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Thread: Are Japanese more hypocritical with foreigners ?

  1. #26
    Regular Member Shooter452's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mad pierrot


    Good stuff. The question is, how do idiot foreigners get treated?
    With compassion and patience, at least on Okinawa. And we have given them cause to show both.

    I have to admit Maciamo, I have never experienced this walking the streets of Naha, or any other town on Okinawa. Of course, they may be more accustomed to the presence of gaijin on their streets because of the greater density of US military personnel, dependants, and even tourists than the residents of Tokyo experience. Except during the brief periods of political madness that seem to sweep the island about once each year, the Ryukyan people are the most patient, forgiving, and tolerant I have ever known...perhaps because we have compelled them to endure and tolerate so much foolishness, I dunno.
    Last edited by Shooter452; Feb 1, 2005 at 09:33. Reason: Content changes

  2. #27
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pachipro
    Let's reverse this. Is it not the same in America and Europe? Don't most, especially the younger generation, feel that most everything they see was invented in their own country?
    That must be only in the States. Americans however have better reasons to be confused, as many famous people moved to the States and become American (eg. Einstein), or some famous companies from other countries are bought up by big US multinational (eg. Belgian chocolate Godiva is now American).

    My wife and I have been asked similar things here in the states. It's always hot in Japan isn't it? Do you have TV's, satellite TV, highways, CD players, etc. Most people assume that Japan is still a third world country.
    Again, that must be only in the US. Most Europeans see Japan as a resolutely modern country. The first things that spring to mind to a European about Japan is technology, electronics, robots, futuristic cars and video games - well before the traditional culture. But it was such a shock for me to see how backward Japan actually was in so many respect (socially, politically, architecturally...) and I had no idea, that I feel it a duty to make the world (or my fellow Europeans) know about it. On my first day in Tokyo, I thought I had arrived in Bangkok (where I have been, so I can compare).

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  3. #28
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pachipro
    Heck, most Americans don't even know that a large majority of what they perceive to be American products are in fact foreign. Shell oil and Toyota come to mind. They, mostly the younger ones, are shocked when they find out that Shell is in fact Dutch, and Toyota is a Japanese company.
    What ! Is there people in the States who think that Toyota is American !! That doesn't improve my image of the average American, I can assure you !

    And FYI, Shell is half-British, not 100% Dutch.

  4. #29
    I jump to conclusions mad pierrot's Avatar
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    ok....

    Let's reverse this. Is it not the same in America and Europe? Don't most, especially the younger generation, feel that most everything they see was invented in their own country?
    First, you must not have read my first post. To quote myself:
    I didn't say other cultures aren't guilty of this as well,
    Therefore, while in Japan as "educators" why not try and educate the Japanese rather than being annoyed to the point of irritation? After 30 years experience, I do not think it is going to change. Those questions will come time and time again until someone educates them. So far, I don't think it is going to be the educational institutions.
    Who said I wasn't? You're missing my point; I'm not bashing their behavior. Japanese people react uniquely to people from outside their culture. And yes, every culture does this, in different ways, as I've already said.

    Japanese are basically not prejudiced, xenophobic, or have an underlying dislike of all foreigners.
    Would you deny that Japanese society has xenophobic tendencies? Again, I think you've misconstued what I've been saying as a personal attack on Japanese people.

    Most people assume that Japan is still a third world country.
    I'll have to disagree here. Even some of the poorly educated kids I knew from the city know that Japan is industrialized.


    Here's an interesting example to talk about: Today I was having lunch at a school I've been teaching at for 2 years. The teachers sitting next to me where having a discussion about the Bush regime and it's policies with North Korea. As they were speculating about the US government, I politely offered some comments on my perceptions. (In Japanese.) And, (I'm not joking) the response I got from the Kocho Sensei was "Do you have ka-re in America?"
    (We were eating curry udon for lunch today....)

    Does this strike you as strange? I can guarantee you this kind of thing happens frequently. And I'm not ragingly bitter about it. I smiled, told him yes and went on to have a nice lunch. Is it wrong for me to want to hear other's speculations on this kind of behavior?

  5. #30
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mad pierrot
    Who said I wasn't? You're missing my point; I'm not bashing their behavior. Japanese people react uniquely to people from outside their culture. And yes, every culture does this, in different ways, as I've already said.
    ...
    Would you deny that Japanese society has xenophobic tendencies? Again, I think you've misconstued what I've been saying as a personal attack on Japanese people.
    ...
    Here's an interesting example to talk about: Today I was having lunch at a school I've been teaching at for 2 years. The teachers sitting next to me where having a discussion about the Bush regime and it's policies with North Korea. As they were speculating about the US government, I politely offered some comments on my perceptions. (In Japanese.) And, (I'm not joking) the response I got from the Kocho Sensei was "Do you have ka-re in America?"
    (We were eating curry udon for lunch today....)

    Does this strike you as strange? I can guarantee you this kind of thing happens frequently. And I'm not ragingly bitter about it. I smiled, told him yes and went on to have a nice lunch. Is it wrong for me to want to hear other's speculations on this kind of behavior?
    Again, I completely endorse Mad Pierrot's comments. I feel the exact the way (but I am not in the mood to put it so eloquently today). Thanks again.

  6. #31
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pachipro
    Personally, I enjoyed answering the "stupid and dumb" questions over and over and over again, after laughing out loud first, as it was an opportunity to teach somebody something they didn't already know.
    I used to enjoy it too at teh beginning, but after one or two years it's getting tiring to be asked always exactly the same routine questions by 90% of the new people you meet. Rather than answering, I try to make them reflect a bit about the meaning of their question. For example, if someone ask me if "my country has four seasons like Japan", I reply one of the following :
    - But I thought Japan had 5 seasons, with the tsyu (rainy season)
    - But seasons aren't the same everywhere in Japan. Look Okinawa doesn't have seasons (or just wet and dry).
    - Oh, my country has 6 seasons : cold & dry, cold & wet, cool & dry, cool & wet, warm & dry and warm & wet. What about Japan ?
    - Which part of my country are you referring to ?
    - Sometimes I feel that Japan doesn't really have seasons, as the sun sets as early as 6:30pm in summer and 5pm in winter, while in my country it sets at 10pm in summer and 4pm in winter (and doesn't rise before 8 or 9am in winter).
    - Do you know any European country that doesn't have 4 seasons ?

    Afterwards, I'm sure they would not ask that question again of a foreigner as now they were enlightened.
    I have experienced a few times that the same person asked me twice a dumb question a few weeks later. I usually don't forget what I was asked by some particular person, especially if it struck me as dumb, or on the contrary, intelligent.

    I used to answer in Japanese, "Of course I can eat with chopsticks, eat sushi, sleep in a futon, cook my own rice, etc. etc. I've lived here for 16 years!" My polite answer to their "dumb" question kind of humbled some of them and I'm sure they felt awkward asking that question.
    Well, I hope it didn't take you 16 years to get use to that. Rather than saying how long I have been in Japan to explain that I can do these things, I say that I could already do them before coming to Japan, as most people can.

    For the "can you eat this or that food" questions, I always return the question, and it appears that quite a few Japanese cannot eat either sushi (about 10%) or natto (about 50%). If they ask me about food (yes, I can eat sushi, uni, tofu and hijiki, but I don't like natto), I also ask them if they can eat frogs, snails, kangaroo, ostrich, venison, rabbit (oh, kawaisooo !), turkey, lamb, goat, crocodile or fried insects. I can eat all of them. I have asked about 30 Japanese about these, and usually they can't eat most or any of them. Who is laughing now ?

  7. #32
    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    Well, this thread has generated some good, decent discussion which I enjoy very much. No one here is bashing Japan, there is just a difference of opinion as to why we feel Japanese are more hypocritical with foreigners. To continue going "Point-Counterpoint" would be just rehashing the same opinions.

    I clicked on the link "Big Daikon" that Mad Pierrot (thank you Mad Pierrot) recently posted in another thread and came across a thesis by a Phd that seems to answer the question of why foreigners feel discriminated and not accepted in Japan regardless of their knowledge of the Japanese language and culture. This guy said much of what I was trying to say, but I was not as articulate as he. His theory, I think, is well founded. I am posting parts as a new thread to generate some discussion and that maybe more will read it. It's too bad that he never finished the book he was going to write as his site has been dead since May, 2002. I would've loved to read the rest of his thesis.
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  8. #33
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pachipro
    I clicked on the link "Big Daikon" that Mad Pierrot (thank you Mad Pierrot) recently posted in another thread and came across a thesis by a Phd that seems to answer the question of why foreigners feel discriminated and not accepted in Japan regardless of their knowledge of the Japanese language and culture.
    I thought that article had been written by Damon of Japan.box.sk (his site was quite successful but eventually shut down for some reasons). Either "Dan E. Vez" is a pseudonym (very likely actually), or he "borrowed" that article for his site (or was it somebody else who posted it ?).

  9. #34
    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mad pierrot
    I'll have to disagree here. Even some of the poorly educated kids I knew from the city know that Japan is industrialized.
    Yeah, same here. I live in the South and most of the "rednecks" around here know enough to know that Japan is known for their highly advanced "gadgets" and also know that it's a wealthy country.

    And as far as not knowing brands like Toyota, Sony, Panasonic, etc., are not Japanese, that just doesn't happen around here. The most countrified, backwoods, uneducated person around here is bound to say something like "those Jap brands ain't no better than ours". It's not very nice, but they do know where they originated.

    Everybody around here gets my husband to help them with anything electronic. Why? Because he's Japanese, of course. How's that for stereotyping?

    Here's an interesting example to talk about: Today I was having lunch at a school I've been teaching at for 2 years. The teachers sitting next to me where having a discussion about the Bush regime and it's policies with North Korea. As they were speculating about the US government, I politely offered some comments on my perceptions. (In Japanese.) And, (I'm not joking) the response I got from the Kocho Sensei was "Do you have ka-re in America?"
    (We were eating curry udon for lunch today....)
    Reminds me of the time I was talking to a couple of female Japanese friends about the American soldier(s) and the rape controversy(ies) in Okinawa. I was trying to ask their feelings on the matter, and I got a very shocking remark from one of them. I won't say what it was, but it really took me by surprise, and in a very bad way.
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  10. #35
    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    I don't know Maciamo, I followed the links to his site and it does seem that he indeed wrote it, but like I said, that site, although still active, has not been updated since May 2002. He supposidly returned to Japan at that time. Regardless, his theory does seem valid to me.

  11. #36
    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    I live here in the South also. Nashville, TN. We had a friend over last weekend and were watching the football game on TV. This friend asks my wife if they have football in Japan. He then asks if they have baseball and other such sports! This guy is not uneducated, but why ask a question like that? It just shows one's ignorance. I challenge anyone to ask your average American to point out Japan on a blank map and more than two thirds will be unable to do so. Granted not ALL americans feel or think the way I replied above, but quite a few of them, and I do mean the younger ones do. One of my nephews and a couple of aquaintences thought that Sony and Panasonic were American companies. Call themm dumb if you want, but they have a college degree! Apparently the educational instutions are lacking somewhat. Meet enough people and you will come across those that don't know some of the things I listed. Maybe I've travelled too much and met too many people as a truck driver, I don't know. But more than a few Americans are pretty ignorant when it comes to foreign countries and products. Same as in Japan.

  12. #37
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pachipro
    Call them dumb if you want, but they have a college degree! Apparently the educational instutions are lacking somewhat.
    A college degree is not what makes a person intelligent. There are plenty of dumb people with a college degree (and some who don't but are intelligent). I guess anybody motivated and hard-working enough can get a college degree if they tried.

    Japanese acyually understand that a degree is just a worthless piece of paper. When a company recruits, they don't look at how well people performed at university/college, nor even what they have studied. What matters most is the name of the university/college, which is often in turn linked to the primary and secondary one has studied at (eg. entering Keio primary school almost guarantees you to enter and graduate from the prestigious Keio University). And what does determine who enters such elite schools first ? Money ! Japanese often claimed to be a class-less society, but it's so similar to the elitist "public schools & Oxbridge" system in the UK. Americans also often think they don't have social classes, which I never understood as the social-economic differences between US citizens are among the biggest in the world. I think the reason is that both Americans and Japanese are not aware of their own class system. That may be one important similarities between them.

    Meet enough people and you will come across those that don't know some of the things I listed. Maybe I've travelled too much and met too many people as a truck driver, I don't know. But more than a few Americans are pretty ignorant when it comes to foreign countries and products. Same as in Japan.
    I am starting to see more and more similarities between Japan and the US. Of course, Japan was partially modelled on the US after WWII, but does that explain the generally poor common knowledge and world knowledge, and the narrow range of intellectual interests of both the average American and Japanese ? I would like to add the Australians in the list too. What is the similarity between these three countries ? They are isolated and have a strong sense of their own (national) identity.

    We could also argue that they all have a pretty short history. In fact the history of the US and Australia is the same as that of Europe before the first colonists arrived (the natives had no writing system, so no history in the technical sense of the term). In the same way Japan only got its writing system in the 6th century AD (well over 1000 years after Europe and over 3000 years after the Egypt or Babylon). But what makes me consider that Japan has a relatively "new country" is the fact that the concept of Modern Japan as a nation only came with Meiji - before each region felt as different countries, with their own dialects. In contrast the US defined itslef as a nation in the modern sense 100 years earlier.

  13. #38
    Five times to Japan. ArmandV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    What ! Is there people in the States who think that Toyota is American !! That doesn't improve my image of the average American, I can assure you !

    While we were touring Japan last summer, a Japanese person asked one of our tour members if we have McDonalds in America.

    Some there may think that McDonalds originated in Japan.

  14. #39
    もうすぐ卒業するんだ! ragedaddy's Avatar
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    That's not true. It's impossible not to be exposed to Western culture everyday in Japan. Most movies at the theatre and many movies and series on TV are Western (while there are virtually no Japanese or Asian movies showing in Western countries). There are so many Westerners in Tokyo that it is impossible to take the subway without seeing one. Then with tens of thousands of NOVA, AEON, GEOS and other language schools where teachers are all native speakers (so foreigners), and millions of Japanese attending these classes (even if just a few times), there is a much higher chance that the average Japanese has already met, talked to or at least observed Westerners on TV many times, rather than the average Westerner having met a Japanese (except those living near very touristical spots).
    First, the exposure that A japanese person gets from a Western Movie or TV program would not tell them much at all about Western culture. In fact, these would create many more stereotypes and generalizations due to the fact that these movies and shows don't even come close to accurately portraying the West. Now that I think about it, no wonder some Japanese people ask Americans if they all carry guns, because you can see it in several movies guns, violence, drugs. How are they to know that this isn't all hyped up and is not the typical scenario in the West. It would be absolutely foolish to say that the Japanese can get a good sense of Western culture from these shows.

    You think that seeing foreigners on the street and in subways tell a Japanese person anything about who that person is, or what there culture is like? Even the English teachers at NOVA or where ever they go through the lesson, and that's about it. They don't focus all their lessons on the Western culture. The only way that you are going to learn about the Western culture from these people is to sit down with them and have an in depth chat about it.

    These are fake excuses. I know many Japanese people who have lived in Western countries and still ask such dumb questions. Even the Japanese who were introduced to me by a Western friend (and thus having at least one Western friend) still ask these routine questions. Maybe its' just a custom of greeting foreigners in Japan to ask them if they can eat natto or sushi and if they can, try to ask for other kind of food until there is one sort of Japanese food the foreigner cannot eat. But I can feel that they want to be unique and want the "foreigner" to appear inferior for not being able to do such simple everyday things as eating such or such food, using chopsticks or reading kanji (when in fact many Japanese are not very proficient themselves).
    These are not necessarily fake excuses, because I have met people who do not know much about the Western culture, nor have that much interest in such a thing. What ever happened to the golden rule "There aren't any stupid questions." If you have no idea about a subject and you are inquisitive about it, then by all means the person should ask. At times I get frustrated with the stuff myself, but then I have to tell myself they really want to know, so I better clarify what they are asking.
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  15. #40
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ragedaddy
    First, the exposure that A japanese person gets from a Western Movie or TV program would not tell them much at all about Western culture. In fact, these would create many more stereotypes and generalizations due to the fact that these movies and shows don't even come close to accurately portraying the West. Now that I think about it, no wonder some Japanese people ask Americans if they all carry guns, because you can see it in several movies guns, violence, drugs.
    Hey, adults are big enough to discern between fictional action movies and fanastic ones like Harry Potter, or those actually depicting real life like many romance or "true stories" do. Do you believe that all Japanese are samurai because you watch a Kurosawa movie ?

    You think that seeing foreigners on the street and in subways tell a Japanese person anything about who that person is, or what there culture is like?
    Observing people is a good start. Certainly better than never have seen a foreigner before. There are also higher chances of interaction, like asking one's way, etc. Small things, but that counts.

    Even the English teachers at NOVA or where ever they go through the lesson, and that's about it. They don't focus all their lessons on the Western culture. The only way that you are going to learn about the Western culture from these people is to sit down with them and have an in depth chat about it.
    Almost all my English lessons include telling my students about Western (well at least one particular country)'s culture, making comparison with Japan, or just explain the difference of system, lifetsyle, mentality or whatever. How can you teach a language without teaching the culture where it comes from with it ?

    What ever happened to the golden rule "There aren't any stupid questions."
    Whose golden rule is that ? I mean, from time to time it's ok, but when 9 people out of 10 that you meet ask you almost only stupid questions all the time (I have had such days in Japan, although not everyday of course), there is a limit to one's patience.

    If you have no idea about a subject and you are inquisitive about it, then by all means the person should ask.
    Do you sincerely believe that the vast majoriy of the Japanese do not know that European countries have four seasons, that McDonald and Disney are American, or that we have New Year greetings card in Western countries too (because it originated there) ? And what does difference does it make whether I (one particular foreigner, maybe completely different from the others) can eat this or that food or not, that it is such a ritual question ?

  16. #41
    Knightmare Vinylhoer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Hey, adults are big enough to discern between fictional action movies and fanastic ones like Harry Potter, or those actually depicting real life like many romance or "true stories" do. Do you believe that all Japanese are samurai because you watch a Kurosawa movie ??
    I think it isn't always easy to discern between fiction and reality in films. There are of course some obvious things (like the samurai thing you mention), but usually the things where the wrong ideas originate are the little details. That could for instance be a subtle 'joke' in an American film of which only Americans will know it is a 'joke'. Foreigners might take this seriously and a wrong image is created.

    I think every country has it's own customs and the people are aware of that. If I notice a foreigner eating some typically Dutch food that's, usually a nice way to start a conversation with that person. So maybe those dumb questions are just used by Japanese people as an opening to start a conversation. Maybe they already know that you have McDonalds in America, but if that's one of the few things they know about America that might be the only opening they have to start a conversation.

  17. #42
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinylhoer
    I think every country has it's own customs and the people are aware of that. If I notice a foreigner eating some typically Dutch food that's, usually a nice way to start a conversation with that person. So maybe those dumb questions are just used by Japanese people as an opening to start a conversation. Maybe they already know that you have McDonalds in America, but if that's one of the few things they know about America that might be the only opening they have to start a conversation.
    Except if the "foreigner" they address is not American ! Unfortunately, some Japanese (I'd say 10 to 20%) tend to assume that any Westerner is American. Some people in the street (especially in rural areas) just shout "hey America !" when they see a Westerner. But the worse is that many Japanese still don't make the difference even when they know that the person they are talking to is NOT American. How many times have I not been asked "Do you have this in America ?" or "How would Americans do ?", when the speakers knew very well I was not American. Sometimes I gets so much on my nerves that I just reply to my Japanese interlocutor "well, who do you Chinese do ?". I was perticularily shocked that some Japanese I had known for 2 years (and met regularily) would still consider me as an American. Then you have those who say "what about America ?", then realise their mistake and say "well, I mean in Europe".

  18. #43
    Regular Member den4's Avatar
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    tons of 7-11 on the west coast...
    I don't know about Europe, but I believe that the Japanese folks that ask the "stupid" questions would not do so if it was in their native language...ok...most of the people...and even the bright intelligent ones I believe have this severe "complex" when it comes to dealing with the "gaijin" that even though in more calm rational times they would not behave that way, when it comes to dealing with foreigners, their "complex" that is typified by a past NOVA commercial of having all of the nihonjin turning into "rocks" when confronted by a foreigner explains the rather irrational nature of the questions.
    The reason I say this, and for those that know me here know that I know nothing so probably shouldn't stick my neck out with this explanation, but from my own personal observations, I often wondered why the Japanese ask these dumb-*** questions when it comes to foreigners...whether it was based on prejudice, racism, or just out and out irrational "gaijin complex" that makes one person behave ultra extroverted around foreigners and another to clam up tighter than the shellfish...

    The advantage (or disadvantage) I had to learn some of this is that because all of my ancestors came from the land of the rising Engrish, the one thing they always told me when they found out I was amelikajin was that I look like a Japanese, so they weren't intimidated by my appearance. This, of course, had the negative side-effect that many times people thought I was a complete idiot when I didn't understand what one of them was saying to me. But one learns to live with one's handicaps...
    In the ideal world, I agree that the Japanese would do better if they stopped looking upon foreigners with awe or shock-horror...but since that ain't gonna happen any time soon, it's probably best to just "accept" the fact that in the long run, you aren't going to change their ideas or views of foreigners...the only thing you can change is how they perceive you...and also how you perceive them...and also how you perceive how they perceive you...
    Since you're practically a native speaker there, it goes without saying that you know the history and the current trends probably better than I would, (alternatively, if you are not practically a native speaker, then get into practice so you can be! ),but the one thing I did learn in Japan was that nobody forced us to go there or live there or put up with the nightmares or joys that one can find there, so if the complaints become too unbearable, then it naturally goes that nobody is forcing anybody to stay there, either...but it is obvious that you find the stay there far outweighs the negatives, so that is why you stay...and that should be reason enough to also just learn to accept things for what they are, and if you have the ability to change one or two people to get out of their gaijin complex, then that should be the goal, rather than stressing out on why the people ask the stupid questions....
    It is very easy to focus on the negative aspects of living in Japan...but the challenge is how are you going to break that cycle of stupid question asking or their clamming up when they encounter you? Or your own frustrations with their constantly saying, "Gee you use that chopstick very well..."
    Be proactive....the next time somebody says that to you, find an opportunity when they are using a spoon or a knife and fork at an elegant spaghetti restaurant, and smile, kindly and say, "Gee, Sato-san (or whomever it happens to be) you really use that fork very well..."
    It's really all about perception...and how one perceives others perceiving us...and how well you take advantage of that perception to better your own situation...or not...
    This has been a generalized statement not directed at any one person but to everybody or nobody as you wish to perceive it...
    I know nothing...except the answer is 42. You know more than I do.

  19. #44
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by den4
    I don't know about Europe, but I believe that the Japanese folks that ask the "stupid" questions would not do so if it was in their native language...
    So how comes I am asked the same questions in Japanese, and even by people I have known for some time (who may ask again and again, several kind of strange questions) and who visibly feel comfortable with me ?

    Regarding the "4 seasons" question, my wife said that they were taught at school that Japan was almost unique for having 4 seasons. I just can't believe it. I was taught that countries with temperate climates, like in Europe, most of North America and North-East Asia, Argentina, Chile, Southern Australia, N-Z, etc. have 4 seasons. But I understand the educational gap when I was told that not everybody in Japan has geography classes at school if they don't choose it as an option. In comparison, everyone in most European countries and regions have 6 years of compulsory geography/geology/geopolitics (and history) classes. Maybe that is the only reason why there is such a gap of "common knowledge". On this point of view, the US and Japan are quite similar, but Japan's case is even worse, whatever they say about Japan having a harder education system than the US.

    Additionally, as I said I find some questions or remarks insulting (the chopsticks or "nihongo jozu desu ne" said apparently only to beginners who mix all their words up). Today, there was a TV programme about the Korean community in Tokyo. They went to a Korean grocery shop with the camera, and when the Korean owner (probably Japan-born) said "konnichiwa" the Tv staff replied "oh nihongo kozu desu ne !". The poor guy had just said "hello", so how could they know ? What's more it's not the kind of things they should say to long-term resident (as he was, as a business owner), who could very welll have been born and raised in Japan like so many other Koreans. I find this utterly insulting and condescending from the Japanese. Just because he is a foreigner the Japanese presuppose that he can't speak Japanese (well). The fact that this happened on TV (and not the only time) shows how the Japanese do not mind being patronizing with foreigners. And as the guy looked Japanese and lived in Japan, it wasn't even because of any gaijin-complex or whatever.

  20. #45
    Regular Member den4's Avatar
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    Talking

    So how comes I am asked the same questions in Japanese, and even by people I have known for some time (who may ask again and again, several kind of strange questions) and who visibly feel comfortable with me ?
    There are no doubt some people that may appear visibly comfortable with the foreigner, such as yourself, but are you really sure about that? Have you ever asked the person to consider what they are saying? Well, chances are that you have done so, and if your comments are of any indications, the answers you received weren't satisfactory, yes? Perhaps if you reversed the trend by asking them bizarre questions might job some reactions, but then chances are you'd only get referred to as the weird gaijin, so that may not work either. I suppose it's best to find the nihonjin that are on the same level as you are, conversationally, and ignore the others except for basic salutations....
    Chances are good, however, that the persons in question you are referring to have never really considered what their questions indicate, if they are weird, strange, offensive or whatever...it might be good to inform them of this, if you have a mind to do so...but then, depending on the person, it could also be a waste of time.....I've dealt with folks here, in the Great US of A who when dealing with things they are familiar with can talk on an even keel, but try to explain something they are not familiar with, they also begin asking or commenting in a rather naive way...but to each their own....I do get annoyed when I still meet people who think that Japanese people all are geishas and samurais and can't figure out how they make them Toyotas and Nissans....
    But then, the reverse is true, when I get asked by the Japanese if folks in the backwater state of Oregon still have cowboy and Indian wars...
    otagaisama desu

  21. #46
    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by den4
    ....their "complex" that is typified by a past NOVA commercial of having all of the nihonjin turning into "rocks" when confronted by a foreigner explains the rather irrational nature of the questions.
    This further exacerbates the problem foreigners are having in Japan when a Japanese company like NOVA, uses to their advantage, that national complex to increase their student population. This doesn't help as, 30 years later, nothing has changed and, at this pace, I'll be long gone if it does. The only good thing is that there will always be employment for English teachers in Japan.

    Quote Originally Posted by den4
    It is very easy to focus on the negative aspects of living in Japan...but the challenge is how are you going to break that cycle of stupid question asking or their clamming up when they encounter you? Or your own frustrations with their constantly saying, "Gee you use that chopstick very well..."
    Each foreigner living in Japan will have to come to grips with this on their own, in their own way. I've seen it eat up some foreigners to the point of them having to leave the country because they couldn't cope with the difference in culture and attitude.

    I've said this before and I'll say it again, don't get me wrong here, I was just as annoyed during my early years in Japan as some of you to the point of wanting to scream at the top of my lungs, "What? Are you all a bunch of idiots! Are we all nothing but talking dogs to you people, here for your amusement?" But I learned to study, observe, and learn from the Japanese people and culture and why they acted in this way. I asked many questions of the Japanese and learned why they think the way they do. Soon, my thinking slowly turned 180 degrees and it no longer irritated me as I learned that, no matter what, the Japanese are basically not prejudiced, xenophobic, or have an underlying dislike of all foreigners. They are just a curious island people who are being taught that they, their history, and their ways are unique to the rest of the world and any foreigner that adapts, or tries to adapt, is the most curious and unique of all. Answering "dumb" questions, I hope, helped set the record straight with those I came in contact with.

  22. #47
    Five times to Japan. ArmandV's Avatar
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    As irritated some of us may get over repeated questions from the Japanese population, they may get as equally irritated by some inane questions some of us foreigners may ask of them.

    After my first trip, people back home kept asking, "Did you sleep on the floor?" My stock answer was, "No, I slept on a futon." Inane questions from fellow countrymen may be just as irritating to us. Some people never bother to leave their fishbowls to experience other countries and their cultures for themselves as many of us had. I guess it is part of our cross to bear as world travelers.

  23. #48
    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    You are quite correct ArmandV as I tried to explain in a previous post. I agree with you in that, like you, I prefer to make the world my backyard while others prefer to make their world their back yard. I think I read that somewhere once.

  24. #49
    Five times to Japan. ArmandV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pachipro
    I prefer to make the world my backyard while others prefer to make their world their back yard.

    Thanks! I'll have to remember this one!

  25. #50
    Regular Member den4's Avatar
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    the problems become when the borders between the yards become merged or confused....

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