Wa-pedia Home > Japan Forum & Europe Forum

View Poll Results: How should Japanese deal with foreigners ?

Voters
145. You may not vote on this poll
  • They should assume that they can't understand Japanese and use gestures

    4 2.76%
  • They should first ask them whether they can speak Japanese (either in Japanese or in English)

    92 63.45%
  • They should address them in Japanese and only use gestures or speak more slowly if the person doesn't understand

    49 33.79%
Page 8 of 9 FirstFirst ... 6789 LastLast
Results 176 to 200 of 202

Thread: Should all Japanese directly address foreigners in Japanese ?

  1. #176
    Sister Earth Goldiegirl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location
    Old Ashippun, WI
    Posts
    67
    I guess I don't see why they shouldn't, I mean they are Japanese in Japan, why should they do anything different. It's absolutely great when I am helped with someone who can speak English. However, it makes me feel selfish and embarrassed that I can't speak Japanese. That's not there problem though, it's mine. When I think of it no one talks to me in English first, only my friends.
    I hope life isn't a big joke, because I don't get it. ~Jack Handey

  2. #177
    Banned
    Join Date
    Nov 13, 2007
    Location
    Berlin
    Age
    72
    Posts
    19
    The very first time was funny, because a Japanese dad with daughter tried to communicate via french, which I also speak, but not as good as english. I simply did not expect it, when I came from the plane. But he was soo happy, that I could do this right away, that we had a fine contact indeed.
    This already made me feel very welcome in Japan (I have some french ancestors btw)!

  3. #178
    Banned
    Join Date
    Nov 13, 2007
    Location
    Berlin
    Age
    72
    Posts
    19
    Usually they tried to communicate via english first, btw, which was fine for both sides.
    I did use a few Japanese words then too in return.
    When they realised, I was German, some even switched to singing german songs for me, very happily, actually. This often lead to singing together, and made me sad for not knowing how to sing a japanese song properly, so far.

  4. #179
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 8, 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts, USA
    Age
    34
    Posts
    1
    Hmm... I'd almost want to say something in the middle, like, if someone wanted to talk to you, first going " ̂BBB" and wait to see what language the person responds in It's not a failsafe method, depending on your mindset at the time, and I suppose "Hi!" (in English, obv.) would be a possible response to that but it seems unlikely to me but still...
    To me, even more than the initial non-Japanese spoken approach, is when they would continue to speak to me in English even after I'd responded in Japanese. I suppose they might've wanted to practice, but it was a little weird. I most often was approached for this sort of thing at train stations where I'd be looking at the maps to plan out my route and some middle-aged man (it was always this, without fail) would come up to me and say "Can you read the maps?" which, in general is a very nice and helpful thing for someone to do, but I got kind of tired of it after a while... plus I was worried I was getting subtly hit on, somehow...
    But shopgirls and the like always addressed me in Japanese first without checking to see if I understood. Which was nice made me feel normal, haha~

  5. #180
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 27, 2008
    Posts
    2
    Interesting poll...

    I started to see so much more non-Japanese people speak Japanese, which is good thing.

    But those who have felt Japanese often don't reply back to you in Japanese even though you are fluent in Japanese...you have to understand, there are not many Japanese speakers out there, so the expectations are low. Besides, majority of Japanese people have lived their entire lives without having any interactions with cultures and people outside of Japan, so they are just not used to it, or simply incapable of such interactions I wonder...just look at how much money Japanese people spend for English lessons and still so few people actually speak it. Keep spending...spending...spending...

  6. #181
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 20, 2008
    Posts
    1
    Calling it discrimination is silly; wouldn't you all agree that, if most of the foreigners you met couldn't speak Japanese, it'd be fair to assume the one you're talking to doesn't either? If you're part of the minority, those who ARE fluent, it'd be your job to take 2 seconds to say that you can speak Japanese since it's fair to assume you don't.

  7. #182
    INTP Derfel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 30, 2007
    Location
    Hungary or Scotland
    Age
    29
    Posts
    26
    They should start swearing and cursing indirectly in an everyday laid back tone, the reaction of the foreigner would indicate whether he can speak Japanese or not.
    What do you say?

  8. #183
    Mostly Harmless... Shineko's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 20, 2008
    Location
    Klaukkala
    Posts
    7
    Quote Originally Posted by Derfel View Post
    They should start swearing and cursing indirectly in an everyday laid back tone, the reaction of the foreigner would indicate whether he can speak Japanese or not.
    What do you say?
    There are many people who just ignore people who curse; there will not be a reaction to pay attention to. It might work for some, but it does not fit the Japanese culture to run around and curse.

    I have had rather good experience myself when I was living in Japan. In fact, I had an police officer ask me if I spoke Japanese after I had listened to his orders. Only once I had some trouble, but that was because I was looking for a rather strange thing from a supermarket. I could not find it myself, so I had to ask someone who worked there where to find yeast. I knew it might happen, so I had prepared by finding out the kanji for "yeast" before going to the store. Otherwise I was always addressed with Japanese, even when my own Japanese was far from being fluent, but we were able to communicate without problems in the end. It just took longer than if my Japanese would have been better.

    Once a Japanese business talked to me in fluent English when I was looking at the big map on the street. I could not find the place where I was looking for, he asked in clear English if he could help and gave me directions. Very nice of him.

  9. #184
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    Jan 12, 2008
    Posts
    8
    Hi,

    while I heard most English-speaking expats complaining of being adressed in English even if they speak Japanese, I never really had the problem. When I start speaking japanese, Japanese people answer in Japanese also.

    Now, I am almost never in Roppongi, Azabu and other "gaijin gardens" in Tokyo. Maybe this explains why. Also, while my japanese is not very refined, I am speaking it fast enough to make a conversation work. Maybe that also explains why...

  10. #185
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 30, 2008
    Posts
    5
    Quote Originally Posted by I sam View Post
    Interesting poll...

    I started to see so much more non-Japanese people speak Japanese, which is good thing.

    But those who have felt Japanese often don't reply back to you in Japanese even though you are fluent in Japanese...you have to understand, there are not many Japanese speakers out there, so the expectations are low. Besides, majority of Japanese people have lived their entire lives without having any interactions with cultures and people outside of Japan, so they are just not used to it, or simply incapable of such interactions I wonder...just look at how much money Japanese people spend for English lessons and still so few people actually speak it. Keep spending...spending...spending...
    I am half Japanese and can carry a "light" conversation in Japanese. Because I grew up in North America w/a Japanese mother, my accent is quite correct (but not always my grammar or vocabulary). My other half is asian so i look 100% japanese to most people. Usually, i can carry a conversation a few sentences until a native Japanese person figures out I am not "one of them".

    I want to write about something related that has been confusing me for many years here in New York: Why then would Japanese restaurant workers IN NEW YORK (i presume they would be able to get by and interact in English if they have a paying job in this city) consistently ignore that i can speak to them in Japanese and reply to me in English when i order in Japanese - it is not perfect, but often much better than their English! I could understand this reaction if i were caucasian, but perhaps no less irritating.

    I have found this to be a REMARKABLY consistent reaction to me when i order or ask questions to them in Japanese. What is going on in their heads? Does each person have a different reaction, b/c we are all individuals and thusly "unique" or is their culture driving most of them to react to me in the same way- which i take to be exclusionary and unfortunately typical of Japanese institutions.

    I feel that once they recognize you are not purely Japanese most of them immediately respond to me as if I were unfamiliar - there is no room for nuance, which i have so thankfully taken for granted among other New Yorkers. The thing is, aren't most of these young restaurant workers here to experience life outside their own conservative country? aren't many of them aspiring rock stars, musicians and other transgressive types? Is their cultural DNA that deeply ingrained that they react this way to foreigness? There is an ugly word for it and it is xenophobia...

    I'd like anyone who is a native japanese person to respond to me as this is starting to really perplex me. I obviously do not want to think the people who represent my own heritage are xenophobic so i deeply feel the need to understand.

    Is this a defensive reaction on their part? Is it threatening or confusing for Japanese to deal w/ someone who looks 100% japanese but cannot speak japanese fluently? why wouldn't they want to encourage me to speak their language like other cultures i have come into close contact with ( i have learned and spoken fluent Chinese, French, Indonesian and some Italian)

    Anyone out there know the answer? I would really appreciate a candid opinion! Thanks

    Ed

  11. #186
    In imagination land Chidoriashi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2, 2007
    Location
    Japan
    Age
    41
    Posts
    48
    Hi hanbun, I guess I have a couple questions for you. One, do you think it could be restaurant policy that they speak to customers in English? Have you seen them speak in Japanese to fully Japanese customers before? Along with that, maybe they speak in English because they are in America. Which I would find quite refreshing, thinking back to my college days and hanging around Japanese people, some of which refused to hang out with Americans and really practice their English, and well.... big surprise, never got any better.

    I do also feel your frustration though sometimes. I am white guy, and I live in Japan, but I do speak fluent Japanese. Almost every time I go out somewhere with my girlfriend (who is Japanese) i get completely ignored. Now, that in itself is annoying, but it is even more annoying because my girlfriend is 70% deaf, and has to read peoples lips to understand them, but many times they speak too quickly for her. So here I am making all the responses to them, but they just speak towards her (sometimes the entire time). It can be really frustrating and quite awkward. So I really look forward to dealing with the people who are sharp enough to catch on to our situation, and quickly start addressing me.

  12. #187
    In imagination land Chidoriashi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2, 2007
    Location
    Japan
    Age
    41
    Posts
    48
    oh one more question. Are the wait staff you deal with mostly women or men? because, (nothing against women at all here) but it seems like the guys that I deal with always catch on more quickly than the women do for some reason.

  13. #188
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    Feb 4, 2005
    Posts
    189
    Quote Originally Posted by hanbun View Post
    ...
    Is their cultural DNA that deeply ingrained that they react this way to foreigness? There is an ugly word for it and it is xenophobia...
    ...
    First, correct my English if it is right to use the word, xenophobia, in a situation where someone, probably Japanese in your opinion, who speaks English in an English dominant country.
    I don't think you went to all Japanese restaurants, so it might be possible that the guys in the restaurants were not Japanese. I cannot forget strong protest against "Sushi Police" were mainly from non-Japanese restaurants overseas. (*snip* also, please keep in mind that the police stuff was less autocratic than the Italian one.)

    I don't know how to sue the (poor) English-speaking staffs in NYC for the genetically intolerant discrimination, but before that, how about trying to be a French person who does not speak any English, but Japanese?

    Keep posting!

  14. #189
    In imagination land Chidoriashi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2, 2007
    Location
    Japan
    Age
    41
    Posts
    48
    Pipokun>What is "Sushi Police"?

    And yeah xenophobia is definitely not the right word in this situation. Japanese people, living in the USA, speaking English. I don't see the xenophobia either.

  15. #190
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 30, 2008
    Posts
    5
    To Chidoriashi, et al

    No, it is not restaurant policy. I go to these places all the time and everyone is speaking japanese everywhere, except when the staff encounter foreignness. Also, I don't believe it has much to do w/speaking English in an English country b/c i would consider a japanese restaurant as a Japanese milieu, which in an ultra-cosmopolitan place like NYC is extremely common. It is one of the wonderful aspects of living here. I can go to the Polish part of Brooklyn and only see Polish signs and have great Kielbasa- a mini-vacation. I guarantee you, though, that if i spoke Polish to someone they would respond back with delight that I am even trying to speak their humble tongue.

    you see, that's one aspect of it that i perceive among the Japanese restaurant staff and other expats here- that perhaps they do not consider it flattery but a bastardization of their "beloved" language. They would prefer NOT to here you struggle with it. Ironically, they would prefer me to suffer their own imperfect command of the language!

    My mother just responded to me and said she feels that the chinese are similar and it has to do with saving face and being "mentally frozen" when an unusual person like me confronts them. That may be the case, but since i don't speak chinese so I am immediately distanced from anyone in chinatown, which i accept.

    As for the Japanese, my mother told me to "give them a break" and don't worry about it...but, i do because otherwise how do I ever get to practice my nihongo? Talking with my mother for all these years has made me talk like a woman...

    BTW, i stand by my use of the word " xenophobia" b/c i do feel many japanese think that racial purity and commonality with other japanese is an immutable equation. Anything other is NOT Japanese and not understandable, not worth the consideration, time and even - dare i say it - manners.

    someone help me change my mind! I would love for it not to be true!!

  16. #191
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    Feb 4, 2005
    Posts
    189
    Chidoriashi, thank you.

    hanbun, ask your mother, maybe in Canada, about the racial purity there.
    If Japanese Canadians were in need of the said purity, they all would have to come back to Japan.
    I think your mother is a good living example to deny your pointless argument.

    I don't know the Canadian culture, but from my xenophobic opinion, a restaurant is not a place where customers learn another languages with staffs. Just go to school where you can speak Japanese as much as you want. Starting your Nihongo cafe like the Eikaiwa kissa in Japan may also be an idea in NYC.
    Or why don't you use your strong frustration in other ways?
    This is just my personal opinion, but you can find more people who learn Japanese here than other Japan-related sites. So it is good of you to use your English and Japanese skills to help them.

    Of course, I highly welcome some controversial topics in the Japanese section here.

  17. #192
    diceke
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by hanbun View Post
    you see, that's one aspect of it that i perceive among the Japanese restaurant staff and other expats here- that perhaps they do not consider it flattery but a bastardization of their "beloved" language. They would prefer NOT to here you struggle with it. Ironically, they would prefer me to suffer their own imperfect command of the language!
    Then, what makes it ok for YOU to make them suffer your imperfect command of Japanese (assuming that the staff really are Japanese speakers)?

    You don't pay them tuition, so they are not obliged to encourage you to practice Japanese. Learning any language at school costs money, and it's not free, you know.
    Last edited by diceke; May 9, 2008 at 00:34.

  18. #193
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 30, 2008
    Posts
    5
    it is about generosity. as i said, i speak many languages. My family represents 5 nationalities. I am not naive or hostile. I am making a very common observation about what makes Japanese people difficult to the rest of the world.

    i will repeat myself. Why do so many other cultures welcome foreign speaker of their languages and not the japanese? In my case, i think there is a latent animosity toward people like myself who are not pure-blooded.

    i think this is true for all cultures to an extent, but is particularly acute among the japanese.

    I thnk i need to stop this thread. i am only threatening people. nobody wants a diaglogue about this point.
    Last edited by Mycernius; May 9, 2008 at 01:11. Reason: Removal of two words

  19. #194
    Mostly Harmless... Shineko's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 20, 2008
    Location
    Klaukkala
    Posts
    7
    Quote Originally Posted by hanbun View Post
    hey dick
    it is about generosity. as i said, i speak many languages. My family represents 5 nationalities. I am not naive or hostile. I am making a very common observation about what makes Japanese people difficult to the rest of the world.
    Sorry to barge in, but it does not really matter how many language you speak or how many nationalities your family represents. I do not know about Japanese people in the United States, but all the Japanese people I have met so far, be it online or real life, have been more than willingly to help me with my Japanese skills.
    Some of them were indeed surprised that I actually spoke Japanese, hesitated speaking normally first, but they soon realized that that was not case and changed back to normal speaking speed.

    In my personal opinion and experience Japanese are not harsher on foreigners any more than many other nations. For long time the French people were not even willing to speak English, even though they could speak it. Slowly that is changing as well, with the new generation coming out. The many of Germans are still racist inside their minds, even though most of them do not realize it. They also have big prejudice towards foreign nations.

    I a not trying to say that everyone of the above mentioned nations are like that, but in my experience it is rather common. Nor do I have anything against the French people itself. Having a problem with Germans though, but that has nothing to do with this topic, but my personal experience and opinion, so just forget that.

    i will repeat myself. Why do so many other cultures welcome foreign speaker of their languages and not the japanese? In my case, i think there is a latent animosity toward people like myself who are not pure-blooded.
    i think this is true for all cultures to an extent, but is particularly acute among the japanese.
    Not all of them do, believe me. Japanese it not a special language in that sense. Also other nations do not want to teach their language to foreign nations, or they just insist on talking their own language without even trying to encourage you to learn their language.

    I thnk i need to stop this thread. i am only threatening people. nobody wants a diaglogue about this point.
    Nah, a good discussion keeps trolls away.

  20. #195
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 30, 2008
    Posts
    5
    thank you. I do agree that the japanese can be generous w/their time outside of the expat restaurant environment. I am not condemning anyone wholesale. And i think people (french, german, etc) can be just as difficult when encountered IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY. In this respect, i think all cultures are teh same. I AGREE. Also,what i am talking about is a face-to-face thing, not a limited online experience of japanese people - i am sure they are very nice.

    BUT, I am just refering to something VERY SPECIFIC about my own experience in New York, which i believe highlights something xenophobic that is deep in the japanese character. If one comes to New York City, you I would expect they WANT to engage with the world and be around all kinds of diverse people. Otherwise, why come at all? I am not talking about conservative businessmen here; I am talking about "cool" downtown, seemingly liberal thinking young japanese people.

    I thnk by shedding light on this, i am in my own small way, improving matters.

    I want people reading this thread to know that I still love japan mostly b/c of the generosity of Japanese people while i was in japan. My experience w/the expats here in New York has been different b/c while i look like them, can communicate w/them, and share many cultural reference points there STILL seems to be an unbridgable void that separates me from them. I don't know why and i want to understand this more.

    what more can i do than look like them, speak japanese (albeit not perfect) and love their food and culture? In many ways, and this is important, i think it is easier to be completely foreign to a japanese. That way the distinction is VERY clear and they know how to react. I am more difficult a case...there seems to be no room for nuance in the average japanese. Unforgivable, in my opinion in a city like New York!

    how is that for provocation? will someone who is a japanese expat try to explain?

  21. #196
    Mostly Harmless... Shineko's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 20, 2008
    Location
    Klaukkala
    Posts
    7
    Quote Originally Posted by hanbun View Post
    thank you. I do agree that the japanese can be generous w/their time outside of the expat restaurant environment. I am not condemning anyone wholesale. And i think people (french, german, etc) can be just as difficult when encountered IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY. In this respect, i think all cultures are teh same. I AGREE. Also,what i am talking about is a face-to-face thing, not a limited online experience of japanese people - i am sure they are very nice.
    Not only in their own country. Some of them really believe that they should get service in their own language outside of their own country, which is totally ignorant, or as a tourist they have the right behave badly etc. There are always reasons to go to other countries, for some its to learn the language and the culture, for some it is to have a break from their daily life etc.

    I think anyone can be difficult in any country, if they do not want to adapt to the country they are in.

    BUT, I am just refering to something VERY SPECIFIC about my own experience in New York, which i believe highlights something xenophobic that is deep in the japanese character. If one comes to New York City, you I would expect they WANT to engage with the world and be around all kinds of diverse people. Otherwise, why come at all? I am not talking about conservative businessmen here; I am talking about "cool" downtown, seemingly liberal thinking young japanese people.
    I thnk by shedding light on this, i am in my own small way, improving matters.
    It does not necessary mean that they are xenophobic, but did you consider that this Japanese person actually game to the United States to learn English? Especially young people, nowadays usually go to other countries to learn the language of the country.

    Think about it, you see a Japanese person in United States and you see an opportunity to train your Japanese. Now turn the table around, a Japanese person sees a American in the US and sees an opportunity to train his/her English instead.

    The fact that he preferred using English instead of Japanese makes the probability of him/her wanting to learn English rather high. If the person would have no interest in learning English, I doubt they would prefer to talk the language. I know this very well, as I hate Germans and their language over anything else, so I avoid talking it any time I can. Living in Germany does not make this easier at all, luckily I will get out of here soon.

  22. #197
    INTP Derfel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 30, 2007
    Location
    Hungary or Scotland
    Age
    29
    Posts
    26
    Lol, what did I miss? A sparkle of illiteracy perhaps?

  23. #198
    Regular Member Mars Man's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 28, 2005
    Posts
    63
    The question, or matter of ponderance, you have presented here hanbun san, has its own right in a way, to a certain degree, yet has led to a somewhat off topic exchange in the meantime. I thereby suggest, most strongly, that we let that line of discussion either be raised elsewhere, or dropped--at any rate, it does not belong on this thread, really, as this thread is related to being in Japan.

    Please let this thread return to such matters as the OP brings up, as they occur here in Japan. Thanks. (PS this is a soft warning, so please take heed.)

  24. #199
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 30, 2008
    Posts
    5
    gomenasai

    this is actually my first time talking to people online like this. I think I divulged too much and perhaps in the wrong place...

    this is a very well policed thread, that much i will say.

  25. #200
    In imagination land Chidoriashi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2, 2007
    Location
    Japan
    Age
    41
    Posts
    48
    Yes, I too have to point out that, I think I could understand your situation better if you were in Japan coming across all this. Honestly, when I am home in the states, I expect to certain degree that people will speak English. And I dont mean expect as in "you better speak English!" I mean i more or less assume people will be speaking English. So I am having a hard time seeing your point about xenophobia. Does this problem you are having go beyond the restaurant, do you get this treatment from relatives etc..? Well anyway if you want people to speak to you in Japanese come to Japan and hang out with me... they will talk to you everytime!

Page 8 of 9 FirstFirst ... 6789 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. No Japanese credit cards for foreigners ?
    By Maciamo in forum Immigration & Foreigners
    Replies: 78
    Last Post: Feb 16, 2010, 23:26
  2. Are Japanese more hypocritical with foreigners ?
    By Maciamo in forum Culture Shock
    Replies: 208
    Last Post: Nov 9, 2009, 00:25
  3. Why don't the Japanese differentiate more between foreigners ?
    By Maciamo in forum Immigration & Foreigners
    Replies: 37
    Last Post: Sep 22, 2005, 21:53

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •