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Thread: Japanese don't like rating products

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Arrow Japanese don't like rating products

    I have realised that one major difference between Japanese and Western mentality involves the way products are presented to the public.

    Movies for examples are normally the subject of ratings in European or American movie review magazines, TV programs or the Internet. Reviewers are justly called "critics" because they analyse the pros and cons of the movies by category (story, music, pictures, actors, intensity of emotions, direction, etc.) and give ratings to each of them - or at least overall.

    But Japanese don't do that. Reviewing a movie usually means introducing it to the general public, so that they know about it and can go and watch it, then judge by themselves if it is good or not. They do not rate movies or criticize them, because bad reviews would prevent people from going to the theatre or buy/rent the DVD. If that is bad for business that cannot work in Japan. I was even told that critiques giving bad reviews can be sued by cinema companies in Japan (not sure if that is true, but that would be seriously against freedom of speech and press). Anyway, the Japanese I talked to found it normal not to rate movies or give bad reviews, or normal for companies to sue those who would. They seem to be very understanding of others when it comes to making money (Japanese brains are constantly switched on "money" rather than freedom, rights, etc. which is another, related, difference).

    I have taken movies as an example, but that seem to work for everything. Western review magazines rate books, cars, electronics, video games, insurance companies, financial services (for individuals), or whatever can be rated.

    One of the reason is that Japanese are reluctant to impose their opinions on others, or lack confidence in expressing it (because it is often more emotional than rational ?). Japanese don't like debates, because they don't like arguments. They prefer group consensus, which means trying to find the general feeling, keep in harmony with it and do like others - rather than trying to push one's ideas on others.

    Japanese at best rely on popularity rather than rational analysis. It is more convincing to a Japanese to know that x million of people have already bought that particular product than to see a detailed and rational analyis with ratings.

    Take the example of cars. While I have grown up in a family where it would be unthinkable to buy a car without reading anc comparing carfully all the magazine review, make a selection of the best according to cost (official price, consumption, average cost of repair for that maker, taxes for that model...), practicability (space for legs, size of the boot/trunk...), design (in and out), comfort, engine (power, reliability...), safety, options, etc., then try a few different cars at the dealer, and finally make a choice. But it seems that the average Japanese would just buy a car because a celebrity drove it in the TV commercial or because it's popular for the moment.

    It is not the first time I have to say that Japanese in average think to much through their emotions than rational logic. This is probably due to lower testosterone levels, as women are usually more like that. But nationwide and across the gender, it is IMO undeniable that Japanese make more emotional than logical decisions. That also explains why almost all TV commercials in Japan show celebrities, while European ones only do when it is relevant (tennis racket CM shows famous tennis players using this brand of racket, but no need to show a TV "talento" in a cup noodle or washing powder commercial).

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  2. #2
    Regular Member openup's Avatar
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    we do rate

    oh yeah? I think we do rate things in our lives. We rate education system, we rate doctors, and we rate many more things around us. Japanese love to rate, that's why students and parents are always crazy about which school they should attend to.

    No?

  3. #3
    Jinushi
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    This is an interesting issue, and one I wasn't aware of.

    With respect to movie critics, sometimes I would rather not be prejudiced by their opinions before seeing a film. Most of the time, I ignore what they have to say in favor of making my own determination. Some critics can be helpful and cause me to want to see a film I might have otherwise overlooked. But occasionally some critic will give a bad review, and then hardly anyone will see that particular film, even though it may be quite good. And that's really the only thing that upsets me about movie critics. For example, when the movie The Long Kiss Goodnight came out, some movie critics gave it a bad review, so a lot of people didn't see the film. I saw it anyway and loved it! I realized that the movie critics' main complaint with the film was seeing a woman in a strong position of power (former CIA field agent and assassin), and for some reason, they didn't like that. It really had nothing to do with the quality of the film. I mentioned this fact to several men I knew, and they all told me that they love women in strong roles in action films, and based on my review of the film, they opted to see it--and they loved it too! I think there's a whole untapped market out there for both men and women who love seeing woman in strong roles, but because some movie critics have a problem with that, it's difficult to market some of those films. However, other than that particular problem, I really enjoy most movie critics' reviews of films and find them to be rather helpful. I'd much rather have reviews, even when bad, than no reviews at all. And I'm surprised at Japan's attitude towards this issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I have taken movies as an example, but that seem to work for everything. Western review magazines rate books, cars, electronics, video games, insurance companies, financial services (for individuals), or whatever can be rated.
    Now this is just ridiculous! I am all for rating these types of things, especially when most of it is done by consumers who have used those products, not someone like a movie critic being paid to give their opinion. Without ratings of these types of things, consumers could be potentially injured by faulty products or services, or simply damaged financially in wasting their money. So I think ratings and reviews of these types of things are very important.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    One of the reason is that Japanese are reluctant to impose their opinions on others, or lack confidence in expressing it (because it is often more emotional than rational ?). Japanese don't like debates, because they don't like arguments. They prefer group consensus, which means trying to find the general feeling, keep in harmony with it and do like others - rather than trying to push one's ideas on others.

    Japanese at best rely on popularity rather than rational analysis. It is more convincing to a Japanese to know that x million of people have already bought that particular product than to see a detailed and rational analyis with ratings.
    Talk about herd mentality! That kind of thinking is also very superficial. While keeping harmony is nice and even admirable, it can be detrimental when it prevents truth from being exposed and expressed. And that's the problem with not voicing one's opinions, no matter the outcome. It's indicative of people who do not value themselves and their opinions, and who place more value on others and the opinions and feelings others hold instead. That's one of the problems with trying too hard to please--eventually it erodes self-esteem.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Take the example of cars. While I have grown up in a family where it would be unthinkable to buy a car without reading anc comparing carfully all the magazine review, make a selection of the best according to cost (official price, consumption, average cost of repair for that maker, taxes for that model...), practicability (space for legs, size of the boot/trunk...), design (in and out), comfort, engine (power, reliability...), safety, options, etc., then try a few different cars at the dealer, and finally make a choice. But it seems that the average Japanese would just buy a car because a celebrity drove it in the TV commercial or because it's popular for the moment.
    Considering what cars costs these days, I cannot imagine anyone not doing their homework in this area. And buying it simply because some celebrity drives the same car? Very superficial reason to spend money! But I think it also speaks to a fair amount of laziness and the fact that some of these people are refusing to think for themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    It is not the first time I have to say that Japanese in average think to much through their emotions than rational logic. This is probably due to lower testosterone levels, as women are usually more like that. But nationwide and across the gender, it is IMO undeniable that Japanese make more emotional than logical decisions. That also explains why almost all TV commercials in Japan show celebrities, while European ones only do when it is relevant (tennis racket CM shows famous tennis players using this brand of racket, but no need to show a TV "talento" in a cup noodle or washing powder commercial).
    Well, I know a lot of women who are very rational just like men, so I'm not so sure that's the problem here. However, one thing that women and the Japanese you have described seem to have in common is maybe low self-esteem and not being allowed to voice their opinions, so that perhaps they become used to not thinking for themselves. Of course, being in that type of position can also make one emotional when they might not otherwise be an emotional person. The point is, I think it may have more to do with circumstances rather than emotional vs. rational thought and analysis.

    Either way, it's not a good system for anyone to blindly accept things in life. I think it's every human being's duty in life to question everything and to feel free to voice their opinions, no matter the consequences. But that's me ...

  4. #4
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by openup
    oh yeah? I think we do rate things in our lives. We rate education system, we rate doctors, and we rate many more things around us. Japanese love to rate, that's why students and parents are always crazy about which school they should attend to.
    Schools may be an exception. In fact, it's interesting to see that schools (or doctors) are among the few "things" (actually people, as it's about the teachers or directors) that European do not normally rate. I have never seen a book listing all schools or universities with ratings in Europe, like they have in the US and Japan, because all schools and universities are free, so it's not a big financial decision. Another reason is that it is extremely difficult to rate a school when all teachers are very different (some excellent, others horrible), and also because opinions differ too much from one student to another (some love one teacher, while others hate him/her + teaching style may fit some very well, but not others). Then what is a good school ? One where all students pass (because teachers teach well), or one where many fail (because teachers are strict and exigent) ?

    Another reason is that most people are not going to send their children to school in faraway cities but rather in those close to where they live. I also don't understand why Japanese care so much since the law imposes them to study in schools located in their prefecture, and even own ward or city. It's another issue for universities though.

  5. #5
    Regular Member openup's Avatar
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    European do not normally rate. I have never seen a book listing all schools or universities with ratings in Europe,
    There are I think quite numbers of University rankings in EU. I, too don't know about those BOOKS, but if you search on Google, you get plenty of websites with university rankings around the world. Universities use rankings as an ad. method. When they say, their university is ranked among top 100, they'll get twice or three times more of students coming to visit.

    Another reason is that most people are not going to send their children to school in faraway cities but rather in those close to where they live.
    The government had been quite strict on this. But recently they've been changing their mind. Nowdays it's a trend to send kids to schools which even it takes 1 or 2 hours by train or bus. Education should be accesible from anywhere, that's my 2 cents.

  6. #6
    Regular Member -Yu-'s Avatar
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    I think, some of what Maciamo said was true, but others weren't true, I think.

    I'll give a example.
    Do you know there's a magazine called "Kattte ha i ke na i (買ってはいけない)"
    / "Things you shouldn't/ mustn't buy"

    The magazine introduces the products that you shouldn't buy, those critics are based on their careful research, examination, survey on each product.
    I think it has really reliable critics, but almost everytime the magazine criticises a product, that of the company start sueing the magazine.
    So, yes, considering this fact, I thought mostly, what Maciamo said was true. I don't think there are any other magazine for critics, that shows it's not that common to rate things for Japanese too.

  7. #7
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by -Yu-
    Do you know there's a magazine called "Kattte ha i ke na i (買ってはいけない)"
    / "Things you shouldn't/ mustn't buy"
    I don't know this magazine. I have searced on Internet, but couldn't find even their official website or publisher. Is that a major magazine ? Can we buy it anywhere (like in combini) ? Do you know how many copies are sold each month nationwide ?

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    Regular Member Timsan's Avatar
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    "(Japanese brains are constantly switched on "money" rather than freedom, rights, etc. which is another, related, difference)."

    You generalize way too much in your posts. Most of your posts argue why the west > Japan, can't take your biased views seriously.
    "A single death is a tradgedy, a million deaths is a statistic." - Stalin

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    A friend of mine that's real big on console-gaming (chief editor on one of sweden's biggest console gaming review sites... the ****** gets all new games for free...)

    he says two of the worlds best game-rating magazines are from Japan; Dorimaga and Famitsu.

    Famitsu is supposedly gargantuan
    –é˜IŽ€‹ê!

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    I jump to conclusions mad pierrot's Avatar
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    Interesting topic.

    Japanese at best rely on popularity rather than rational analysis. It is more convincing to a Japanese to know that x million of people have already bought that particular product than to see a detailed and rational analyis with ratings.
    I can definately agree with this. This also extends way beyond just buying products; everything from travel destinations to English use. Example: I happen to live near on of the most popular beaches and resort towns in Kansai, Shirahama. Every year, at the exact same time, everyone goes to Shirahama beach. Shirahama beach is actually quite small, so it literally gets so crowded that open sand is hard to find. Now, there are numerous other beaches near by, not nearly as crowded and just as good. Why aren't they packed? Because they're not popular. People go to Shirahama because it's Shirahama. The other odd thing; in the "off" season, it's completely deserted! Yep, the weather might be good, the beach might be empty, but why would anyone think of going then? It's like a friggin ghost town. I think this phenomenon applies to places like Tokyo Disneyland other theme parks, too.

    And to continue on this rant, I encourage you to take a look at Japanese travel agencies. By looking at their travel brochures, you'd think all America consists of is California, Vegas, and New York. Oops, I'm sorry. Add the Grand Canyon to that. (Advertised as "a short plane ride from Las Vegas!) The "herd" mentality can be the seen most clearly in tourists. Travel in groups on pre-packaged tours to the "hot spots," buy souvenirs, take a picture and get back on the bus.

    *Rant Over*

    Whew! That being said, I'd be a massive hypocrite if I didn't say that Americans don't do that kind of thing, either. Good god, do Americans and trendy diets make me sick.


  11. #11
    Jinushi
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    Quote Originally Posted by mad pierrot
    Good god, do Americans and trendy diets make me sick.

    Oh, don't even get me started on that one! Not only is there a herd mentality when it comes to diets but exercise routines as well!!! Argh!!! And it's usually whatever some celebrity has chosen. Ever noticed that?!

  12. #12
    I jump to conclusions mad pierrot's Avatar
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    Not only is there a herd mentality when it comes to diets but exercise routines as well!!
    Heh, but at least it's funny watching people do Tai Bo!



    I'm constantly amazed at exercise fads. I do, however, recommend something; the KISS method.

    (Keep It Simple, Stupid.)

    As much as I don't like team sports, that was the smartest thing a coach ever told me.

  13. #13
    Jinushi
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    Quote Originally Posted by mad pierrot
    Heh, but at least it's funny watching people do Tai Bo!



    I'm constantly amazed at exercise fads. I do, however, recommend something; the KISS method.

    (Keep It Simple, Stupid.)

    As much as I don't like team sports, that was the smartest thing a coach ever told me.
    I'll never forget when Cindy Crawford made an exercise videotape, claiming that the exercises in the tape were what got her into such great shape following the birth of her child. The reality, of course, is that she attended a grueling boot camp that involved intense running in the mountains and had nothing to do with the exercises on her video. Moreover, her videotaped exercise routine caused injuries because she didn't have the proper medical advice. I think they had to pull the video from the shelves, if memory serves me correctly. I don't know if they were able to correct it or what, but it just goes to show how many people can get duped by celebrities pushing products.

    Good advice from your coach, btw.

  14. #14
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timsan
    You generalize way too much in your posts. Most of your posts argue why the west > Japan, can't take your biased views seriously.
    Of course I generalise. That's the only way to compare the general tendency present in a cultural group. Your comment make me think that it is not an established fact that all humans are unique and therefore different. For me it is, so it would be utterly absurd to say that all people in a country do this or think like that. If one wants to compare countries or cultures, there is no other way but make broad generalization. I just can't understand people like you (and there are many, believe me) who criticize the fact of generalizing. No serious inter-cultural discussion can start with generalization. Which make me think that people who do not generalize, avoid comparison of vast groups of people, and end up not understanding major cultural differences between them because they refuse to see the big picture under the pretext that there are (numerous) exceptions.

  15. #15
    Regular Member -Yu-'s Avatar
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    Sorry, I made a few mistakes here.
    It's not magazine, but it's one of constant articles( I don't know if it makes sense, if you know what I'm trying to refer, can you tell what word I should use next time?) IN magazine called Shuukann kinyoubi/週間金曜日.

    No, you can't buy it at any convenience store cause it's kind of on the side of Left wing, I guess and it's rather like for minorities, I think.

    Type following words on Google and you'll see. 買ってはいけない 週間金曜日

    I think you can buy a book which contains just those articles on amazon.co.jp.

  16. #16
    Manga Psychic PaulTB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    You generalize way too much in your posts. Most of your posts argue why the west > Japan, can't take your biased views seriously.
    Of course I generalise. That's the only way to compare the general tendency present in a cultural group.
    There's generalising, and there's generalising way too much.

    Actually I don't have any particular bone to pick with the amount of generalising you do. Just the tendency to pick points to generalise over that always lean in the same direction.

  17. #17
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulTB
    There's generalising, and there's generalising way too much.

    Actually I don't have any particular bone to pick with the amount of generalising you do. Just the tendency to pick points to generalise over that always lean in the same direction.
    At least make the effort to get a broader perspective on how things are handled in developed or developing neighboring countries, Korea & China for instance, where my sense is critics might be much less reluctant in expressing a personal / professional opinion. But perhaps not, there still may be more subtle restraints and norms against dictating taste or fashion or standards across large parts of Asia.
    Last edited by Elizabeth; Oct 19, 2004 at 02:46.

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    Regular Member Timsan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Of course I generalise. That's the only way to compare the general tendency present in a cultural group. Your comment make me think that it is not an established fact that all humans are unique and therefore different. For me it is, so it would be utterly absurd to say that all people in a country do this or think like that. If one wants to compare countries or cultures, there is no other way but make broad generalization. I just can't understand people like you (and there are many, believe me) who criticize the fact of generalizing. No serious inter-cultural discussion can start with generalization. Which make me think that people who do not generalize, avoid comparison of vast groups of people, and end up not understanding major cultural differences between them because they refuse to see the big picture under the pretext that there are (numerous) exceptions.
    Its as simple as saying "most" instead of "all."
    Generalization is the mark of ignorance, and you come off as very ignorant in most of your posts.

  19. #19
    Jinushi
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timsan
    Its as simple as saying "most" instead of "all."
    Generalization is the mark of ignorance, and you come off as very ignorant in most of your posts.
    I think you're alone in that opinion. Maciamo is highly respected around here, as he is extremely intelligent, among other things. Everyone here likes and respects Maciamo, and we all especially love his posts.

  20. #20
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satori
    I think you're alone in that opinion. Maciamo is highly respected around here, as he is extremely intelligent, among other things. Everyone here likes and respects Maciamo, and we all especially love his posts.
    We do ? . If you love repetition and/or have an extreme dislike(disregard) for the country this board is meant to represent I suppose I can see your point.

  21. #21
    Jinushi
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth
    We do ? .
    Well, most of us do!! (And I don't think that's a generalization!! )

  22. #22
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth
    At least make the effort to get a broader perspective on how things are handled in developed or developing neighboring countries, Korea & China for instance, where my sense is critics might be much less reluctant in expressing a personal / professional opinion.
    I would like to do that, but I can't talk about countries which I don't know so well. I have a few Korean and Chinese friends, but that doesn't help understanding this kind of issues at all. I have been living for over 3 years in Japan now, and my Japanese is good enough to understand TV and read magazines. Being analytical by nature, and having a liking for psychology and marketing, I observe my environment and question people as much as I can so as to be able to compare Japan with Europe (where I have spent most of my life, and not just one or two countries, but I have been pretty much everywhere and lived in 5 countries, and also compared them together as I am doing now with Japan). Of course, I am not omniscient, and haven't met all the people in Europe and Japan (indeed just a tiny percentage), but I am trying my best to point out what seems to be the most evident cultural differences with Japan here, because this forum is about Japan. Also note that I didn't compare East Asia with Europe, but just Japan.

  23. #23
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timsan
    Its as simple as saying "most" instead of "all."
    I usually use "most" and very rarely use "all", for that very reason (have you ever read other posts from me ?).

    Quote Originally Posted by Timesan
    Generalization is the mark of ignorance, and you come off as very ignorant in most of your posts.
    Well, Yuu (who is Japanese), seemed to confirm what I said about the lack of magazines rating things. If it were just for me, I wouldn't even need a confirmation from a Japanese member of the forum, as I discuss these issues almost everyday with my Japanese acquaintances (or family). That is also part of my job. I almost always discuss cultural differences with a few (2 to 10 maybe) Japanese people (if possible people who have travelled or lived abroad and can also compare) before posting them here.

    But again, you are American and I know that there is at least as much difference between Europe and America as between Japan and Europe. So what I should do is limit my comparson to Europe and Japan instead of taking the whole "West" (but I have also lived in Australia, so how should I do ?). I at least know a few US magazines that are available in Europe or Japan. How many Japanese and European magazines or TV programmes do you know ? How much more about Japan or Europe do you know (than me) ?

    Anyway, I don't think there was any problem with saying that American like rating things, was there ? But I also don't think this trend is as developed as in some European countries. For example, one of the most famous and widely read magazines in Belgium is called Test-Achats (or Test-Aankoop in Dutch), which mean something like "Test-Purchases". It is a magazines entirely devoted to testing (=rating) anything that can be bought, from computers, supermarket goods and private health insurances to refrigerators, real estate and even medicines. Now there might be similar magazines in the US (hope so, to confirm what I said above), but after searching a lot in Japanese bookshops I haven't found anything even remotely similar in Japan, and noticed that Japanese movies, cars or video games mags didn't rate them like they do in Europe. That is where I started discussing why with some Japanese friends.

  24. #24
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth
    If you love repetition and/or have an extreme dislike(disregard) for the country this board is meant to represent I suppose I can see your point.
    So you are also one of these extremely touchy people who take all comparisons for negative criticism of one side - and suppose that everything that is not like home is bad ? That reminds me of some people from the Australian outback who would get offended everytime I made a benign comparison like "oh people respect the speed limit on the highway here" or "or crows are bigger than in Europe here". Some would just tell me, "but why don't you go back home if you don't like it !". I never said once I didn't like it (or liked it, for that matter). I was just comparing, neutrally, as an analytical being.

    Look, I have lived in many countries and have always enjoyed comparing them, not because one is better than another, but just because I like pointing out differences. So if you think that it is a bad thing in itself not to like "rating things" (=not imposing one's opinion on others), or being "collectivist" (=sociable and caring of others), or to view marriage more traditionally (against the new trend for single parents and nuclear families in the West ?), then I can't help you. Sometimes, I do get a bit critical (negatively) when I don't like something (like political corruption, backward laws, etc.) but that does not affect much my liking for Japan as a whole, or I wouldn't be living there.

    But maybe have you understood that I liked Japan (otherwise, why would I spend so much time writing managing tis forum and writing about all the content pages in the Practical, Culture and Society or Glossary sections on this website ?), and you assumed that my comparisons were critical of the West, and therefore of your country, and ultimately you, as you have the uncanny quality of representing all this.

  25. #25
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Look, I have lived in many countries and have always enjoyed comparing them, not because one is better than another, but just because I like pointing out differences. So if you think that it is a bad thing in itself not to like "rating things" (=not imposing one's opinion on others)
    Detailing various differences is one matter, faced with implying whether the lack of movie ratings could be a sign of extreme individuality (a critics own personal bias may adversely affect readers) or yet another indication of a more general unanalytical mindset of the Japanese people is quite another.

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