop... well... I'm 8000 yen into a new TV. Throw in the repair bill, maybe 28,000... for an OLD TV? I'd spend the extra 10,000 and get a new one too.


- they call an plumber, electrician or carpenter to repair things in their house, because they are not interested in DIY (Japan is a service country par excellence, due to people's lack of knowledge or interest in a wide array of things)

Guilty as charged. If you work 60+ hours a week, your time generally becomes extremely expensive. If it were between 20,000 yen or 3-4 (maybe a lot more) hours of me fumbling through a DIY book + the time it takes to buy the parts + the money it takes to buy the parts, I'd take the 20,000 yen any day, and go hang out in the park.


- manga, porn and fashion magazines account for over 90% of convenience stores' literature.

What about convenience store literature in other countries? I can't imagine a gas station with nothing but business magazines.



- there are virtually no magazines that test and rate products such as electronics,

www.kakaku.com I've never seen an English mag either though -- but why bother when you have the net?


- politicians are corrupted and inefficient beyond redemption, because they only care about themselves, and not the nation's welfare.

Uh... no comment (should be obvious).

Just a hunch, but I think the better your Japanese gets, and the longer you live there (and of course, the more Japanese people you meet) your views will start skewing a bit more to the "Japan isn't as extreme as it comes off". Happened w/ me.

Cryptnotic
Feb 2, 2005, 16:51
Most of these things are exactly the same in America, at least for most of the population. People are only interested in money, sex, clothes, cars, food. People don't care about politics, et cetera. Guys spend lots of money at strip clubs (every guy I know has at least been to one, some have dropped hundreds of dollars at a time). Americans are cheating, lying, shallow people. Or maybe it's just that I live in Los Angeles. :-)

mad pierrot
Feb 2, 2005, 17:22
- people on TV usualy repeat the same few adjectives all the time (oishii, omoshiroi, hidoi, kirei...) , as if they were linguistically challenged.
- people in everyday life actually do speak like mentioned above

I almost spit out the milk I was drinking when I read this.

Very true, and very funny!

:p

Suki-Yaki
Feb 2, 2005, 18:47
hmmm ... I find it rather sad , that only three months for me here , and I'm already noticing much of what you said ......

By I still can't understand your point of " They don't like technology" the technological Japan could not have come from nowhere , right ??

And , is it true that Japanese kids don't study as much as Europeans at schools ?? I heard Japanese exams are one of the most difficult around the world. A difficult exam takes lots of information .... ??

Just for my information , how do you know Japanese people don't mind cheating on their partner , please , elaborate of how you came to this point ??

Elizabeth
Feb 2, 2005, 21:23
I almost spit out the milk I was drinking when I read this.

Very true, and very funny!

:p
Hontou ? I feel more bored than humoured, the same point(s) has or have been made and argued so many gazillions of times in so many threads already....But just to recap, looking through any kanji dictionary clarifies that there is no inherant deficiency in vocabularly, the total number of words, particularly compounds and probably all adjectives I would guess is much greater than in English. (うっとり and ややこしい for instance are more advanced but still fairly common, although I may use the latter more regularly than a native speaker).

The quantity used in daily conversation may be less given the deeply held values of the people which dictate interacting positively with the people around rather than showing how smart you are or playing some sort of intellectual game. Sorry this is such an obvious point....and not that the people should be faulted for any 'deficiencies' in their language. :sorry:
Finally, what precisely have you been wanting to say but have been unable to, Maciamo ?

mad pierrot
Feb 2, 2005, 21:59
The quantity used in daily conversation may be less given the deeply held values of the people which dictate interacting positively with the people around rather than showing how smart you are or playing some sort of intellectual game. Sorry this is such an obvious point....and not that the people should be faulted for any 'deficiencies' in their language.

Whoah. I'm sorry if in anyway I gave the impression that Japanese people are inferior in some kind of intellectual game...

:?

Not too long ago I was watching some TV with some Japanese friends and marveling how many times they said "kawaii" in the span of about 5 minutes. My own girlfriend has laughed at the fact of how often she uses that word. Then I logged onto Jref and read Maciamo's post. I thought it was funny. Where's the harm? I guess should be clear on all the details of why I found it funny.

:sorry:

Maciamo
Feb 2, 2005, 22:29
I'd completely disagree here. When my wife and I go anywhere, even a city where we have friends live, she will spend almost no time with them, and about 90% of her time doing touristy crap... almost none of it food. Also after living in Hawaii, I see hundreds of Japanese monthly getting their pictures taken in front of the statue of the old King, which is miles from Waikiki mind you.

I think we just have very different ideas of what the word "culture" means. What I meant is that they don't learn about the country's history, mentality, society, arts, religion, customs, or any other interesting you'd find on a site like JREF about Japan or a Lonely PLanet guidebook or even better a 'Blue Guide'. I know they don't because I checked all the popular guidebooks my wife bought when we were travelling (chikyu no arukikata, etc.), and double-checked my local Maruzen and BookFirst bookshops and Japanese guidebooks have like 30 pages about food in introduction (+ pictures of food in the actual travel section) and almost nothing about the 'culture' I mentioned above. That is why I wrote to Lonely Planet to explain the situation and urge them to translate their books into Japanese. About one year later, the first LP in Japanese was published. Don't know if I influenced that or not, but anyway there was a lack on the market.


About the sex thing... if you're talking about men... well.. .what do you think American men talk about?

To tell you frankly, I don't know. But I never talk sex with any other men. What's the point ? And what can you actually want to say about it ?


I hate to admit it, but I think the money one is kind of misleading. It doesn't buy happiness, but it definitely makes many aspects of life a lot easier.

Yes, but that is not the point. Many Japanese think that money is happiness. It's a purpose in itself for them, not a means. When I ask them about their dream, it's always about being rich. When I asked dozens of them what happiness meant for them, the answer was always "having a lot of money" (or things that could be bought with money). No a single one mentioned love, raise one's children, self-improvement, learning, artistic accomplishment, being able to do something very well (eg playing an instrument or speaking a foreign language). With all the Japanese I have met, it was always limited to money and material possessions.


How do you think English came about? Japanese are just late to the game.

Good point actually. But the grammar and pronuciation of English also improved considerably with time.


Believe me, they can -- they just don't... at least not when you're around. I used to share these thoughts, but eventually learned I was wrong. Their langauge is FULLY capable of conveying such meanings... most foreigners learning it, however, are not.

I think they are not good at it because they don't like disagreeing. Avoiding conflicts (and therefore arguments) is deeply rooted in the culture. I didn't say they were better at debating in English, even those with very advanced English skills.


Again... is this unique to Japan? No way! In fact, America is 1000x worse! When I left the states for Japan, the X-Files & Seinfeld were at the top of the ratings. Both fiction, but you still at least had to think to some extent. Now it's American Idol and reality shows about fat people.

Sorry, I failed to mention that superficiality is partly shared by a sizeable portion of the American population. But again my point is not that such programmes exist (as they do everywhere), but that they make up a much bigger percentage of the total broadcasting time than on European channels. What is more, the US has hundreds of TV channels, so it's always possible to find some more intellectual stuff on History Channel, Discovery Channel, etc. In Japan, such channels do exist, but only because they are those American channels (and nothing else that I know of, without satelite).

I think it is easier to compare Japan with some European countries, because the number of channels available is more similar, and because of tax-financed channels like NHK, BBC, or their equivalent in other countries. The worst TV programmes in Europe, at the same level as Japanese TV, are the Italian ones. At the extreme opposite, once again, is the UK, with more documentaries, political debate, social analysis, etc. than one could wish for.


Same on this side of the pond. How do you think IT get such good jobs all around the world?

That's unusual where I come from. What I meant is that there are people who can't even use the control panel of Windows or don't know how to use MS Word. There is no need to take any lesson for that. If you don't know everything is explained in the help (although I never use it as I am pretty intuitive, but I understand that no everybody is good with computers). I was shocked to see the number of "Pasokon school" that tought how to use Excel or Word, the how popular it was. I browsed job ads on Japanese sites that had options for being able to use Windows (and they even specified the version) or Word in the "qualification" section. But who can't ? Are they going to ask whether they can read and write too, or if they are able to use an alarm clock to get up the morning, or if they know how to take the train to the office ?


My theory on this is that it would actually cost to much money getting it to the repair shop. Not everyone has a car... I never did. If I had to pay 3000-4000 yen each way to take a TV in a taxi to the repair shop... well... I'm 8000 yen into a new TV. Throw in the repair bill, maybe 28,000... for an OLD TV? I'd spend the extra 10,000 and get a new one too.

I didn't say that they should take it back to the shop. I know many Japanese that buy a new computer because theirs is "too slow" or because their HD is full. When I asked whether they had tried to uninstall some programmes, defrag the disk, install a RAM booster or even buy more RAM or a new CPU, they had no idea of what any of these things were. And I am not even talking about the old grandma that don't know what a PC is, but (young) business people who use computer everyday at work. Rather than even wonder at how to solve the problem, or make a quick internet search, they just throw it away and buy a new one (and it should be a brand like NEC, Sony or Fujitsu, because brand is status - but only when not combined with stupidity).


Guilty as charged. If you work 60+ hours a week, your time generally becomes extremely expensive. If it were between 20,000 yen or 3-4 (maybe a lot more) hours of me fumbling through a DIY book + the time it takes to buy the parts + the money it takes to buy the parts, I'd take the 20,000 yen any day, and go hang out in the park.

I know very few people who work 60h/week. 9 to 5 (or 6 or 7) jobs are still the most common in Japan. That is true for 90% of the people I know, and they are almost all salarymen and OL working in central Tokyo (Nihombashi, Otemachi or Marunouchi for most).


What about convenience store literature in other countries? I can't imagine a gas station with nothing but business magazines.

I went back home the 2 first weeks of January, I was surprised to see that any newsagent (even in train stations or at the airport) had such a variety of magazines (you know like the Japanese magazines you find at Maruzen or other bookshops), with all kinds of things like cars, history, travel, sports, cooking, gardenning, classical music, pop music, cinema, fashion, health, beauty, electronics, investment, real estate, archeology, celebrities, games, comics, porn, computers, TV programmes, news, economy, and always foreign magazines too. I have never seen a Japanese combini having even a third of this variety. But again, I am not sure about the US.

Elizabeth
Feb 2, 2005, 22:30
Whoah. I'm sorry if in anyway I gave the impression that Japanese people are inferior in some kind of intellectual game...

:?

Not too long ago I was watching some TV with some Japanese friends and marveling how many times they said "kawaii" in the span of about 5 minutes. My own girlfriend has laughed at the fact of how often she uses that word. Then I logged onto Jref and read Maciamo's post. I thought it was funny. Where's the harm? I guess should be clear on all the details of why I found it funny.

:sorry:
Ashikarazu.... :bluush: I've been in similar predicaments talking with Japanese men embarrassed in front of a foreigner by how many times their wives friends revert to "kawaii" or "sugoii." I think the people as a whole value intellectual competence and personal dignity much more than Americans....it's just a much more complicated situation than Maciamo made out in his original post....I honestly didn't intend to lash out at anyone in particular. :sorry:

mad pierrot
Feb 2, 2005, 22:37
No worries! I do in fact agree with you.

Maciamo
Feb 2, 2005, 22:41
Most of these things are exactly the same in America, at least for most of the population. People are only interested in money, sex, clothes, cars, food. People don't care about politics, et cetera.

I don't think so. The US is so diverse, so big, and with such a variety of people from all backgrounds, ethnicities, beliefs and interests, that what you mention is certainly more based on your personal experience (I am sure that other Amereican members have a completely different story). There is already such a big difference in life style depending on the social class (not everyone is a millionaire or a Hollywood star), and whether people live in big coastal cities or the deep country. But Japan is easy as it is very homogenous (especially the education, mindset and values), and people even ask foreigners the exact same questions whether they come from Fukuoka, Wakayama, Tokyo or Akita. So the US is never a good benchmark for any cultural comparison.


Guys spend lots of money at strip clubs (every guy I know has at least been to one, some have dropped hundreds of dollars at a time). Americans are cheating, lying, shallow people.

Wow. In Europe, I'd say (I am a specialist on the matter) that stripclubs are mostly limited to Soho in London and Pigalle in Paris. I don't know what people find so fun there (except if they can't find a real girlfriend), and I also don't know anybody who has been to one (or admitted it). But while watching the esxellent American series "Friends" (all 10 seasons), I realised that going to stripclubs was much more normal in the States (and not just for Joey) than in Europe.

kirei_na_me
Feb 2, 2005, 22:49
Ashikarazu.... :bluush: I've been in similar predicaments talking with Japanese men embarrassed in front of a foreigner by how many times their wives friends revert to "kawaii" or "sugoii." I think the people as a whole value intellectual competence and personal dignity much more than Americans....it's just a much more complicated situation than Maciamo made out in his original post....I honestly didn't intend to lash out at anyone in particular. :sorry:

I couldn't count the number of times my husband has walked away from a conversation, shaking his head and mumbling "stupid", after the Japanese people he was talking to had shrieked those expressions time and time again. Of course, he's been known to be just as superficial.

kirei_na_me
Feb 2, 2005, 22:51
Americans are cheating, lying, shallow people. Or maybe it's just that I live in Los Angeles. :-)

Well, there are those kinds of people everywhere, but yeah, I would say living in LA has a lot to do with that opinion.

Maciamo
Feb 2, 2005, 23:07
By I still can't understand your point of " They don't like technology" the technological Japan could not have come from nowhere , right ??

I remember Elizabeth telling me something in the same lines, but on a much less friendly tone. The point is that Japan is first and foremost a commercial and practical country (two of its strongest characteristic), and electronics sell well, especially in Japan where there is a high demand for everything that helps make your life more practical or convenient. So the technology (esp. electronics) market is born out of necessity, and out of a liking for practical things. Of course I don't deny that some Japanese who invented or developed such products may be very interested in and talented at technology, but they are just a minority.


And , is it true that Japanese kids don't study as much as Europeans at schools ?? I heard Japanese exams are one of the most difficult around the world. A difficult exam takes lots of information .... ??

Ooh yes. I will never repeat that enough. I have studied in 5 EU countries in total, from primary school to university, and I can tell you that there is a world of difference compared to what I have seen taught (and tested) in Japan.


Just for my information , how do you know Japanese people don't mind cheating on their partner , please , elaborate of how you came to this point ??

For men it's just common knowledge. The sex industry in Japan is one of the most developed in the world, and soaplands, massage parlours, voluntary teenage prositution (known as 'enjo kosai'), etc. are mostly frequented by (middle aged or old) married men.

As for women, well, just have a look at all the women working for the above men, and count how many have a boyfriend or are married.

But I have also read many studies and surveys about it (in addition to stories heard from Japanese I met). This thread says a lot (http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=751)

ragedaddy
Feb 3, 2005, 00:23
- when travelling abroad, they care little about the local culture except food

At least the Japanese have an interest in the foods of these places, not only does the typical American not care about the culture, you can see a bunch of them trying to find the nearest Mc Donalds. They also expect everyone they come in contact with to be able to speak English.



- they have casual sex with several partners without protection and don't worry about STD's

Is this not a worldwide phenomenon, turn on the TV in the US, and you can see "Hi, I'm pregnant at 13 yrs old," as a theme.


- when they do not talk about food, they talk about money or sex

If you are talking about Americans the ranking of subjects for conversation goes Sex, money, TV/ Movies, Alcohol/drugs A.K.A. partying....




- they tend of lack sexual morals and don't mind cheating "as long as their partner doesn't know"

There's many Westerners who really don't have any remorse for cheating even when their partner knows about it and confronts them.

Maciamo
Feb 3, 2005, 00:48
At least the Japanese have an interest in the foods of these places, not only does the typical American not care about the culture, you can see a bunch of them trying to find the nearest Mc Donalds. They also expect everyone they come in contact with to be able to speak English.


Americans are rarely praised as the respectful, culturally motivated traveller.



Is this not a worldwide phenomenon, turn on the TV in the US, and you can see "Hi, I'm pregnant at 13 yrs old," as a theme.

Err, no sorry, but where I come from this is extremely rare, like one person out of 10,000. I'd call them extreme cases...



If you are talking about Americans the ranking of subjects for conversation goes Sex, money, TV/ Movies, Alcohol/drugs A.K.A. partying....

Money apart, does that count for Harvard graduates too ? Is it what comes up before Bible talk at the White House ? Is it the general idea most scientists would have of a "interesting conversation", would that motivate Wall Street business people to burn themselves out ? I mean, there is still a part of the American population that are not rednecks or LA surfers right ? And they have more to discuss than food, sex and money. But what do Japanese businessmen and politicians do after work ? They mostly go drinking in hostess bars to talk about sex, food or money. What do they do when they have free time ? Porn, soaplands, eat, talk about food or watch people on TV talk about food or money (or marriage and infidelity sometimes).


There's many Westerners who really don't have any remorse for cheating even when their partner knows about it and confronts them.

For many I think so, because remorse is part of the Judeo-Christian mentality, even for those who do not follow these religions. The Japanese just don't have in mind the conept of "evil" as something that you could be judged for by an omniscient power (that some call god). I don't believe in god, but I still feel a strong sense of morality. I wouldn't mind too much promiscuity if there weren't any STD's. But Japanese are too naive on this regard. This is one sense is immoral (as they could kill people with their naive recklessness).

blade_bltz
Feb 3, 2005, 07:49
Ragedaddy - I'm sorry you feel that way about America, but in my experience (all my life in Boston), this country has the diversity and thus the potential to be anything you want it to be.

ragedaddy
Feb 3, 2005, 14:33
Ragedaddy - I'm sorry you feel that way about America, but in my experience (all my life in Boston), this country has the diversity and thus the potential to be anything you want it to be.


Hmm, don't get it twisted; I think maybe I should elaborate more on this topic, because I have nothing but love for the US. The whole point of my arguments is that you could make these generalizations about many different places in the world, like it or not.

For the American conversation topics, I was getting more at when the boys are out with the boys; I mean of course there are intellectual conversations that take place. However, when you guys are at a bar full of hotties, I think the last thing on your mind is discussing how the economy is holding up. Don't get me wrong, man you can have an intellectual conversation anywhere in the world even without having a college degree. Man, we have enough intellectual conversations in school, when it's the weekend all that's on my mind is party.....

As for the teenage pregnancy here in the US, it has been quite an epidemic. However, it is gradually improving, so there is hope for the youth.

Blade, I have lived here for the majority of my life as well, and I think that diversity is a wonderful thing. There isn't another place I rather be living, so yeah I hope this clears all this stuff up.

Sr Pasta
Feb 4, 2005, 19:21
I think the domination of different languages in different times has been quite connected to economic domination. The esperanto movement never could buy any guns.

okaeri_man
Feb 4, 2005, 21:31
i found myself nodding to most of the things mentioned, but here's my 2 cents on a few of them:


- when travelling abroad, they care little about the local culture except foodperhaps not, but BEFORE they travel abroad they talk about the food (see point 1!).


- they ask the same routine dumb questions to foreigners ("can you use chopsticks; can you eat sushi, is there 4 seasons in your country, etc.")lol, this is very true. isn't it common knowledge that their are 4 seasons (in all places on earth)? or do they just think the seasons in japan are more clear-cut than any other country, and therefore foreigners haven't really "experienced" the changing of the seasons?


- manga, porn and fashion magazines account for over 90% of convenience stores' literature.nothing wrong with that! who wants "other" magazines when you rightly stated:


- there are virtually no magazines that test and rate products such as electronics, books, movies, games, etc. They only introduce these products without critical commentary (because the makers/sellers would sue them for being critical !)this did tick me off a bit. the japanese makers/sellers are criticised overseas (in say a gaming mag) all the time. i remember the doraemon games for N64 got given less than 2 out of 10 by australian reviewers!


- politicians are corrupted and inefficient beyond redemption, because they only care about themselves, and not the nation's welfare.umm, isn't this the same everywhere???


- many Japanese are convinced that their nation is "unique for being unique" (i.e. they think that all the world is a big melting-pot, but Japan is the only country that is 'pure' and homogenous, which makes it unique, and they are the only nation to enjoy such uniqueness.).yeah... not that theres anything wrong with this... but it gives many the idea that racism/discrimination is ok.

blade_bltz
Feb 5, 2005, 07:28
Ragedaddy - thanks for clearing that up! I was too quick to overreact...

Maciamo
Feb 5, 2005, 09:06
Actually there has been a well-documented downward trend in teenage pregnancy/abortion/births for at least the last decade, according to this source since1991. Figures may not be available for the current administration -- although no news has come in of a national reversal that I'm aware of.

http://www.cwfa.org/articledisplay.asp?id=4959&department=CWA&categoryid=family

What is that supposed to mean :


The 2002 birth rate of 42.9 births per 1000 for females aged 15-19 is 31 percent lower than the 1991 rate, and the rate of 72.7 percent for females aged 18-19 indicates a 23 percent decline,

72% of women between 18 and 19 get pregnant in the States ?? Even per mille seems so high (7 people out of 100). 19 is still teenage and I have never heard of anyone of that age getting pregnant among my European acquaintances. However in Japan I have (and many times).

GaijinPunch
Feb 5, 2005, 18:27
I know I'm late on this, but...


I think we just have very different ideas of what the word "culture" means. What I meant is that they don't learn about the country's history, mentality, society, arts, religion, customs,

No, that's what I think of when I think of culture. Maybe my wife is the bad apple, but all I do is follow her through her Japanese tourist books which take you to places in whatever country, and talks about all the things you listed.



I know they don't because I checked all the popular guidebooks my wife bought when we were travelling (chikyu no arukikata, etc.),

Maybe your missus is just buying the wrong books?


To tell you frankly, I don't know. But I never talk sex with any other men. What's the point ?[/quote[

Didn't say there was one, nor was I defending it... just saying it's not unique to Japanese by a stretch.

[quote]Yes, but that is not the point. Many Japanese think that money is happiness.

Again, I'd say no. I don't think I've ever talked $$ with any of my Japanese friends. I only knew one that wanted to be a pop star to be "remembered" he said... not rich, and not famous.


but that they make up a much bigger percentage of the total broadcasting time than on European channels.

There's no way I'll defend Japanese TV. It sucks... I've just never lived anywhere where it's any better.



What I meant is that there are people who can't even use the control panel of Windows or don't know how to use MS Word.

There's millions of them... all over the world. And as an engineer who makes his bread & butter b/c of such people, I say kanpai!


I know very few people who work 60h/week. 9 to 5 (or 6 or 7) jobs are still the most common in Japan.

Are these the same people that want to be rich? Yeah, those are the "hours" but you wind up working more. Trust me... I worked in metropolitan Tokyo for the entire time I was in the country. There are people leaving office buildings well into the night. Office buildings don't even close the front doors usually until midnight. Here in the states? My building is a ghost town at 18:00.

One last thing:
For those under the illusion that Japanese is limited -- you need to study more. Of course it's limited if you're thinking in another language. There's tons of stuff you can't exactly translate from English to Japanese. There's only a million or so onomotopeai's (sp?) in Japanese that I dare so most people here would not fathom. If you come from an English speaking country you're probably more likely to have been exposed to different types of English, which cause for more flexibility. I'll give you that.... but that's about it.

TwistedMac
Feb 6, 2005, 23:20
because remorse is part of the Judeo-Christian mentality, even for those who do not follow these religions.

very true. I'm an atheist, yet I look at some of the things said in the bible and I live by them as much as any religious person would.

"do unto others as you would have done unto yourself" or some such sentence is in there somewhere.. It makes perfect sense.
If everyone lives by it (and many do) we can keep the people hurt at a minimum.. and as long as it's at a minimum, tho odds of me being hurt are minimal.

I guess thinking about things like that makes us able to put ourselves in someone else's position and think "how would I feel if the tables were turned?". If we realize it wouldn't feel good, most of us feel regret. sympathy for the other person and the knowledge that I did that to him/her.

I'm not saying this is something the Japanese are incapable of or even bad at. I wouldn't know. I'm just trying to agree with the part of Maci's post I quoted.

alexriversan
Mar 19, 2005, 20:11
- their favourite topic of conversation is food
you do not like eating?


- when travelling abroad, they care little about the local culture except food
if there ever was any local culture.


- when they do not talk about food, they talk about money or sex
or dying and death like some americans


- The proverbs "money doesn't buy happiness/love" or "don't judge a book by its cover" have no significance in Japan
ya buy "love": if your money is used up the love ends.


- clothes do make the man in Japan (which explain the success of brand clothes, black suits and even that of cosplay, bunny girls or the importance that Japanese women attach to their wedding dress)
and here clochards are entering the city council and getting jobs by 1:3 lottery.


- people indeed do not get treated the same way (be it in a shop, by government officials, by the police or whatever) depending on how well they dress and look.
and how polite they ask. even here staff does not give out things just for money


- they think an opuent and expensive wedding is necessary for appearances' sake (even if that is way above their means)
that's offensive. 39 reasons.


- some Japanese companies have a tiny head office in Tokyo (esp. Nihombashi) just for appearances' sake, as it is said to give them a higher status.
nice, very nice.


- they judge people from their appearance and tend to be easily prejudiced (e.g. toward foreigner-looking persons)
and you see the good in people with dirty clothing, sunglasses and big cars.


- they use gestures and speak strange Japanese to foreigners who address them in fluent Japanese (or before they have a chance to speak), as if they had convinced themselves that somebody who didn't look Japanese could not possibly understand their language
it is a way to express dislike for people who do not look japanese enough.


- however Japanese language is so deficient in vocabulary and acurate expressions that it has to borrow thousands of new words from other languages every year
like geek, ***** and nerd?


- the structure of Japanese language is so inflexible and clumsy (no relative sentences, few tenses, few nuances) that Japanese people end up speaking with isolated words (often adjectives, see below) rather than making full sentences.
which are well understood.


- they can't debate and dislike serious intellectual discussions (probably due to the language issues mentioned above)
do you easily debate lacking any reasons?


- there are very few intellectual programmes on TV (documentaries, debates, political analysis, social phenomenons, literary discussions...), due to a general lack of interest of the population
literary discussions on tv?


- people on TV usualy repeat the same few adjectives all the time (oishii, omoshiroi, hidoi, kirei...) , as if they were linguistically challenged.
news in europe are repeating one thing all day: dying and death.


- people in everyday life actually do speak like mentioned above
they speak all day of earthquakes and they may die of that probably?


- they ask the same routine dumb questions to foreigners ("can you use chopsticks; can you eat sushi, is there 4 seasons in your country, etc.")
rather can you afford sushi? we have sushi here in europe.


- they tend of lack sexual morals and don't mind cheating "as long as their partner doesn't know"
and we are holy churchgoers.


- they have casual sex with several partners without protection and don't worry about STD's
offensive. 38 reasons.


- they have a computer but don't know much how to use even quite simple functions, due to a lack of interest for technology
- they throw away a dysfunctuning electronic equipment (e.g. computer) or machine, rather than try to repair it
ya western secretary woman all have little repair shops at home.


- they call an plumber, electrician or carpenter to repair things in their house, because they are not interested in DIY (Japan is a service country par excellence, due to people's lack of knowledge or interest in a wide array of things)
if they have a house.


- they go to juku after school because they sleep or are too slow to learn at school (slowing down the teacher's rythm) and can't assimilate the necessary knowledge to pass the exams. They still end up learning much less than European children in foreign languages, history, geography and critical thinking.
more supid than the people here?


- manga, porn and fashion magazines account for over 90% of convenience stores' literature.
if you go to a manga shop it is obviously.


- shops staff repeat "irasshaimasse", then "domo arigato gozaimashita" like robots to anybody that enters or exit, even if the same person comes in and out three times in 5 minutes
a japanese would not do that on the same day


- they can't think by themselves, and believe the media, commercials or what people tell them much too easily
ya we all think think and think.


- they buy on impulse rather than after careful comparison and analysis
so do we


- there are virtually no magazines that test and rate products such as electronics, books, movies, games, etc. They only introduce these products without critical commentary (because the makers/sellers would sue them for being critical !)
would complain about them for being critical. ya i know our magazines are announcing everthing as BS to increase sales.


- they are a nation of followers that suffer from the "sheep syndrome" => if every jumps in the river, let's jump in the river too ! (i.e. lack of critical and independent thinking)
here we are individually arguing with police staff


- as a result, when something becomes fashionable, everybody must have it (e.g. Louis Vuitton handbags), even if that means it looses its uniqueness or originality.
people need nike for better living


- when a restaurant is "introduced" on TV, one can be sure that it will be full to the brim for the week to come, then people will forget about it as quickly as they had rushed on it (just to show how influenceable the Japanese are).
restaurant introduced on tv? have you hallucinated that?


- they think that most women are just good to serve tea, smile, be beautiful and make children (I mean, the cultural influence is so strong that many Japanese women also think so, not just men)
now they think.


- politicians are corrupted and inefficient beyond redemption, because they only care about themselves, and not the nation's welfare.
our politicans are anwering emails, you know, and giving jobs to jobless people immediately, including a sugar-free candy.


- people accept that politicians are as mentioned above, because they don't expect their own kind to act in a more virtous way
and recruitment agencies serving coffe, take a seat, very firendly, job in five minutes.


- men don't mind paying huge sums of money just to chat with bar hostesses, because they can't get a girlfriend (sad) or feel that it give them some form of status (shallow)
- about one out of three Japanese men frequents or has already been to one of these hostess bar.
as long as it is only chatting...


- not being married after the age of 35 or 40 can hurt some people's credibility or status, as people think that there is 'something wrong' with them
often it is indeed


- they care a lot about marriage, but little about the eventuality of divorce, so that prenuptial agreements are almost unheard of, because people 'don't like to think that bad things could happen' - while Westerners cannot not think about this eventuality and be prepared for it. Similarily, very few Japanese write their testament. Japanese seem to worry a lot, but rarely about things that matter most.
this should really change. people should have a coffin at home, if they need one, it is too late, obvioulsy. +3 bonus reasons


- many Japanese fathers do not think that they have a role in their children's education. This is so culturally ingrained that in case of divorce, the mother almost always get the exclusive custody of the child(ren), and the father often 'never' see them again - and often doesn't care much anyway.
offensive. 37 reasons.


- they find pleasure in asking foreigners what kind of Japanese food they can't eat - even if they can't eat it themself (never really understood the purpose of those questions)
do they have clumsy cheese?


- many Japanese are convinced that their nation is "unique for being unique" (i.e. they think that all the world is a big melting-pot, but Japan is the only country that is 'pure' and homogenous, which makes it unique, and they are the only nation to enjoy such uniqueness.).
people should have something japanese, and not a mind concept, japanese would be american hostages which were forced to learn kanji.

Maciamo
Mar 19, 2005, 20:39
I see through your reply, alexriversan, that Irish people (if you are), are indeed a bit more similar to the Japanese (or Americans) than the European average, as nekosasori (who lives in Ireland) remarked before. Island (or isolated country) mentality ?

alexriversan
Mar 19, 2005, 23:20
maciamo, talking topics family, wedding customs and polgygamic relationships are likely considered as offensive. a phrase book containing "a list of fourty words" in the index would not sell in japan.

i do not know why people try to point out one's origin and i do not see an importance in it.

do japanese laugh about europeans who always say "jesus christ" out of no particiular reason? or who label themselves as moro, geek and nerd?

i have difficulties imagine a japanese articulating "lord buddha" within a "discussion" without logical connection to the communication. but you wrote communication would often be imperative.

probably we should tell the japanese, the word "ghey" would not be gender specific, means it can be applied to a woman which bets large sums of money on horses, lives in a luxerious house and uses tarot cards to figure out which horse to bet.

notice this does not necessarily include physical intercourse within a relationship. probably the japanese know it theirselves because words are not attached to genders.

i wonder more and more :-) :-) :-)

Maciamo
Mar 19, 2005, 23:26
maciamo, talking topics family, wedding customs and polgygamic relationships are likely considered as offensive.

Why ? Are you a puritan ?


do japanese laugh about europeans who always say "jesus christ" out of no particiular reason?

I don't know, but I do (laugh at them). Anyway, that's mostly an English expression (well there are other religion-related expression in other languages).

alexriversan
Mar 19, 2005, 23:31
Why ? Are you a puritan ?

not at all. as far as i have understood, japanese society tolerates many things (like unusual vending machines)- as long as they do not try to enter university, to teach small children and giving out lollies to same. it works because it is not talked about more than necessary.

i worked on my unecessary hate feelings for a while.

cicatriz esp
Mar 20, 2005, 10:58
Well, there are those kinds of people everywhere, but yeah, I would say living in LA has a lot to do with that opinion.

I would just throw in my two cents here that the majority of the population of LA are not, in fact, American citizens.

Shas
Mar 31, 2005, 03:22
- when travelling abroad, they care little about the local culture except food

i disagree in part :D in germany japanese people are famous for having little digital cameras and stuff and taking tons of pictures of everything :) instead of looking


well

Leroy_Brown
Mar 31, 2005, 04:17
Yet another stereotype/generalization.

Maciamo,

Do you ever have anything remotely good to say about Japan or the Japanese?

Shas
Mar 31, 2005, 04:22
yeah, you must add that in Europe stereotypes are a big thing because you have so many unique countries bordering each other :D

King of Tokyo
Mar 31, 2005, 05:11
Even if I wanted to agree on some of your points, I can't. Why? Because every topic you make is some negative generelization about Japan and more specifically Japanese people. I don't understand why you'd want to be in a place that you complain so much about. It doesn't make sense.

Shas
Mar 31, 2005, 05:26
Even if I wanted to agree on some of your points, I can't. Why? Because every topic you make is some negative generelization about Japan and more specifically Japanese people. I don't understand why you'd want to be in a place that you complain so much about. It doesn't make sense.


let me show you.

Im living with Americans right now. In the South. They (Americans) say 'bout Americans that they are:
- stupid
- fat
- hard drinking
- hard cussing
- redneck
- hardcore christians
- etc blahbla bush blah

but they don't say "All Americans are allways this way and that's all their choice and they don't want to change it."


see i think what he wants to say is that, well, they might be superficial but that doesn't shape them as a nationality. see that's a trait or so if one grows up with it hes unlikely to not continue it.

i would make an example if i knew any stereotype or so about canada but i seriously don't know anything about canada because nobody ever talks about you (your next to the big US they are allways the donkey) - really no offense ment.

I can understand your point but I allso agree with the thread starter


well hope you got my point right and i didn't offend you in any way O.o

Leroy_Brown
Mar 31, 2005, 06:09
[QUOTE=Shas]
i would make an example if i knew any stereotype or so about canada but i seriously don't know anything about canada because nobody ever talks about you (your next to the big US they are allways the donkey) - really no offense ment.
[QUOTE]

Canadians are colder, hockey-loving Americans without guns who have health care, half of whom think they're still French.

:D

cicatriz esp
Mar 31, 2005, 09:48
Canadians own more guns per capita than Americans do.

Maciamo
Mar 31, 2005, 10:12
Yet another stereotype/generalization.

Maciamo,

Do you ever have anything remotely good to say about Japan or the Japanese?

Haven't you read any of the articles in the Culture (http://www.wa-pedia.com/culture/), Glossary (http://www.wa-pedia.com/glossary/) or Practical (http://www.wa-pedia.com/practical/) (including Travel Guide) sections of this site to say such a thing ? As I wrote almost everything in these sections, and there isn't anything negative to be found in over 200 pages, I think your vision of not having "anything remotely good to say about Japan" is very much restricted to what you want to see. How many of my almost 4000 forum posts did you read ?

Maciamo
Mar 31, 2005, 10:18
Even if I wanted to agree on some of your points, I can't. Why? Because every topic you make is some negative generelization about Japan and more specifically Japanese people. I don't understand why you'd want to be in a place that you complain so much about. It doesn't make sense.

See my reply to Leroy above (funny that my reply to you both should be the same, as Leroy means "the king" in French and "King of Tokyo" lives in Canada, no far from the French speaking part :-) ). I think you should read this thread : Can you separate reason and emotions in your mind ? (http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showthread.php?p=188068)

Why would I be criticising the economical and political system if it was not to change it and improve ? (because continuing like this, Japan is doomed in the long run). Otherwise, when talking about most of the Japanese culture (history, Shinto, Buddhism, traditions, festivals, kimono, food, fireworks, sightseeing, etc.) I not only have positive views, but did more than 99.9% of any other foreigners interseted in Japan to promote this culture via the practical, culture and glossary sections of this website.

Note that my rant about Japanese people only concerns 2 things : education and discrimination. In my views, the discriminatory practices come from ignorance or misinformation fed to the population via the education system and media. If I may put it this way, the two "evils" that spoil the spiriut of the Japanese people are the education sytem and the media, both of which are closely monitored by the government. So the source of all evils, be them economical, social or educational is always ultimately the Japanese government.

As they (the government) don't seem to realise it, and the people don't not do much to change things (because they are just too passive and compliant due to the education system), someone needs to take care of letting the world know the truth about Japan, and hopefully, when enough people around the world will have become aware of the situation, there might be some pressure from outside to change things, as in Japan history has shown that things just do not change (even for centuries on end) if there isn't some kind of external pressure (be in Perry for the Meiji Restoration (http://www.wa-pedia.com/glossary/meiji_restoration.shtml), or MacArthur after WWII).

Why do I spend some much time and energy to improve the situation in a country that is not mine and which I could leave anytime I want ? Reading your answer (or Leroy's), somebody like you will probably never understand. It's called passion and (cynical) idealism. Living in Japan with my Japanese partner, these two characteritics of my personality force me to react to everyday situations, reflect about the causes of the problems I come across, analyse how the society in which I live works, and find solutions to improve ir. I have lived in several European countries, and did the same as for Japan.

As a matter of fact, before coming to Japan I wrote hundreds of pages about things that had to be changed about European politics, economy or educational system. I submitted the relevant dosuments to a few leading politicians or university professors. But there was IMHO much less to complain about in Europe than in Japan, as most of the issues were already common knowlege, and the solutions were already being tackled by the various governments and the EU. Looking at how much progress has been achieved in the EU in the last 10 or 20 years, I can only applaud. But looking at the same period of time in Japan, all I see is that the situation has mostly deteriorated, except for a few minor, but notable positive changes, such as the increasingly better position of women in society or a few measures to revive the economy.

Anyway, the keyword to understand my posts is the Latin/French/Italian saying "Who loves well chastises well".

Vikthor
Mar 31, 2005, 11:40
Wow!
There are so many things in common between the Japanese and the Argentinians (sadly, it´s nothing to be proud of)!

FireyRei
Apr 5, 2005, 12:07
Interesting observations, although stereotypical & does not reflect on every person.

Ma Cherie
Apr 5, 2005, 12:18
Interesting observations, although stereotypical & does not reflect on every person.

Perhaps (if you are Japanese) you could try to shed some light on issues regarding attitudues the Japanese have towards foreigners and other many other things as well.

That is all.

cyber ape
Apr 6, 2005, 05:38
"Is this not a worldwide phenomenon, turn on the TV in the US, and you can see "Hi, I'm pregnant at 13 yrs old," as a theme."

The difference is, atleast in Tokyo, the issue of making unprotected sex under the age 15 ILLEGAL came up. In America, we don't really care, because it gives us something to feel good about ourselves for, and because if you have a child, you'd better take care of it, nevermind the fact it could've been rape, eh, etc..

Also, is we banned underage sex, the Christians would win, and that wouldn't be right.

alexriversan
Apr 6, 2005, 18:07
Also, is we banned underage sex, the Christians would win, and that wouldn't be right.

the christians are very strict: no sex at all if man/woman are not married.

the reaction was lots of young people broke this rule, you know what happend in the sixties: rock'n'roll, then the hippie era/the disco thing.

indirect the christs are evil: the produce rule-breakers.

new rules must be designed to be moderate, more education what happens if young girls get pregnant, the diseases and so on.

----------

to make drugs criminal- this does not solve the problem.
drug intake is an active action of disconnection from the family/relationships.
right educated people refuse illegal substances.
not because they are illegal.
because they are in good relationships with their family/partners, and know the effects of these substances.

not to say that these things may occur together: drugs, prostitution and underage pregnacy.

-----------

it may sound conservative, i know. extensive information about the results of underage sex (pregnancy, problems with parents, poverty, drugs and so on) might be labelled as propaganda.

people who know these results do not need excessive regulations by law.

my personal opinion is that the family must agree to such relationships, and must be able to support them financially. otherwise, it would be social illegal for these people to get intim.

dadako
Apr 10, 2005, 13:50
Maciamo: based on the amount of time you've been in Japan, these statements make you sound very naive.

we all notice these things in the first few months, care to dig a bit deeper and you'll actually find that Japanese people are vastly more interesting that you think. Maybe you just hang out with real idiots and get a bum deal at every turn, but this is not a good image for yourself considering that you moderate on this forum and should be swimming in worldly knowledge and understanding/acceptance of different cultures. Most importantly setting an example for those who visit here after knowledge.

I agree that Japanese are slightly more slow on the uptake when it comes to expressing their knowledge and thoughts, however this is Japan, and in Japan that's the way it's done.

Maciamo
Apr 10, 2005, 15:03
Maciamo: based on the amount of time you've been in Japan, these statements make you sound very naive.

we all notice these things in the first few months, care to dig a bit deeper and you'll actually find that Japanese people are vastly more interesting that you think. Maybe you just hang out with real idiots and get a bum deal at every turn, but this is not a good image for yourself considering that you moderate on this forum and should be swimming in worldly knowledge and understanding/acceptance of different cultures.

Let me disagree. The longer I stay in Japan, the more people I meet, the deeper I dig into their thoughts, and the more these traits become clear and easy to generalised. It is no wonder I didn't write such posts in my first 2 years in Japan. I wanted to be sure, double-check and 'keep digging deeper' and meet even more people, analyse more carefully why they react the way they do, what they learned at school, see if they are just fakng ignorance and disinterest or if they really don't know and lack interest... If it is true that many foreigners notice these things in the first few months, few care to search for the causes of this behaviour or analyse in detail how the people they meet think.

But I never said that all Japanese were like that, or I would have left the country long ago. I am just saying that these traits are dominant, and that people who do not fit at least half of these descriptions are a minority (let me remind you that 45% is a minority, if another group amounts to 46 to 55%).

There is no reason to get annoyed by my analysis. I can find negative things to say (often worse than that) about just any society around the world. For example, the dominant negative traits of the French (especially Parisians) is that they are arrogant, overcritcial, care little about each other's feelings, prefer to disagree rather than to agree (basically all the opposite of the Japanese, from this point of view). The dominant negative traits of the Southern USA is blind religiousness, lack of interest in the world, etc. But as we have said before, this forum is about Japan. If you want to know about the positive and negative aspects of other countries, then you'll surely find them on some other websites.

Maybe one of the differences between you and me, is that I do not contend myself with analysing the people I like, but all kind of people a country's society is made of, including the homeless, the criminals, the elderly, the children, the rich, the poor, the well-educated, the less educated, those open to foreigners, the racists, the nationalists, the bright, the simple-minded, the recluse and the extrovert... I am sure that most Westerners living in Japan do not take much care about this whole society, but just the people that come to them, mostly the young, better-educated than average and open to the world. It is a mistake to limit your judgement to these people if you want to consider the society as a whole. Considering that you live in Shibuya, I understand that you have a quite different view of Japan that I do. Shibuya has been called a male gaijin paradise. It has everything a young Western designer like you would wish for. Go and live in the countryside with some bigoted 70 year-old, and you'll have a very different opinion.

Doc
Apr 10, 2005, 17:22
I would like to prove once and for all that Japan indeed is a unique society, as about any Japanese would claim. Well, at least it is unique to Western eyes, as Japan may share numerous similarities with its Asian neighours. Here is a summary of my observations of the Japanese people and mindset established after 3,5 years of 'research'.

To assess this uniqueness of the Japanese culture, I did not include material differences (different architecture, food, etc.) which can easily be copied or exported, but only psychological ones (what make the people different). In fact, I have only concentrated on one particular aspect of the Japanese midset : its shallowness (so this study is totally biased from the start, as it does not include anything else). I could very well do one to prove how much more polite, disciplined, or respectful the Japanese are. But it is not the object of this analysis.

The purpose is not to animadvert, excoriate or disparage (sorry, couldn't resist lol), but on the contrary emphasize the idiosyncracies of the Japanese mindset as opposed to the Western median.

The observations hereafter only represent a trend that characterize a majority (i.e. at least 50%) of the Japanese population (sometimes only for one gender group). It may apply to an overwhelming majority of the population (nearly 100%), or only to just about half of it. But still, please take it with a grain of salt and a good sense of humour. Have fun !

- their favourite topic of conversation is food
- when travelling abroad, they care little about the local culture except food
- when they do not talk about food, they talk about money or sex
- The proverbs "money doesn't buy happiness/love" or "don't judge a book by its cover" have no significance in Japan
- clothes do make the man in Japan (which explain the success of brand clothes, black suits and even that of cosplay, bunny girls or the importance that Japanese women attach to their wedding dress)
- people indeed do not get treated the same way (be it in a shop, by government officials, by the police or whatever) depending on how well they dress and look.
- they think an opuent and expensive wedding is necessary for appearances' sake (even if that is way above their means)
- some Japanese companies have a tiny head office in Tokyo (esp. Nihombashi) just for appearances' sake, as it is said to give them a higher status.
- they judge people from their appearance and tend to be easily prejudiced (e.g. toward foreigner-looking persons)
- they use gestures and speak strange Japanese to foreigners who address them in fluent Japanese (or before they have a chance to speak), as if they had convinced themselves that somebody who didn't look Japanese could not possibly understand their language
- however Japanese language is so deficient in vocabulary and acurate expressions that it has to borrow thousands of new words from other languages every year
- the structure of Japanese language is so inflexible and clumsy (no relative sentences, few tenses, few nuances) that Japanese people end up speaking with isolated words (often adjectives, see below) rather than making full sentences.
- they can't debate and dislike serious intellectual discussions (probably due to the language issues mentioned above)
- there are very few intellectual programmes on TV (documentaries, debates, political analysis, social phenomenons, literary discussions...), due to a general lack of interest of the population
- people on TV usualy repeat the same few adjectives all the time (oishii, omoshiroi, hidoi, kirei...) , as if they were linguistically challenged.
- people in everyday life actually do speak like mentioned above
- they ask the same routine dumb questions to foreigners ("can you use chopsticks; can you eat sushi, is there 4 seasons in your country, etc.")
- they tend of lack sexual morals and don't mind cheating "as long as their partner doesn't know"
- they have casual sex with several partners without protection and don't worry about STD's
- they have a computer but don't know much how to use even quite simple functions, due to a lack of interest for technology
- they throw away a dysfunctuning electronic equipment (e.g. computer) or machine, rather than try to repair it
- they call an plumber, electrician or carpenter to repair things in their house, because they are not interested in DIY (Japan is a service country par excellence, due to people's lack of knowledge or interest in a wide array of things)
- they go to juku after school because they sleep or are too slow to learn at school (slowing down the teacher's rythm) and can't assimilate the necessary knowledge to pass the exams. They still end up learning much less than European children in foreign languages, history, geography and critical thinking.
- manga, porn and fashion magazines account for over 90% of convenience stores' literature.
- shops staff repeat "irasshaimasse", then "domo arigato gozaimashita" like robots to anybody that enters or exit, even if the same person comes in and out three times in 5 minutes
- they can't think by themselves, and believe the media, commercials or what people tell them much too easily
- they buy on impulse rather than after careful comparison and analysis
- there are virtually no magazines that test and rate products such as electronics, books, movies, games, etc. They only introduce these products without critical commentary (because the makers/sellers would sue them for being critical !)
- they are a nation of followers that suffer from the "sheep syndrome" => if every jumps in the river, let's jump in the river too ! (i.e. lack of critical and independent thinking)
- as a result, when something becomes fashionable, everybody must have it (e.g. Louis Vuitton handbags), even if that means it looses its uniqueness or originality.
- when a restaurant is "introduced" on TV, one can be sure that it will be full to the brim for the week to come, then people will forget about it as quickly as they had rushed on it (just to show how influenceable the Japanese are).
- they think that most women are just good to serve tea, smile, be beautiful and make children (I mean, the cultural influence is so strong that many Japanese women also think so, not just men)
- politicians are corrupted and inefficient beyond redemption, because they only care about themselves, and not the nation's welfare.
- people accept that politicians are as mentioned above, because they don't expect their own kind to act in a more virtous way
- men don't mind paying huge sums of money just to chat with bar hostesses, because they can't get a girlfriend (sad) or feel that it give them some form of status (shallow)
- about one out of three Japanese men frequents or has already been to one of these hostess bar.
- not being married after the age of 35 or 40 can hurt some people's credibility or status, as people think that there is 'something wrong' with them
- they care a lot about marriage, but little about the eventuality of divorce, so that prenuptial agreements are almost unheard of, because people 'don't like to think that bad things could happen' - while Westerners cannot not think about this eventuality and be prepared for it. Similarily, very few Japanese write their testament. Japanese seem to worry a lot, but rarely about things that matter most.
- many Japanese fathers do not think that they have a role in their children's education. This is so culturally ingrained that in case of divorce, the mother almost always get the exclusive custody of the child(ren), and the father often 'never' see them again - and often doesn't care much anyway.
- they find pleasure in asking foreigners what kind of Japanese food they can't eat - even if they can't eat it themself (never really understood the purpose of those questions)
- many Japanese are convinced that their nation is "unique for being unique" (i.e. they think that all the world is a big melting-pot, but Japan is the only country that is 'pure' and homogenous, which makes it unique, and they are the only nation to enjoy such uniqueness.).


And then the universe imploded.

Doc:ramen::happy:

Maciamo
Apr 10, 2005, 17:29
And then the universe imploded.


So that is what happened. I was also wondering. :D

Doc
Apr 10, 2005, 17:34
What can I say? The universe itself can only take so much superfical crap from humanity before it too decides to go bai-bai. Hell could probably call it a mercy killing too.

Doc:ramen::happy:

white.rabbit
Apr 12, 2005, 13:36
:p
Might I point out that the majority of, if not all, economically secure and westernized countries share many of the traits listed...
Also, you must also factor in the history and culture of Japan, and many other asian countries. There is a rather great difference between European countries and Asian countries as far as culture goes...
However, many of those points are quite valid
:hihi:

Maciamo
Apr 12, 2005, 14:07
Might I point out that the majority of, if not all, economically secure and westernized countries share many of the traits listed...

Have you ever set foot outside the US ?


Also, you must also factor in the history and culture of Japan, and many other asian countries. There is a rather great difference between European countries and Asian countries as far as culture goes...

Yes, that's a fact!

Reiku
Apr 12, 2005, 14:18
- manga, porn and fashion magazines account for over 90% of convenience stores' literature.

...that's pretty much true here in the states too. :D

tai2
Apr 30, 2005, 08:31
Maciamo, I enjoyed reading your links and the entire forum regarding your original post. I would have to say I agree with most of what you wrote. I do come from some experience, having lived three times in Japan, first from '89 - '90, then most recent being from 09/02 to 09/03 in a small town called ashikaga (inaka). Also, have studied Japanese for quite a few years, and currently live with a beautiful Japanese woman here in the US.

Anyway, my question would be that as you obviously feel very passionately about the differences (or to subphrase your postings .. the deficiencies of Japan vs. the modernized world) ... why wouldn't you try to do something about it? Posting in this forum is obviously a way to educate 'gaijin' about your opinions or insight of Japan, but from your postings you seem to really want to make a difference (i.e. comparing yourself to Perry and McAurther).

Perhaps an NPO which could collectively add a collaborative effort among industrialized nations to integrate Japan into your mode of thought? ... just rambling.. but you might find this link interesting ... http://www.usajapan.org/PDF/051004_njipolitics_summary.pdf

I found that through a simple google search, I'm sure there are plenty out there...

I did find your postings informative, and agreed with most of it.

P.S. If you believe in immorality, how could you not believe in God? ... Just a thought

Faustianideals
Apr 30, 2005, 12:56
I liked the post very much, good job Maciamo!

Maciamo
Apr 30, 2005, 15:56
Maciamo, I enjoyed reading your links and the entire forum regarding your original post. I would have to say I agree with most of what you wrote.

Thanks. Glad to see that people who have experienced Japan like me also agree with my observations. :-)



Perhaps an NPO which could collectively add a collaborative effort among industrialized nations to integrate Japan into your mode of thought? ... just rambling.. but you might find this link interesting ... http://www.usajapan.org/PDF/051004_njipolitics_summary.pdf

Thanks for the link and advice.



P.S. If you believe in immorality, how could you not believe in God? ... Just a thought

Do I believe in immortality ?

aha yes
May 1, 2005, 01:53
Maciamo,
Some of the OP is kind of funny, and I take it with the grain of salt you prescribed. Here's my reaction:

A whooole lot of the list could be said about many other countries so it really proves nothing about the uniqueness of Japan. I mean food? sex? May as well call all humanity shallow.

Many other things on the list are only 'shallow' when you look at them with Western blinders on. In your years of research, I'd be surprised if you didn't pick up on the very subtle yet ubiquitous Japanese ideal of impermanence. You're trying to find meaning and depth precisely where the Japanese are not aesthetically (or even spiritually) inclined to put it. Enjoying each meal, cup of tea or passing fashion as a once-in-a-lifetime experience can be profound. Shallowness is not letting go of passing things.

Maciamo
May 1, 2005, 11:03
A whooole lot of the list could be said about many other countries so it really proves nothing about the uniqueness of Japan. I mean food? sex? May as well call all humanity shallow.

Am I guessing that by this reaction you are American ?


In your years of research, I'd be surprised if you didn't pick up on the very subtle yet ubiquitous Japanese ideal of impermanence.

In what way is that unique or special. I certainly do feel the impermanence more than many Japanese. In fact, we could argue that the Japanese dislike change (why I love it and need it). The concept of impermanence in Japan comes from Buddhism/Hinduism, so we could say that it is shared by at leats half of the people in the world (just China and India make up 2.4 billion people).


Enjoying each meal, cup of tea or passing fashion as a once-in-a-lifetime experience can be profound. Shallowness is not letting go of passing things.

For me, enjoying one's senses is never profound. That is what we share in common with many animals, especially mammals. For me, profoundity relates to using the frontal cortex of one's brain.

I admit that I may judge too much based on my way of thinking and socio-economic background rather than for all Westerners. There are quite a lot of shallow people in the West too. The proportion is usuall higher among the lower classes and some middle class (money does not determine class for me, as I explained in this article about the [url=http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15637]social classes[url]). I have mostly compared upper-middle class people in Western Europe to upper-middle class and middle-class people in Japan (didn't take Americans into account as I haven't lived in the States). If you compare lower classes, there is probably not so much difference. So I guess you agree or disagree with me more based on your own background and the country where you are from.

I think the Japanese are quite similar to other East Asians regarding their obsession with sensual pleasures (food, massages, baths, etc.). Or maybe it is because I get my impression from proportionally more Japanese women than men, and in a society where gender role is so important, women are not encouraged to be deep and intellectual, but cute, naive and superficial (well, there are a few notable exceptions, but there are just that, exceptions). What do you think ?

aha yes
May 1, 2005, 14:00
Am I guessing that by this reaction you are American ?
I am, but I don't see how that's relevant. Food, sex and looks are important in any culture..



In what way is that unique or special. I certainly do feel the impermanence more than many Japanese. In fact, we could argue that the Japanese dislike change (why I love it and need it). The concept of impermanence in Japan comes from Buddhism/Hinduism, so we could say that it is shared by at leats half of the people in the world (just China and India make up 2.4 billion people).
Agreed, impermanence is not unique to Japan. That wasn't a claim.



For me, enjoying one's senses is never profound. That is what we share in common with many animals, especially mammals. For me, profoundity relates to using the frontal cortex of one's brain.
How austere. Thing is, no matter how much you use the ol' frontal cortex, no matter what country or socio-economic class you're from, you still have to eat and have sex. We are after all animals. That the Japanese do not deny this but make good sport of it is a different brand of profundity than you're allowing here.

My point is that this '40 reasons' thing says much more about your own cultural values on superficiality than about anything inherent to Japan.

Maciamo
May 1, 2005, 14:08
I am, but I don't see how that's relevant.

Well, the fact that I could guess it means something. You are not the first person on this forum to react like this (and almost all others before you were American).


Food, sex and looks are important in any culture..
...
Thing is, no matter how much you use the ol' frontal cortex, no matter what country or socio-economic class you're from, you still have to eat and have sex. We are after all animals.

If you took care to make the difference between what's important, essential to survive, or fun, and what is "profound", you would understand better my point of view. I love good food, but that doesn't make me feel particularly profound to eat or discuss about food.

Obviously eating and having sex are fundamental aspects of being a human being. They are very basic needs, can be very enjoyable, but that does not mean these things are "intellectual" or "profound". There is more to being a human than eating and having sex. The very meaning of superficial is to care too much about those basic things, and not enough about using one's brains to understand complex issues, be creative or acquire new knowledge.

FYI, I refer to this defintion of superficial :

Merriam-Webster Dictionary (http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=superficial) : "concerned only with the obvious or apparent"

I used it as a synonym of "shallow", defined like this (http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/shallow?view=uk) : " not showing, requiring, or capable of serious thought".

I believe that my list of observations match well these definitions, and that food, sex, etc. are always shallow, no matter how enjoyable they may be. People need shallow stuff too, but when it becomes the dominant trait of character, those people become worringly close to returning to their animal condition (I am not talking about the Japanese in particular here, but anybody in this world).

aha yes
May 1, 2005, 15:33
Well, the fact that I could guess it means something. You are not the first person on this forum to react like this (and almost all others before you were American).
So...what am I guilty of?



If you took care to make the difference between what's important, essential to survive, or fun, and what is "profound", you would understand better my point of view. I love good food, but that doesn't make me feel particularly profound to eat or discuss about food.
You may love good food but you obviously don't really loooove food. It's no one's loss but your own if you treat your eating experience as a means of survival only and not something profound.



Obviously eating and having sex are fundamental aspects of being a human being. They are very basic needs, can be very enjoyable, but that does not mean these things are "intellectual" or "profound". There is more to being a human than eating and having sex. The very meaning of superficial is to care too much about those basic things, and not enough about using one's brains to understand complex issues, be creative or acquire new knowledge.
Intellectual does not necessarily equal profound. Lots of cultures back to the primitives have central rituals and myth about food and sex precisely because they are essential to our survival. Nothing intellectual about that. But it's profound, how we consume life to live. How about the fertility cults of farming cultures (thanking God for veggies)? Or the elaborate ceremonies used by Native American groups to renew the soul of an animal killed for food (thanking God for meat and hoping it doesn't run out)? Or how about the Bible story where humans were cut off from God because they ATE an apple? Or was that about SEX? Are these examples not complex or creative enough? Too animal-like for modern civilized intellectual man? Exactly how complex is it to be human? What more is there?



FYI, I refer to this defintion of superficial :

Merriam-Webster Dictionary (http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=superficial) : "concerned only with the obvious or apparent"

I used it as a synonym of "shallow", defined like this (http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/shallow?view=uk) : " not showing, requiring, or capable of serious thought".

I believe that my list of observations match well these definitions...
Why not? As long as we're evaluating the Japanese worldview by one-line definitions in foreign language dictionaries published in another culture.


, and that food, sex, etc. are always shallow, no matter how enjoyable they may be. People need shallow stuff too, but when it becomes the dominant trait of character, those people become worringly close to returning to their animal condition (I am not talking about the Japanese in particular here, but anybody in this world).
You ride your intellect to profundity. I ride enjoyment. You are no more human than I.

Tim0000
Dec 4, 2006, 00:03
Very typical gaijin view of Japan. Its unfortunate that most people only ever see this perspective of Japan, perhaps because the language and social barriers are still too great after all these years. More unfortunate that most people in this thread seem to agree with the original post. Apparently most people never get beyond talking about completely meaningless talk with a Japanese person, which is why they are perceived as being shallow. I can tell you that the boring and shallow conversations that you are probably having with a Japanese person, despite the apparent enthusiasm expressed by them, is totally reciprocal and they are totally bored too. With so many foreigners in Japan you would think there has been some bridge across the cultures, but apparently not yet.

In some way, the isolation that this creates for Japanese can be constructive as it means they can go and do the weird and wonderful things that they do, without judgement. Once there is understanding between western and japanese cultures, then anything that anyone does has to be "good" under western values as well. That day will probably be the end of true uniqueness of Japan, which would also be a pity.

So theres good and bad in this, probably more good than bad actually.

Maciamo
Dec 4, 2006, 04:09
Very typical gaijin view of Japan.

Really ? That's strange I have rarely heard such views on forums in English about Japan. In fact I found that many "Japan-lovers" didn't want to see or hear anything like that at all. Btw, are you a Japanese or a non-Japanese ?


I can tell you that the boring and shallow conversations that you are probably having with a Japanese person, despite the apparent enthusiasm expressed by them, is totally reciprocal and they are totally bored too.

My wife says that she has never learnt so much about all kind of things as since she met me - because she had never met any Japanese as interesting or knowlegeable as me (her words, not mine). I have had many individual students who continued their weekly lesson with me for 1, 2 or in some cases even 3 years because they learnt more than just English. They were free to change teacher or stop the lessons anytime they wanted. So I doubt I that I was a total bore.

What I criticise is Japanese society in general, not only the individuals I have met. Look a the media - boring and superficial. Compared to the median of society I am a bit more on the intellectual side, and I can tell you that it is hard to find food for the mind on Japanese TV. Where are all the debates about society and politics, where are the documentaries about history, science and nature, where are the geo-political analysis of worldwide issues (e.g. the war in Iraq, the situation in Darfur, the conflict in Kashmir) ? No, Japanese TV is full of stupid games and variety shows, with series and movies, but nothing to make you think.

When I am in a cafe or restaurant in Japan and I eavesdrop on conversations around me, it is very often the same things that are always discussed : food, marriage, fashion, celebrities... Very few people talk about more serious stuff. It is completely different here in Belgium.

As you can see it is not a language issue in my case, but an actual cultural difference. Japanese culture encourages superficial talks. On the contrary French-speaking culture encourage serious discussions.

Mrjones
Dec 4, 2006, 15:54
<quote> Its unfortunate that most people only ever see this perspective of Japan, perhaps because the language and social barriers are still too great after all these years. </quote>

Japan is supposed to be at least one of the major economies in the world we live on. Somehow I would think these major economies should be little bit more openminded, at least for their own people. Still they have their own mafia openly running their yakuza businesses. How logical is such thing to exsist in major economies ? :bluush:

nurizeko
Dec 4, 2006, 20:59
Maciamo, the problem is you hold yourself in high regard (not necisarrily a character flaw), you pride yourself on YOUR view of the world, YOUR view of everything, every specific opinion and every specific quality.

The problem starts when you percieve a country to be somehow below your high standards.

Why should Japan comply with your specific Eurocentric view of the universe?, why must Japan face judgement from a very European perspective?, why do you need to constantly point out how great Belgium is and japan isnt?.

Your ONE person with one UNIQUE view.

Japan is a seperate country seperated by geography and the haze of history from the rest of the world for a long time.

The Japanese have had many many hundreds of years to refine their world view and decide what is important and what isnt.

Everyone here knows fine japan has problems, it has short-commings, the problem starts is that 1) Your making it out as if Belgium and Europe are the height of civilization, you might not mean it, but thats how it is, yeah, so what if the Japanese think differently of food and sex, so what if they could care less about something you specifically hold as sacred? they arent imposing their will on you, so its not your concern, and diversity is simply a fact of human life.

The Japanese arent shallow, and I'm sorry your experiences werent very satisfying, but, your experiences of japan arent the only one and they cant and never will override the mass of experiences of everyone else who has experienced life in Japan.

It boils down to one simple thing, this one simple thing I mentioned a long time ago on this forum and this is it.

You either love or hate Japan.

You hated it, nearly everyone else managed to find part of it they loved.

You had bad experiences and Japan just didnt fit you. You admit yourself, Your very specific and stone set on what you like and dont, what you prioratise in life and what you disregard.

Japan simply pushed the limits of what YOU find acceptable, fine, your an individual, free to your own specifics.

I would say, its not that you cant comprimise in certain areas like many of us, its just that while some of us can comprimise certain things like our sensitivities to certain "slights", you couldnt.

While you found many examples of descrimination or ignorance nearly unbearable, Many others could look past it, so it didnt ruin their visit/life there, for others, they simply never suffered any really note-worthy examples of descrimination or ignorance.

In my case if a lady in the same apartment building as me wants to look wide-eyed and terrified of me then go ahead, look like an idiot, not my problem. :)

If my girlfriends Grandpa wants to be a racist dinosaur good for him, I pity him, I dont take any real offense, because I know he's just poor pitiful old man with pre-set idea's that will deny him many positive worthwhile experiences and friendships in life. My only gripe with him was he made my girlfriend cry.


Japan isnt Belgium, it isnt Europe.

Applying strict European standards to a country that only really opened up to it in any real way a few hundred years ago is hardly fair.

Changing the mind of an individual is easy, changing an entire heavily in-looking culture within a historically short period of time is more difficult.

Give Japan time, and even then, dont expect Europe where there isnt any.

Maciamo
Dec 5, 2006, 00:13
Japan is a seperate country seperated by geography and the haze of history from the rest of the world for a long time.
So are each European country.

It boils down to one simple thing, this one simple thing I mentioned a long time ago on this forum and this is it.
You either love or hate Japan.
You hated it, nearly everyone else managed to find part of it they loved.
False. I don't see things in black or white. I try to weigh the good and the bad in each culture and country. So country just happen to have more good or less bad than others. There are many things that I like about Japan (see this thread (http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=27616)).

I came to Japan with a very postive approach. In fact it was so positive that I embraced Japan completely, learn the language, experience all I could, read a lot about it, met lots of peolpe, and try to be interested in things that I wasn't really interested in before (manga, kabuki, Japanese literature, Shintoism...). The more I learnt and discovered about Japan, the more people I met, the more fluent I became in Japanese, and the more I came to dislike Japan because I felt that my good expectations were going to be fulfilled. The deeper I scratched over the surface and the more dirt I found, despite my attempts to find more positive things.

Japan simply pushed the limits of what YOU find acceptable, fine, your an individual, free to your own specifics.
That's true, but my values are deeply influenced by European cultural values. So if I feel the way I do about Japan, chances are high that other Europeans/Westerners will be the same way too, if they experience the same things as me and judge Japanese culture by the same standards.


While you found many examples of descrimination or ignorance nearly unbearable, Many others could look past it, so it didnt ruin their visit/life there, for others, they simply never suffered any really note-worthy examples of descrimination or ignorance.
This tells me more about you than about Japanese people...

Applying strict European standards to a country that only really opened up to it in any real way a few hundred years ago is hardly fair.
With that kind of argument I could say that Belgium wasn't a country until 175 years ago. It is hardly fair to compare a 175-year old country with the oldest monarchy in the world !

Goldiegirl
Dec 5, 2006, 00:30
but that area has been on the European continent and has been settled for thousands of years, so just saying that politically Belgium is an infant country is silly. That's making the "numbers" work for you.

ArmandV
Dec 5, 2006, 00:52
The longer I stay in Japan, the more people I meet, the deeper I dig into their thoughts, and the more these traits become clear and easy to generalised.

Do you have video of this? It would be most interesting to see a Belgian in Japan performing Vulcan mind-meldings on the locals. ;-)

Live long and prosper!

Elizabeth
Dec 5, 2006, 04:20
That's true, but my values are deeply influenced by European cultural values. So if I feel the way I do about Japan, chances are high that other Europeans/Westerners will be the same way too, if they experience the same things as me and judge Japanese culture by the same standards.

There are Japanese that leave the country for a greater intellectual experience and open debate on global/societal issues. There are Europeans I've known that deeply appreciate the civility and peace of Japan.

Each of us has to pursue what we think is best for ourselves and our lives personally. I'm sorry it didn't work out there but that is your individual burden. Others of us may uncover what was missing in our primary culture for very inexplicable reasons and feel immediately more at home in Asia than Europe or America.

And If Japanese society does trend in the direction of intellectualization, which is probably inevitable, it will be in a very particular style and form that the people themselves are trusting of and comfortable in.
Didn't you say you didn't like repeating yourself at some point ? :relief:

Maciamo
Dec 5, 2006, 05:30
Didn't you say you didn't like repeating yourself at some point ? :relief:

I hate it, and the more people force me to do it, the more it irritates me. But I can't just tell people to re-read all my posts, can I ?

Nicholas0016
Dec 5, 2006, 05:40
If you look at English and German, they are frightenly identical to each other. :)

Mrjones
Dec 5, 2006, 09:39
"If you look at English and German, they are frightenly identical to each other. "

I dare to disagree. Just look at the language. Both are based on latin and are germanic languages. Still they are very different.

JimmySeal
Dec 5, 2006, 10:41
German is not based on Latin. English, while it has a huge Latinate influence (due to French), is not really based on Latin either.

Ewok85
Dec 5, 2006, 14:50
Most of the time I am the lone foreigner that's made his way into a fully Japanese environment - be it at work or my hobbies, I sit back and listen to what's going on. Usually not much.

For example I go into a pub I enjoy in Tokyo, order a drink and sit down. At the bar is about 5 or 6 foreigners, mainly English but also an American and someone from mainland Europe. Conversation covered global warming, the fun fun policies of the Bush administration, Iraq, Iran, Muslims in England and multiculturalism, Richard Dawkins and atheism, talking about best selling books and how authors "do it", and then they went off about the university hiring system and my friends arrived. We sat down and talked about a few things and had a good talk about AIDS and manipulation of statistics, and the bar was starting to fill up and there was only 2 of us taking up a 4 seat table, so I waved over two ladies who had been standing up.

Conversation flicked over to the usual first-time details - name, age, country, favourite foods and what the weather is like (because its like, all crazy and backwards in that funny country called Oztralia on the other side of the globe), usual shock at me being only 20 but looking 27 (apparently), usual talk about girlfriends, etc. When things got boring I chatted to my friend some more about what he had been doing lately and where he had been, and gave some suggestions.

For the rest of the night the pair were pretty quiet until I ordered some food and then the usual food questions for about an hour...


There are other times, for example at Shorinji training (martial art) I'll talk to the parents or adult kenshi (practitioners) who ask the usual questions, which means I have it down to a fine art now. Surprisingly no one tends to ask much about my job (IT関係 or コンピュータについて explanations), while most foreigners will ask "what do you do exactly?" and I'll go more in depth.

Conversation with my girlfriends friends (adults and university students alike) rarely stray far from food, fashion, "the usual questions", sex or money. Its kinda bizarre, I've spent allot of time with adults and they'll usually talk to me about their interests if they think it will help (investing mainly, also about their jobs, interest tidbits like guitar tips, motorcycle wisdom, etc) and also talking about current events ("how about that Iraq? Is that a bloody mess or what?").

While the American elections for the Senate made the news and was talked about with my friends who are Australia, English and Canadian, there wasn't even a mumble in Japan, a country who has close ties to America. I didn't even know that the Prime Minister had changed until I noticed weeks later on the internet that his name has 首相 next to it on a news article!

I don't know whether to say Japanese are superficial and shallow, or if socially that's just how it works. I'll often come across something on the web that's controversial and bounce it off my (Japanese) girlfriend to get her opinion, and she can debate pretty well with me, but seems to just not care.
(Example: Iraq. I told her about an incident recently where Bush said that in-part the invasion of Iraq was about oil - also that its not a "war", but an invasion and occupation, and slowly the media and government is using those terms as well. She wasn't really interested as it has no relation to her, until I pointed out that petrol prices have risen as a direct result of the unrest in the middle east (we were walking past a petrol station which reminded me))

Maciamo
Dec 5, 2006, 15:54
While the American elections for the Senate made the news and was talked about with my friends who are Australia, English and Canadian, there wasn't even a mumble in Japan, a country who has close ties to America. I didn't even know that the Prime Minister had changed until I noticed weeks later on the internet that his name has 首相 next to it on a news article!

I think this summarises well what I mean. :-)



I don't know whether to say Japanese are superficial and shallow, or if socially that's just how it works.

Why should it be one or the other ? It is probably the way it works socially because the Japanese mindset is like that.

Ewok85
Dec 5, 2006, 18:47
Why should it be one or the other ? It is probably the way it works socially because the Japanese mindset is like that.

Well, Japanese try to not bring up topics that other people may have a strong opposition to, thus politics is instantly out. When me and my friends talk about politics we abuse each other like you wouldn't believe. If you all agree, its a short and boring "conversation".

Maciamo
Dec 5, 2006, 18:53
Well, Japanese try to not bring up topics that other people may have a strong opposition to, thus politics is instantly out. When me and my friends talk about politics we abuse each other like you wouldn't believe.
I don't think that discussing foreign cultures, history or society in general may engender a stronger opposition from the other party than talking about sports (for some people). Yet the Japanese do talk about sports (e.g. baseball).


If you all agree, its a short and boring "conversation".

That's also how I see it. I don't think the Japanese always agree when discussing their tastes or hobbies. The problem is not that they avoid disagreement, but avoid "intellectual" topics.

Kinsao
Dec 5, 2006, 19:11
Hmmm. This is originally a very old thread... :souka:
I think it's insulting to Japanese people to say "the Japanese are superficial".
I doubt whether they, as individuals, are any more "superficial" than people from any other nation or race.
Perhaps it would be fairer to say that Japanese society and culture currently does not encourage a lot of interest in political issues.

These things go in fashions... In any country, at any one time, people's general intelligence kind of averages itself out - you get some brainy people who enjoy "deep thinking" and intellectual discussions, some people who aren't intelligent at all, and the majority who are somewhere in the middle. But there are trends about how it's fashionable to appear... sometimes it's the in thing to be seen as "intellectual", politically-aware, studious, investigative, or whatever; at other times it's more fashionable to be seen showing off your material possessions, your money, your job, your physical strength, or something else. And of course, this doesn't just depend on prevailing trends but on the circles you move in. :relief:

A lack of interest in things like politics, history, or other countries and cultures isn't necessarily an indication that the Japanese people are particularly "superficial", but merely that their interests and priorities lie elsewhere.

Personally, when I overhear conversations in England between ordinary "people on the street", in cafes, in pubs and bars, waiting in line, on public transport, etc. etc., they are very seldom about deep, meaningful and significant things. Most often they are about personal relationships, money, possessions and home improvements. (:blush: ) Perhaps the English are a superficial race, too.

I am woefully ignorant about history, politics and other countries and cultures, and I rarely take part in any discussion or conversation that you'd call "intellectual" or possibly even "intelligent". :blush: However, I'd still take exception if someone was to call me "superficial"; I think perhaps the word has a bit different connotations here? :?

Nevertheless, it appears to me as a racist generalisation, because it implies certain personal characteristics about Japanese people as individuals, whereas it's fairer to say that Japanese society functions currently in a certain way that encourages and discourages particular emphases. :p

Nicholas0016
Dec 5, 2006, 20:20
hehe
one two three four five six seven eight nine ten
ein zwei drei vier f&uuml;nf sechs sieben acht neun zehn


I talk about food, every single living organizim eats it.

Elizabeth
Dec 5, 2006, 20:20
Hmmm. This is originally a very old thread... :souka:
I think it's insulting to Japanese people to say "the Japanese are superficial".
I doubt whether they, as individuals, are any more "superficial" than people from any other nation or race.
Perhaps it would be fairer to say that Japanese society and culture currently does not encourage a lot of interest in political issues.
Yeah, honestly....it isn't accidental that Okinawans for instance can boast a longer life span and overall good health than for all purposes any other peoples on earth. It is in large measure due to their diet and genetics but accompanying that a lack of lifestyle stress, extreme laid back attitudes and social interactions, not to mention making relationships and enjoyment of nature a priority over "intellectual" or "staid artificial" pursuits. The ebb and flow of political ideology is constant, there will always be the acendance of one philosophy or another outside of any individual's control, whether it is argued to death (literally) or not, but who can dispute the positive effects of a low-stress, slow-paced lifestyle as not an equally natural and evolutionarily beneficial organization of life, on an individual and communal level ???

It isn't the case with Japanese living in cities of course, which would be a stretch to label relaxed or easygoing, but at least there is more of a balance than it seems in other countries. The point of everything having to be politicized and rationalized even if it doesn't accord with physical and emotional good health or wellbeing I have a lot of trouble accepting as somehow more natural or "innately" superior. :?

Kinsao
Dec 5, 2006, 20:26
I suppose it also depends on the individual person's attitude. I mean, discussion of politics and political issues can be an interesting and entertaining "brain exercise" without necessarily leading to stress... whereas some people might find that kind of thing more stressful.

Similarly, I find discussion about people and/or relationships to be quite "intellectual" in nature because such topics deal with psychology, even if the people holding the conversation don't realise that's what they're engaged in and don't use "intellectual" terminology. :relief: And pretty well everyone on earth talks about other people! :p It's surprising how much really complicated interaction and stuff goes on within a conversation that sounds shallow and rather ordinary on the surface.

Elizabeth
Dec 5, 2006, 20:43
Similarly, I find discussion about people and/or relationships to be quite "intellectual" in nature because such topics deal with psychology, even if the people holding the conversation don't realise that's what they're engaged in and don't use "intellectual" terminology. :relief:
It's the same with explanations I receive as a student from my Japanese elders and discussions we engage in on language issues which tend to be very patiently considered, diligent and thorough for what I'm interested in on a practical level. Not a lot of linguistic or grammatical analysis but something that can always be referenced for day to day affairs and the business of living.

The word superficial I agree gives the totally wrong impression that makes it sounds like they are lazy or out partying until all hours...:okashii:

misa.j
Dec 5, 2006, 22:07
It's surprising how much really complicated interaction and stuff goes on within a conversation that sounds shallow and rather ordinary on the surface.
Exactly. I think it depends on what kind of topics you see as an "intellectual" conversation, or how intellectual you are. Some people with a good skill use their technique and knowledge and make very simple subjects such as weather, food, or even fashion deep and interesting. Maybe that is what seems to be missing in some of the Japanese when you try to communicate with them in either Japanese or other language.

I have to say the list is a good observation and very funny, though! :D

Maciamo
Dec 5, 2006, 22:12
Similarly, I find discussion about people and/or relationships to be quite "intellectual" in nature because such topics deal with psychology, even if the people holding the conversation don't realise that's what they're engaged in and don't use "intellectual" terminology.

Despite that, I still do not find most discussions to qualify for the "intellectual" terminology... I do not label my discussion of "intellectual" when I am talking with someone. I never say "oh, let's have an intellectual discussion".

Elizabeth
Dec 5, 2006, 22:37
Exactly. I think it depends on what kind of topics you see as an "intellectual" conversation, or how intellectual you are. Some people with a good skill use their technique and knowledge and make very simple subjects such as weather, food, or even fashion deep and interesting. Maybe that is what seems to be missing in some of the Japanese when you try to communicate with them in either Japanese or other language.
I have to say the list is a good observation and very funny, though! :D
Having a conversation friend that is constantly wracking their brain to come up with fresh and thoughtful insights on any subject, traditionally 'intellectual' and not, can also radically shift the emphasis from the interpersonal to the academically technical or impersonal. Without a doubt I can say I would rather be with a Japanese person for the positive attention and feelings of protection they lavish, stifling as it may be at times, than any European or most Americans I've met here....:bluush: :wave:

My bf has the mental and emotional frames in a very healthy balance (for me anyway....). Sharp and perceptive enough to be truly engaging without letting that overwhelm the full interaction. He is also a system engineer that never talks much about his work, though, which I kinda don't like as much....:(

Elizabeth
Dec 5, 2006, 23:24
I am woefully ignorant about history, politics and other countries and cultures, and I rarely take part in any discussion or conversation that you'd call "intellectual" or possibly even "intelligent".
I used to be a lot better versed in stuff like this, particularly until I found Japanese which I challenge anyone not to be called deep and profound. :p
The main turnoff, though, was in a battle of ideas that is all a lot of hard core debaters are truly seeing. It's like having a partner as a disembodied brain -- everything but your mind and thoughts goes completely under their radar which becomes extremely frustrating and empty in the quest for a true busom friend or life partner that appreciates a person in all their aspects. Plus the utter futility of individual argument having any impact whatsoever on the larger system....:p

Han Chan
Dec 5, 2006, 23:41
- their favourite topic of conversation is food


I agree that japanese in general are very interested in good food. However, I do not think that this makes them superficial.
:-)

Most people in the west eats crap food even though they could afford to eat much better food. This lack of sense of taste and quality can hardly be taken as a proof that people in the west should be any less superficial than the japanese.
:wave:

Elizabeth
Dec 6, 2006, 00:24
I agree that japanese in general are very interested in good food. However, I do not think that this makes them superficial.
:-)
The socially accepted outlets for so-called intellectualism, solitary reading of books and newspaper publication sales are near the highest in the world. Spoken language is often more mundane. Because people who don't care about imposing their own knowledge at everyone else's expense find it easier to connect emotionally with their audience or partner. What a bizarre perspective....:bluush:

Maciamo
Dec 6, 2006, 01:04
I agree that japanese in general are very interested in good food. However, I do not think that this makes them superficial.
:-)
The French and Belgian are also very interested in good food, but it isn't the main topic of conversation, even at the restaurant !

Most people in the west eats crap food even though they could afford to eat much better food.
:D What is the West for you ? North America and Scandinavia ? Have you been to a country called France and another called Italy ? Hint : that's in Europe, a bit more south than Danmark.
Btw, food in Japan is much cheaper than in Europe. You can have bento, a tendon or Chinese food for 3 or 4 euro, and a set of 12 sushi for take-away cost only about 5 euro.

This lack of sense of taste and quality can hardly be taken as a proof that people in the west should be any less superficial than the japanese.
:wave:
No it only proves your ignorance about Western cuisine.


The socially accepted outlets for so-called intellectualism, solitary reading of books and newspaper publication sales are near the highest in the world.
If only what they were reading was intellectual. I repeat myself but you won't find any intellectual magazines in a Japanese convenience store, just manga, porn, manga with porn, tabloids with porn and fashion magazines.

If what they read was so "intellectual", how comes they would remain so ignorant of things of the world, so ignorant even of their own history ? This shows how casual an activity reading is in Japan. It's not because Japanese students spend more time studying during and after school than almost anybody else in the world that they learn more. In fact if they didn't go to school at all, and didn't read any books as adults, it wouldn't change much. I often feel they have no memory, or no sensitivity to understand what they are reading. I have been a teacher and I was in a good position to know about their memory.

Ma Cherie
Dec 6, 2006, 02:46
Goodness Maciamo, sometimes I think you over analyize things too much. :mad:

I guess it comes down to what each of us defines as "intellectual." :blush:

Qutiepie
Dec 6, 2006, 03:05
Japanese typically do not discuss their country's politics with foreigners,same as whites rarely do with Asians and others in Ameirca.There was a period of time,it was society norm for Japanese girls to be married at the age of 25.

Average Americans always talk about money and sex.

ArmandV
Dec 6, 2006, 03:16
Goodness Maciamo, sometimes I think you over analyize things too much. :mad:
I guess it comes down to what each of us defines as "intellectual." :blush:


"Ask him the time and he'll give you the history of watchmaking." ;-)

Elizabeth
Dec 6, 2006, 03:44
The French and Belgian are also very interested in good food, but it isn't the main topic of conversation, even at the restaurant !
And what about chefs and other world renouned cuisine experts ? Are they the most superficial of all for not spouting their views on politics and literature in every public statement ? This is such a load of illogical baloney it isn't even worth the two minutes it took me to respond this time. :bluush:

Sukotto
Dec 6, 2006, 03:47
- their favourite topic of conversation is food
- clothes do make the man in Japan (which explain the success of brand clothes, black suits and even that of cosplay, bunny girls or the importance that Japanese women attach to their wedding dress)

just 2(for now)

-topic of conversation
in the US, at least where I live, people of often talk about "the weather". Seems a bit more superficial to me than food. Or "How 'bout dem Packers".
You almost cannot get away from either one.

-clothes. In the US there is this too. I thought in "the land of the free" you could wear any clothes you wanted. But social rules are pretty strong -especially in parts of the country. Then there are so many uniforms (for work) in the "land of individuality", both official and unofficial: see social rules.
I used to think the US was way too conformist before I started studying Japanese language (and thus the culture that it describes). So I have a different point of view I guess.

Goldiegirl
Dec 6, 2006, 04:25
Dem Packers suck. :( Oh, sorry that wasn't intellectual. :)

Anyway I had very lively discussions over lunch and dinner while visiting Japan. Most of what we talked about was American Politics. Everyone wanted to know if Hillary Clinton had a chance at becoming the next President. They wanted to know what the average American thought of the war/occupation of Iraq. Sure we also discussed food, but it certainly wasn't the main topic of conversation. The other thing that made me feel at ease, was that everyone kept asking me questions about what life was like in my hometown/state...I don't believe for a minute that it was just idle, superficial chatter. Maybe it was because I was just as curious about them as they were of me. I didn't prejudge them or expect anything from them, but just took everyone for what they were, not necessarily what I would want them to be.

Han Chan
Dec 6, 2006, 04:40
The French and Belgian are also very interested in good food, but it isn't the main topic of conversation, even at the restaurant !
:D What is the West for you ? North America and Scandinavia ? Have you been to a country called France and another called Italy ? Hint : that's in Europe, a bit more south than Danmark.
Btw, food in Japan is much cheaper than in Europe. You can have bento, a tendon or Chinese food for 3 or 4 euro, and a set of 12 sushi for take-away cost only about 5 euro.
No it only proves your ignorance about Western cuisine.

I do appreciate that many countries in the west have very nice cuisines. I have been dining in most european and north american countries and because I try to avoid junk food I have had many nice experiences. My point is that even though the consumers there easily could choose nice food they often eat very low quality food.
:(
I do not have low regard for western cuisine rather I find that the consumers in general could learn something from the more choosy japanese.
:wave:
Though you like to call me (and anyone else who have slightly different points of view from you) ignorant, I do not have any problems praising belgian cuisine - actually one of my favorite restaurants is Chez Leon in Bruxelles (they serve nice oysters and mussels!). May I say: Oishi - without beeing blamed for beeing superficial?
:relief:

Ewok85
Dec 6, 2006, 10:20
Intellectual doesn't have to be the meaning of life. Talking about food can be interesting and thought provoking.

For example I have had some good conversations with people at work about food and more specifically cooking, and been given some great tips - this is a good conversation.

Another good topic that comes to mind was one talking about driving licences, problems and differences between Japan and Australia. We were both surprises - I was surprised that Japanese driving licences need to be constantly renewed in a long and painful fashion thats there to raise revenue, and they were surprised at the ease in which I can renew my licence (simply pay the money and get photo taken at one of many "service" locations) and can opt for a 10yr licence if I wish.

Edit: Its coming up to the bonenkai time of year, take note of what others are talking about and bring it up here. Should be interesting.

Maciamo
Dec 6, 2006, 16:05
Japanese typically do not discuss their country's politics with foreigners,same as whites rarely do with Asians and others in Ameirca.

Let's not get carried away. This thread is NOT "Japanese people are superficial when talking to foreigners", but "in general when talking with other Japanese". There are debates about society, politics and/or culture almost everyday on the main French and Belgian TV channels (see thread (http://www.eupedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=24330)), yet I have never seen anything like that in Japan. Likewise they are documentaries about history, nature, world cultures, or some at biographical character (e.g. reviewing a politican's career) on TV in almost every country in Western Europe, but they are comparartively very rare in Japan. TV (I mean here, the main few channels that everybody gets) is one of the best reflection of a country's society and interests. It is the reflection of the common mind, of the culture.


And what about chefs and other world renouned cuisine experts ? Are they the most superficial of all for not spouting their views on politics and literature in every public statement ? This is such a load of illogical baloney it isn't even worth the two minutes it took me to respond this time. :bluush:

Don't be ridiculous. They talk about their job if they are interviewed. It's normal. What I care about is what people do during their free time, what they discuss with their family and friends, what they watch on TV...

Maciamo
Dec 6, 2006, 16:12
in the US, at least where I live, people of often talk about "the weather". Seems a bit more superficial to me than food. Or "How 'bout dem Packers".
You almost cannot get away from either one
That is very big in Japan too. But I don't mind if it is just 5min to start a conversation. It becomes superficial if all you can talk about for hours is the weather, except if you are doing detailed research on climate change on something. What is amazing in Japan is that you cannot turn on the TV without stumbling on at least one of the 7 main channels where people are talking about food - at any time of the day ! You cannot go out with a group of Japanese people without them talking about food (and not just 5 minutes !). It would be alright if it was compensated by more serious discussions, but it is not.


-clothes. In the US there is this too. I thought in "the land of the free" you could wear any clothes you wanted. But social rules are pretty strong -especially in parts of the country. Then there are so many uniforms (for work) in the "land of individuality", both official and unofficial: see social rules.

Do you mean that people will respect you because you wear a suit, and they will look down on you if you wears shorts and tshirts ? I didn't see the US like this. In fact the US is one of the rare country where even big companies allow their staff to wear casual clothes in the office.

The Japanese are also uniform fetishists. In Western countries you wouldn't expect all female office workers at a company to wear the same uniform. In Japan it is the norm. In the West shop attendants (e.g. in a department store) are usually free to come to work in their own clothes. In Japan, they must wear a uniform. All inividuality is stiffled for the sake of comformity and uniformity. This in itself doesn't make them superficial. What does is that if you are not wearing the clothes of your function, you will not be respected. That is what I mean by "the clothes make the man". A young successful Japanese entrepreneur (Horie-san) who was often on TV was constantly criticised by the media and by other company executives because he liked dressing in a more casual way. After all he was the CEO, so people would think that he was free to do what he wanted. Why would other companies' CEO's have to criticise him for that ?

Maciamo
Dec 6, 2006, 16:26
Intellectual doesn't have to be the meaning of life. Talking about food can be interesting and thought provoking.
I agree with you. Let's say that the Japanese way of talking about food is all but thought-provoking. It's more like "ah, kore oishii ne !" or "oishii mono tabetai na !". The Japanese TV programmes about food that I criticise are rarely cooking, but just showing some dishes and have people try them and invriably say "oishiiii !" or "amaiii !" or "yawarakaiiiiii !". Always the same. No comment longer than one word. No discussion.

Maciamo
Dec 6, 2006, 16:53
I do appreciate that many countries in the west have very nice cuisines. I have been dining in most european and north american countries and because I try to avoid junk food I have had many nice experiences. My point is that even though the consumers there easily could choose nice food they often eat very low quality food.
But wouldn't everyday Japanese food qualify as "fast-food" ? When you look at what working people are eating for lunch, it is things like bento, donburi (katsudon, gyuudon, tendon...), ramen or things like that. I don't think that the omnipresent convenience store food or fast-food chains like Hokka Hokka Tei (http://www.wa-pedia.com/cgi-bin/jump.cgi?ID=13047), Origin Bento (http://www.wa-pedia.com/cgi-bin/jump.cgi?ID=13048), Matsuya (http://www.matsuya.com/), Yoshinoya (http://www.wa-pedia.com/cgi-bin/jump.cgi?ID=13046) or Tenya (http://www.wa-pedia.com/cgi-bin/jump.cgi?ID=13044) or even are so much healthier than common fastfood eaten in Europe like Italian or Chinese food. Did you know that there were more McDonalds per capita (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/foo_mcd_res_percap-food-mcdonalds-restaurants-per-capita) in Japan than in any European country (4.5x more than in Belgium). Let us not forget all the American-style Japanese fastfood chains like Mos Burger, Freshburger, etc., and all the other real American fastfood like KFC, Jonathan's, Denny's. I have never seen these American "family restaurants" (Jonathan's, Denny's) in Europe.
Frankly, do you think that all this is healthier than French or Italian food, or the new European fastfood like Pret-a-Manger (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pret_a_Manger) from the UK, or Exki (http://www.exki.be/) from Belgium ?


Though you like to call me (and anyone else who have slightly different points of view from you) ignorant, I do not have any problems praising belgian cuisine - actually one of my favorite restaurants is Chez Leon in Bruxelles (they serve nive oysters and mussels!).
Chez Leon is the closest type of Belgian restaurant which I would call "fastfood" (at least tourist food). Next time try Comme Chez Soi (http://www.eupedia.com/cgi-bin/dir/jump.cgi?ID=228960), Bruneau (http://www.eupedia.com/cgi-bin/dir/jump.cgi?ID=229642), Villa Lorraine (http://www.eupedia.com/cgi-bin/dir/jump.cgi?ID=228962) or the like. This is real food.

May I say: Oishi - without beeing blamed for beeing superficial?
As long as you don't pronounce that word more than 20x in a single day...:okashii:

undrentide
Dec 6, 2006, 17:16
The Japanese are also uniform fetishists.
Can't you use better word to describe that wearing uniform is very common in Japan?


In Western countries you wouldn't expect all female office workers at a company to wear the same uniform. In Japan it is the norm. In the West shop attendants (e.g. in a department store) are usually free to come to work in their own clothes. In Japan, they must wear a uniform. All inividuality is stiffled for the sake of comformity and uniformity.

It is not norm in all companies or shops.
It varies depending on the company/shop.
Many companies abolished uniform quite a long time ago.

Maciamo
Dec 6, 2006, 17:26
It is not norm in all companies or shops.
It varies depending on the company/shop.
Many companies abolished uniform quite a long time ago.

A European like me still finds it very common, as it is almost inexistent here.

Qutiepie
Dec 7, 2006, 08:04
This thread is NOT "Japanese people are superficial when talking to foreigners", but "in general when talking with other Japanese". There are debates about society, politics and/or culture almost everyday on the main French and Belgian TV channels yet I have never seen anything like that in Japan.





Political issues are divisive,Japanese culture's core value is harmony.

Elizabeth
Dec 7, 2006, 08:39
Political issues are divisive,Japanese culture's core value is harmony.
There are certainly talk-show style debates with politicians and commentators on Sunday mornings (NHK?) plus the round table discussions among pundits, television personalities etc on every morning news show and occasional prime time broadcast forums with specialists on specialized topics (the environment, health issues, energy use etc).

I don't pretend to have watched enough of those to judge the quality but especially the Sunday ones go into as much depth on the issues of the week as what you find in America. Of course having no idea what the European standard reference would be....:-)

Ewok85
Dec 7, 2006, 10:45
Can't you use better word to describe that wearing uniform is very common in Japan?

I work in a Japanese office - I never meet clients or customers, they never come into our office, yet we all wear suits. In Australia people in those situations either wear casual formal or casual. Even when I worked in a customer facing position (managing the front desk for an ISP) we still had casual days on a regular basis and would simply put a sign out saying "We are going casual for a cause - money raised going to so-and-so charity". We pay $2, charity gets some money and we get to have fun. I've never, ever, ever seen that here before.

Maciamo
Dec 7, 2006, 17:04
Political issues are divisive,Japanese culture's core value is harmony.

Harmony for what they want. Certainly not for architecture when you look at the cityscape in Tokyo. Certainly not harmony with their neighbours. Ceratinly not harmony with foreign residents...

France is also a country that values harmony, but more in the arts, in the lifestyle, or in family relationships. That doesn't prevent them from being extremely argumentative when debating serious issues. I think that being tough when necessary and kind the rest of the time is also part of harmony. Japanese harmony is one-sided, unbalanced...


There are certainly talk-show style debates with politicians and commentators on Sunday mornings (NHK?) plus the round table discussions among pundits, television personalities etc on every morning news show and occasional prime time broadcast forums with specialists on specialized topics (the environment, health issues, energy use etc).

Ah yes, you mean the stuck up people who awkwardly read their notes or try to remember their monologue in front of the camera. That's not what I call a debate.

Kinsao
Dec 7, 2006, 19:41
Hmmm, interesting. :p
Seems strange to me to hear that Japanese people talk about food so much. But if that's what they're interested in, why not? It would seem, in that case, that food is a more common "hobby" in their culture, and fair enough. I mean, in the UK football is very popular, a lot of people spend time sitting around talking about football for quite a long time.. usually in a way that seems "mindless" rather than "intellectual" (:blush: ), but who cares? It's just a thing you do with friends.. (although of course some enthusiasts do talk about it in more depth and "intelligence" :) )

Regarding clothes... I don't know much about the rest of Europe, but in the UK it is still common for people working in stores to wear a uniform. Not even in posh department stores necessarily, but in little local supermarkets... usually they are expected to wear the company tabard with their own clothes in certain colours underneath, usually plain black trousers and white shirt... and in many shops this kind of dress code is common, if not an actual uniform, then some kind of colour-coordination, usually black and white, and in a smart style. For instance in my hairdressers which is renowned for creativity, the stylists are allowed to wear their own clothes and accessories in any style they want (one of the most "liberal" allowances ^^) but still it has to be black and white to give the impression of consistency. More "menial" sorts of places like supermarket, cleaning company, in fact mainly lower-paid workplaces, they usually have a basic tabard uniform (sometimes you can wear your own clothes underneath, sometimes not); other places like bank and building society (and some stores and supermarkets) will have an entire company uniform; more upmarket stores like jewellers and posh hairdressers will have a "dress code" that allows a little bit more freedom, but the workers are still expected to adhere to certain conceptions of "good taste" and a certain "look".

I suppose what I'm trying to get at is that uniforms for work aren't uncommon in all of Europe, at least not in the UK. :relief:

As far as the office environment goes, in office work where you're not dealing directly with the public... it's true you aren't expected to wear a suit necessarily, although it's still expected for certain meetings, events etc. in a way that you get to judge after working for a while with a company. :hihi: But unquestionably people still judge you on your appearance, in a work context, and on the way you dress! O_O It might seem more "casual" because you're not compelled to wear a suit every day, but believe me, those judgements (and prejudices) are still there. :okashii:

Elizabeth
Dec 7, 2006, 20:39
That doesn't prevent them from being extremely argumentative when debating serious issues. I think that being tough when necessary and kind the rest of the time is also part of harmony.
Like the European, particularly French, tour groups that stick out as so stuck up and awkward in Japan as the romp obviously around Tokyo speaking 10 x as loudly as everyone around them in their native tongue. :rolleyes: I'll make a particular point next visit of asking what they are talking about and how much Japanese they really know....:relief:

tenko
Dec 11, 2006, 22:37
maciamo, reading this all [starting from your original post up till here] was indeed very interesting, and pointed out well most of things i noticed when being in japan as well >.> yet i never [ever... and i worked with people, basically talking to them, as i was a waitress in a quite noisy club] noticed the 'food money sex' topics you've mentioned. sex- it happened to pop out in a conversation a couple of times, money never. salary man talk about their work thou [yeah like they have other topics, while their job is their essence of life, why would they tlak about anything else..] i never talked about food, except for when my landlords invited me to the restaurant- short talk basically about my likes and dislikes and differences between food here and in my country. that's what i'd call normal actually.
you mentioned weather >.> i also think it is for them a way to start a conversation, but i noticed that also it makes up for a short nice talk between neighbours or people who are somehow related but not too much. at tenis court where i have been using internet, the -only- topic of conversation between the adults was 'atsui desu ne..' 'neeeee...' or 'suzushiiii' when entering etc. [what actually surprised me once, was that when the temperature dropped like 3 degrees they suddenly started saying 'samui desu yo ne...' X-x; queer.]
as for the rest- agreed fully. i think i understand your point about saying things that they cannot be praised for once. when i went to japan i of course wanted to see how great it was, but mostly because of what japanese culture scholars keep saying about the country, i wanted to point out the bad things instead. most of those from my university after 2nd year become japanophiles and see it as a pure paradise and the japanese as almost divine, everything best. quite annoying after four years. i wanted to see for myself that they are only human and also like everyone else have failures :) so i made an anthropology of my own study on japanese this summer :D

i also would like to ask you a couple of things myself, i think they fit in the thread-
firstly, how about club culture making their shalowness stronger? it shocked me to see how two guys i recognised as friends once ended. they were coming with other friends to the club every saturday, and every time they were getting drunk, also used to fall asleep inside. and once the more rational guy, who never got that drunk and never felt asleep in the club, decided to leave earlier, without his friend- we couldn't wake him up anyhow. so he called for a call-girl [and a boy, who was her bodyguard or whatever, i don't know] to guide him home when he awakes. i was shocked, what a friend does that... i can't imagine anything like that happening in my country, not all europe- maybe in france it could happen, but definately not my area.
even more shocked i was when they both showed up like nothing ever happened next saturday, while on that night the guy who was left behind had a breakdown and cried later [also probably % made it easier for him...].

second thing, maybe not about the shalowness- the bodies... you know the party people sleeping on the sidewalks? or in the park... when i first saw a guy sleeping half in the bushes half on the sidewalk in front of yoshinoya, i thought he was dead... nearly jumped of my skin... but he snored >.>;;
also it's not only party people- some high ranked ceo, and one of them who was my aqquaintance, share the same habit of sleeping on the sidewalk, even if their house is like 10 minutes away. whyyy? x_x; it is obvious that they absolutely don't care... is it the stress? the ceo's do reaaaally weird things when stressing out. is it maybe one of them?

Ewok85
Dec 12, 2006, 08:25
Reading that post above there's something interesting, there's allot of things I see daily that disturb me on some level, one was from 3 weeks ago when I was riding the busy keihin-tohoku line back from Tokyo after going to Disney (with mouse ears on head and bags full of junk), I noticed a man leaning on the next doors along was having trouble standing, fell down then the people around him suddenly moved away from him - I commented to my girlfriend (who is a nurse) that I thought the guy has thrown up, which is why everyone moved back and she agreed.

So you have a very packed train and at the next stop usually about a quarter of the people get off (including me), so we pushed our way over to the man and asked if he was ok, and carried him off. During this time noone near the doors asked if he was ok, wanted help, or helped him off (it was his stop too).

Its not the first time either, I've seen men, women, foreigners faint, passout, fallover and rarely is help given.

nhk9
Dec 17, 2006, 17:55
Reading that post above there's something interesting, there's allot of things I see daily that disturb me on some level, one was from 3 weeks ago when I was riding the busy keihin-tohoku line back from Tokyo after going to Disney (with mouse ears on head and bags full of junk), I noticed a man leaning on the next doors along was having trouble standing, fell down then the people around him suddenly moved away from him - I commented to my girlfriend (who is a nurse) that I thought the guy has thrown up, which is why everyone moved back and she agreed.

So you have a very packed train and at the next stop usually about a quarter of the people get off (including me), so we pushed our way over to the man and asked if he was ok, and carried him off. During this time noone near the doors asked if he was ok, wanted help, or helped him off (it was his stop too).

Its not the first time either, I've seen men, women, foreigners faint, passout, fallover and rarely is help given.

It may definitely seem shocking at first to those of us who are educated outside of Japan. The fact is Japan has had a long history of determining what is their own and what is not their own. They will defend their own without mercy, yet they won't bother to care about others. The sakoku Edo period was just that -- there was Japan and their island nation, then there was the world for which they did not care. Japan was their own business whereas the entire world was 'their' business. They only started to adopt similar policies by foreign powers in those days (such as imperialism and modernisation) simply because they wanted to protect what is their's, and what they think should've been their's. Similarly, the old man in the train was somebody's own business so even if he were to faint, it wasn't anyone's responsibility to help him but himself... or so they think.

On a side note, I do think that Japanese are superficial somewhat especially in saying things that they do not mean. Many times the native Japanese and I would share contact info after a lengthy chat. It seems to me that those who say "I will definitely contact you" are the ones who are nowhere to be found later. To me, it would've been better for the person to not have said that, since at least the person would've appeared less insincere.

Dr. J. M.
Dec 31, 2006, 03:38
Hi there! My first post and it's not a pleasant one... Sorry in advance, I might sound quite harsh but these posts just struck a nerve...

If you look at English and German, they are frightenly identical to each other. :)
Is that so? Bother to back that up? I assume that you are fluent in both languages, or what makes you so sure about your claim?
Since German and English are, as you put it "frightenly identical to each other", it surely poses no problem to the average German speaker to read and speak English as well? Or more interestingly vice versa? I have, of course, met oh so many Americans and Britons who speak perfectly German, you know... And guess what? Swedish is also "frightenly identical [to German]" that's why I can easily read anything in Swedish, even though I don't speak it at all. Why do I bother replying in English, btw?
Vielleicht sollte ich auf Deutsch umsatteln, es sollte dir und allen anderen Leuten die Englisch sprechen sicher keine gro&#223;artigen Probleme bereiten, nicht wahr?

hehe
one two three four five six seven eight nine ten
ein zwei drei vier f&uuml;nf sechs sieben acht neun zehn
I talk about food, every single living organizim eats it.
Wow, you can count in English and in German! (Oh, well, it's "Eins", btw. And, I don't know if it's the forum or just me, the umlaut isn't displayed, so just avoid it by spelling it with 'ue', but I bet you are well aware of this, right?) Now you've proved everything! Tell you what, let's count in French, as well!
un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit, neuf, dix
oh my gosh! Don't you see the pattern? Like with "one" and "un"?! This can be no coincidence, they are too similar to each other, therefore we can safely conclude, that French is identical to German and English and Swedish? Maybe even Spanish and Italian? I guess there is only one language in Europe, since by your standards they are all identical! Hooray!

loquela
Jan 4, 2007, 21:22
I apologise n advance for the tome of this post. There just seems to be a lot of this nonesense about. What is it?

The comments you make are extremely typical of westerners who make brief, superficial visits to japan. Or those who stay longer but never really assimilate: spend their free time in roppongi with other gaijin talking about how crap the Japanese are.

I think the results of your 'study' are extremely ironic. In fact the whole premise is one big irony (maybe that was your intention - I'll come back to this). You claim to assess the nation's uniqueness by focusing solely on your perception of Japanese pettiness. And where does 50% come from? You interviewed about 60 million Japanese did you? Of course not, you just made assumptions from your own tiny sphere of experience - no doubt you consulted some of your western friends to get a balanced view?

As Gaijin Punch pointed out most of your observations are either inaccurate, incorrect or represent no real example of Japanese 'uniqueness' at all. I therefore find your list somewhat pointless, not a little futile and of little interest to anybody with a more than superficial experience of Japan and its population.

To be fair you did invite readers to take your 'research' with a pinch of salt and a good sense of humour. That would be fine if your observations were a little sharper, contained more wit and perhaps a touch of satire. It would then at least have been entertaining.

On the other hand, you may be cleverer than I think you are and in fact your irony was actually in exposing the ignorance and superficial nature of westerners when broaching the Japan theme. The problem with this however is that you have also managed to exposed the pettiness and simplicity of those who have posted hearty messages of concurrence with your findings.

It's a shame 'cos you must have spent ages writing that (if not so much time actually thinking about it). Given you are cited as 'spiritual leader to all' I would have thought your time would be much better spent making useful or even just funny observations.

I suppose there will be a scramble for my respect meter now...

ferin
Feb 16, 2007, 17:26
is this supposed to be funny? i think it is, but only because it's so hypocritical. i'm not japanese, nor have a ever lived in japan, but i was doing research for fun on japanese inventions and all i could find are incredibly rude and ignorant parodies bringing up silly japanese inventions to disparage them.

if you want to talk about how much anyone is focused on food and sex go look at the aids rates in america and the obesity.

ridiculous.

Dr. J. M.
Feb 16, 2007, 23:20
[Note: I do not personally think that the Japanese are superficial and/or shallow. This is mainly due to the fact that saying "the Japanese" is a gross generalization and apart from that an oversimplification.]

if you want to talk about how much anyone is focused on food and sex go look at the aids rates in america and the obesity.
ridiculous.
Your logic does not follow. Just because the US of A is in this regard even more superficial and/or shallow, it does not mean that Japan is not.

ferin
Feb 18, 2007, 02:29
that's not my point anyway; in context, the post makes it seem as if though anyone should be surprised; yes, most mammals like food and sex. but i guess japanese people do better when it comes to being honest about liking food?

Dr. J. M.
Feb 18, 2007, 02:51
You see, I don't know if Japanese people are superficial or not, nor do I think so at all (as I stated before, since the term "the Japanese" has no meaning.). I just wanted to point out your logical fallacy. However, if someone's only interests revolve around food and sex then they are shallow. Regardless of nationality.
Thus it depends on your very interests whether you're shallow or not.

Goldiegirl
Feb 18, 2007, 03:18
@Ferin...obesity is not a form of being superficial or shallow. It's main cause is poverty. America is one of the few countries that our poor don't suffer starvation they suffer obesity because the only food they can afford is cheap, high fat, fast food. As for AIDS I think you should check the statistics of African countries and other Asian countries before making your statements, you might be suprised.

I don't think Japanese culture is any more or less superficial than any other country. Every culture has their own ideas and opinions on what is superficial. Personally I like talking about food. I find that you can learn a lot about people by what they eat.

yukio_michael
Feb 18, 2007, 06:22
Here is the thing. There are real-life characteristics to Japanese people, to any group of people who share a common set of mores & social obligations, social expectations, whatever you want to call it, that people track and try to diagnose.

They've built an entire array of occupations around the concept, mainly marketing, figuring out what are marketable trends, and advertising, selling those trends (even if it is a hamburger) in a way that will appeal to the specific person being advertised to.

Cultures are different, people are different, but naturally, people in one culture are sometimes more similar than dissimilar. I think Japan is particularly notable for this type of similarity due to it's own choice throughout many many years of being an insular, isolated nation. Some periods of time of course, being more insular than others.

Nobody likes to think in terms of stereotypes, but that's how we can ever hope to grasp loose concepts about ourselves. Saying things like "everybody is different", though true, ignores the fact that a vast majority of the people in society whom we will call "socialized", share common social characteristics.

I don't like to use the term "shallow" to describe a group of people, I don't think that's a positive way to look at anyone, but I think if you look at media, and trends, then a good portion of what Maciamo has said can be seen as true.


I apologise n advance for the tome of this post. There just seems to be a lot of this nonesense about. What is it?Loquela, (learn to use the quote feature) you're challenging someone's assertions based on the fact that they've been to Japan less time than you. If you look at Maciamo's profile, I'm guessing this is who you are quoting because you didn't directly quote them, you'll see that he's at the very least been there 3 years, possibly 4... Are you saying that in 3 to 4 years there's no way to ascertain a certain group characteristic of indigenous people?

I live in a college town, and I can tell you that in one week alone I discovered that they're noisy, brash, histrionic, and borderline alcoholic... Of course not all of them are, but it's very easy in a short period of time to see how people act, and react to you. You disregard Maciamo as some green gaijin, fresh off the boat, with all the knowledge that your twenty odd posts on this forum have gained you.

I'm glad you've met people who don't follow all of those stereotypes, but guess what, we all have... In a word, you can't see the forest for the trees.

People living and working in Japan, Japanese people are themselves, very interested in these types of things. This is how manga gets written, this is how movies get made, this is how clothing is manufactured and marketed, this is how television shows, japanese idols, and all manner of electronic goods are sold to people in Japan...

It's called lowest common denominator... Look into it. Not everyone is interested in the same things, there are always outliers, but take a look at the list of best sellers in say the United States, and see if you can find any literary greats.

Shallow sells, everything else is for the literati, but even the smartest minds sometimes crave junk-food. If people really knew all there was to know about a culture or society, there wouldn't be these discussions, and there would be no need for people to try to figure it out, and this is what people, everyday people, professional people, seem to be attempting to do every day.

ferin
Feb 18, 2007, 21:35
i didnt brush upon the ridiculous notion that 127 million of any group of people are all alike, because it's patently idiotic and not worth anyone's breath.

yeah, and the aids rate in "asia" doesn't matter, the simple truth is that china/japan/korea have the lowest rates of stds period.

"obesity is not a form of being superficial or shallow. It's main cause is poverty."

i live in america, i sit down at restaurants and see other people eat way more than they should even in one of the richest areas in the world (dc-metro) and the people here really do love their food. but yes i don't think it's something shallow or superficial rather something that's perfectly legitimate and cultured, but if "japanese people" talk more about food than anyone else then im guessing that's coming from the perspective of someone who hangs around people who dont stop snarfing down burgers long enough to take a breath of air (much less talk about anything at all).

Elizabeth
Feb 18, 2007, 22:03
"obesity is not a form of being superficial or shallow. It's main cause is poverty."
i live in america, i sit down at restaurants and see other people eat way more than they should even in one of the richest areas in the world (dc-metro) and the people here really do love their food. but yes i don't think it's something shallow or superficial rather something that's perfectly legitimate and cultured, but if "japanese people" talk more about food than anyone else then im guessing that's coming from the perspective of someone who hangs around people who dont stop snarfing down burgers long enough to take a breath of air (much less talk about anything at all).
Maciamo himself talked more about food in his posts than any other gaijin I've witnessed here. The listed reasons are so exaggerated ("All they talk about is food" Using words like "oishii" 40-50 times a day) or have been outright invalidated and his bias/perspective/agenda, however you prefer to refer to it, so petulant and childish I can't believe it still has this many serious discussants...:sick::okashii:

Ma Cherie
Feb 19, 2007, 01:25
is this supposed to be funny? i think it is, but only because it's so hypocritical. i'm not japanese, nor have a ever lived in japan, but i was doing research for fun on japanese inventions and all i could find are incredibly rude and ignorant parodies bringing up silly japanese inventions to disparage them.
if you want to talk about how much anyone is focused on food and sex go look at the aids rates in america and the obesity.
ridiculous.

AIDS rates in America? Are suggesting the reasons why Americans get AIDS is because we have too much sex? There's other ways to get AIDS, and other nations have higher AIDS rates than the US. Obesity? You think it's a problem in America because many Americans eat too much? Not because of our high fat diets?

yukio_michael
Feb 19, 2007, 01:38
Can we agree that common characteristics are more prevalent than uncommon ones? Can we agree that there is a difference between normal, and abnormal behavior?

To those who refute what "normal" is, you are the outlier, not the norm. This is how stable societies work.

Sukotto
Feb 19, 2007, 02:36
To those who refute what "normal" is, you are the outlier, not the norm. This is how stable societies work.



Hmm.
In the US, what is presented on television, sit-coms, advertisements, etc. is often deemed to be normal, even if it is abnormal and anti-social, including the medium itself. If most individuals are glued to their tube society may be relatively stable, but not necessarily healthy - physically or otherwise or even a healthy stability.


How much television does Japan watch?
That might be a pretty good measurement of superficiality.

Dr. J. M.
Feb 19, 2007, 04:11
Hmm.
In the US, what is presented on television, sit-coms, advertisements, etc. is often deemed to be normal, even if it is abnormal and anti-social, including the medium itself. If most individuals are glued to their tube society may be relatively stable, but not necessarily healthy - physically or otherwise or even a healthy stability.

I've never heard of someone who modelled his/her understanding of what is normal and what is not on television...
But since you're talking about the United States... well I guess this suspenses my disbelief...

Elizabeth
Feb 19, 2007, 06:04
I've never heard of someone who modelled his/her understanding of what is normal and what is not on television...
But since you're talking about the United States... well I guess this suspenses my disbelief...
Of course most Americans or other Westerners can compare mass media images with the reality of life around them and for the most part can distinguish the two without the need to live out a tv fantasyland dream. When television and its programs are imported globally into under developed countries, though, and the only context is that it is Western, which must mean cultivated, elite, superior, etc. it's a very serious problem that such unreal, unobtainable behaviors, styles, body images become so completely idealized or sought that it can deeply tear at the fabric of that native society. :(

yukio_michael
Feb 19, 2007, 12:46
Hmm.
In the US, what is presented on television, sit-coms, advertisements, etc. is often deemed to be normal, even if it is abnormal and anti-social, including the medium itself.I think it's deemed to be an 'ideal'. To a certain extent, you can entertain people by spectacle, but there is a core desire to relate to the characters whom the masses watch on television--- These peoples lives may be far-fetched and impractical, but we relate to them because we could imagine ourselves doing what they do.

Then there is fantasy, or outright spectacle, which serves its own purposes in providing a thrill, a desire, a hatred--- Pulp novels have always been traditionally good at conveying this sort of thing, but there are aspects of television which do the same.

I'm not saying that a well socialized society is a good society--- I mean, you have to trust that the people who are socializing you, largely your government, and your schools, have the best intentions... If their intention is to sell you something, at the expense of a bit of mindless entertainment each night--- it might not be so nefarious as The Army during war-time, making military duty or service seem thrilling, glamorous, & exciting.

I think a lot of us agree that the quality and content of Japanese television itself is pretty abysmal... There aren't as was said, any sort of documentaries or information outside of a general rehashing of samurai code, or something from antiquity which serves no purpose when you're trying to learn about the world around you, not just of yourself.

I'm told the layout of British television is built around channels which serve certain demographics specifically, and British television too is rife with cheap thrills and good fun for the proles. But it also has great documentaries and news stories which help broaden peoples horizons...

In the United States, we have the Public Broadcasting System & National Public Radio... It's unfortunate that largely their biggest contributors are oil conglomerates, but they do offer an alternative to the big three.

Eventually, we'll live in a society where we dictate our own entertainment by specifically tailoring our televisions to get just what we want and nothing we don't, but at the expense of also tailoring the additional information comming at us, suggesting things we might like, or want to buy.

Sukotto
Feb 20, 2007, 05:37
I've never heard of someone who modelled his/her understanding of what is normal and what is not on television...
But since you're talking about the United States... well I guess this suspenses my disbelief...


:cool:
haha. For me I could say it started with the realization that music is not visual and eMpTyV. So therefore, try to avoid what is on that station. Or better yet, avoid that station all together. And since music videos are pretty much a commercial for record albums, why not avoid commercial radio as well. This stuff started to spiral and now look at whenever the president talks on TV.
You can judge things pretty much on whatever he says, things are or should be the opposite. :sing: "Saucer---, Saucer----" (anime joke :bluush: )

gaijinalways
Feb 20, 2007, 17:46
Superficiality is difficult to measure sometimes, but the language issues seem to be way off base. Every language borrows words, and grammar varies from language to language. How people use a language, yes I suppose tht could indicate whether some people are superficial or not, and Japanese opinions of food to tend to lean that way, as not terribly enlightening that is.
As to morality issues, certainly the Japanese look at it differently, but I don't know if you could say they are superficial, more that they have a different outlook on sex and relationships. some Americans preach a lot about it, the French have mistresses, and the British..well..
TV is pretty bad everywhere, but yes, certainly the US has a lot better programming than what is on Japanese TV (and a lot of rubbish too, on American TV, that is).
Shop staff have greeted me as many as 3 times within that time, as well as at multiple shops.
The 'sheep mentality' is misleading sometimes, but especially when you apply it to certain types of mass consumerism, yes it is sadly widely spread.
The opinion of women is slowly changing, but yes unforunately women are not perceived as holding up half the sky here!
Many American men don't visit strip clubs, or if they do, not very often (I've been once in my life). In Japan it's not uncommon to meet some people who regularly go to both strip clubs and hostess bars.
loquela, do you think you need to interview half the population to get an accurate picture? Haven't you heard of statistical sampling?

Taiko666
Feb 21, 2007, 13:19
and the British..well..


er.... would you care to elaborate? :-)

Does your view of British sexual morality lean towards Victorian upper-class prudishness or Austin Powers 60s swinging?

Ewok85
Feb 21, 2007, 14:13
Been a while since I posted here :)

I strongly believe that people are the same no matter what, and it comes down to culture and environment that determines their opinions and actions.

To get an idea of why Japanese are how they are you need to look at the schools. Its all about groups and vertical hierarchy - sensei/sempai/kohai system. Aisatsu is the grease that keeps the social system running - no thinking, just reacting. Same with the entire educational system - memorisation of facts, no critical thinking or discussion of topics.

Just on that, I was an excellent student in my first year of Junior High school, within the top 1% or so of my year. But soon after that my grades in Japanese, English and other non-science subjects took a plunge taking my averages down. I can't criticise and analyse poetry. I don't give a toss on how to draw (but received perfect grades for CAD, heh). When I came to Japan I was shocked at the pure lack of discussion and debate during lessons, and that evaluation of all topics was done on hard correct/incorrect answers. There was very little in the way of research topics, and the few that did come up were researched lightly and more credit was given to presentation and amusement level over actual details given and level of understanding made.

Continuing with the school system, from elementary school you are entered into a group, all of you the same age, born within the same April-April window. For the rest of your time in elementary school you have all your lessons with the same group of people, within the same classroom everyday, and eat your lunch with the same people. These people become your dokyusei - same age students - and its a term you will hear people even in their old age use as these group bonds last forever. You have little contact with those outside your grade level or even classroom.

Junior/Senior High you may be at a different school, but this fixed class group system remains, spending yet another 6 years with the same people.

The sempai/kohai system is so important because everything in Japanese life revolves around it. Its a vertical system where you do not question or speak out against those above you, and in return they look after the people below them. Part of this is why the Japanese academic system is so poor, with little interaction, discussion and sharing of information between the educated elite. This also shows in companies where people do not speak out when there are problems or issues.

I'll write more next time :)

gaijinalways
Feb 21, 2007, 19:17
Originally Posted by gaijinalways

and the British..well..

Taiko666 posted
er.... would you care to elaborate?

Does your view of British sexual morality lean towards Victorian upper-class prudishness or Austin Powers 60s swinging?

My point is that all Western cultures are not alike, nothing more.:souka:

Taiko666
Feb 22, 2007, 16:35
Originally Posted by gaijinalways
Taiko666 posted
My point is that all Western cultures are not alike, nothing more.:souka:

I know... I wasn't criticising. I was just wondering if the amusing stereotype of British morality was still prevalent.

tanuki otoko
Feb 22, 2007, 18:58
Awesome, should I have to write a term paper about nihonron, I will use this 40-item-list as an entry. All I am missing now is a Japanese version - 卓越した日本民心の40点列記 or something like that. ;)

gaijinalways
Feb 24, 2007, 18:36
What is morality?:p There is such a thing in the UK?

Dr. J. M.
Feb 25, 2007, 07:21
oh well, the joy of hedonism... *rolleyes*

loquela
Mar 15, 2007, 09:27
loquela, do you think you need to interview half the population to get an accurate picture? Haven't you heard of statistical sampling?

No, of course I don't. Yes, of course I have.

BTW statistical sampling doesn't give an 'accurate' picture. It provides a statistical representation.

My comments are based purely on a review of the entire sample of the 're searcher's' comments on this website( I have read them all). And of course, I have only come to a statistical conclusion.

However, common sense leads me to believe that his point of view does not represent the entire population of Belgium (if his Residence represents his origin). I comment only on my own personal experience of him. Not his nation.

It is usually a good idea to reflect on that. If you visit a strange country, you are always temp tempted to compare your own personal experiences with the people you meet in that country.
Consider: Are ALL North American Rednecks? Are all Brits Punks? Are all French great lovers? Course not! Consider the facts, your experience and your LACK of experience. Many people (some of them ignorant and looking for advice) come to forums like this for help...

If you think that is too intellectual, I pity you.

bento
Mar 23, 2007, 10:07
You can't be serious. lol.
ook, despite the fact that my grandma is pure Japanese (as is a nice portion of my family; though I am not), I don't claim to be the surpreme all-knowing being about the majority of the population of Japan.. but you make it sound like they're all ignorant, lechorous, gluttons with little values.
Of course there's going to be people like this, but there's going to be people like that everywhere.
And yeah, Japanese men (not saying all of them now), are kinda perverted. That's why there's a fairly big problem with men touching woman and even young teenagers on the overcrowded trains. But again, there's plenty of people like that in other crowded places with woman. I've seen guys that are complete strangers with the woman they're interacting with, grind chicks at concerts. There was this band, it wasn't one that I felt like moshing for, but I really liked them so I moved up front. There was this guy, with a blonde and pink mohawk trying to push me out of the way to grind this chick in front of me. I didn't let him past me, so he proceeded to try the same with a girl that went with my friends and I there.
Also, you mentioned manga and magazines being 90% of the literature income at convenient stores. It's a cheap, pocket sized source of literature.. plus you can't expect someone to go into a 7-11 or something and buy a copy of The Da vinci Code, or A Brief History of the Mind.
Also, their school systems are still pretty intense with 6 day weeks (though I could be wrong.. I think my grandma told me they changed it a couple years back) and "cram" schools.. and about the rude questions they ask to foreigners, America's never had such a great history with immigration; plus, at least to my knowledge, a lot of them don't go around saying "If you're going to be here, learn to speak Japanese!" As a final note, the same is returned to many asians, even ones not of Japanese descent (do you use chop sticks? etc. etc..). You don't know how annoying it gets to hear people ask "Do you use chop sticks?", or other attempts at friendly chit-chat about my culture.. but I just put on a faint smile because I know they're just trying to be polite or nice.
I'm not saying they're culturally perfect (and really, no country is), but you make them sound worse than they really are. Although they aren't all exactly as quaint or "refined" as people they were thought to be so long ago. But saying that all the (or, greater than 50%) are superficial.. well, such generalizations shouldn't be placed on any nationality.

bento
Mar 23, 2007, 10:27
AIDS rates in America? Are suggesting the reasons why Americans get AIDS is because we have too much sex? There's other ways to get AIDS, and other nations have higher AIDS rates than the US. Obesity? You think it's a problem in America because many Americans eat too much? Not because of our high fat diets?
Come on.. you and I both know that it has something to do with sex. Either that or America shoots up a hell lotta drugs. Also, we are the world's fattest country. And it's not just the high fat diets, it's lazyness and the amount we eat too. Also, the "it's just because our food has too much fat in it!" doesn't help us either. It proves not only do we lack self control, but that we lack good descisions concerning what we put into our body.

Japan, whether you consider it an advantage or disadvantage, many people use bikes or walk. An older cousin of mine was actually hit by a car on his bike and left alone while he was studying abroad over at Chiba U. A few years back. But because of the dense population, small island thing.. there's too much traffic in major cities. Also, public trans is pretty bad too.. so many opt to either hoof it or bike; as I previously mentioned. So despite any on-the-go or fast food intake, their obesity rates aren't that high.

I'm actually not fat myself.. I try to keep in shape by working out every day, not eating fast food and such.. but my body refuses to gain weight. either fat or muscle. I have to put forth extra effort to gain either.. otherwise I end up losing weight rather than gain it (yes, I can actually lose weight by going to mcD's and loading up).. which isn't all that good when you consider my age and height.

Ma Cherie
Mar 23, 2007, 11:28
Yes, having unprotected sex with someone with AIDS, people inherited AIDS from their affected mothers. Getting AIDS through contaminated blood. You're making it seem as though the reason America's AIDS rate is because we're so obsessed with sex. That makes no sense, considering there are other ways to get the disease.

Especially considering the fact that the group of people who are now the fastest growing of people getting AIDS are married women. :okashii:

JoeMomma
Mar 26, 2007, 07:32
I would just throw in my two cents here that the majority of the population of LA are not, in fact, American citizens.

This is 100% not true. Perhaps in SOME neighborhoods. But this is a complete falsehood that should not be perpetuated.

Joe

jigokurengo
May 9, 2007, 10:11
Maciamo, I find it sort of funny that you would have a list of 40 reasons for being superficial. I live in San Francisco and know all sorts of people from different walks of life and find that your list fits my city perfectly. Other places that I have been, I have had similar experiences. So I don't find yur observations all that enlightening.

maushan3
May 9, 2007, 11:29
Maciamo, I find it sort of funny that you would have a list of 40 reasons for being superficial. I live in San Francisco and know all sorts of people from different walks of life and find that your list fits my city perfectly. Other places that I have been, I have had similar experiences. So I don't find yur observations all that enlightening.

Welcome and... Maciamo retired from the forum:)

Mauricio

greentea
May 9, 2007, 12:10
they have casual sex with several partners without protection and don't worry about STD's

This isnt the first time I have heard that the Japanese are very "free" sexually,so is it common place is Japan to sort of have a boyfriend/girlfriend then a bunch of "on the side" things?

basuotoko
May 9, 2007, 16:42
Welcome and... Maciamo retired from the forum:)
Mauricio

When is he coming back? :-) I like his posts. A little over the top at times, but generally pretty informative.

David0022
May 14, 2007, 21:36
- when travelling abroad, they care little about the local culture except food
I could be wrong about this, but I think (generally speaking, mind you) that Japanese people care little about the local culture AND the local food. I've been on several tours in Guam and in Hawaii with Japanese tourists. All I really remember about those trips were the complaints ABOUT the local food and the inquiries about where can they find a good Japanese restaurant.
I say that I could be wrong about this because my foreign friends and I are always trying to find really good traditional Japanese restaurants. We want the full experience while we live here in Japan.
I guess then I should offer up this question to be fair to Japan:
How many people visiting or living in Japan go out of their way to eat Japanese food and experience Japanese culture?

basuotoko
May 17, 2007, 19:36
I could be wrong about this, but I think (generally speaking, mind you) that Japanese people care little about the local culture AND the local food. I've been on several tours in Guam and in Hawaii with Japanese tourists. All I really remember about those trips were the complaints ABOUT the local food and the inquiries about where can they find a good Japanese restaurant.
I say that I could be wrong about this because my foreign friends and I are always trying to find really good traditional Japanese restaurants. We want the full experience while we live here in Japan.
I guess then I should offer up this question to be fair to Japan:
How many people visiting or living in Japan go out of their way to eat Japanese food and experience Japanese culture?

I generally agree with Maciamo about the Japanese and their obsession with food, but you do make a point. I remember when I led a group of Japanese students around my university in America for one month as part of an exchange program. There were a few girls in the group that became "sick" because there was not enough rice in their diet. One girl even cried because she needed to eat rice. I kid you not. But most of the students were open minded and willing to try different foods.

Maybe after a few weeks (or days, depending on the person) their curiosity for foreign foods diminishes and they want rice and sushi again?

Of course, a good way to understand Japan's view on the outside world is to watch their TV. There are many travel shows, and most of the time the hosts are eating food and repeating the same three words over and over as if they were verbally challenged.

おいしい!うまい!きれい!

Again, not everyone is like this, but watch Japanese television or look at a travel guide and you'll see.

maushan3
May 18, 2007, 09:44
@Ferin...obesity is not a form of being superficial or shallow. It's main cause is poverty. America is one of the few countries that our poor don't suffer starvation they suffer obesity because the only food they can afford is cheap, high fat, fast food. As for AIDS I think you should check the statistics of African countries and other Asian countries before making your statements, you might be suprised.

This is very true. May I add that not also do the poor lack money for low-fat foods, but they also lack the education regarding nutrition, and this is also seen to some extent in the middle class. Let me explain: If you research the statistics at a middle-class public and private school and then comparing them, you will see that the percentage of overweight people outnumber by far the percentage of overwight kids at a private school. Now, I'm not talking about an innercity public school, I'm talking about a public school in the suburbs, people who could afford eating more healthy. But it all comes down to this: Rich people tend to look after their self-image a lot more, you know, appearance in business deals and how pople look at them is generally very important, so they educate their kids to watch out for themselves and eat healthy, play sports, etc.

Mauricio

Pepe
May 18, 2007, 11:26
LOL, the first third describes Italians perfectly!
Having said that, all generalisations are wrong.


I guess then I should offer up this question to be fair to Japan:
How many people visiting or living in Japan go out of their way to eat Japanese food and experience Japanese culture?

I spent a couple of hours researching the web to find a nice Ryokan in Narita so that my girlfriend and I can experience a traditional Japanese inn during our 14 hour layover. I chose the one I found because they also offered a traditional Japanese breakfast which I am hanging out to try. My better half has also given me the duty of arming myself with the knowledge to find a traditional Japanese restaurant in Narita. Am I the exception to the rule? I doubt it.

Goldiegirl
May 18, 2007, 12:08
I love Japan and for the most part have no genuine problems, but the one thing that really annoys me is all the "bad sushi in America" complaints. I am truly sorry that in the middle of Wisconsin, you can't get sushi that tastes like it does in Japan. There is nothing I can do about it and it's not Japan. If you want great beer, sausages and cheese you've come to the right place. Otherwise, please don't order the sushi! :)

bakaKanadajin
May 21, 2007, 05:49
Trying to compare Japan to 'the west' wont work because as it's been pointed out, what's contained within most people's basic conception of 'the west' is far too diverse to generalize about. I think thats the first recurrent mistake I've seen in this thread.

I also think alot of what the OP said is unverifiable, for example you simply can't verify that when most Japanese people go abroad they don't endeavour to go beyond food and learn about a country's history and culture as best as they can within the logistical confinements of a standard 1 week vacation. Even if they did focus on food, as the OP pointed out food is something to be celebrated whether in Japan, America or Belgium, I'd argue that tasting the food is a worthy activity and doesn't automatically make anyone superfiical. It sounds as if the OP believes that anyone who isn't there to do write a thesis or do wax paper rubbings of cathedrals is somehow a superficial individual.

By contrast, Americans and Canadians keep tourism industries (read: resorts) alive by spending 5-7 days a year sitting on a beach getting drunk. There's nothing wrong with that of course.. but by contrast alot of the young Japanese people who I've met expressed a desire to travel abroad in order to learn that country's language. As for the Japanese travel industry, I'd say most of the flyers outside your Sunrise/JTB locations are geared towards interesting vacations to fairly exotic places, not mindless resort packages.

Several of the OP's original comments about the Japanese believing money = happiness, talking about sex alot, having corrupt politicians, etc., are simply not confined to Japanese culture and to argue otherwise is ignorant. For example stating that America possesses a wide range of social classes and individuals of widely varying levels of education does not automatically negate the fact that within these smaller groups the same topics are not re-hashed over and over again. Rich people talk about money and sex in their own unique 'rich people' way, poor people have their own socio-economically influenced experiences.


I mean, there is still a part of the American population that are not rednecks or LA surfers right ? And they have more to discuss than food, sex and money. But what do Japanese businessmen and politicians do after work ? They mostly go drinking in hostess bars to talk about sex, food or money.

Verify this, please verify that the American middle class is well-informed and regularly meets for intellectucal discussions on their nations foreign policy. This would first necessitate the ability to have an open debate and criticize their government, something many American's aren't willing to engage in these days. Canada too. Complacency in politics is a hallmark of any industrialized nation that's conquered civil conflict and has relatively secure borders. Voter turn-out in North America is very low.

Also please verify that Americans do in fact discuss topics beyond money, cuisine, relationships, neighbourhood gossip, etc. and that businessmen do not also talk about business and money after work ad nauseum. Please verify American businessmen travelling to Europe or within America to say, Nevada, don't also partake of the sex industry. Better yet, it would be safe to admit these arguments are just too broad to be taken seriously. The OP is neither right nor wrong, they really cant be, they're just thinking aloud at best.
I will not deny that many conversations I've had with Japanese people do not also take a similar route initially, but instead of debating the OP allow me to present a few of MY observations, which are in no way set in stone any more than the OP's are.

- After meeting a Japanese person at a bar and engaging in the usual pleasantries of where everyone's from and what everyone's doing, if tactfully introduced a topic of more serious discussion is usually well-received provided its nothing personal, obscene or inflammatory.

- On the contrary, I have seen several interesting television programs about travelling abroad, animal/wildlife programs, etc. on Japanese TV. I won't deny that there's alot of junk TV out there, but remember Japan is not as tied to the TV as North America is. The importance of TV to American culture is so strong that an explosion of documentary, history, mystery, horror, racing, sports, etc channels is a natural progression. It's comparing apples and oranges.

- The number of bookstores in Tokyo compared to Toronto tells me that the Japanese love reading, they love learning, and reguarly engage in personal study and leisure reading. The number of people reading books on the train is just as high as the number of people playing a Playstation portable. Looking in convenience store windows is not an accurate way to study a country's literacy habits.

I'll cut it short here. Many of the OP's 'top 40 list' has nothing to do with superficiality at all. The Japanese don't generally value sleep so perhaps they're a little sleepy at school and require cram schools. If anything I think it reflects their LACK of apethy towards studying, not abundance of it. At any rate, how is this 'superficial' behaviour?

Japanese sales staff repeat themselves alot, welcome, how can I help you, thanks very much, etc. Great, so this makes them superficial? How about saying they have a great service industry and being served in Japan by pleasant sales staff, waitresses, etc was a breath of fresh air compared to the bitter, sour staff in the West who think the customer is privileged to set foot in their crappy little store or eatery. Regardless, how is this 'superficial' behaviour?

Again, I'll cut that short because this post has taken me 15 minutes so far and no one will read it most likely
:P

I'm not here to argue and debate with the OP really, I just felt after giving the thread an objective reading that it really wasn't a strong analysis and probably borders on offensive to most Japanese people, it was written without good reason.

raco
May 30, 2007, 07:03
Hello,

I'm a 27 years old french guy who lives in Paris.



The French and Belgian are also very interested in good food, but it isn't the main topic of conversation, even at the restaurant !Believe me, the average french people don't discuss about things like the opposition between Rousseau and Voltaire. Popular subjects are rather non-intellectual things like sports or the last bluckbuster movie from the USA. Oh, and we often speak about politics. It would be a good thing if we were knowledgeable enough on that subject instead of repeating what the TV wants us to think.



Most people in the west eats crap food even though they could afford to eat much better food.I agree with this. Fast food restaurants or pre-cooked food are very, very popular among young people. Of course we have many nice restaurants, but I have the feeling that junk food is getting more and more popular.



If only what they were reading was intellectual.I wouldn't say that the average french people are "intellectual". The Age of Enlightenment is over, now it would rather be the age of consumerism, leisure, advertising, junk food, stupid movies, gossip columns, etc. ^_^. It is true that some of the best-selling books are about politics, but read fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peoplelisation. It is in french, but there's one sentence in english: "According to critics of the way things are going, French politics is pipol-ising: in other words, it is becoming obsessed with the image of individuals, rather than the substance of policy". However, when I look at the best-selling books on amazon.jp and amazon.fr, it is true that it seems to be a bit better in France.



There are debates about society, politics and/or culture almost everyday on the main French and Belgian TV channelsYes, but Pop Idol is far more popular ^_^. The 2 biggest TV channels are both known to air crap. However, it is true that we have some TV channels dedicated to politics or news, and it's a good thing.


Have you heard of the Paris syndrome ? Read japundit.com/archives/2006/10/25/3924/ : "The Japanese have long had a love affair with Paris, nurtured by dreams of sophisticated manners coupled with physical elegance, exquisite food and lots of Louis Vuitton handbags". Paris was once a beautiful city, people had sophisticated manners, were extremely elegant (see paris1900.free.fr/Images/Pl_Chatelet01.GIF) and the food has always been exquisite. Nowadays (probably since the events of May 1968), it is another story... People are ugly (shorts and flip-flops everywhere), incredibly rude, manners/etiquette are regarded as outdated values, etc. I guess that the whole western world is like that, and this is the result of individualism (wanted by the protesters in 1968). The japanese are not individualists, and I wouldn't want to go to Japan if they were. Their country has many downsides, but for me the fact that they're not at all individualists makes me want to go and live there. If they would change all the "negative" points that you mention, I'm afraid that they would become another western country. It has been said here before, the countries in the western world are different from each other, but not that much. That's why, as an anti-individualism, I couldn't go to Germany or the USA. For me it would be the same thing, though the language and several things are different. I hope that the World will always be rich enough so people can choose their prefered place. The Japan is like that, and if it were to change, I'd prefer the change to be a return to the old Japan rather than occidentalization.

gaijinalways
May 30, 2007, 10:36
That's why, as an anti-individualism, I couldn't go to Germany or the USA. For me it would be the same thing, though the language and several things are different. I hope that the World will always be rich enough so people can choose their prefered place. The Japan is like that, and if it were to change, I'd prefer the change to be a return to the old Japan rather than occidentalization.

Yeah, they would be, that is why the nationality of Euopean sometimes doesn't describe a lot.


You're not a Luddite too, are you? things usually don't revert back, and I wouldn't want to live in a society with a rigid 'caste' system as the old Japan was. Wait a minute, did it change?:okashii:

raco
May 30, 2007, 11:50
You're not a Luddite too, are you?
Don't get me wrong. I am a progressist on many subjects (for example, I'd like gay people to be able to marry) and I love many aspects of the modern life. But things do not necessarily improve over the time (or we should just go on and be patient for the world to tend to perfection). Thanks for giving me the occasion to learn a new English word ;-).


things usually don't revert back, and I wouldn't want to live in a society with a rigid 'caste' system as the old Japan was
Some people would want to live in such a society, and some wouldn't. The 6 billion people on earth can't want the same thing. You may know that some Japanese people wish they could revert back to the old Japan. I can't say for sure what I'd prefer because my knowledge of Japan's history is quite shallow. What I know for sure is that I'm fed up with the post-1968's individualism, and that considering this, Japan may be a very good country for me. I can't think of one western country where individualism would be below my acceptable level. Oh, the new french president says he wants to put an end to the heritage of may 68, but I don't think he'll succeed.

So the point was that, in my opinion, Japan is very likely to become another western country with prevailing individualism. And I don't consider that it is necessarily a good thing. If I'd want that, I would better stay at home because I already have it.

gaijinalways
May 31, 2007, 10:17
Interesting take on that, individualism. Perhaps it is not the individualism but the competitveness that often accompanies it that you dislike. Competition in Japan is waged in a different way, you might find you don't like it any better. Individualism is expressed here, it just often is not encouraged and in some cases it is quickly trod on. People instead often compete via consumerism and name dropping, and the latter tends to lead to elitist behaviour, with status items used to reinforce those differences. The old Japan is still here, but some of the old values are being transformed, but in one sense, power is still shared by only a few.

raco
May 31, 2007, 10:59
I like competitiveness, as long as it's not about stupid things like consumerism. I think that I'd like the japanese education system. In France it is rather "let's pretend that everybody is equal by making school exams easy". To my opinion, an individualist society can not be based on competitiveness. The pro-individualism people at the end of the 60's wanted to abolish competitiveness (and it seems that it worked, unfortunately).

FrostPixie
Jun 25, 2007, 07:56
That list can apply to most countires.

- their favourite topic of conversation is food
True for many places. If it's not what you want to eat it is what you are currently eating or what you previously ate.

- when travelling abroad, they care little about the local culture except food
When us Brits go on holiday it is for sun, decent beaches, booze and food (be it local or British). Very rarely do we care about culture other than seeing 'must see' sights while our sun burn is healing.

- when they do not talk about food, they talk about money or sex
True for everywhere. It's either "I wish I was eating that", "I wish I could afford that" or "I'd do that".

- The proverbs "money doesn't buy happiness/love" or "don't judge a book by its cover" have no significance in Japan
If a guy can't get a girlfriend he pays a hooker (money buys fake love), if a girl is feeling down, she will go shopping to cheer herself up (money buys happiness). And what about these young girls marrying wealthy men with a life expectancy lower than their new wife's IQ? Their money bought them some love. And everyone is judged by their appearance, everywhere.

- clothes do make the man in Japan (which explain the success of brand clothes, black suits and even that of cosplay, bunny girls or the importance that Japanese women attach to their wedding dress)
Chavs flaunt their sportswear brand names, celebrities advertise which designer's dress they are wearing, businessmen wear expensive suits, etc. And a wedding dress is probably the most important dress a woman will ever buy, in ANY culture.

- people indeed do not get treated the same way (be it in a shop, by government officials, by the police or whatever) depending on how well they dress and look.
My step-sister was ill once and her boyfriend tried to buy her some codeine but they refused to serve him because he had a red mohawk and wore a band t-shirt and they assumed he would pop them as soon as he got outside the pharmacy. If someone walks into a shop with chains on their trousers the shopkeeper will keep an eye on them. If a beautiful woman walks into a shop she will get more help/be treated with more respect than an unattractive woman would be. It's human psychology, everyone does it whether they realise or not.

- they think an opuent and expensive wedding is necessary for appearances' sake (even if that is way above their means)
Everyone tries to outdo each other with weddings. Especially celebrities. And ordinary folk. Your friend got married in a church? You will get married in a cathedral. Your friend wore an Elie Saab dress? You will wear a Vera Wang dress. A lot of people get in debt because of ther wedding.

- they judge people from their appearance and tend to be easily prejudiced (e.g. toward foreigner-looking persons)
This happens EVERYWHERE. Foreigners are often ignored, even natives of that country who have darker skin or different features will be treated differently because they deviate from the 'norm'.

- they use gestures and speak strange Japanese to foreigners who address them in fluent Japanese (or before they have a chance to speak), as if they had convinced themselves that somebody who didn't look Japanese could not possibly understand their language
This happens in every country, just as we assume young children are ignorant and old people are deaf and senile so we speak more slowly to them.

- however Japanese language is so deficient in vocabulary and acurate expressions that it has to borrow thousands of new words from other languages every year
Every language has words that are interchangeable with another. But yes, Japanese uses a lot of foreign words, but so does English (especially American English) and French, Italian, Spanish, etc.

- the structure of Japanese language is so inflexible and clumsy (no relative sentences, few tenses, few nuances) that Japanese people end up speaking with isolated words (often adjectives, see below) rather than making full sentences.
Heh, come to NE England and you will witness the same phenomenon. People drift off in the middle of sentences and replace words with clumsy hand gestures. Some people (everywhere) grunt and glare as a form of communication, lol. If we can find a way about getting a point across using as few words as possible, we will. We are very lazy.

- they tend of lack sexual morals and don't mind cheating "as long as their partner doesn't know"
This happens all the time in other countries. As long as people can get away with it, it is 'alright'. They are cheating on their partner? It's alright, they don't know so it won't hurt them (the person cheating). Often people want to cheat but don't because of fear of losing the security they have (ie. a partner's status or income). If they can find a way of getting away with it, they will do it.

- they have casual sex with several partners without protection and don't worry about STD's
That's why STDs and unwanted pregnancies are unheard of in other countries.

- they have a computer but don't know much how to use even quite simple functions, due to a lack of interest for technology
Most people own PCs or moble phones or whatever because 'they are useful' but don't have a clue hwo to use them. It is true everywhere.

- they throw away a dysfunctuning electronic equipment (e.g. computer) or machine, rather than try to repair it
I do that because more often than not it is cheaper to buy a new one than to have the old one repaired. And if you buy a new one there isn't the chance of the problem coming back.

- they call an plumber, electrician or carpenter to repair things in their house, because they are not interested in DIY (Japan is a service country par excellence, due to people's lack of knowledge or interest in a wide array of things)
Nobody likes DIY. We often attempt it ourself, make things worse and then have to call in an electrician/plumber/carpenter to fix the mess that we made worse. So it's usually more time and cost-effective to call a service straight away than attempt anything ourselves.

- they go to juku after school because they sleep or are too slow to learn at school (slowing down the teacher's rythm) and can't assimilate the necessary knowledge to pass the exams. They still end up learning much less than European children in foreign languages, history, geography and critical thinking.
Quite a few people in my year got few or no GCSE's. GCSE's are the exams you sit in England at age 16 and without them it is very difficult to get a decent job or to get anyone to take you seriously at all unless you go to college and do more courses. Most people I know (and most people my age) know no foreign languages (other than how to count), couldn't point out Peru on a map or name all the English monarchs. In UK schools we are taught no European history apart from the World Wars (and even then we only learn about the German side of things). And most children just aren't interested in school at all.

- manga, porn and fashion magazines account for over 90% of convenience stores' literature.
In newsagents here you will find shelves full of porn, a fair amount of fashion magazines, one or two movie/music magazines and a couple of kid's magazines. We have specialist stores for manga and comics and even then they are still sold by major book stores.

- shops staff repeat "irasshaimasse", then "domo arigato gozaimashita" like robots to anybody that enters or exit, even if the same person comes in and out three times in 5 minutes
I am reminded of a time my friend and I kept walking in and out of Gap just so the security guard would say 'hello' and 'goodbye'. In some shops (particularly shoe shops) staff will say 'goodbye' and 'thank you' if they see you leaving.

- they can't think by themselves, and believe the media, commercials or what people tell them much too easily
I believe you just summed up America and a vast portion of the UK right there. The amount of times I've got or heard someone being got with the "Do you know they are removing the word 'gullible' from the dictionary?" line is insane.

- they buy on impulse rather than after careful comparison and analysis
A hell of a lot of women do this. It's called impulse buying and sometimes we return the items, sometimes we don't. I VERY rarely go out looking for something and when I do I usually end up buying something else on impulse. Though now that I'm trying to save money for university I make myself think about whether or not I will use it and if I really need it. It has been hard, lol.

- they are a nation of followers that suffer from the "sheep syndrome" => if every jumps in the river, let's jump in the river too ! (i.e. lack of critical and independent thinking)
And Western cuontries aren't like this? There's the fashion bandwagon which everyone jumps on. If one of the Beckhams does something, everyone does it, if Madonna says something is cool we all think it's cool.

- as a result, when something becomes fashionable, everybody must have it (e.g. Louis Vuitton handbags), even if that means it looses its uniqueness or originality.
There is no such word as originality where I live. If someone shows up for work/school/whatever with a new, original, funky piece of clothing everyone will turn up the next day wearing a replica. Louis Vuitton is as common as anything else in the UK now. Granted, most are knock-offs but they still look the same.

- when a restaurant is "introduced" on TV, one can be sure that it will be full to the brim for the week to come, then people will forget about it as quickly as they had rushed on it (just to show how influenceable the Japanese are).
When new things open over here they will have queues stretching around the block for the first week or so then after that they will be virtually empty. It's called a fad, they come from time to time.

- they think that most women are just good to serve tea, smile, be beautiful and make children (I mean, the cultural influence is so strong that many Japanese women also think so, not just men)
True to a certain extent here. There are a lot of housewives, women tend to do most of the housework, cook, take kids to school, run errands and be there when their husband gets horny. Love comes into the picture sometimes. But a lot of cultures still have the misogynistic attitude that men are better than women, etc. etc. If they WERE better than women then why give them such obvious weaknesses (ie. one swift kick to a certain area would easily shut them up).

- politicians are corrupted and inefficient beyond redemption, because they only care about themselves, and not the nation's welfare.
Are you describing Japan or the US here? Also the UK to a certain extent.

- men don't mind paying huge sums of money just to chat with bar hostesses, because they can't get a girlfriend (sad) or feel that it give them some form of status (shallow)
Men don't mind paying huge sums of money to get a woman to sleep with him. And in a lot of bars in western countries, barmaids flirt with punters for free. Heck, in some places they will pour your drink down your throat for you.

- not being married after the age of 35 or 40 can hurt some people's credibility or status, as people think that there is 'something wrong' with them
There is the stigma of the 30/40-something spinster/bachelor in most countries. Some companies prefer their executives to be family men to set a good example so being unmarried can hurt some people's careers.

- they care a lot about marriage, but little about the eventuality of divorce, so that prenuptial agreements are almost unheard of, because people 'don't like to think that bad things could happen' - while Westerners cannot not think about this eventuality and be prepared for it. Similarily, very few Japanese write their testament. Japanese seem to worry a lot, but rarely about things that matter most.
We may have pre-nups (but not everyone does) and nobody ever thinks they will get divorced when they marry. If they did then what would be the point in getting married in the first place?

- many Japanese fathers do not think that they have a role in their children's education. This is so culturally ingrained that in case of divorce, the mother almost always get the exclusive custody of the child(ren), and the father often 'never' see them again - and often doesn't care much anyway.
My mother originally got custody of me when she split from my father (they weren't even married), my friends with divorced parents all live with their mothers (apart from one who lives with her step-father). Most mothers get custody of their children. Otherwise there would be no 'Fathers 4 Justice'. And when you ask most dads for help with your homework it's either "I'm busy" or "ask your mother". (Yet when your grades come in they have no problem with letting you know their disappointment, even if you got good grades). Most of my friends with separated parents either don't see their biological father or see him very rarely.

FrostPixie
Jun 25, 2007, 08:07
"The Japanese have long had a love affair with Paris, nurtured by dreams of sophisticated manners coupled with physical elegance, exquisite food and lots of Louis Vuitton handbags". Paris was once a beautiful city, people had sophisticated manners, were extremely elegant (see paris1900.free.fr/Images/Pl_Chatelet01.GIF) and the food has always been exquisite. Nowadays (probably since the events of May 1968), it is another story... People are ugly (shorts and flip-flops everywhere), incredibly rude,
Hmm, that's interesting. It's true that even in places such as England (I know the English and French stereotypically hate each other) there is still the image of Paris as a 'romantic' place. Yet the last time I went to Paris it felt far from romantic. There were people coming up to us on the streets and rudely shoving merchandise under our noses trying to get us to buy it and my friend was trying to get served at a food place and was treated rudely (by other customers, I think), being pushed out of the way and treated as though he shouldn't be there just because he was English.
When he told us what happened I was scared of going to that place to get food, lol. I tried not to speak and put on my best (still terrible) French accent when I was thanking the person on the til.

I don't think that anyone can truly understand a culture unless they were brought up in it or have lived in that country, experiencing the culture first-hand for quite a few years. An outsider's opinion is always different to what the reality is. And culture can be different in different areas of a country. For example, living in Norfolk is totally different than living somewhere like London. There can be a culture shock moving from city to city sometimes.

kombizz
Jul 9, 2007, 00:45
Man you touch the depth of Japanese life style. Wish more time to discuss them.

Reki
Jan 15, 2008, 13:44
Actually, if a lot of this is true, which it seems from what I've always heard so far, Japan is a very represive, sad country, with low standards from what I see. I would say it was more respectable in it's Feudal Times.


I'm not saying that any country is better, but how sad Japan really is. I am just daring to go there and have a compltely diffrent experience from what's been laid out for me so far.

Annubis
Jan 16, 2008, 14:58
I have begun to see many of these characteristics too... I just shake my head and reaffirm that people are the same everywhere... I was very disappointed in "normal" Canadian lives. T

This is all normal. And everyone wants to be normal, right? Everyone wants to be accepted by everyone else. A highly educated person, who spent all their time and money becoming an informed member of society, is useless if you want to be very social. If you want to be social, you work with the people most of your life, and you become involved in what everyone else is doing... you don't persue your own interests, and spend uncountable lonely years going into debt, studying to be intelligent. That is pointless. What does it get you? You turn 30 years old and you have nothing but debt and a brain. You don't have a family and you are uncertain of yourself and your worth to the people around you.

You think to yourself. I am smart now.. I can get a good job and pay off that debt... I will be smart and people will be attracted to me. I will be intelligent and a better judge of cultures and what life is about. I will be tolerant and I now have a lot to offer.

If you study business, money and the media or design... you are set. But deeper subject of controversy and philosophy threaten ones identity and begins to open a sphere of possibility that begins to look like a scary abyse.

People in general don't want their values challenged. They all have their opinions and values. Unless it affects them personally, they don't change. They look for people who are similar to bond with.

Even educated people stoop down to the level of common societal norms of conversation and activities, just so that they can communicate with anyone.


In fact, I have only concentrated on one particular aspect of the Japanese midset : its shallowness (so this study is totally biased from the start, as it does not include anything else). I could very well do one to prove how much more polite, disciplined, or respectful the Japanese are. But it is not the object of this analysis.

I'd like to also make it clear that this topic of conversation itself is only one side of the story.

Living here, I have to admit that I am fully and thoroughly impressed with the courtesy and discipline that people have. They make me smile all the time. I find myself waving and saying "domo" all the time, I have fun with it and I let it make me happy. Yes, people do not show their emotions and frequently think the opposite of what they say... but really, it makes it easier for everyone in the long run. Japan is a place where one must allow life to happen. Allow the light electronic tunes, "Thank yous" and "welcomes" to make your day brighter. I think of these words as bird songs... a bird always has the same voice, but sometimes the song is different.

The problem with education is that one becomes too critical of everything they see and hear.

I was disappointed in "normal" Canadian lives, but now I am beginning to see that sometimes, ignorance is bliss, and in this new era of ethics, please don't tell me that bliss is wrong. If it is, than the opposite is hell!

I sam
Mar 27, 2008, 23:20
Obviously, a person who wrote this article had such big heartbreak coming to Japan.

Initially I thought a couple of them are funny. And some of them are true and I agree.

But while reading them through carefully, I came to the conclusion that a writer of this article is extremely shallow minded and seeing people from only one-sided eyes.

Quite honestly, with the way this writer put his views, I must say this person does not appreciate other cultures and unable to see the reasons behind of behaviors.

The words "jokes" should not even be used in this article. You can debate how Japanese people are superficial, and I do share the same view, but I found that there are way too many inappropriate ways of expressions used. They sometimes sound even disrespectful.

I am a Japanese, and I welcome any comments if you want to debate with me.

happilyengaged
Mar 31, 2008, 13:28
lol, this is very true. isn't it common knowledge that their are 4 seasons (in all places on earth)? or do they just think the seasons in japan are more clear-cut than any other country, and therefore foreigners haven't really "experienced" the changing of the seasons?


actually, all places on earth do not have four seasons as would be defined in Japan or in many similarly situated regions. Many places define their seasons by other climate changes that are more significant, many have more clearly defined seasons than four, others have less, and still others have seasons drastically different in numerous other ways.

It is a very diverse world...


It is a pretty silly question though....if I weren't an American I might make some comments about it being an excuse for not knowing geography...but...lol, we Americans are surely no better on average...