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Thread: Are Japanese more hypocritical with foreigners ?

  1. #126
    もちもちした食感 ASHIKAGA's Avatar
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    Mrs. Azuma, I understand your frustration regarding your husband's family members not addressing you directly. Although I agree with FrustratedDave about his family not being used to dealing with non-Japanese or just being shy, I really think your husband should say something to them, or at least give you a better explanation why especially when he knows his wife is annoyed and offended by their actions. There was another thread talking about this very issue (Japanese people not addressing foreigners directly when they are accompanied by Japanese) and it seems like a common behavior among some Japanese people.

    Another thing is, some Japanese families, especially old, traditional ones tend to take their time warming up to ANY newcomers to their family no matter if they are foreigners or Japanese. It has to be one of the biggest complaints Japanese wives have about their marriages : not being accepted/approved by their families in law. I really hope by moving to Japan, getting to know your new family better and having them do the same about you, you will have a better relationship/understanding about each other. I just want you to know not every Japanese families are like that and older folks tend to take longer to warm up to someone who is very different from them. Having said that, I don't think you should "keep quiet" about how you feel. I believe it is very important for your husband's family to know how their actions (intended or not) make you feel. The question is how to go about it.

    Now, about the Japanese tourists abroad.... I guess you could say the same thing about tourists from many different countries. It has a lot to do with the fact they are traveling in groups (and Japanese tourists tend to do that a lot), I think. Poeple in groups tend to do things that they would not do individually, no?

    Lastly, what does all this have to do with Japanese being hypocritical with foreigners?
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  2. #127
    Sumo Freak becki_kanou's Avatar
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    Azuma_fujin
    While I agree that the situation you describe sounds quite frustrating, I think you are wrong in believing it to be typical.

    I'm also a foreign woman married to a Japanese man, and my husband's family have always spoken directly to me and in the same natural way that they speak to each other. Perhaps your husband's family is very conservative or traditional?

    Although I have experienced what you describe from his co-workers, I usually just give them a big smile and say 「日本語が話せるから直接聞いていいですよ!」After that they usually speak directly to me.

  3. #128
    In imagination land Chidoriashi's Avatar
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    Azuma> While I can understand some of your situations, I must say too, that it is going to take some patience on your part, and a greater effort to understand things from a Japanese point of view. I have lived here over 4 years now, and lots of stuff annoys me ,but if I let everything that annoys me here run my life I would have left a long time ago. You are going to have to learn to brush it off, and not take offense every time someone questions your ability to eat with chopsticks.. (just an example).

  4. #129
    Regular Member Azuma_Fujin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrustratedDave View Post
    Male or female, things are difficult for any foriegner living in Japan in a situation like you described.
    All I can say is you have a lot to learn. You can study the culture all you want and still not even come close to understanding it. It doesn't sound like you want to even try to be accepted in this culture, but if you do you need to throw out all of your values and what you think is common sense that you have been taught up until now and start all over. If not you will always have things that bother you.
    As for your family not speaking dirrectly to you, I don't know the situation and how good your Japanese is ,but I can understand why they are speaking to through your husband. The reason is most likely b/c they are asking your husband about you and not actually asking you, so if this is the case it will have nothing to do with your ability to speak Japanese well. And if you are just meeting them for the first few times it wouldn't matter if you told them you were Japanese in a previous life, they will always be hesitant to ask you b/c unlike you most people here will shy away from awkward situations and naturaly go the route that they feel comfortable with. Once they become more comfortable with you they will speak to you in their own good time Again this has nothing to do with you. But you sound like a typical foriegner who always thinks it is about ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME and has no patience. That is another thing, if you are being aggitated in front of them they will read you like a book and be less inclined to want to address you, which you will have to realise that it may be your fault in the end.
    Anyway, for your many years of study on Japanese culture you seem to be show quite a lack of understanding on your part, maybe you will find my advise helpful or just a kick in the face, I will leave it up to you.
    Firstly, i was talking about foreign wives of Japanese, not just "any" foreigner.
    Secondly, having been married to a Japanese man for 6 years and spending a good chunk of time lbetween both countries, i'm pretty sure i understand a great deal.
    Don't judge me frustrated dave. I am expressing my experiences and you come on here and judge me, yet you know nothing about my life.
    You think you understand why my family is speaking through my husband, well they still do it, and this is 6 years later, having lived in Japan for some time every year. If that's not rudeness i don't know what is. I'm not some naive little girl, i'm a 30 year old woman who has ALOT of experience around Japanese people. They were not asking about me they were asking my husband "ask kelly what she thinks about such and such" instead of asking me directly.
    "I sound like a typical foreigner?", sorry but i'm not a foreigner, i'm a family member. And just to clarify, i get on with my mother and father in law very well, in fact we speak on the phone every week and they often want to talk to me INSTEAD of their own son. So before you go judging people you should get the facts. If i was an unlikeable, just another irritating foreigner, do you think they would have accepted me like this? I don't think so. If i was all about me me me, do you think they would want to have anything to do with me? I don't think so! In fact i got a note from them about two weeks ago thanking me for everything i had done for them over the years and for always thinking about them so much.
    Your comments are not a kick in the face or education because i don't need either. I think it's just another comment by a small-minded insecure individual who feels the need to pick on other people's situations to make themselves feel better.
    As you're a man you would have no idea what it's like to be a woman in japan, let alone a foreign wife, so you can see it objectively but not subjectively so you really have no idea the emotional side of what i am talking about.
    However, i have quite a few friends in Japan who are aussie/american women married to japanese guys and they all have the same problems as me, so either we are just a bunch of whingeing ignoramases, or the phenomenon is real.

  5. #130
    Regular Member FrustratedDave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azuma_Fujin View Post
    Firstly, i was talking about foreign wives of Japanese, not just "any" foreigner.
    Secondly, having been married to a Japanese man for 6 years and spending a good chunk of time lbetween both countries, i'm pretty sure i understand a great deal.
    Yes I am sure you think you do too. Just like when I had been in Japan for 6 years straight, I knew everything about everything b/c I was so experienced. Now a further 9 years down the track I am not so sure I know a lot about Japan and the way people act and its culture, But I sure do know a lot more than when I was here after only six years. All I can say is that I am not so arrogant to think I know how someone from another country should act or how other person should act full stop. And how long was that chunck of time...? I am betting it was not that long... And just b/c you are married to a Japanese person does not automatically make you savy on that persons culture, another arogant statement.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azuma_Fujin View Post
    Don't judge me frustrated dave. I am expressing my experiences and you come on here and judge me, yet you know nothing about my life.
    You think you understand why my family is speaking through my husband, well they still do it, and this is 6 years later, having lived in Japan for some time every year. If that's not rudeness i don't know what is. I'm not some naive little girl, i'm a 30 year old woman who has ALOT of experience around Japanese people. They were not asking about me they were asking my husband "ask kelly what she thinks about such and such" instead of asking me directly.
    I am sorry, it just sounds like you have not had much face time with your family, which I stated earlier that I did not know how long you had to get to know your family so I would would not consider that being judgmental, that is just how you came across. And if you think that them asking your husband about what you think is being rude then I think you have married into the wrong nationality, I have know my family and lived in a house that is connected to theirs for about 15 years now and I still have them ask my wife what I want half the time and the other half they ask me.(maybe I should expect them to ask me all the time, I mean thats what I think should happen so that is the way they should act b/c I am always right... BTW, I don't really think that way, I was just trying to be sarcastic) And I refuse to believe that they have never once had a general conversation with you to your face if you say that they talk to you on the phone.
    Quote Originally Posted by Azuma_Fujin View Post

    "I sound like a typical foreigner?", sorry but i'm not a foreigner, i'm a family member.
    Wow... thats a great way to look at it... why did I not think of that... But the sad fact is that you sound like all the other whinging foriegners who can't get a reasonable grasp on the way things tick here in Japan. Those who do usually end up leading a relatively stress free life , while those who don't could never live here and usually go home with a bad taste in their mouth b/c that failed to connect with the fact that their cultural values are completely different to the cultural values of most Japanese.
    Quote Originally Posted by Azuma_Fujin View Post
    And just to clarify, i get on with my mother and father in law very well, in fact we speak on the phone every week and they often want to talk to me INSTEAD of their own son.
    So things are not as bad as you are making them out to be... That is a relief, and here I thought they would not talk to you without going through your husband first.
    Quote Originally Posted by Azuma_Fujin View Post
    So before you go judging people you should get the facts. If i was an unlikeable, just another irritating foreigner, do you think they would have accepted me like this? I don't think so. If i was all about me me me, do you think they would want to have anything to do with me? I don't think so! In fact i got a note from them about two weeks ago thanking me for everything i had done for them over the years and for always thinking about them so much.
    I don't follow... you said they were being rude to you by not acting as if you were part of their family, but yet they go to the trouble to write you a letter thanking you for all the things you have done over the years. To me this shows them accepting you as part of the family. You need to accept the fact that most people find indirect communication easier than face to face commuication. It sounds like that there are still things that your inlaws are finding difficult to become accustomed to when it comes to commuicating with you face to face(that is if you are telling the whole story), b/c I don't see them as people who have not accepted them into your family. You need to learn how to show some patience and forgiveness , b/c it could take them another six years for them to be confortable with those aspects. But what it comes down to is differing cultures and people being thrown together and everyone is doing the best they can with what they have.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azuma_Fujin View Post
    Your comments are not a kick in the face or education because i don't need either. I think it's just another comment by a small-minded insecure individual who feels the need to pick on other people's situations to make themselves feel better.
    LOL A typical statment from someone who is all of the above. Why are you so angry at the world? And I don't need to make light of other peoples situations to make me feel better, b/c I have two beautiful kids and a wife that I love with all my heart and that is all I need in this world to make me happy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azuma_Fujin View Post
    As you're a man you would have no idea what it's like to be a woman in japan, let alone a foreign wife, so you can see it objectively but not subjectively so you really have no idea the emotional side of what i am talking about.
    Yep... you just about summed it up, I will remmember to tell the other 4 mixed marrige families with forigner wives that I have regular contact with over the last 15 years to read your post. One couple has been married for 29 years this december, but nah... she knows nothing about living in Japan for nearly 40 years and being married to Japanese man.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azuma_Fujin View Post
    However, i have quite a few friends in Japan who are aussie/american women married to japanese guys and they all have the same problems as me, so either we are just a bunch of whingeing ignoramases, or the phenomenon is real.
    I won't put it how you desricbed , but if they feel like you do then I guess they are some more people who are unable to grasp the way some things work here.

  6. #131
    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    As I am not a foreign woman, I have no understanding how they feel at their treatment in Japan so I can only give my own opinion. It is rare to read of a foreign woman who is completely happy after marrying a Japanese male as most are very frustrated.

    The question that comes to my mind first, Azuma_Fujin, is, if you were so educated about Japanese culture and life then why would you have married in the first place knowing full well the cultural ramifications? Did you expect your husband to magically change from a Japanese into a foreigner and his family to do likewise to meet your expectations? Of course yopu probably didn't, but it sure sounds that way.

    It seems you are not willing to be flexible and, because you are a foreigner you expect all Japanese to treat you as you would be treated in your home country by your own people. Well it just does not work that way as you have to come to understand.

    In your own blog you stated your disgust (and severe lack of understanding of Japanese culture) at your father-in-law, mother-in-law, and your husband being served in a restaurant before you and that your father-in-law started eating before anyone else and that you did not understand why he was served first even at family meals. You even stated that you would never allow him to do that if he came to visit you. Well, if you did that you would be severely insulting them as well as your husband. Why would you want to do that? To prove a point?

    If you knew anything about Japanese culture, you would know that is a custom and tradition that the elder male is ALWAYS served first. Whether you like it or not, it is the way it is so, being married to a Japanese you should understand that or why would anyone marry a Japanese in the first place especially when they claim to know all about the culture and then complain about it afterwards?

    Since you are on such great terms with your in-laws on the phone and such, why not speak directly to them and express your frustration? You could help educate them about your culture. Maybe they'll understand, maybe they won't, but it would sure would help in the long run.

    In these types of international marriages one must be flexible and understanding no matter how much they may disagree with it.

    In my own marriage, my Japanese wife is very independent and is not at all subservient to me here in the states. We are equals and I would not have it any other way. However, when we return to Japan to visit the in-laws, she completely changes and becomes the subservient wife where I am served first and she even pours my beer for me! Once, when my glass was empty, her mother said to her, "His glass is empty! Fill it!" or, when I wake up, she is expected to drop everything and serve me my breakfast! and she complies. Afterwards we laugh about it, but like she says, in front of her parents, she is expected to comply with the customs.

    Even when just the two of us went to a hot springs resort once, and the meal was being served in our room, it was I who was served first, even though I am a foreigner. Once, when I was in the onsen before dinner, the maid said "We'll wait for the 'master' to come back before serving the meal. Again, we had a good laugh over this and always do.

    Neither of us agree with it but, as you said on your own blog, in your own words, "there is a great saying that 'when in Rome, do as the Romans do', which I love. I just think it exemplifies what going to another country is all about."

    Therefore, I believe that you should live by those words which you believe in and not be so upset when in Japan that the elders, including your husband gets served first. Also, since your husband is the eldest and is expected to take care of his parents you may have to move back there as you also mentioned in your blog and, without a complete understanding of the culture, I do not see your marriage lasting too long if you are not flexible and understanding.

    The role of a daughter-in-law, especially a foreign one, in Japan is not a great one, but a little understanding, patience and acceptance on your part and the willingness of your husband to teach his parents about the foreign culture he married into, as well as their understanding, may help to make your marriage and living in/visiting Japan a more enjoyable experience. You do't have to become Japanese, nor am I suggesting that, but there must be a meeting point of the culture and customs somewhere or you will just drive yourself crazy and be perpetually frustrated. Good luck!
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  7. #132
    Regular Member Azuma_Fujin's Avatar
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    Pachipro, i just want to reply to you first, yes i believe in when in rome do as the romans do, so my father-in-law when he comes here should wait until everyone is served before starting to eat, that is the way it is done here, or in my family at least, and around my friends houses.

    Secondly, i am not inflexible, in fact i do go along with everything when i'm in Japan, because the in-laws said "when you go home, we have to stay here, if you don't do it, we will be outed socially", so yeah, i go along with it all, however, it doesn't mean i can't complain about it later does it? Frustrated dave comments about me being an ignorant foreigner and i'm not, i do understand the culture, but on here i'm just venting about their culture and expressing my complaints.

    I love my husband and the reason i married him even when i knew what their culture was like was because i love him, not his race, not his culture, you can't choose someone's race when you choose the person you will fall in love with can you? His personality is the thing i was drawn to, and colour of skin, nationality etc has nothing to do with it.

    To frustrated dave, when i was talking about the family that wouldn't talk directly to me, i was talking about the father-in-law's sister and the sisters daughters family. As i said i get along very well with the mother and father-in-law and at times can be closer to okaasan than my own mother in australia.

    Pachipro, i know what you mean about how everything changes once you get to japan, when my husband gets to narita, his personality totally changes and he becomes bossy, and he gets treated like a king. It's only when we're back in our rooms that he changes to normal. At first that behaviour was unnerving for me, as it seemed like jekyl and hyde, but my husband reassured me that it was just as annoying for him. He loves australia and he loves the free life and the way of life and going back to japan is a nightmare for him because he has many obligations to fulfil while he is there. The only reason we go back is for his friends and family, if they didn't live there he would never go back as he's not exactly in love with japan.

    When i talked about Japanese coming here and being rude, it was my husband that first noticed it and said it to me, and he always says "bloody rude japanese". He feels he has to be a model japanese citizen here so people have a good view of Japanese people, because he sees so many rude japanese that bring our expectations down. We have had japanese homestay and sharemates even while we were married and his main target was to educate them because some of them had never been overseas before and were not used to anyone else's culture or even aware that culture was different.

    When my husband is saying "bloody japanese" and he is one, that is the eye opener for me. We have alot of tourists coming to where i live, all nationalities and in fact because i spend alot of time in the city i see alot, and i don't really have a problem with any of them, they're all friendly and seem to be aware of our culture.

    Don't get me wrong, i have many many female japanese friends and a few male ones, and i love them to bits, i don't have anything against japanese, in fact there is alot i love about japan too, but since this is a forum, i just expected i could express my views/opinions/complaints to fellow experiencers here.

    Pachipro thank you for your comments, i enjoyed reading them.

  8. #133
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azuma_Fujin View Post
    ...
    Secondly, i am not inflexible
    ...
    If I were you, a flexible and gifted multi-lingual person, I would use my ranting power in the J-E language section here. I am sure that many people, esp., English speakers, greatly appreciate your power here.

  9. #134
    In imagination land Chidoriashi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azuma_Fujin View Post
    I know that i would hate living in Japan full-time. They are so backwards. With all their technological advances, my mother in law doesn't even have a bath/shower or even an oven!
    Azuma> It's comments like these that are leading people to believe you are ignorant to Japanese culture. Anybody who has spent some time here would know that Japanese typically don't have ovens like in the west. Why? because it is not something that typically plays a big role in Japanese cooking. I would think you would know that. Anyway, this shows that you are judging them from your own cultural context. They don't do things like I do so that makes them backwards... You cannot possibly hope to get along well in Japan with that attitude.

    And saying that Japan is so technologically advanced sounds like a fairly ignorant foreigners stereotypical image of Japan.

    Well it is fine to rant about your problems, all foreigners have them here, but like I said before, a little patience and trying to see things from a Japanese point of view would help you a lot I think.

  10. #135
    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    Azuma_Fujin, there is a woman on JREF who has been a member for many years by the name of kirei_na_me who has been married to a Japanese man for about ten years now and has two children. Although she has never been to Japan she received a visit from her husbands parents about three years ago and explained her anxiousness at their visit and what the outcome was. She also has posted on the various frustrations she has felt in being married to a Japanese man. I think you should click on the link and explore some of her posts. It may offer insight and I believe you will have a lot in common with her. Maybe she will post a comment on this thread if she sees it.

    There is also another person married to a Japanese man by the name of Goldiegirl who has also expressed her feelings in various threads. Athough she has not been on in a while, she will probably post if she sees this thread. We sure do need more threads/posts dealing with foreign womens' feelings, frustrations, happiness, etc, in being married to Japanese men as it would be educational for all I believe as we all know too well the foreign male perspective. I believe you will have alot in common with both women.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azuma_Fujin
    Pachipro, i just want to reply to you first, yes i believe in when in rome do as the romans do, so my father-in-law when he comes here should wait until everyone is served before starting to eat, that is the way it is done here, or in my family at least, and around my friends houses.
    I agree to an extent in that they should follow the custom of the country they are visiting, but can they? Are they flexible enough to comply and do they understand the phrase "When in Rome...." or is that just a western concept? And why shoud they be expected to when they are visiting a "family member"?

    In my own case, my in-laws never visited the US as my father-in-law passed away about 13 years ago and he so much wanted to visit and my mother-in-law will never visit alone. However, were they to visit I wouldn't change anything and we would eat at the table as is expected in this country, but I would also have the option of accomidating them in the manner they were comfortable with if the need arose and that would be eating at the coffee table on the floor and putting mattresses on the floor if it made them more comfortable to sleep. And of course the father would always be served first because I am a member of their family and will abide by the custom regardless of where I am living.

    On the other hand, when I got married in Japan, my mother visited for the wedding and she, being a large woman, could not possibly be comfortable on the floor eating or taking a Japanese bath, so we accomidated her by giving her our bed and we ate at the kitchen table where she was more comfortable. My wife did not insist that she conform to Japanese custom because "When in Rome...." and my mother, being the elder, was served first by my wife.

    Also, when my mother visited the in-laws home after the marriage, they went out of their way to see that she was treated as she would be in her own country by moving their kitchen table and chairs into the six mat room (which really looked awkward and out of place) so she could be comfortable. They did not insist that she eat on the floor and eat Japanese food as they served her the food she was accustomed to. I really respected them for going out of their way to ensure that my mother was comfortable and, honestly, I never expected it as I warned my mother to be prepared to eat on the floor as that was they way they did it in their house. I was quite shocked to see the kitchen table set up in that room with chairs and all! Also, being the guest, she was served first and my father-in-law even poured her beer which really took me by surprise! My mother was treated like a queen by my in-laws and I had to take a step back and admire and respect them for what they did as it was a complete surprise and totally unexpected.

    Now, had I been married to a different Japanese woman would the outcome have been the same? I honestly don't know. I can only relate what I have experienced as it may have completely different with another woman and her family.

    This may be an isolated case, but I don't know. My in-laws knew no English and nothing of western culture save for what they learned in the short time from my wife and I. However, with translation on our part, they all had a wonderful time and really bonded. I even had to express my surprise to my own mother when she said, "I thought you said I had to eat on the floor!"

    The point here, I guess, is flexibility in treating people as a member of the family no matter what country you are residing in; from both sides. And, since you mentioned that you are a member of their family now, I believe you should treat them with the respect of a family member even if that means serving the father first and having the option of them eating and sleeping on the floor if that is what they are more comfortable with. Besides, if you did that when they visited you, they, as well as your husband, may just have a newfound respect for you in that you treated them as family members and not as foreigners visiting a foreign country and house. That, I believe, would do wonders in cementing your relationship I would hope. But who knows? No two families are alike and what worked for me and the way my mother was treated, may be a whole different story for another. I just wanted to share my own experience from both sides.

    ...however, it doesn't mean i can't complain about it later does it?
    Of couse you can complain. We all do it including myself. It's an outlet and there are many here who will understand where you are coming from including myself. Lord knows, I've done my fair share of complaining, then and now.

    I love my husband and the reason i married him even when i knew what their culture was like was because i love him, not his race, not his culture, you can't choose someone's race when you choose the person you will fall in love with can you? His personality is the thing i was drawn to, and colour of skin, nationality etc has nothing to do with it.
    Completely understand and agree, but one must know what they are getting into before one says "I do" I believe, or frustration will abound in the coming months and years.

    At first that behaviour was unnerving for me, as it seemed like jekyl and hyde, but my husband reassured me that it was just as annoying for him. He loves australia and he loves the free life and the way of life and going back to japan is a nightmare for him because he has many obligations to fulfil while he is there. The only reason we go back is for his friends and family, if they didn't live there he would never go back as he's not exactly in love with japan.
    Same here. My wife completely reverts to being Japanese when she is in Japan not that I really mind it! LOL! Also, since my wife is an only child I KNOW I will go back with her to fulfill the family obligation of taking care of one's parents. There is no choice. I, as well as my wife, resigned ourselves to that fact when we got married even though my wife is far more happier here in the US than in Japan. I even warned my own parents and family ahead of time that I will not be here in the US forever and will return to probably live out the remainder of my life there. Although Japan is not the paradise many foreigners make it out to be, I lived there long enough to understand the culture and language, and the discrimination and frustrations I will face because, like you, I married the person I fell in love with, but I knew what the future held in store for me and accepted it. Besides, I really do enjoy living in Japan even with all its frustrations. Heck, I could enjoy living anywhere as long as I could provide for myself.

    When my husband is saying "bloody japanese" and he is one, that is the eye opener for me. We have alot of tourists coming to where i live, all nationalities and in fact because i spend alot of time in the city i see alot, and i don't really have a problem with any of them, they're all friendly and seem to be aware of our culture.
    My wife says basically the same thing and she works for a Japanese company here in the US! And I did too when i used to work at the same company. Many a time she has come home cussing the Japanese and their inflexible ways and their failure to understand the culture they are living in and that she is not treated as an equal even though she holds an executive position. She often complains about their lack of the language ability and their unwillingness to adapt. Yes, they are nice and friendly and 'seem' to have an understanding of the culture, but it is their failure to adapt that really gets us.

    Don't get me wrong, i have many many female japanese friends and a few male ones, and i love them to bits, i don't have anything against japanese, in fact there is alot i love about japan too, but since this is a forum, i just expected i could express my views/opinions/complaints to fellow experiencers here.
    Please feel free to express your views/opinions/complaints here as there are many here who will sympathize with you and share like experiences and frustrations. Also, there are a few who will debate you and hold you to task if they disagree with you as there are many here who have been living in Japan for many years and have much to share and discuss. After all, if we all agreed it wouldn't be a forum now would it?

    I hope you stick around and share your opinions.

  11. #136
    Regular Member Azuma_Fujin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chidoriashi View Post
    Azuma> It's comments like these that are leading people to believe you are ignorant to Japanese culture. Anybody who has spent some time here would know that Japanese typically don't have ovens like in the west. Why? because it is not something that typically plays a big role in Japanese cooking. I would think you would know that. Anyway, this shows that you are judging them from your own cultural context. They don't do things like I do so that makes them backwards... You cannot possibly hope to get along well in Japan with that attitude.
    And saying that Japan is so technologically advanced sounds like a fairly ignorant foreigners stereotypical image of Japan.
    Well it is fine to rant about your problems, all foreigners have them here, but like I said before, a little patience and trying to see things from a Japanese point of view would help you a lot I think.
    Hi chidoriashi,

    the reason i said they are so behind is that my mother in law thinks so too, and i agree with her. She wants to be able to make a big roast pork with all the trimmings like i do here, and she laments the fact that she can't have a big oven like we do in her tiny tiny kitchen. It's not an ignorant comment i don't believe, as i've lived in her house that has all the bells and whistles of a modern japanese home, so much more technologically advanced cars, etc, yet stepping into her kitchen is like stepping backward in time and she agrees. She only recently got a bathtub (albeit a blue square plastic one) in her home but you have to stand up in it because it's so small. Instead my father in law prefers to drive 30 mins to the nearest onsen so he can spread out.

    I see things from a japanese point of view, i totally agree with everything my mother in law thinks about it, so if you think that is not a japanese point of view, you are wrong. different people have different views.

    My mother in law judges her own culture and i was simply agreeing with her. I don't see a problem with that.

  12. #137
    Regular Member Azuma_Fujin's Avatar
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    Azuma_Fujin, there is a woman on JREF who has been a member for many years by the name of kirei_na_me who has been married to a Japanese man for about ten years now and has two children. Although she has never been to Japan she received a visit from her husbands parents about three years ago and explained her anxiousness at their visit and what the outcome was. She also has posted on the various frustrations she has felt in being married to a Japanese man. I think you should click on the link and explore some of her posts. It may offer insight and I believe you will have a lot in common with her. Maybe she will post a comment on this thread if she sees it.

    There is also another person married to a Japanese man by the name of Goldiegirl who has also expressed her feelings in various threads. Athough she has not been on in a while, she will probably post if she sees this thread. We sure do need more threads/posts dealing with foreign womens' feelings, frustrations, happiness, etc, in being married to Japanese men as it would be educational for all I believe as we all know too well the foreign male perspective. I believe you will have alot in common with both women.
    Hi, thanks for that i will seek out their threads.

    I agree to an extent in that they should follow the custom of the country they are visiting, but can they? Are they flexible enough to comply and do they understand the phrase "When in Rome...." or is that just a western concept? And why shoud they be expected to when they are visiting a "family member"?
    Okay, but my husband was the first person to tell me "when in rome", i had never heard of it before i met him. His family taught it to him, and they made me do the "when in rome" thing even though i'm a "family member" too.

    Also, as my husband and myself are a family too, i believe that yes, they get certain breaks when they come here and of course i would not make them do anything too strenuous and i would accomodate them as much as i can, however i do still want them to see what our family lives like, and how the customs are different here. Also, my mum, brother and sisters family are less accomodating, and wouldn't like it if i brought over my husband's family who's father expects to eat first, they think it would be just plain rude to expect everyone to think he was bigger than any of them.

    A great thing i've realised is, that when some of my husband's high school friends came to stay with us, they actually preferred to be treated in the aussie way because they learnt something new and had new experiences and memories to take back to japan with them. That being said, they are not family members, but certainly i am fond of them as if they are. I would like my in laws to have such an experience and be able to tell their friends back home "well this is how they do it in australia, weird hey?" or something like that.

    I slept on a futon in Japan when i lived with my in laws, i was told what to do and what not to do indirectly (through my husband) from my father in law, i wasn't even allowed to go out by myself even when i was a 26 year old world travelling adult. I bared it. I stayed with it because of my husband, he was between a rock and a hard place, he knew he didn't want to tell his headstrong aussie wife what to do, but how could he disobey his dad? So yeah i went along with it for him, and i might do it again. However, i think there is a limit to how much you can bend before you break, some of it is unhealthy. And that is the same expectations i have for my in laws, there is only one thing i won't bend on, the rest is whatever they would like, i'm going to make it cosy for them.

    My mother in law always asks me things she would like me to make and i comply because i think it's going to be cool to show them all the wonderful foods we have here and because she cooked for me when i lived with her time and time again.

    Please feel free to express your views/opinions/complaints here as there are many here who will sympathize with you and share like experiences and frustrations. Also, there are a few who will debate you and hold you to task if they disagree with you as there are many here who have been living in Japan for many years and have much to share and discuss. After all, if we all agreed it wouldn't be a forum now would it?

    I hope you stick around and share your opinions.
    Thankyou, will do. I've noticed there are a few people on here who hate the thought of someone saying something negative about japan, but i take the good with the bad, and i'm glad to have someone to share with

  13. #138
    もちもちした食感 ASHIKAGA's Avatar
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    Mrs. Azuma,

    I do not see anything wrong in having negative opinions about Japan and voicing them. I am known to do my share of it. What I think what Chidoriashi and some others are trying to point out is the danger of taking one's experiences with a single family and expressing one's opinions/impressions about that particular family as one's opinions about Japanese family/people in general.

    While I agree that the issue of some Japanese people not adressing a foreign born people directly seems to be an experience shared by many, saying things like "Japanese people are so backwards" based on the fact one's mother in law does not have a bath/shower/oven in her house makes me go huh? I have visited many homes (of my friends, relatives, colleagues, etc.) and I have not seen a house without a bathtub unless it is a tiny apartment in a big city for a single person that is only equipped with a shower.

    Voicing your frustration about unpleasant treatments you receive from your spouse's family is one thing. Thinking that by being married to a Japanese person and having dealt with his/her parents/family, you think you can start your sentences with "Japanese people are...." without people questioning the level of understanding of Japan on your part, is quite another.

    As long as your reason for living in Japan is only because you are married to someone who happens to be Japanese, I think it would be rather difficult for you to experience Japan enough to convince the doubters with "I KNOW Japan.". I suppose you just have to learn to "live with" your annoying family in laws. Figuratively and literally.

    Sorry for the long post.

  14. #139
    Regular Member Azuma_Fujin's Avatar
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    Just to clarify ashikaga, that is not my point of view with a single family, i had two japanese boyfriends prior to my husband and they both had families that were annoyingly similar. Whether or not that kind of boy has that kind of family, i don't know.

    Anyway, whatever you think of me, ignorant, no understanding of japanese culture rah rah, it is my opinion based on my experiences and i am entitled to it.

    I don't know why you say sorry for the long post you have nothing to be sorry about.

    I did not base my comment "japanese people are so backward" on just my mother in law having a bath, i based it on her comment that Japan has so many mod-cons for the house and car but none for the kitchen which i find funny, probably because it's a womans domain? There's another stereotype for you right there but in my experience, it's not exactly easy for the women in Japan, they have alot of crap to deal with that western women would not put up with. But anyway, maybe my mother in law has no idea what she is talking about either...i mean she's not living in the city but in rural hokkaido.

    Anyways, i enjoy having a discussion with you. I don't see eye-to-eye with everyone on here but if we did it wouldn't be a very interesting discussion now would it.

    Have a nice evening.

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    Speaking of ovens, I find the lack of fish oven in western kitchens very backward. That's something that can be found in every single Japanese stove set.

  16. #141
    『〜★〜』 Ahega's Avatar
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    According to the interior it all comes down to habits, doesn't it? Of course the trend might be changing, but, correct me if I'm wrong here, I don't know any Japanese dish which requires an oven. To the bathtub: taking a bath was/is actually just for relaxing and not for washing, so I think it's just common sense (and economical) that a shower is enough in a household. As I said things, of course, are changing with cultural exchange and so on.

    Actually I quiet enjoy reading not only the Japan-is-oh-so-great-stuff. Good or bad it's just based on personal experience, right? As long as it is written reasonable - though I think you can try to formulate your opinion as carefully as you can, there'll always be someone who gets it wrong/ feels offended and stuff.
    I, too, know Japanese people who complain pretty much about Japan. But actually it's the first time hearing "Japanese people are so backwards". What I hear most is complaining about the school system and the society.

    I'm getting off-topic... sorry~

  17. #142
    Regular Member Azuma_Fujin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by butakun View Post
    Speaking of ovens, I find the lack of fish oven in western kitchens very backward. That's something that can be found in every single Japanese stove set.
    Actually my husband said his mums house does not have a "fish oven" and he doesn't know what one is, so not every japanese household owns one.

    Also, Ahega, my in laws house doesn't even have a shower, never did. They always had to go to the local sento for a bath, i'm not sure that they've ever taken a shower, ever.

    I know that a bath is only for soaking, so why would you buy a bath that you can't soak in anyway, and have to go to the local onsen in the end? I think it was for appearances, my mother in law did not want to look so far behind us westerners, her son having married one. In the end i couldn't fit in it as i am too tall so it was kind of a waste. No one ever uses it.

    I agree Ahega, doesn't matter what we write about experiences, someone will always take offense. But we can't change what our own personal experiences are and what japan means to us.

  18. #143
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azuma_Fujin View Post
    Actually my husband said his mums house does not have a "fish oven" and he doesn't know what one is, so not every japanese household owns one.
    ...
    This is just my curiosity, but please ask your husband what he calls the part between the burners in the following picture.
    I imagine that he may call it in his dialect, but his answer in Japanese would be highly appreciated.

    http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41sL82Rr65L.jpg

    Many thanks in advance.

  19. #144
    No rain in Seattle! grapefruit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azuma_Fujin View Post
    J
    I did not base my comment "japanese people are so backward" on just my mother in law having a bath, i based it on her comment that Japan has so many mod-cons for the house and car but none for the kitchen which i find funny, probably because it's a womans domain?
    I love vacuum machines available in Japan. Japanese rice cookers are awesome. Cheap cooking gadgets you can find in 100 yen shops are "advanced" in Japan. But, I don't call the lack or difficulty of getting these items in the US "backward". As far as ordinary Americans are concerned, these items simply do not excite them.

    it's not exactly easy for the women in Japan, they have alot of crap to deal with that western women would not put up with.
    I cannot agree more. Lots of Japanese women staying in the US express that life in Japan is more restricted and faces more pressure from both men and society simply because they are women.

  20. #145
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azuma_Fujin View Post
    Just to clarify ashikaga, that is not my point of view with a single family, i had two japanese boyfriends prior to my husband and they both had families that were annoyingly similar. Whether or not that kind of boy has that kind of family, i don't know.
    Anyway, whatever you think of me, ignorant, no understanding of japanese culture rah rah, it is my opinion based on my experiences and i am entitled to it.
    Look two boyfriends and being married to a Japanese does not mean you are automatically savy on the Japanese culture, and more to the point it seems most of that married time is in Australia so I find it very hard to believe that you have a good understanding on this culture and the way you write things points to that(Not to mention that now after reading your blog I was right on this). Sure you can make statements and oppinions on what you think the majority of Japanese people/families based on these experiences, but I will (and I will only speak for myself) will point out the shortcomings and narrow mindedness of those statements. Also you spoke of me as being quote "small-minded insecure individual" , but I will tell you it takes a bigger person to be able to embrace to completely different cultures and respeck both of them at the same time. And I am afraid I just don't see you doing that , actually you have every right to vent and share your oppinions but your complaints are typical of people who are unable to embrace this culture and I just said so accordingly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azuma_Fujin View Post
    I don't know why you say sorry for the long post you have nothing to be sorry about.
    I did not base my comment "japanese people are so backward" on just my mother in law having a bath, i based it on her comment that Japan has so many mod-cons for the house and car but none for the kitchen which i find funny, probably because it's a womans domain?
    Quote , "i based it on her comment that Japan has so many mod-cons for the house and car but none for the kitchen which i find funny, probably because it's a womans domain?" .... I can't even begin on this comment on this. Firstly, older houses have older kitchens and Japanese use much more ingenuity when cooking, also food taste is the number one priority and some of the "western" style methods really kill the taste. As I said utter most importance is placed on the taste and not how easy someone can prepare a meal like it is in some western countries. Not to mention that the menu is completely different which requires different tools. That is why you still see many people of their generation using older methods , but it does not neccessarly mean that their kitchens are backwards. I lot of the younger generations have kitchens these days that would put a typical Australian to shame for tricks and convienience. Oh, and my grandmother had the oldest most backward kitchen I have seen up until she died a few years ago, so does that mean that everyone has the same type of ktchen?


    Anyway, I am finding it hard to understand your situation b/c your story is changing so much, in one sentence you say you have so much experience but on your blog you say you don't really understand their culture. You said your family does not talk to you dirrect generallizing "family" and on top of that you said "especially as they are older members of his family" which is only natural that I would assume you are talking about you mother and father in law, but it was your father in laws sister and her children which I still believe that you have not had much face time with them and if there was something that you should know is that Japanese people are "SHY" and this can happen from time to time.

    So you can choose to take the advise of others here or don't and keep being frustrated with your situation, but the onlt way it is going to change is if YOU make a huge effort to at least understand that things are done differently here and that people are not deliberately trying to offend you. And as for comment quote "they have alot of crap to deal with that western women would not put up with " I have one thing to say, on the surface the women seems subservient here but behind that front women run the household and the majority control almost everything that goes on in the household. Now that is something that most foriegn men would not put up with. It all seems so diiferent to you but different things are regarded important and it all works out in the end, another thing for you to think about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azuma_Fujin View Post
    I know that a bath is only for soaking, so why would you buy a bath that you can't soak in anyway, and have to go to the local onsen in the end? I think it was for appearances, my mother in law did not want to look so far behind us westerners, her son having married one. In the end i couldn't fit in it as i am too tall so it was kind of a waste. No one ever uses it.
    Sounds like the old stainless steel type and yes people still use them (however they are rairly sold these days). Is it heated by burning wood ? And is it seperate from the main house? I am getting the feeling that your in-laws are living in a very old house that may have been in the family for a few generations, another thing that you should do some research on, sounds like a great house that you could learn a lot about the way Japanese people used to live.

  21. #146
    Regular Member Azuma_Fujin's Avatar
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    Frustrated Dave,

    My parents in law do not live in a very old house, if you read my post properly i said it was a blue square tub made from plastic, not stainless steel.

    And also, your view of Japanese people is that they only cook tasty Japanese food, well that's what it sounds like on your post. BUT my mother in law and my sister in law often cook pizza, spaghetti bolognese, cookies, cakes, and other stuff, none of which is traditional japanese. And i did state that my mother in law lamented the fact she could not have an oven like we do here because SHE wanted to cook our style of food too! You just pigeonholed japanese women into only cooking one style of food. I made statements on the fact that my mother in law says her kitchen should be bigger and have more convenience objects rather than what i think it should be, and if you are going to totally disregard this fact i have nothing to say to you.

    I didn't say i was savvy on japanese culture. When did i ever say that? Don't go getting your knickers in a knot, you obviously know everything about Japanese culture. They should make you an honorary citizen!

    I'm not getting into a fight about who knows more, i mean who really cares? And quite frankly i think it's childish of you to come on here and try to brow beat me, but whatever. I don't really care who knows more.

    My mother in law seems subservient because she is. She has to get up at 5am every morning to make otoosans lunch. She suffers terribly with depression but otoosan won't let her sleep in. So she gets up in the morning, makes lunch and breakfast and in between we find her napping on the lounge with the broom in her hand because she was forced to do housework even when she doesn't feel like it. If otoosan comes home and there is no dinner he goes to bed without any because he won't make any himself and then he is really angry with okaasan. Right. She's stuck in this crappy place that has no understanding of what depression is like. I do, because i've had it. In fact i had post-traumatic stress disorder after the first time i went to japan. Another story, but, the short of it is, maybe some women are not subservient, but my mother in law is, and i feel so sorry for her, i want to bring them out here so they can live and i can help her have a little bit more freedom. Just a dream, but when they retire i would like to bring them over here to live rather than us going there. So maybe in your perfect world dave women are not subservient, some people are, some people have illnesses that society doesn't deal with very well either.

    Pipokun i will ask my husband...when i can tie him down for a moment to get him to look at it! Might take a few days. Will get back to ya.

    Oh and just to clarify, my mother and sister in law have very small ovens and the cakes are very small, you know those portable ovens they cook like toast in or something, and you open the door and there is one rack? It's less than the size of a small tv.
    Last edited by Azuma_Fujin; Oct 16, 2008 at 15:12. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

  22. #147
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    Howdy, I'm new here, and this topic looks interesting so I'll post my first here. I got a little too exited and my post became really loooong. So beware.

    OK. Now I warned you.

    あずまさん。

    I was born and bred in greater Tokyo and went to a boarding school where students were from all over Japan, so I am quite confident that I understand Japanese culture, not just the one around Tokyo but also of different areas, fairly well. And I find that "Men get served first" idea kind of odd. Aren't people, men and women, supposed to wait until "everybody" is served and then have that famous "Itadakimasu" together? At least that was the way my family started dinner and as far as I know all of my friends' families were pretty similar. My dad didn't get to, or wouldn't, eat unless all the kids were at the table. Isn't that the way they do in Japanese TV dramas and such as well? I believe it is.

    Also, I've never visited a house without a bath. I mean, bath loving Japanese don't have a bath? in 21st century ? That really IS backwa... eh.. not very advanced. Japanese are usually quite picky about bath (oh, and that high tech toilet seats. You know that.). May be it is because they have a great on-sen around and don't see the need for spending millions of yen on a mediocre bath at home? All the same, not everybody have the luxury of having an on-sen near by so I say that's a special case.

    And the oven. Who doesn't like juicy roast pork or lasagna perfectly baked to golden? How would you cook turkey for Christmas without it?? If you ask your mother in-law whether she wants an oven like yours, then the answer sure would be 'Yes'. Or she could even initiate saying "I want one like that" with admiration in her eyes. Oh, I can totally picture that. However, I doubt she even knows how to set the oven’s temperature right. Japanese cooking just doesn't involve oven. It involves a lot of knifes, all very sharp ones, but not an oven. And to be honest with you, I don't see an elder Japanese couple living in Hokkaido having roast pork and lasagna kind of meals very often. They'd soon be hospitalized with acid reflux if they do. Most likely, she told you she wanted an oven half because she wanted to compliment your kitchen.

    Plus, if she is a house maker, she could have the seal and the bankbook for her "husband's" bank account (that means she has the power of attorney), and be the primary decision maker on big spendings. I could be completely wrong in your in-laws' specific case, but in general, it is less likely that a Japanese house maker really wants, and needs, a cooking appliance and her husband doesn't let her get it. There is more chance for the quality of her husband’s lunch box to degrade to save up for the oven.

    And back to the topic of "men get served first", As I said, I don't know what kind of circumstances you are specifically talking about, but yes Japan do have "Old men first" or "Elders first" rule similar to "Ladies first" in the west. But do you really need to get served first so bad? Imagine, I, a Japanese man, keep my "head-strong" attitude in Australia and insist on taking the best seat before any of the girls in my group gets their seats in a restaurant (because I’m older.), after shoving and blocking bunch of old ladies who are cutting in front of me when getting onto an elevator (because I was there first. Geez what ARE all these people?). How do I look? A complete mannarless jerk! So I wouldn't do it. I do “ladies first”. Why does it bother you so much to do what all western men do? And think about it. It's "Elders first" rule in Japan. So when you get older, you WILL have the priority and that means you look like you are the oldest person in your group. Do you really want that to happen anytime soon?

    Again, I could be completely wrong in your case, it could just be you really are surrounded by sexists, judging from what you said like your in-laws don't allow you to go out at night. Or that could be because they really didn’t want to put the foreign young lady in danger by letting her walk around at night. It could be the combination of two or something totally different. I don't exactly know what it is. But at least, this is another look at it from a guy who probably knows Japanese culture a little more than you do.

    Cheers,

  23. #148
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    And, Sorry I'm racist, but is there any chance that they are kind of like Korean Japanese?

  24. #149
    Regular Member Azuma_Fujin's Avatar
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    Also, I've never visited a house without a bath. I mean, bath loving Japanese don't have a bath? in 21st century ? That really IS backwa... eh.. not very advanced. Japanese are usually quite picky about bath (oh, and that high tech toilet seats. You know that.). May be it is because they have a great on-sen around and don't see the need for spending millions of yen on a mediocre bath at home? All the same, not everybody have the luxury of having an on-sen near by so I say that's a special case.
    Hi,
    Yes they really don't have a bath or shower, the live in government housing. They live in Hokkaido, and drive to either onsen or sento for a bath. They don't have a shower either, only a laundry where there is a washing machine and the most recent bath that was purchased that is never used.


    Japanese cooking just doesn't involve oven. It involves a lot of knifes, all very sharp ones, but not an oven. And to be honest with you, I don't see an elder Japanese couple living in Hokkaido having roast pork and lasagna kind of meals very often.
    Then you don't know my inlaws they have different recipes all the time. They love making recipes that i send over if they have the capacity to do so (i usually try to pick recipes they have the utensils for). As a japanese you are kind of pigeonholing japanese into only wanting to cook certain foods.

    Might i add my in laws are not elderly, my mother in law is 50 and my father in law is 54. They are not old and decrepit.

    Plus, if she is a house maker, she could have the seal and the bankbook for her "husband's" bank account (that means she has the power of attorney), and be the primary decision maker on big spendings. I could be completely wrong in your in-laws' specific case, but in general, it is less likely that a Japanese house maker really wants, and needs, a cooking appliance and her husband doesn't let her get it. There is more chance for the quality of her husband’s lunch box to degrade to save up for the oven.
    They don't have the money to buy an oven, nor the space to put it. I would buy them an oven if they had the space to put it somewhere.

    But do you really need to get served first so bad?
    I don't have to get served first. My arguement is not about getting served first, it's about everyone waiting until everyone else is ready! My point is my father in law has to eat first before anyone else, he has to get served first and start eating immediately before anyone else was served. You yourself said japanese do that, but apparently my family in law is different because they think father in law is the man.

    And, Sorry I'm racist, but is there any chance that they are kind of like Korean Japanese?
    No, they are pure blood Japanese.

  25. #150
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    OK I can't believe that your "man" doesn't wait for his family. I mean, how thick it he ? Watch TV and you get the idea right? You just don't start eating even if you ARE the BOSS.

    And they don't even have a bath? ahh..... again. Japanese don't usually consider this normal. It is rather really unusual.

    I'm sorry, but your hus's famliy is rather unusual.

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    By Maciamo in forum Immigration & Foreigners
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    Last Post: Jun 8, 2004, 19:50

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