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View Full Version : Survey : which of these statements/opinions have you heard in Japan ?



Maciamo
Jul 26, 2006, 00:14
Just out of curiosity, which of the statements or opinions in the above poll have you heard from at least one Japanese person. It's alright for both Japanese and non-Japanese to vote. However, if you haven't been to Japan and only know a handful of Japanese people, it is better not to vote so as not to false the results.

Naturally I have heard all of them, otherwise I wouldn't be asking... :-)

RockLee
Jul 26, 2006, 00:49
I only heard about natto, most foreigners can't eat it, or don't like it cause it smells. The rest of those I never heard before from a Japanese person I know.

ricecake
Jul 26, 2006, 01:24
Japanese think they got up from ashes of WW2 by their own boot-strap.Of-course,take no interest in mentioning both Korean and Vietnam conflicts re-booted Japan's old war-time factories.Japan manufactured low end military supplies like ammunition for America's war efforts in the Far East.

DoctorP
Jul 26, 2006, 01:31
I have never personally heard that foreigners can't eat sushi, but I have heard the part about natto.

Elizabeth
Jul 26, 2006, 01:32
I only heard about natto, most foreigners can't eat it, or don't like it cause it smells. The rest of those I never heard before from a Japanese person I know.
The only other one for me would be that most foreigners in the country can't speak Japanese, which is very obviously true by a standard of reasonable fluency when talking with native speakers, complete understanding across a variety of situations (the news, movies, etc) -- in short more than speaking to get by within the military, business, teaching or other typical gaijn positions (excluding short-term visitors).

MeAndroo
Jul 26, 2006, 03:51
I was fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it) enough to get out of major cities and live in rural areas for short periods. As expected, I found opinions of this nature were more explicitly expressed in areas where foreigner contact is low. I must say, though, that instead of people saying "wow, I didn't think foreigners could use chopsticks," it was more of a "wow, you're so good with chopsticks, you're like a Japanese person." This particular example puzzled me, since Japanese people aren't the only ones who use chopsticks.

Maciamo
Jul 26, 2006, 03:57
I was fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it) enough to get out of major cities and live in rural areas for short periods. As expected, I found opinions of this nature were more explicitly expressed in areas where foreigner contact is low. I must say, though, that instead of people saying "wow, I didn't think foreigners could use chopsticks," it was more of a "wow, you're so good with chopsticks, you're like a Japanese person." This particular example puzzled me, since Japanese people aren't the only ones who use chopsticks.

Aren't you of Japanese descent ? It must be doubly shocking to hear that from people who could mistake you for a Japanese by looks, and even more if they know you are partially Japanese. :o

MeAndroo
Jul 26, 2006, 05:59
Aren't you of Japanese descent ? It must be doubly shocking to hear that from people who could mistake you for a Japanese by looks, and even more if they know you are partially Japanese. :o

Half Japanese, half Chinese with a Japanese surname. I was indeed mistaken for a native Japanese person on a number of occasions, but if I ever sat to dine with someone, they'd find out right away I was an American. Indeed it was odd, but I chalked it up to them being convinced that Americans use forks almost exclusively (which is true in the majority of cases).

Being of Asian descent doesn't necessarily imbue you with fluid chopstick ability. A friend of mine is Chinese raised in America (but he speaks English with an accent) and doesn't really know how to use chopsticks. I never understood that, but it happens.

Ma Cherie
Jul 26, 2006, 06:19
I heard from a couple of Japanese students that Western brains work differently and I also heard one of them say something about Japanese anatomy being different from Western anatomy. I found that odd. :souka:

leonmarino
Jul 26, 2006, 06:39
I only filled in the things I have heard directly from Japanese persons. And I must say I haven't heard too much biased views.

I have heard people on tv say some weird things about the "differences" between Japanese people and foreigners.. "Different brains" is indeed a famous one.

DoctorP
Jul 26, 2006, 06:51
I heard from a couple of Japanese students that Western brains work differently and I also heard one of them say something about Japanese anatomy being different from Western anatomy. I found that odd. :souka:


Did they say that our brains work differently or did you misunderstand them...I have spoken with several people who said similar things, but when I questioned them further, they actually meant that we think differently (which is true) but not that our brains actually work differently.

ricecake
Jul 26, 2006, 06:52
Japanese meant " different mentality ",Western people quite often think " opposition " from us Orientals.

Ma Cherie
Jul 26, 2006, 06:55
Did they say that our brains work differently or did you misunderstand them...I have spoken with several people who said similar things, but when I questioned them further, they actually meant that we think differently (which is true) but not that our brains actually work differently.


I think I misunderstood them. That would be something I would agree with, Westners do have a different way of thinking.

DoctorP
Jul 26, 2006, 06:58
Another thing about the farmers/hunters statement. Of course Japanese were farmers...there weren't that many animals to hunt here! It was either farm or fish!

Elizabeth
Jul 26, 2006, 07:49
I've actually brought up the point before about English grammar being similar to Chinese but was corrected to mean only word order. It is possible to find similarities to both Chinese and Japanese but language discrimination is so nonsensical I suppose I may be missing the point here...

changedonrequest
Jul 26, 2006, 08:18
All I can say is read the "view poll" results and that should explain a lot.:-)

There are obviously a number of different Japan's that people are living in.

Personally, I've heard the natto one....but that is just about it.

Alma
Jul 26, 2006, 21:00
i havent lived , but visited japan for two weeks. two days i spent in host family and openly discussed with them about japan, non-japanese people etc.. also, i meet other japanese people. and i have a few japanese pen pals. and i have two japanese friends here at home.

but i never heard things like these from them.

Maciamo
Jul 27, 2006, 00:14
Another thing about the farmers/hunters statement. Of course Japanese were farmers...there weren't that many animals to hunt here! It was either farm or fish!
They meant at the same period. However it never happened in history that Japan was farming when all Europe wasn't. Farming reached even the remotest part of Europe (e.g. Ireland) about 6000 years ago. It only reached Japan about 2000 years ago.

When I heard these statements, I asked them what period of history they were thinking about. They said around Kofun, Yamato or Heian period (medieval times in Europe, well after the fall of the Roman Empire !). They gave me as example the Vikings ! When I asked why they would think the Vikings were hunters and didn't know farming, they said that they had big axes and were barbarians !! The Norse/Viking society had been agricultural for thousands of years before Japan. They weren't barbarians in the way that they developed what is maybe the world's first slave-free democracy. We also owe the Vikings (not the Norse that remained in Scandinavia, but the "brutal savages" that invaded and plundered the rest of Europe) the world's two first parliament (on the Isle of Man and in Iceland).

I asked them back if the Japanese were hunters until Edo-jidai because the samurai had katana. :D

Some people have really no clue about world history. :rolleyes: Compared to that hearing some of my (adult) Japanese students say that Napoleon was a medieval knight in armour or that Argentina was an Eastern European country is not even as shocking as it ought to be.

gaijinalways
Jul 31, 2006, 21:17
The comments related to thinking versus actual brains is an interesting one. The Japanese have published some books stating that Japanese brains are different.

One of the few real differences that I am aware of is the common missing enzyme in the liver for processing alcohol which quite a few Japanese seem to have. Of course, some Japanese drink quite a lot and have built up a tolerance, whereas other ones drink a small glass of beer and will have a flushed face and sometimes exhibit symptoms of a drunkard. It seems some Chinese have this same biological trait as well, so it is hardly unique to Japanese, but much more common than in most other countries.

Another difference is sometimes a higher percentage of double jointed individuals, especially in the wrist and ankle joints. I often see young women here standing with their legs twisted around in positions that I wouldn't try.

Maciamo
Jul 31, 2006, 21:47
For those of you who live in Japan, I suggest that you print this poll and ask your Japanese friends which statements they agree or disagree with, and which ones they have heard from other Japanese people. I am sure this is an excellent way of getting to know them better. ;-)

nurizeko
Jul 31, 2006, 23:41
I got the "wow your good with chopsticks!" and then gawking at me using them kinda reaction but apart from that i didnt get many of those statements in the poll.

DoctorP
Aug 1, 2006, 01:11
For those of you who live in Japan, I suggest that you print this poll and ask your Japanese friends which statements they agree or disagree with, and which ones they have heard from other Japanese people. I am sure this is an excellent way of getting to know them better. ;-)


Are you being serious? For someone who became quite irritated with mundane questions I think that you would realize this may indeed prevent you from making friends.

Maciamo
Aug 1, 2006, 07:40
Are you being serious? For someone who became quite irritated with mundane questions I think that you would realize this may indeed prevent you from making friends.
Mundane ? That's a kind of survey. I did ask such things to my students, although not all the same day, but little by little.

You have to try to be tactful when asking. For instance, to get people to say whether they think that "Chinese people are indoctrinated since their childhood", it is better to raise the topic of the tense relations between Japan and China, the Yasukuni and textbook protests, and ask them why they think that so many Chinese are angry at Japan. It works wonders.:-)

I heard a lot "English grammar is more similar to Chinese than Japanese" while teaching English and discussing the differences between the languages I know. Of course, if you are not a language teacher or not much into linguistics, your chances of hearing that comment is pretty low.

Btw, my wife says that she has heard almost all of them. With people you know well, you can just give them the list and ask directly which one they have heard (or said/thought).

nhk9
Aug 1, 2006, 09:17
Most of them don't speak English... so although they want to say that Japanese is difficult, they cannot be sure that it is harder than English. That's the impression that I have been getting

DoctorP
Aug 1, 2006, 09:47
Maciamo, isn't that what each person who spoke to you was doing? Their own little survey? Yet it ticked you off enough to leave.

I understand, you are justified in saying it is for research...I think they were too.

pipokun
Aug 1, 2006, 23:13
Most of them don't speak English... so although they want to say that Japanese is difficult, they cannot be sure that it is harder than English. That's the impression that I have been getting
Right.

And what he intentionally forgot saying is...
No matter how stupid, ignorant, ultra-nationalistic or whatever his students or his friends were, they tried to communicate with him.
I think it is much better than indifference.

Maciamo
Aug 2, 2006, 01:21
Maciamo, isn't that what each person who spoke to you was doing? Their own little survey? Yet it ticked you off enough to leave.


What are you talking about ? I left because of dozens of reasons, such as police checks, discrimination agiants foreigners (e.g. in real estate agencies), lack of carreer opportunity in my field for non native Japanese, earthquakes (not good to invest in a house), general disgust at Japanese politics, regular need to change country after a few years...

Maybe you are talking about my annoyance at people asking questions which they can answer themselves if they reflected a bit (e.g. "does your country have 4 seasons ?"), or questions without answer because it is too general (e.g. "do foreigners do this or that ?" instead of asking me whether I do). This survey is only about the opinion/knowledge of the person to whom I am asking.

Bucko
Aug 2, 2006, 22:08
There's not much "Japan has four seasons" talk at all here in Osaka. The most I got was comparing the seasons of my home town to Osaka, and someone saying, "so your home town has four seasons like Osaka". However, when I lived up near Tokyo for some reason there was a lot of talk about the whole "four seasons" thing and I got quite a few questions about it. Of course at that time I was pretty new to Japan so didn't think anything of it.

Nevertheless, I decided I'd have a bit of fun playing mind games in a lesson I did today. It was about activites to do in the different seasons. I started off saying that America has four seasons, and rattled off some different activities that can be done in those seasons. I then sneakily said, "so how about Japan? In Japan there are *five* seasons. So what activities can you do in those five seasons?" The students looked a bit confused and tried to correct my by saying that Japan has four, but I just laughed and wrote down the names 'summer', 'autumn', 'winter', 'spring', and 'rainy', and continued on as if it was a normal thing, asking them what they did for each of Japan's five seasons. Hehe, I'm so evil. I just wish I did it up in Tokyo when I was there. Poor Osakans.

Maciamo
Aug 3, 2006, 17:46
I have moved the whole offtopic discussion about Chinese state indoctrination and free speech here (http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=25360). :-)

Mamoru-kun
Aug 3, 2006, 18:30
I felt something very strange when I went to Japan this summer, some kind of big difference (my own point of view of course) between this time and the first time I visited that country 9 years ago: at that time, when facing a shop counter I was asked questions in English (of course, gaijin face meant english speaking...naturally! ;-)) and when I answered some words in Japanese, even very basic words, I was answered things like "Wow, you speak a fluent Japanese!" (don’t make me laugh!...). Three weeks ago, I've been staying there for more than two weeks, and -not at all- was I asked anything in English! Any time I came close to a counter, shop people always engaged the discussion in Japanese! And not gaijin-purpose Japanese, but directly in keigo (high Japanese language)! That first surprised me, as I still have my gaijin-face, and most of the time hold a big camera in hands. Then of course I answered in Japanese, but this time, after 9 years, I was able to answer what I was asked in the same Japanese level. Well in this case I would have been pleased to hear "you speak a fluent Japanese!", but no!, not even a smile or a surprised face! Have something changed in Japan those last 9 years? Are gaijin so common now that shops's people first try in japanese and then switch to english if their mother tongue is not working?! 9 years ago, it was just the opposite...
Not that it's a big deal for me, but as this thread exists...:-)

Maciamo
Aug 4, 2006, 00:57
Mamoru-kun, maybe the Japanese shop assistant you met had read my articles on the subject on JREF. :D Or I told so many people how annoying that was that the word spread realy quickly. Wow, I changed a country's culture and habits just by ranting to a few peolpe ! :shock: :silly:

nurizeko
Aug 4, 2006, 01:23
Your mistaking yourself for ghettocities, Maciamo. :blush:

If its true its good to see the Japanese (in an odd way) arent so bothered or impressed by foreigners anymore.

The only Japanese people who spoke English to me now that I come to think of it were the cabin crew/airport staff, and my girlfriends family.

I think thats how it should be, speaking the local language first before trying something else, whats the point of going to a foreign country if you dont get a chance to experience the language along with other things?.

ArmandV
Aug 4, 2006, 01:28
Mamoru-kun, maybe the Japanese shop assistant you met had read my articles on the subject on JREF. :D Or I told so many people how annoying that was that the word spread realy quickly. Wow, I changed a country's culture and habits just by ranting to a few peolpe ! :shock: :silly:


Wow! Does this mean that you can move back to Japan?

Bucko
Aug 4, 2006, 18:44
I have to admit, I get really annoyed when I speak Japanese and they speak English back. Even when they say "thank you" or "sorry" I find it irritating. Yesterday at the supermarket when I bought a 弁当 I asked 「おはしありますか」 and the woman replied "eeh, chopusuchikusu, ehh, insaido". Grr.

Another thing, I remember when I first arrived in Japan and couldn't speak a lick of Japanese, I found it strange that there was so much English and romaji written around the place (convenient as it was). In fact, I found it quite disappointing. It didn't feel much like the foreign country I was hoping for. These days I not only find it disappointing, but kind of pathetic, like they're selling off their culture for the sake of either 1) looking cool, or 2) "helping" foreigners. That's one of the reasons I like visiting the countryside in Japan so much, because of the lack of English. Although, I ended up getting on the wrong bus in the countryside once because I read the kanji incorrectly, and arrived in some remote town in northern Kyoto Prefecture, but I still hold the opinion that there is too much English.

Funny thing is, the Japanese don't seem to think this. A few weeks back, a student even went out of his way to say that he thinks Japan is not "foreigner friendly" enough! He was definately surprised when I told him that I hate all the English that's written around the place, even the romaji at train stations. He said, "well, that's because you study Japanese", but then I told him of my initial disappointment when first arriving, when I couldn't speak any Japanese.

Kinsao
Aug 4, 2006, 22:08
If I go to Japan, and see things written in English, I'd find it helpful rather than annoying, because although I'm learning Japanese I'm still not that good, and it would be useful because then I could get to recognise meanings quicker. :cool:

I went last year to Barcelona, and I found a lot of the signs, like on public transport system, were written in Spanish, Catalan and English. I found that useful. On the contrary in Munich, there weren't a lot of things in English, particularly not in the metro (or however you call it!). This made things more difficult for me as I don't speak any German at all (I can usually figure out a bit of Spanish from French).

I think people kind of expect Japan to be very 'foreign', and to see English language in a lot of places sort of disappoints this image, whereas on Europe, there's often an attitude from English people that there should be signs in English (don't get me wrong I'm not saying everyone's like that ^^). But you could say that destroys the 'foreignness' or 'mystique' of, say, Spain just as much as Japan.

I think such things are helpful for language learning, because even though the things you learn are only basic, it can still teach you new words and stuff. :p And I'm saying that as a person who normally insists on doing things the most difficult way possible! :sorry:

Of course, being spoken to in English when you speak in another language must be really annoying, though. :wary:

Mamoru-kun
Aug 4, 2006, 22:58
Of course, being spoken to in English when you speak in another language must be really annoying, though. :wary:
To avoid that particular aspect, I personally wait for the other to engage the discussion whenever it's possible. If he/she first speaks in Japanese, I answer in Japanese. And if it's in English, well...It even happened that some whole discussions were held in English, without the people in front of me ever know that I could have held it in Japanese (modestly speaking ;-))! The problem in such a situation is that you -have to- avoid inserting Japanese terms in the discussion, else your discussion-partner will probably feel unease when he/she'll notice that he/she could have spoken in his/her own language from the beginning. That's something I've learned with Japanese after all those years: insulting, or making jokes on a Japanese person is as bad as making him/her feel shame (ashamed?) because of you...

Bucko
Aug 6, 2006, 11:34
That's something I've learned with Japanese after all those years: insulting, or making jokes on a Japanese person is as bad as making him/her feel shame (ashamed?) because of you...

Haha, so I wonder how the woman at the train station kiosk felt when I asked if she was unable to speak Japanese?

Me: 地図が売りますか。
Kiosk lady: えええ。。。えええ。。。マッポ????ええ、ハット 、ハット、えええ(pointing to a man wearing a hat)
Me: 日本語話せませんか。
(Japanese guy behind me cracks up laughing)

kooo
Aug 9, 2006, 09:41
None. =) My time in Japan has been really positive.

doinkies
Aug 9, 2006, 12:34
About the "Japanese anime and manga are superior" thing, I've only ever heard that from rabid anime and manga fans in America, never from Japanese people.

Maciamo
Aug 11, 2006, 19:20
About the "Japanese anime and manga are superior" thing, I've only ever heard that from rabid anime and manga fans in America, never from Japanese people.

I haven't heard it between Japanese people, nor have I heard Japanese people "boasting" about it. But when I asked my wife if she thought that Japanese anime and manga were superior, she answered "of course they are !" (until I gave them the example of Disney and she changed her mind a bit). I asked a few people (both male and female) while I was in Japan and their reaction was the same (and they also retracted after I asked them about Disney or Peter Rabbit). What amazed me is how Franco-Belgian comics are almost completely unknown in Japan. As a Belgian I naturally asked countless people whether they knew 'Tintin', 'Spirou & Fantasio', 'Lucky Luke', the 'Smurfs' or other Belgian comics. Tintin is famous in all the world. People in India and Thailand usually knew Tintin, but 90% of the Japanese I met had no idea who "Tintin" was. Those who knew had seen or been to one of the two 'Tintin shops' in Tokyo, but hadn't read the comics. Likewise, I haven't met anybody who knew of the French comics 'Asterix'.

I find it strange as Japanese people are more into comics than anybody else in the world. In Europe or America, even adults who have never watched anime or read manga can cite a few Japanese titles (e.g. Dragon Ball, Pokemon...) because their (grand-)children watch them or they have stumble on it while hopping channels. Obviously, if they don't know anything else than Japanese comics/anime (or conveniently forget that Disney is not Japanese), they are bound to think they are the best...

Kinsao
Aug 11, 2006, 23:35
I actually prefer European comics to most of manga (I haven't read all that much so I am keeping an open mind though! =P). Well, it's just a personal preference for type of art work, for me. :relief:

I can sort of understand that Japanese people don't know much of European titles, though; until about a year ago I'd never heard of any anime or manga titles (except for Pokemon!), even the ones that to me seem now well known. Until I'd started investigating Japanese things, I didn't know of them, so maybe it's the same for Japanese people and European things. :p

doinkies
Aug 12, 2006, 03:32
European and American comics are a small niche market in Japan, I think (even then Japan gets more American comics than European ones). American superhero comics are especially niche, although there are publishers out there who do license and translate them and there is a small following for them. Probably Peanuts might be the most well-known American comic in Japan...helps that the character designs look かわいい XD But Japan already has a big thriving comic industry, so the market for foreign comics there is very small (similar to how, in the 80s and early-to-mid 90s, the market for anime and manga in America was also very small).

As for the European comics that Maciamo mentioned, though I know a bit about Tintin and Asterix, I didn't know that the Smurfs was a comic until a couple years ago. :relief:

gaijinalways
Aug 14, 2006, 01:25
That's true. Myself, I saw 'Asterix' first while on a camping trip when some Germans we shared lobster with showed it to us in a Quebec City bookstore. 'Tin Tin' came later, while I was working in Taiwan, it was used with our high level returnee students. I also like 'Babar', whose 70th birthday is the year, and thus they are being promoted heavily in some parts of France.

Peanuts is very big here, though sadly mostly just Snoopy. The aforementioned Smurfs were a doll, then a show, then a comic book.

budd
Aug 19, 2006, 01:02
i definitely think cars made in japan are better than cars made in america
my honda civic's interior trim wasn't made in japan and guess which parts are shedding faster than a fat snake
and yeah, have heard most of the italicized ones, and also the gaijin kusai on the train
i forget why, but i was out at makahari messe and had been walking around for quite a bit in the middle of july (this was like 3 or 4 PM), so i can't say it wasn't deserved.
thought about saying something, but felt suddenly sorry for all three of them
i don't necessarily care for a lot of people's breath either

Chococake00
Jul 1, 2010, 16:13
Not from a japanese person but from a chinese person... my in laws are chinese and im european mut, they didnt think americans could eat rice (i love rice) and they handed me a bowl, i almost have it and they pull it back and say oh she cant eat this. so mean. they also keep giving me spoons instead of chopsticks, i have terible fork, knife, and spoon skills and prefer chopsticks!! its been 3 years and sometimes they still forget...

(some of them actualy think im jap & my friends parents insist that im adopted)