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Thread: Are Japanese more hypocritical with foreigners ?

  1. #51
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pachipro
    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.
    I am not sure it makes me feel better to know that they are being taught (=lied to) that their country is unique about such things as having 4 seasons (when not all parts of Japan doesn't even have them). After all, by whom are they being taught ? By other Japanese, by tens of thousands of school teachers, by their parents or by society as a whole. So how do you distinguish the person who is taught and the one who teaches others ?

    What I don't understand is how naive they can be in the first place to believe all that nonsense that is taught to them. Keeping with the example of the 4 seasons, how can they not know that Europe or most of North America has 4 seasons, when most Japanese know Vivaldi's 4 seasons (why would have it been named like that 300 years ago if the 4 seasons were unique to Japan ?) or don't they see in Western movies or in the news on TV that it is cold and snowing in winter and that people go skiing (not a Japanese invention!), but that all the flowers forcedly bloom again in spring and that people are in t-shirt in summer and go to the beach. Don't they see like in their own JTB travel agencies that there are "autumn leaves" (koyo) tours in Canada, New England, Norway, etc. Don't they know there are cherry trees outside Japan, when they mostly eat imported American cherries, and eat German cakes like "Black Forest" with German black cherries ? I may still forgive them for not knowing that Northern Europe has more distinct seasons than Japan because of its higher latitude, and that summer days are much longer (like 17h of daylight) and winter days much shorter (about 7h of daylight).

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  2. #52
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArmandV
    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.
    This may be due to the fact that you are from the States. I went back home this January and met about 20 relatives and friends I hadn't seen for 4 or 5 years (before I came to Japan), and not a single one of them, not even the children or the elderly, asked me a stupid question. They asked how was life in Japan, what I did there, or asked me to explain about the writing system, etc. But no questions related to samurai, geisha, sleeping on the floor, and not even a single question about food I think (and certainly no stupid questions to my wife about her ability to eat European food).

  3. #53
    Regular Member den4's Avatar
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    Talking

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    This may be due to the fact that you are from the States. I went back home this January and met about 20 relatives and friends I hadn't seen for 4 or 5 years (before I came to Japan), and not a single one of them, not even the children or the elderly, asked me a stupid question. They asked how was life in Japan, what I did there, or asked me to explain about the writing system, etc. But no questions related to samurai, geisha, sleeping on the floor, and not even a single question about food I think (and certainly no stupid questions to my wife about her ability to eat European food).
    Consider yourself a fortunate person to have family and friends that are as enlightened as they are (at least from the way you describe them)...alternatively, if things continue to trouble you there in grand ol' Nippon, then it sounds like you need another vacation away from the land of the rising engrish, so you can weigh the benefits or penalties of living there...

    Having said that, there have been many times when the Japanese folks I talked with also wonder why they need to explain everything to us foreigners. If we understand the language as well as we think we do, then, they ask, why do we need to ask them to explain the reasons for why the things are the way they are...can't we just figure it out by the nuance of the way things are spoken? I have heard their frustration over this as well...that we tend to think too much in binary that we forget there are other ways of thinking about things that we may not be used to, or completely ignore, because we have become so set in our ways...

    An example is the word Kan that I hear many times, referring to that elusive "intuition" that is so prevalent in J-society...take two Japanese and if one of them is a bit out of sorts, without really expressing an explanation on how they are feeling, they can "nantonaku" figure out that something is up...even though the reason for their condition or situation or feelings are not verbally expressed in any way that be explainable in a word or two in English...

    While I do agree that there are many people that do ask stupid questions, I still feel that this comes from that innate combination of unprepared awkwardness and the ultra wanting to avoid embarrassment plus irrational panic mode thinking that most Japanese people tend to have when dealing with people that speak in English...this may also be true with other languages...but I think English is the major culprit...

    Perhaps it is time for you to try an experiment...in the great tradition of Eddie Murphy and make-up for films like "Black like Me," or in Eddie Murphy's parody, for Saturday Night Live's "White like me..." perhaps it is time for you to try and fathom what life is like for a Japanese person by becoming one...you obviously have the linguistics down, so all you need is the proper make-up and some coaching from your friends and Japanese peers, and see what it is like to be Japanese...and see if you can gain some inner insights into what Japan is like from the Japanese perspective, and see for yourself how the typical Japanese person is treated vs. say the foreigner...You'll have to set aside your western logical thinking style, as well, if you intend to blend in with the surroundings...but perhaps this will be the only way you can get some first hand information on things that continue to trouble you there...

    it is merely an idea...
    I know nothing...except the answer is 42. You know more than I do.

  4. #54
    悲しい話だと思いませんか jt_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by den4
    An example is the word Kan that I hear many times, referring to that elusive "intuition" that is so prevalent in J-society...take two Japanese and if one of them is a bit out of sorts, without really expressing an explanation on how they are feeling, they can "nantonaku" figure out that something is up...even though the reason for their condition or situation or feelings are not verbally expressed in any way that be explainable in a word or two in English...
    This is a really fascinating discussion which unfortunately I don't have enough time to comment fully on, but for now I just want to say in reference to the above: I personally don't buy this idea that there's some mystical intuition that is possessed uniquely by the Japanese. I think this basically just comes from the fact that since many Japanese are taught (trained?) to keep certain feelings to themselves, trying to figure out how other people are feeling without being explicitly told becomes both a virtue and even a necessity.

    On the other hand, someone from a culture where people are more open with their feelings will be accustomed to people telling them straight out how they're feeling, or when something is amiss, and therefore won't be consciously going around trying to "read" people and figure out what they're hiding (or at least not showing) all the time.

    Also, the idea that there are feelings that can't be expressed in Japanese as directly as they could be in English for example is silly (I know this isn't necessarily exactly what you were saying, but I think there are some native Japanese speakers who might try to argue this) -- people may think this is so because they don't say these things, but of course it's possible to be explicit and direct in Japanese -- people just don't do it. It's cultural, not linguistic.

    But anyway, I think the mystical Japanese intuition or "kan" is just basically a skill for "reading" people that's born out of the necessity of doing so in a society where people are hesitant (or to some extent, even taught/trained not to) speak their mind.
    Last edited by jt_; Feb 10, 2005 at 16:30. Reason: typo

  5. #55
    Go to shopping PopCulturePooka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    This may be due to the fact that you are from the States. I went back home this January and met about 20 relatives and friends I hadn't seen for 4 or 5 years (before I came to Japan), and not a single one of them, not even the children or the elderly, asked me a stupid question. They asked how was life in Japan, what I did there, or asked me to explain about the writing system, etc. But no questions related to samurai, geisha, sleeping on the floor, and not even a single question about food I think (and certainly no stupid questions to my wife about her ability to eat European food).
    You're lucky.
    Been back home 5 days, barely met anyone again yet but already the idiotic questions have started.

    'Did you eat raw fish?'
    'Did you buy schoolgirls panties?'
    'Did you see Godzilla?'

  6. #56
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by den4
    An example is the word Kan that I hear many times, referring to that elusive "intuition" that is so prevalent in J-society...take two Japanese and if one of them is a bit out of sorts, without really expressing an explanation on how they are feeling, they can "nantonaku" figure out that something is up...even though the reason for their condition or situation or feelings are not verbally expressed in any way that be explainable in a word or two in English...
    I agree with everything JT has commented on this. Again, I feel very much that your point of view is basically an "American vs Japanese", which doesn't take into consideration all the cultures of Europe.

    Many North Europeans have as difficult, and I'd say sometimes more difficult, than the Japanese to express their feelings. Personally, there are several people in my family who will never say how they feel, and one really needs to be a fine psychologist or have a lot of intuition to understand their feelings. Sometimes I am like that too (but much less than, say, my father), and my wife, with all her "cultural training" from the Japanese society and in spite of the fact that women are more intuitive, usually has a very hard time to figure out how I feel or what I think. I, on the contrary, can read her mind like a book and often tell her how she feels better than she can herself (she is often surprised by my intuition), thanks to the cultural environment in which I grew up, which I think requires much more "mind-reading" than in Japan.

    As I said earlier, when my family came to Japan, they first impression was that the Japanese were very extroverted people, which they likened to the Italians. I think it says a lot about how much more reserved than the Japanese Northern Europeans (British, Dutch, Belgians, Scandinavians, and even Germans) can be. But it is also a fact that the Americans, Australians or Italians are even more extroverted than the Japanese. I think the main difference is that the Japanese are not very concerned about exactitude. They often express in words how they feel (kaze hiita kamo! guai ga warui! atsui! samui! tsukareta! kirei! sugoi! kawaii! uso! shinjirarenai!), but rarely bother to analyse carefully the causes of their feelings, as I would do. Rather than saying "onaka ga itai" (very vague), I'd say "i ga itai" or "chou ga itai" or "chinzou ga itai" or "kihou ga itai" depending on where it actually aches. But there is some truth that the Japanes language also lacks accuracy. There is no difference between "ache" and "hurt", or even between "leg" and "foot" in Japanese. For a person like me who would rather complain of a pain in the quadriceps (in the thigh) or in the calf or shin or ankle rather than just the "leg", one may understand that I find the Japanese unbelievably inaccurate in everyday life. I somewhat pity Japanese doctors, who have to hear their patients say "onaka itai" rather than tell them directly which part of their abdomen aches.

  7. #57
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FirstHousePooka
    You're lucky.
    Been back home 5 days, barely met anyone again yet but already the idiotic questions have started.

    'Did you eat raw fish?'
    'Did you buy schoolgirls panties?'
    'Did you see Godzilla?'
    I don't think I am "lucky". My family and friends are like everybody else in the Benelux, France or England. I think it's just a cultural difference. The people I met last month were not particularily interested in Japan and so had little knowledge about it, but didn't show it or tried to learn by asking explanations rather than start from an erroneous statement or absurd question. It's not just in the culture to ask stupid questions or display one's ignorance or prejudices. I have few direct experiences with American people, but when I was in Australia, I was confronted to the same kind of dumb questions ("Is Belgium a part of Denmark ?", instead of a more appropriate "Where exactly is Belgium located ?"), or especially prejudiced remarks (like "all the Germans are nazi", or "French people are good at making perfume because they stink") as in Japan. From what I read on this forum, I think the "average" Americans are pretty much like the "average" Australians, that is as ignorant as the Japanese but without the naiveness, respect and desire to learn about "foreign countries".

  8. #58
    Go to shopping PopCulturePooka's Avatar
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    Heh we could go tit for tat.
    I could post a list of incredibly idiotic questions asked by Europeans about Australia.
    There was an email circualted a few years ago about the very subject in fact.

    Lets look at some choice ones:

    Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I have never seen it rain
    on TV, so how do the plants grow? (UK)


    Q: Which direction should I drive - Perth to Darwin or Darwin to
    Perth - to avoid driving with the sun in my eyes? (Germany)


    Q: I want to walk from Perth to Sydney - can I follow the
    railroad tracks? (Sweden)


    Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in Australia? (Sweden)


    Q: It is imperative that I find the names and addresses of places
    to contact for a stuffed porpoise. (Italy)


    Q: Do you have perfume in Australia? (France)


    Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia? (UK)


    Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia? (France)


    Q: Are there supermarkets in Sydney and is milk available all
    year round? (Germany)


    These are some questions asked by tourists planning to come to Australia to see the Sydney olympics 5 years ago.

  9. #59
    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    After all, by whom are they being taught ? By other Japanese, by tens of thousands of school teachers, by their parents or by society as a whole.
    The answer is yes, and yes, and yes. As is agreed, the Japanese are a very naieve people and believe, without question, everything that is told to them by their parents, teachers, and the media/government who start the whole process. We all agree that, with the group mentality thinking, no one dare question authority, even if he/she knows otherwise, lest the "protruding nail get hammered down.

    Let's take one example of this mindset from the mid '70's that I often use because it is so absurd. European Rossingnoll(sp?), a manufactuer of very high quality skis, I think wanted Japan to lower the tariff or increase imports or something like that. Anyway the Japanese government refused saying that, get ready for this, the snow in Japan was different than the snow in other countries and Japanese ski companies use special materials in their skis to account for this which foreign companies do not. Thus no competition and Japanese ski manufacturers could collude and set high prices for their skis because the materials were superior.

    This was said by the government, reported in the media, which in turn the teachers probably taught their students and no one questioned it except the foreign media. Thus, some unlucky foreigner in Japan probably was told this by one of his students or friends and came to the conclusion that the Japanese are ignorant rather than naieve.

    Something like this was even said about their rice to stave off foreign imports and protect the rice farmers. Thus, the Japanese pay more for their rice than any country in the world. There are numerous other examples.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    So how do you distinguish the person who is taught and the one who teaches others ?
    You can't. Unless the government stops setting the rules, and the Japanese people, as a whole, start questioning authority and stop swallowing hook, line and sinker everything that they are taught or hear in the media, foreigners will always be asked absurd questions about their countries by them.
    Do What You Love And You'll Never Work Another Day In Your Life!


  10. #60
    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    FirstHousePooka: Excellent post. This shows that people from all countries are ignorant, to some extent, about other countries and cultures not just Americans, Australians, or Japanese, to name a few. My wife's best friend, who is married to a British gentlemen, came across the same absurd questions from some of her inlaws and her husbands friends. I don't care where one goes in the world, someone intelligent will ask an absurd question about a foreigners country, neh?

  11. #61
    Five times to Japan. ArmandV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pachipro
    FirstHousePooka: Excellent post. This shows that people from all countries are ignorant, to some extent, about other countries and cultures not just Americans, Australians, or Japanese, to name a few. My wife's best friend, who is married to a British gentlemen, came across the same absurd questions from some of her inlaws and her husbands friends. I don't care where one goes in the world, someone intelligent will ask an absurd question about a foreigners country, neh?

    Exactly!

    I would categorize the questions/questioners three ways:

    1. Influenced by stereotypes.
    2. Totally ignorant.
    3. Inquiring minds want to know.

  12. #62
    悲しい話だと思いませんか jt_'s Avatar
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    Maciamo, I agree with many of the things you say here, but I was just curious about this one point about the vagueness of the Japanese language:

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Rather than saying "onaka ga itai" (very vague), I'd say "i ga itai" or "chou ga itai" or "chinzou ga itai" or "kihou ga itai" depending on where it actually aches. But there is some truth that the Japanes language also lacks accuracy. There is no difference between "ache" and "hurt", or even between "leg" and "foot" in Japanese. For a person like me who would rather complain of a pain in the quadriceps (in the thigh) or in the calf or shin or ankle rather than just the "leg", one may understand that I find the Japanese unbelievably inaccurate in everyday life. I somewhat pity Japanese doctors, who have to hear their patients say "onaka itai" rather than tell them directly which part of their abdomen aches.
    I find this really interesting. I can't speak for any the European languages you may speak, but at least in American English (the only language I'm qualified to comment on), nobody makes the distinction between "i" and "chou" when talking about a stomachache. Of course, the words exist, and one can talk about e.g. one's intestines if one so chooses, but a typical English speaker is just going to say "I have a stomachache" or "My stomach hurts". (And again, I'm not sure that the typical English speaker will make a distinction between "ache" and "hurt" there... At least in this case, I would consider them synonymous. "Cramp" might be different, though)

    In fact, it was only after going to Japan that I learned to distinguish the two in my speech, when I would mention offhand to my fiancee that my stomach hurts and she would ask me to clarify so she would know what type of medicine to give me (I had never really taken medicine for stomach aches before, anyway, but...). I always found this to be an example where the Japanese language and speakers of it were much more precise about something than native speakers of my own language. I mean, you can point to a word like "ashi" covering both the leg and the foot, but then you can just as easily point to something else like all the seasonal words for rain that exist in Japanese. To an English speaker, rain is just rain and a (rain)storm is just a rain(storm), but in Japanese you get words like 'yuudachi' that refer to specific types of rain that come during specific times of the year. It just seems to me that it goes both ways.

    But I think most importantly is to distinguish between what people can say and what they do. Just simply having more unique nouns to refer to certain things, for example, doesn't mean that a language is inherently "more precise" because there are other ways to be specific about what you're saying. Likewise, what people choose to say (itai! omoshiroi! sugoi! kawaii!) does not reflect all that they're capable of saying. If a Japanese speaker says "Kawaii!" about something that you don't find cute at all, you can go ahead and ask them "Doko ga?" without having to worry about them exploding from a lack of linguistic ability to express the specific characteristics of cuteness.

    The way I see it, it's very possible to be vague and evasive in English and to be precise and blunt in Japanese -- all it takes is an individual speaker choosing to do so.

  13. #63
    tsuyaku o tsukete kudasai nurizeko's Avatar
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    i learned to use chopsticks at a chinese resturaunt when i was 10-11.

    my japanese girlfriend was suprised that A) i had chopsticks at my house, with the rest of my cutlery, B) that i knew how to use them.

    she did though try and show me the "proper" way to use them * i can only assume chinese hold chopsticks only slightly differently from japanese because i could use them quite easily and comfortably the way i know, but she was showing me a slightly different way*.

    what i think is a good thing to point out is that my g/f was ussually more suprised about the fact japanese culture was so well integrated into british and western culture, when it appears japan knows very little of britain.

    ive known how to say konnichiwa since i was 8, and ive known of japan vaguely since i was 8, ive been more aware of japan and its culture since i was 13-14, and ive been pretty well educated on the subject of japan since i was 16.

    i agree, japan, or britain, you will find people who know little outside of their own country, in britain these are the majority of the working class, and just extremely mentally idle at school.

    in japan its simply the fact that japan provides an enviroment, and personality for japanese, that they dont feel any major need to know, they dont seem to appriciate the idea of learning about themselves and everything beyond purely for the persute of knowledge like education in the west, i agree with the idea that they simply appriciate the simple pleasures in life.


    with me ive always been good at geography, biology, keen on history, and learning everything i could get my hands on and assimilate fast enough, now im no genius, far from it, but ive always been very aware that there's a world beyond the borders of my country, and i couldnt conceive being the knid of person who wouldnt by nature, want to learn about it. i like to feel i have a wisdom.

    my japanese girlfriend though, is at university, something i would be hard pressed to acheive in my country let alone japans education system, it obviously instills a work ethic of really working hard for what you want, but it seems to completely fail in igniting that LOVE of learning, that desire which makes a student WANT to come to school/college/uni just to descover something new.

    in japan i get the impression its simply a part of the routine of life, something that must be done.



    saying that i hope my comments havnt been to harsh or anything, i know that theres alot of japanese who genuinly look beyond the simple routine of their lives, and their country, i know this because my girlfriend is one of them, and i have read about many examples of japanese men and women who are looking outward because looknig inward isnt satisfying them.

    i also get the impression its getting to the stage where more and more japanese are starting to take a genuine interest in the world outside of japan, but i must admit, stories of cold attitudes of some japanese and the phenomena of japanese only signs at shops and bussiness' is quite worrying, and suffice to say i will have to really think hard before i considor living in japan.

    so thats my 2 cents in a long boring rant =)

  14. #64
    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    jt: I was sitting here compiling an answer to the same quote and you seemed to have it said it better than I was attempting. Well said and I think you are quite correct. When I went to a doctor in Japan and said "onaka ga itai" (lit. My stomach hurts), for example, I was usually asked to explain more in depth and what exactly I was feeling and where it precisly was. When I went to the hospital to complain of a three day long headache, the doctors insisted that I precisly tell them exactly what I was feeling, where exactly the pain was, what type of pain it was, before they would give me a CAT scan. The dentist was the same way. He usually wanted to know all the details before he would even x-ray my teeth.

    Quote Originally Posted by nurizeko
    ...but i must admit, stories of cold attitudes of some japanese and the phenomena of japanese only signs at shops and bussiness' is quite worrying, and suffice to say i will have to really think hard before i considor living in japan.
    Welcome nurizeko, there is alot of info here. Keep reading. The phenomena of "Japanese Only" signs is indeed quite rare and found usually around the large US military bases or bars and such that don't want to allow people in with an alternate lifestyle, whether they be Japanese or foreigner. You will find a few threads here that show signs of refusal to people with tattoos, earrings, etc. and this holds for both Japanese and foreigner alike. No need to think hard about living in Japan because of this. Alot of what you will read on these threads is foreigners just venting their frustrations at some of the things people who live and work there actually experience. Alot of them, although they may be letting off some frustrational steam, so to speak, still enjoy living there or they wouldn't be there. It's what you make of it that's important

  15. #65
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    But I think most importantly is to distinguish between what people can say and what they do. Just simply having more unique nouns to refer to certain things, for example, doesn't mean that a language is inherently "more precise" because there are other ways to be specific about what you're saying. Likewise, what people choose to say (itai! omoshiroi! sugoi! kawaii!) does not reflect all that they're capable of saying. If a Japanese speaker says "Kawaii!" about something that you don't find cute at all, you can go ahead and ask them "Doko ga?" without having to worry about them exploding from a lack of linguistic ability to express the specific characteristics of cuteness.
    And it isn't only bodily functions and nouns. Quite clearly most people don't make sentences in line with the first below example because it would sound overtly harsh and pretentious, although arguably more specific. It's beyond dispute that the language itself is fully capable of minute distinctions relating to nearly every concept imaginable -- anyone who has ever as much as glanced through a kanji dictionary, in print or online, should be well versed in the numbers, if I had to hazard a guess I'd say the total was greater than in English. It's just so self-evident the whole discussion puzzles me every time....

    先日 電話で日本人の友人と話した時に、新宿のいくつ かの小さい本屋さんがやくざによって支配 を有される かもしれないと思ったと言及しました。
     
    >>先日、電話で日本人の友人と話した時に、新宿のい くつかの小さな書店がやくざの所有になるかもしれない と聞きました.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I may still forgive them for not knowing that Northern Europe has more distinct seasons than Japan because of its higher latitude, and that summer days are much longer (like 17h of daylight) and winter days much shorter (about 7h of daylight).
    7 h would be nice. Just a couple of hours north from where I live the sun doesn't rise at all for a part of the year (and doesn't set at all for a part of the summer).

    On-topic: during two weeks in Japan, I was asked five times what language we speak in Finland. Three of the the people asking appeared to assume it was English.

  17. #67
    Chukchi Salmon lexico's Avatar
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    I appreciate you observation of how the Japanese people cultivate a high level of work ethic while failing to discover any joy in learning. I just have a couple of questions because I think your observations are quite relevant to the topic.
    Quote Originally Posted by nurizeko
    what i think is a good thing to point out is that my g/f was ussually more suprised about the fact japanese culture was so well integrated into british and western culture, when it appears japan knows very little of britain.
    ive known how to say konnichiwa since i was 8, and ive known of japan vaguely since i was 8, ive been more aware of japan and its culture since i was 13-14, and ive been pretty well educated on the subject of japan since i was 16.
    i agree, japan, or britain, you will find people who know little outside of their own country, in britain these are the majority of the working class, and just extremely mentally idle at school.
    Japan, as far as I know, has been doing the greatest amount of translation of written material from other languages. I've also heard that the recent movement to adopt English as the second (?) official language of Japan was at least partially due to the immense translation work required to keep up with all the overseas publications which has been steadily increasing. But isn't it strange, with all those translated books, that not too many people were reading any? Is there a strong divide between the highly motivated academics and those outside the research fields? If so, is there any way to explain this clear cut division?
    Quote Originally Posted by nurizeko
    in japan its simply the fact that japan provides an enviroment, and personality for japanese, that they dont feel any major need to know, they dont seem to appriciate the idea of learning about themselves and everything beyond purely for the persute of knowledge like education in the west, i agree with the idea that they simply appriciate the simple pleasures in life.
    with me ive always been good at geography, biology, keen on history, and learning everything i could get my hands on and assimilate fast enough, now im no genius, far from it, but ive always been very aware that there's a world beyond the borders of my country, and i couldnt conceive being the knid of person who wouldnt by nature, want to learn about it. i like to feel i have a wisdom.
    my japanese girlfriend though, is at university, something i would be hard pressed to acheive in my country let alone japans education system, it obviously instills a work ethic of really working hard for what you want, but it seems to completely fail in igniting that LOVE of learning, that desire which makes a student WANT to come to school/college/uni just to descover something new.
    in japan i get the impression its simply a part of the routine of life, something that must be done......
    The tendency that you find in the Japanese people are not unique; in fact those are the things that Koreans and the Chinese are constantly criticizing themselves with. Emphasis on rote memory as opposed to creativity, overly heated competiton for grades while neglecting the learning process, strong motivation for worldly success not equalled by a high level of understanding or ability to communicate. Yet isn't it again strange that the more industrialized and culturally advanced Japanese should do so much worse in common sense and knowledge than the otherwise relatively backward Koreans or Chinese?

    Another factor that may have relevance is that while Korea and China had been turned upside down, inside out, by the struggle between the republicans and the communists, whereas Japan never had such a major struggle. When all opposition to the mainstream powers that be were crushed swiftly and effectively, any abberation from the accepted norm, that must have instilled a strong sense of fear, defeatism, or even fatalism that whatever they(the average citizen) do, it just can't be helped. Did you sense anything that might explain this mysterious lack of intellectual interest?
    Last edited by lexico; Feb 11, 2005 at 19:55.
    Z: The fish in the water are happy.
    H: How do you know ? You're not fish.
    Z: How do you know I don't ? You're not me.
    H: True I am not you, and I cannot know. Likewise, I know you're not, therefore I know you don't.
    Z: You asked me how I knew implying you knew I knew. In fact I saw some fish, strolling down by the Hao River, all jolly and gay.

    --Zhuangzi

  18. #68
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FirstHousePooka
    Heh we could go tit for tat.
    I could post a list of incredibly idiotic questions asked by Europeans about Australia.
    That's a "best of" gathered by some organization, right ? I was talking about most people (at least one out of three) I have encountered in 5 months in Australia.

    What's more some of the questions you cited are not that stupid :

    Q: I want to walk from Perth to Sydney - can I follow the
    railroad tracks? (Sweden)
    The question was "Is that safe to do that ?" or "Is it better to walk along the road" or even "Do I risk being stung by scorpions and spiders on this 4000km journey ?".

    Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in Australia? (Sweden)
    Same here. Australia has more deadly creatures that almost any other country on earth. It has 4 of the top 10 most venemous snakes, 2 deadly spiders and lots of pretty bad others too, deadly scorpions, octopus, jalley fish, sea snakes, sharks, sea-water crocodiles, and even boxing red kangaroo that can crush you under their heavy body while making 10m long bounds.
    I think under such circumstances, and when you come from a country where the most dangerous animal you'd encounter is a dog or a wasp, it is imperative to get informed before walking (alone) in the bush/outback.

    Q: Do you have perfume in Australia? (France)
    As a French speaker, I know that the intended question was "Is there perfumes made in Australia?" (i.e. Australian brands)

    Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia? (France)
    That also struck me as strange that there should be people wearing Santa (Claus) clothes with the beard and hat when it's 40'C. But the question was maybe simply "Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia?", because maybe people don't in France, Belgium, etc. due to its blatant association with evil Christianity.

  19. #69
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jt_
    I find this really interesting. I can't speak for any the European languages you may speak, but at least in American English (the only language I'm qualified to comment on), nobody makes the distinction between "i" and "chou" when talking about a stomachache.
    I guess this has to do with my speaking French, as French speakers tend to be very accurate about such things. Of course some people will just say "I have a stomachache", but there are many other terms used in French even by children on a daily basis to describe the kind of stomachache (colic, abdominal cramp..). In fact I understand why most English speakers do not make the difference between "onaka" and "i". It's simply because the word "stomach" has both meanings and the words for "onaka" are seldom used (belly, tummy. abdomen), as they sound either too childish or too formal.

    To an English speaker, rain is just rain and a (rain)storm is just a rain(storm), but in Japanese you get words like 'yuudachi' that refer to specific types of rain that come during specific times of the year.
    Well, maybe Americans do not care much about the weather, but British people are among the most accurate people in the world to describe it. Do you often use the words "drizzle" (light rain), "sleet" (snow-rain), "shower", "mist", "fog", or say that it is "pelting down (with rain)", "pouring (with rain)", "raing cats and dogs", "coming down in buckets". etc. ? Do you differentiate between a storm, rainstorm, thunderstorm, windstorm, tropical storm, tempest, cyclone (South Asia), typhoon (East Asia), hurricane (America), squall, blizzard ? Because I do. I will never say it's raining when it is actually "drizzling". So I use the word "kirisame" in Japanese, and the Japanese are usually surprised I know that word, as they rarely use it themselves. The only few days of sleet we had in Tokyo, I hear people saying "yuki ga futteru !", when they should in fact say "mizore ga futteru", as it isn't proper snow. I was raised like that - it isn't just me who is picky about it.

    The way I see it, it's very possible to be vague and evasive in English and to be precise and blunt in Japanese -- all it takes is an individual speaker choosing to do so.
    Yes, I know. That is why I prefer to say that the Japanese are inaccurate, rather than the language (although it can also be for a few things).

  20. #70
    Go to shopping PopCulturePooka's Avatar
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    How about the British girl that I was chatting to one night that didn't believe I was Australian as there aren't computers in Australia?

    Or myBritish room-mate at NOVA who was astounded that Australians drove cars?

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    That's a "best of" gathered by some organization, right ? I was talking about most people (at least one out of three) I have encountered in 5 months in Australia.
    I'll agree that AUstralia has its share of uncultured idiots if you agree Europe does.

    What's more some of the questions you cited are not that stupid :
    I'd beg to differ.


    The question was "Is that safe to do that ?" or "Is it better to walk along the road" or even "Do I risk being stung by scorpions and spiders on this 4000km journey ?".
    I doubt that. Very much. Iread it that the idgit that asked had no idea about Australias size and geography and expected the walk to be an easy few dayer. You know, geographic idiocy?



    Same here. Australia has more deadly creatures that almost any other country on earth. It has 4 of the top 10 most venemous snakes, 2 deadly spiders and lots of pretty bad others too, deadly scorpions, octopus, jalley fish, sea snakes, sharks, sea-water crocodiles, and even boxing red kangaroo that can crush you under their heavy body while making 10m long bounds.
    Ah a stereotype! Fact is someone dying by snake, shark, spider etc is enough to make a news article. A bite is.
    A question like this is the child of believing stereotype stories.

    I think under such circumstances, and when you come from a country where the most dangerous animal you'd encounter is a dog or a wasp, it is imperative to get informed before walking (alone) in the bush/outback.
    Most dangerous animal I've ever encountered is a Jellyfish.
    I've seen redback spiders, they met my shoe.

    OH this DOES remind me of a tale of Europeans acting idiotically.
    A group of European tourists where holidaying in the Northern Territory, where there ARE crocs (never been there). A bunch of the bright sparks decided to go for a midnight swim. Without a guide. They get too a river that was heavily signed in multiple languages that it was dangerous because of craocodiles.
    So what do they do?
    Get naked and start swimming.
    In the moonlight in the waters theres floating people, some with plae skin that stands out in moonlight.

    A croc had a good meal that night.

    Because they thought they were too good to take notice of signs, warnings and hotel policy.

    Reminder: They were European. Not Japanese or American. I know there were defiantely Brits and Germans in the group.



    As a French speaker, I know that the intended question was "Is there perfumes made in Australia?" (i.e. Australian brands)
    So if you defend this question as a translation issue, can people therefore defend some of the idiotic Japanese questions as a translation issue?

    Plus even if she was asking if theres perfumes made in Australia isn't that showing culutral ignorance, believing that Australia CANT make perfume for some reason? It was Australian wine after all that made the French nervous.



    That also struck me as strange that there should be people wearing Santa (Claus) clothes with the beard and hat when it's 40'C.
    Hey look, now YOU are showing the cultural and geographic ignorance. Most Australians dont live in the areas that hit 40 degrees, even in Summer.

    Even where I am, the Average Summer temp is 33. Tokyo got worse in Summer.

    But the question was maybe simply "Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia?", because maybe people don't in France, Belgium, etc. due to its blatant association with evil Christianity.
    Still, how is 'Do you have 7/11 in Australia?' any worse?

  21. #71
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Yes, I know. That is why I prefer to say that the Japanese are inaccurate, rather than the language (although it can also be for a few things).
    Yeah, even when I ask for corrections to professional correspondence the response might well be prefaced with a

    詳しい事情はわかりませんが、日本語だったらこんな感 じでしょう。

    I guess it's just one of those things that you can orient yourself to in return for the wonderful hospitality and loyal, lifelong friendships of the people or not....

  22. #72
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nurizeko
    i learned to use chopsticks at a chinese resturaunt when i was 10-11.
    Yes, there are so many Chinese restaurants everywhere in Europe that it's hard not to have tried eating with chopsticks for an average European (except those who refuse categorically to try). That is partly why I am so offended that ALL the Japanese feel the need to ask or exclaim "oh you can use chopsticks!" when they see it done.

    she did though try and show me the "proper" way to use them * i can only assume chinese hold chopsticks only slightly differently from japanese because i could use them quite easily and comfortably the way i know, but she was showing me a slightly different way*.
    In my case, I have often praised for using my chopsticks in a very Japanese manner, which many Japanese (including my wife and mother-in-law) can't. I can't actually understand how so many Japanese (like 1/3 of those I have met and eaten with) can't use their chopsticks properly (and sometimes their fork and knive too, but only if you consider strict Western etiquette). What's difficult in holding two chopsticks ?

    what i think is a good thing to point out is that my g/f was ussually more suprised about the fact japanese culture was so well integrated into british and western culture, when it appears japan knows very little of britain.
    Exactly. I feel that the average Europeans know much more about Japan(or that of other major countries) than the average Japanese about Europe. They don't even know we have 4 seasons in Europe and most couldn't name all European (even just EU) countries !

    i agree, japan, or britain, you will find people who know little outside of their own country, in britain these are the majority of the working class, and just extremely mentally idle at school.
    Again, that's just how I see it. People who make very stupid remarks about some "distant country" are usually working class people. That is almot in the definition of working/lower class that they should be ignorant and uneducated (as classes do not depend so much on money as on education in the broader sense of the term). In the States, they call the lower classes "rednecks", but that's just another word for the same thing. Unfortunately, I've found that many so-called "middle-class" or even "upper-class" (eg GW Bush) Americans can be quite ignorant about anything that is not American... (again, same for the Aussies and Japanese, basically all the very isolated nations that do not feel the need to learn about the rest of the world).

    in japan its simply the fact that japan provides an enviroment, and personality for japanese, that they dont feel any major need to know, they dont seem to appriciate the idea of learning about themselves and everything beyond purely for the persute of knowledge like education in the west, i agree with the idea that they simply appriciate the simple pleasures in life.
    That is exactly how I feel about it. That is why I created a thread called Is Japan an intellectual country ?

    my japanese girlfriend though, is at university, something i would be hard pressed to acheive in my country let alone japans education system, it obviously instills a work ethic of really working hard for what you want, but it seems to completely fail in igniting that LOVE of learning, that desire which makes a student WANT to come to school/college/uni just to descover something new.
    in japan i get the impression its simply a part of the routine of life, something that must be done.
    This is totally true. I have asked many Japanese about this (90% of my Japanese acquaintances are university graduates), and very very few people in Japan (was I told) choose what they study at university because they like it, but almost always in consideration of their future job. No, in fact, rather than the subject it is the university itself (the name value) that is important in Japan. Even studying history, as long as it is a famous university, the person will get a good job (also regardless of their results, as long as they graduate). I have rarely met Japanese people genuinely interested in learning things like history, geography, philosophy, sciences, politics, economy or languages just for the pleasure of learning, although this kind of people are quite common in Europe (again much less in the States and Australia from my experience). I have met so many Japanese who wanted to learn English, (or French or Italian...), but only a tiny fraction of them do it for a love for the language itself (generally those who speak the more fluently). As a teacher, when I ask new students why they want to learn English, they answer is typically "for business" or "to travel" or "tp talk to 'foreigners'" (no kidding, as if all foreigners spoke English ). So that is always in view of something practical , very rarely due to a thirst for knowledge or the love of the language itself. I have learnt 7 languages (without counting dozens which I just overviewed a bit), but it was never because I needed to for a practical reason. It was always for myself, and because of my thirst for knowledge. It's very difficult to keep one's motivation to learn otherwise, and I guess that is why the Japanese (and Americans and Australians) have seem to have so much harder learning foreign languages than Europeans.
    Last edited by Maciamo; Feb 11, 2005 at 13:48.

  23. #73
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FirstHousePooka
    Ah a stereotype! Fact is someone dying by snake, shark, spider etc is enough to make a news article. A bite is.
    A question like this is the child of believing stereotype stories.
    Alright, there are antivenoms readily available at the local doctor's, but what if you are walking through the desert or rainforest alone ?

    Plus even if she was asking if theres perfumes made in Australia isn't that showing culutral ignorance, believing that Australia CANT make perfume for some reason? It was Australian wine after all that made the French nervous.
    Alright, but are there any famous brand of Aussie perfume ?

    Hey look, now YOU are showing the cultural and geographic ignorance. Most Australians dont live in the areas that hit 40 degrees, even in Summer.
    I went all around Australia in 1998 (January to June). I was told that summer was one of the hottest and dryest in a long time (no rain for about 3 months in the Victoria and NSW and severe water shortage). But I can clearly remeber that the temperature reached 40'C several times. I some parts of Australia (between Adelaine and Alice Springs, forgot the name), the temperature reach over 50'C in summer, making it one of the hottest place in the world.

  24. #74
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajm
    On-topic: during two weeks in Japan, I was asked five times what language we speak in Finland. Three of the the people asking appeared to assume it was English.
    I was asked a good dozen times if the language of Belgium was "berugi-go" (as if such as thing existed or they had actually heard of it ) and whether Dutch and German were the same language. Sometimes it's hard to make them believe that the UK has 6 official languages (2 of which are extinct, but yet) or that not all Spaniards speak Spanish as their mother-tongue, but also Catalan, Valencian, Galician, Basque... The fact is most Japanese don't even know the major offcial languages spoken in European countries (sometimes not even the countries ).

  25. #75
    Go to shopping PopCulturePooka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Alright, there are antivenoms readily available at the local doctor's, but what if you are walking through the desert or rainforest alone ?
    If you're walking through areas of desert or rainforest alone, beyond parks set out for easy day hikes, then frankly you are a fudging idiot and deserve to be tron to shreads by rabid dropbears.
    Especially the desert. What kind of nincinpoop walks through a desert alone?



    Alright, but are there any famous brand of Aussie perfume ?
    Within Australia yes.

    But again, I disagree with your interpretation of the question.
    My interpretation is that the asker was an idiot with the perception that Australia is a backwater.


    I went all around Australia in 1998 (January to June). I was told that summer was one of the hottest and dryest in a long time (no rain for about 3 months in the Victoria and NSW and severe water shortage).
    Rural. The drought.

    Most of Australia, and most its population (more than 60%) are urban, living within 3 hours of a coastline, which wasn't as badly affected if at all. But of course you already know that I hope. Youd also know that 80% of Australians live within 3 hours of EASTERN or Southern coast coast between RockHampton and Adelaide. You know that though.
    But I can clearly remeber that the temperature reached 40'C several times.
    Where exactly. What was the population density of the area? Was it a remote country town? Or a city?
    I some parts of Australia (between Adelaine and Alice Springs, forgot the name), the temperature reach over 50'C in summer, making it one of the hottest place in the world.
    Yeah its called the desert. Very remote area. Gurantee that most Australians have never ever set foot anywhere near there. But you're enlightened enough about Australia to also know that right?

    And come on. Your Santa suit argument is weak anyway. What off Airconditioned chopping centres? Or the places where even a Summer day is a comfortable high 20's?

    For someone so enlightened about the world, arguing that Euro's know more than anyone else, you seem quite ignorant of the fact that a place as large as all of Europe (or larger) can have an enourmous range of temperatures across it on the same day.

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