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Thread: For our Japanese readers : Things you should not say to Westerners

  1. #76
    In imagination land Chidoriashi's Avatar
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    I can see this from both sides. 99% of the time, the chopsticks question etc.. won't get to you. But sometimes people have bad days and it is those days I think where things like that, when they happen, will get to you. Personally for me, i find it enjoyable most of the time to shatter peoples stereotypes, and help educate a little bit. Usually i am in a good mood and more than willing to explain to people.. things like becki said that Asian cuisine etc.. is quite popular in Western countries therefore there are probably more Westerners out there who can use chopsticks than you think.

    Also i think a lot of these stereotypes got their root when the world was less internationalized, like my father for example who is 64 would be a perfect stereotypical gaijin .. blond, blues eyes cant use chopsticks to save his life. From the younger Japanese population i tend to find these questions to be quite rare, and thus most of the time coming from people of older generations.

    Chopsticks compliment: I actually don't hold them properly so, i explain that i hold my pencil weird too.

    Language compliment: Hmm... well one time i remember i was drunk at conbini..... and these other drunk guys eyed me.. so i think i said konbanwa or something.. and they are like nihongo jyozu desune.. and i was like.. in a joking manner.. "oh come on..i say good evening and you compliment my "great" Japanese".. and we started BSing for like 5 minutes after that, it was fun.. but most of the time.. i just decline the compliment just like a Japanese person would.

    They only thing that gets on my nerves regularly these days is being with my GF and getting ignored.. and it is not so much because i am getting ignored.. but the fact that my GF is 70% deaf, and cannot even respond half of the time cuz they do not look directly at her or talk with a "big mouth" so she can read their lips.. so i try to do the talking most of the time, and it can be a fight to get them to stop trying to ask her everything and address me.

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    edit: long post, sorry but i got into the swing of responding...

    Originally Posted by Maciamo
    That's the Japanese dilema. Inferior but superior. They want to prove themselves superior (and hundreds of books were written on the subject in the 1980's), but still feel inferor because their movies never equal Hollywood, their artists rarely rival Western ones, their best baseball players move to the US, Japan is not nearly as beautiful as countries like France, Italy, the UK, Australia, or the US, Japan will always be behind the West historically, and as I see it Japan is set to stay a political dwarf subjugated to the US on the international scene.
    i think this is possibly linked to their insular and... (how embarrassing for the word to escape me on line one of my response! >.<) lets say kohai/senpai | age/sage etc. mindset whereby appreciating someone else's talents automatically makes you inferior to them. its a cultural system which discourages equality to a certain extent... for example, even two similar people (age, gender, job, position, family) may be judged by society as 'this one is better than this one' because A-san's children are doing better at school, or B-san's wife follows a more traditional lifestyle and is thus more acceptable. both A-san and B-san will be aware of this societal judgement and perhaps pre-empt it by acknowledging the other's strength or admitting their own shortcomings, a perfectly standard reaction. but with gaijin, they have no frame of reference other than the stated annoying questions, assumedly learned from outdated interactions that have been mimicked over time... i wonder in fact, given the law of politeness found in japan, if it is considered rude not to ask these questions of foreigners? no implication of such by users in a thread almost 4 years old kinda indicates that's not the case, but i do wonder...

    Originally Posted by Rich303
    will say this though, I bet I would find it less insulting than being spat at or having my sexuality questioned because I wouldn't give a girl I didn't know a cigarette, both of which have happened to me quite recently in the UK.
    being spat is highly unneccessary in pretty much every encounter someone could have, but come on, gettin called a homo is a standard insult in the uk, same as he wouldnt actually have been questioning your paternal bonds is he called you a bastard. that said, good on you for giving up the smokes! i hate strangers asking me for things in general, but when they react as if it's their right... man... ok not ranting today!

    Originally Posted by ASHIKAGA
    me being familiar with things you would think anyone who has lived there for 20 years would surely be familiar with ( "Wow, you know about so-and-so better than an American person!" ).
    i agree with your sentiments, but this one stood out for me as i've experienced similar in my own country by visiting europeans and natives. the people i have worked with from europe were often surprised at local ignorance at aspects of the country you'd think people would know (location of famous buildings, people from history etc), "fair enough" one may think, "cultural differences mean they place a higher priority on knowing these aspects" however... i was born and raised in london, and have since moved to 2 other cities in the UK, people would often ask me this that or the other about london, as it's an area of interest to many simply because it's the capital, but 90&#37; i wouldnt be able to answer these questions, 50% of the time i would say i had zero knowledge of what they were asking "i dont know, what's that?!" (probably more, but i dont want to make myself seem entirely ignorant). my point is, people from a place often dont care about that place because it's ever present and dull, and those from elsewhere often know more about it because they have an interest, but cannot experience it, so they build a knowledge base to help them imagine it. i dont think it's uncommon for 'out-of-towners' (aka gaijin) to know more about a place than a local.

    Originally Posted by FrustratedDave
    I can make a comment to a friend of mine who Japanese on how beautiful his handwritten Kanji is several times over a period of time and keep doing it, just b/c I am in awe on how good he is. He is Japanese and is expected to write Japanese, so me complimenting him on his beautiful handwritting several times even though it is a given that he can write kanji is an offense to him? I actually thought this would be a compliment.
    this is not a comparitive situation. your skilled friend would take that as a compliment because he is skilled in a native area. if however, you continuously complimented his handwritten english regardless of his skill, he may take offence because you would be drawing attention to the fact that he is using a foreign script and hence saying he's skilled may suggest you never realised that people who use ideaograms were able to write using roman letters.

    Originally Posted by FrustratedDave
    You have after all been living here for 10 years or more and should realise by now that compliments like these are part and parcel of Japan?
    doesn't make it less annoying though. a similar phenomenon is often felt by british people in america, when shop clerks are overly eager to assist a customer shopping (feels like you're being pressured), but its still standard procedure. and to make it fair (i feel im being too anti-everywhere) many european friends find it ridiculous that you are expected to have chips/fries with every meal when eating out over here. (it's not true, but... well, it kinda is true enough to see their point at least)

    WOO POTATOES!


    Originally Posted by leander
    I do plan, as Glenski suggested, to "keep it light". I agree with FrustratedDave (and probably most, if not all, of the others here) that such things as "日本語上手!" to a ”はじめまして” are seldom if ever born of ill-intent and are not as big of a deal as they seem to have become on this thread. As FD and some others seem to suggest, at least some of the fault lies with foreigners who negatively interpret what has been said.
    i guess i half agree with you, i don't believe this process is deliberatly insulting, it's not like they're being sarcastic, and taking offence will make you get annoyed faster than if you take it lightly, but... it doesnt make these questions any less insipid and/or mindless. i would equate it to praising a child for a picture scrawled in crayon, you say to the child "wow! that's amazing! well done!" but realistically, its a piece of crap, it's only praiseworthy because they are at that level and to treat foreigners in this way is insulting. i wouldnt mind if my japanese was amazing and someone praised me for it, assuming i had demonstrated said amazingness and not just uttered ”はじめまして"

    i'll save other thoughts for a future post because that was painfully long...
    Last edited by GameOver; Jan 5, 2009 at 15:33. Reason: suck at quoting

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    Can't tell you how many times I've had Japanese people come up to me and try their English out of the blue. Worse than that is when you ask something to someone in Japanese and they make something last for minutes that should to 3 seconds to say as they insist on replying in their very limited and crappy English.

  4. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by GameOver View Post
    lets say kohai/senpai | age/sage etc. mindset whereby appreciating someone else's talents automatically makes you inferior to them. its a cultural system which discourages equality to a certain extent...
    That's an interesting point ! I haven't given much thought before, but it could be true. Japanese people will tell you that Japan is an egalitarian society, but interractions always seem to have one person outranking the other(s). This could be a desperate way to distinguish themselves from their neighbour in this overly homogenous and egalitarian society.

    But is being complimented on one's Japanese a sign that the complimenter think of you as hierarchically superior ?
    I like ”ülƒlƒX

  5. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by GameOver View Post
    but with gaijin, they have no frame of reference other than the stated annoying questions, assumedly learned from outdated interactions that have been mimicked over time... i wonder in fact, given the law of politeness found in japan, if it is considered rude not to ask these questions of foreigners? no implication of such by users in a thread almost 4 years old kinda indicates that's not the case, but i do wonder...
    Politeness has nothing to do with it. It's all curiosity based on a (still) insular mentality.

    my point is, people from a place often dont care about that place because it's ever present and dull, and those from elsewhere often know more about it because they have an interest, but cannot experience it, so they build a knowledge base to help them imagine it. i dont think it's uncommon for 'out-of-towners' (aka gaijin) to know more about a place than a local.
    I agree to a point, but have you watched the quiz shows here? Some of the questions center around being able to identify people or locations (in or outside Japan) from their pictures. The same people or locations crop up all the time. Rote memorization again. They know where the XYZ obelisk is in Japan because they have seen it on TV so many times. They know a certain writer for the same reason.

    Originally Posted by FrustratedDave
    I can make a comment to a friend of mine who Japanese on how beautiful his handwritten Kanji is several times over a period of time and keep doing it, just b/c I am in awe on how good he is. He is Japanese and is expected to write Japanese, so me complimenting him on his beautiful handwritting several times even though it is a given that he can write kanji is an offense to him? I actually thought this would be a compliment.

    this is not a comparitive situation. your skilled friend would take that as a compliment because he is skilled in a native area.
    "Skilled"? Japanese spend 12 years of their lives endlessly learning about 2000 kanji with exacting stroke order and shape (and a zillion meanings to go with various pronunciations). It is not a skill, as much as it is a part of their lives.

    if however, you continuously complimented his handwritten english regardless of his skill, he may take offence because you would be drawing attention to the fact that he is using a foreign script and hence saying he's skilled may suggest you never realised that people who use ideaograms were able to write using roman letters.
    Personally, if someone told me continuously something like that, I'd slap him for the repetition. Once, thanks. Twice, gee you're really impressed with this thing I've been FORCED to do. Three times, get over it.



    Originally Posted by FrustratedDave
    You have after all been living here for 10 years or more and should realise by now that compliments like these are part and parcel of Japan?

    doesn't make it less annoying though. a similar phenomenon is often felt by british people in america, when shop clerks are overly eager to assist a customer shopping (feels like you're being pressured), but its still standard procedure
    Sorry, but now it is you who is not comparing fairly. Sales people have a vocational obligation to do that. Japanese people asking those insipid questions are just curious.

    it doesnt make these questions any less insipid and/or mindless. i would equate it to praising a child for a picture scrawled in crayon, you say to the child "wow! that's amazing! well done!" but realistically, its a piece of crap, it's only praiseworthy because they are at that level
    Again, I think you are comparing apples and oranges here. Someone says "arigato" and only that, and a Japanese person will toss out compliments on his Japanese language ability. Gimme a break. You don't even KNOW my level, and even so, to dispense compliments over just a word or two is silly and UNrealistic.

  6. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by pretty_mama View Post
    But I was actually asked identically similar dumb questions like the mentioned in this thread by men, who felt very uneasy facing my educational level, my amount of knowledge or experience or anything they would consider "superior".
    .
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    It was kind of a frightening experience, seeing myself really attached to completely insane or dumb sets of ideas. But, interestingly, it only happened towards people I considered inferior, mostly at times I felt very uneasy about myself and very unhappy about my life in generally.
    .
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    So lets face it: the Japanese people show a worldwide common behavior of people, who feel great insecurity about their "position", while at the same time feeling the need of having a certain rank. They are most likely unhappy and feeling inferior.
    In the first quoted paragraph, you say that dumb (prejudicial) questions are asked by people who are uneasy because they see you as superior.

    In the second paragraph, you explain that you only had such prejudice against people who you consider to be inferior.

    In the third paragraph, you blame the prejudices on the Japanese' sense of inferiority.

    So it seems that in your experience the Japanese you met were uneasy and prejudiced against you as a foreigner because they felt inferior. But you only held similar prejudice when you felt superior to others.

    That's interesting because I have the same experience. So why is it that we (as Westerners) are more prejudiced against people who we see as inferior, but the opposite is true of the Japanese ? That's an interesting culture difference.

    Or perhaps the Japanese are prejudiced towards foreigners both when they feel inferior and superior, or a combination of both feelings (something certainly common when interracting with educated foreigners whose attitude may conflict with the propriety of Japanese culture).

    One sure thing is that the Japanese have a natural inclination to feel inferior (lack of self-esteem), whereas Westerners often suffer from the opposite (excess of self-esteem). This can be observed in the expression of personal opinions. The Japanese try to avoid it, or give up quickly when someone disagrees. Westerners are often eager to express their opinion, and will often fight when meeting disagreement. Self-esteem.

  7. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by AroundTheWorld View Post
    I suppose how many times / how often you are asked these things certainly depends on how many people you meet or are introduced to formally, and then associate with informally.
    What do you mean by formally and informally ? I am not familiar with the concept. Does being introduced to someone formally mean that someone you know introduced you to someone else and explained your "background" ? I can imagine that strangers, like shopkeepers, are informal relations. But what about workmates, friends who were introduced by other friends, etc. ? I cannot see clearly where you draw the line between formal and informal.

    Do you expect to be asked more of these questions by formal or informal relations ?

    Honestly, there are questions like this that I'm sure people who are new to America.
    "Do you need help making change/with directions/finding something local/with language?" these all seem like international questions to me.
    These are practical questions that people ask everywhere. I think that the author of this topic meant culturally biased questions or reactions.

    Japan only has more specialized ones (chopstick, natto, reading/writing japanese) because they are unique culturally.
    Chopsticks are more Chinese than Japanese to me.

  8. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrustratedDave View Post
    I am hard pressed to find a more arrogant thread showing all the bad qualities foriegners can possibly have. To the OP, (even though he is not around anymore) if I ever get the chance to go to your house as a guest, remind me to tell you how I want to be treated...
    You are assuming that a foreigner in Japan cannot live there as if he were "home". Foreigners in Japan, like in any other country, can also buy their house in Japan and be part of society, as opposed to temporary guests or tourists.

    I was born and grew up in a different country from where I have lived for half of my life until now. I find it offensive that people would think that I am just a guest after so many years. That is why I sympathise with the OP.

  9. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrustratedDave View Post
    I am finding it hard to see the relation to your analogy and the intent of the original post??? I have never been treated like a baby.
    Don't do the following things or act this way.
    #1. Ask questions about food
    #2. Ask questions about the weather & seasons
    #3. Ask questions regarding general abilities
    #4. Addressing a Westerner in a public place
    #5. If addressed by a Westerner in Japanese
    Just b/c the original poster can now do all the things he stated or has now reached a level where he does not want to be asked or acted upon in a certain way all Japanese should not ask these things??? That to me me is the height of arrogance.
    Do you really have to learn and practise to be able to eat sushi or be used to different seasons ?

    Anyway the OP made some point about the way the Japanese should ask their questions and proposed better alternatives. I think that it is praiseworthy. I agree that I would be at a loss if someone asked me if I could eat fish. Can I, if you defy me ? Do I like fish in general ? What fish in particular ? Do I want to eat some now ? I wouldn't know what to think and how to answer such a question.


    I had no idea what Japanese foods I could or could not eat and I learnt a great deal from questions about what food I could or could not eat.
    So how did you answer the questions ? Say, if you have never eaten natto and people asked you if you could eat it, what would you answer ? Well, I suppose that you had better try all kind of foods quickly if you didn't want to answer "I don't know" every time you were asked.

    I haven't lived in Japan, but I would be annoyed if people always asked me the same questions all the time. When I visited the country I was asked such questions by a lot of people I met. It must get tiring after a while. I don't think that is a sensible way to socialise.

    Questions about the weather, I did not even know that Japan had seasons were so different. Where I come from spring summer and autum are almost the same temperature.... very hot, so there is no four seasons like japan where I came from.
    Come on, 90&#37; of Westerners come from temperate regions with 4 seasons. If you come from Florida or Arizona you are really the exception rather than the rule. All Europe is temperate.

    Every now and again I get asked what I can eat and what I don't like, but isn't that only natural for people to be curious of someone who has come from a different culture?
    Do you ask Japanese people what they can eat and can't eat ? I would ask people what are their favourite dishes or what they dislike in general, but not be specific about a dish (let's say spaghetti vongole) and ask everyone I meet if they can eat it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by A ke bono kane kotto View Post
    I agree that I would be at a loss if someone asked me if I could eat fish.
    Can I, if you defy me ?
    If yes, he/she may suggest to order fish
    If no, the guy may suggest something different.
    If you don't want fish then, the guy may order what you like.

    Do I like fish in general ?
    Ask him/her. Nobody expects you to give somebody one right answer, and that is the communication, a chain of questions and answers, wherever you are or whoever you talk to. Of course, you have an option to stop talking.

    What fish in particular ?

    Ditto.

    Do I want to eat some now ?
    Ditto.

    I wouldn't know what to think and how to answer such a question.
    Ditto.


    About the seasons, just ask a Japanese person a simple question, "Did you learn 4 seasons ONLY in Japan at school. If possible, you start talking to your own 4 season embedded or coded culture with him/her.

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    You are assuming that a foreigner in Japan cannot live there as if he were "home". Foreigners in Japan, like in any other country, can also buy their house in Japan and be part of society, as opposed to temporary guests or tourists.

    I was born and grew up in a different country from where I have lived for half of my life until now. I find it offensive that people would think that I am just a guest after so many years. That is why I sympathise with the OP
    A lot of foreigners think it to be a very unpleasant ...
    however, most of them will go home sooner or later...
    of course, if you have a family in japan and a certain purpose of future in japan, it would be another story.

    anyway, these are nice ,,

    Japan is different from your home country. Unless you grew up in Japan, you will counter many cultural differences. Some may be pleasant surprises, some might not. When you can't do or get something you're used to, deal with it. That's life here. Beware of the phrase "Where I'm from." Japan is not where you are not where you are from, so don't expect things to be the same. It sounds obvious, but the first time you try to do something you can't do, you will be frustrated. Deal with it, as that's all you can do. The more you try to live like a native, the easier time you'll have. And on that note...

    There are a lot of cultural rules. Try to learn them. There are a lot of cultural do's and dont's, and there is a big difference between what is legal and what's socially acceptable. You won't get arrested for drinking beer on the train and loudly talking, but it's rude. Even if you don't care, every time a non-Japanese person makes an *** of themselves, it makes everyone look bad. There are plenty of books on etiquette in Japan, so pick one up or check one out at your library

    People will like/dislike you because you're different. Know this. Some people are racist. If you've never dealt with racism, you may very well in Japan. People will treat you differently just because you're not Japanese. Some people will love you just for being a foreigner, some will hate you. There is nothing you can do about it, so just accept it and try to enjoy it when you can.

    Don't ask too many questions. It's great to ask questions! It's a great way to learn, but you will find some things that make NO sense. Don't try to figure everything out, because you'll only get frustrated. Sometimes things are the way they are just because that's how they are and that's how they've been for a long time. Accept things the way they are and don't question it. Some answers you will find in time and some you won't. That's life.

    HAVE FUN! Japan is a great place to live if you can put up with the downsides and enjoy the ups. Cultural and language barriers can be rough, so can social interactions, as the way people interact is quite different, but that's life. Make your time in Japan the best you can, if it's just a few months, a few years, or life.
    http://notjustvisiting.blogspot.com/...&max-results=6

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    My thoughts...

    Wow. My blog was linked. Thanks for reading.

    I thought I'd weigh in on the chopsticks/eating/seasons/etc. comments. I've got some understanding of sociology from studying in America and Japan.

    For the "Can eat" thing, it's purely semantics. Saying "can" implies a physical ability. Of course I CAN, but it doesn't mean I WANT TO. Asking "Do you like" is way better. There are food allergy/dietary concerns but that generally isn't why the question is asked. When my friends ask me if I can, I tell them it's not a big deal, but next time it's better to say "do you like?"

    For the chopsticks, it does get annoying, but mainly because it's based on previous stereotypes that due to my home country/race I can't do something, which is mildly insulting. Sure, a lot of people can't use chopsticks, but if you live in Japan, it should be assumed you can handle them. Instead of getting angry or frustrated, I simply ask people "Why shouldn't I be able to?" and try to reconstruct their stereotypes.

    For the 4 seasons, I say that Northern California does not have 4 distinct seasons, but Boston very much does. I don't feel the need to ask why they think only Japan has 4 seasons, but if someone keeps mentioning it, I will ask them why they believe Japan is unique in this way, which usually goes back to education.

    As for over dramatic language compliments, I understand Japanese culture enough to know such compliments are part of society, but the only time I am really puzzled is when people say my Japanese is great when I only speak English to them, which has happened a lot. In reality, there aren't very many foreigners in Japan that are good at Japanese, so it is an appropriate reaction to be surprised.

    As far as addressing someone in Japanese and being responded to in English, I am aware that I have an American English accent when I speak Japanese, and it would be naive of me to assume the person I'm talking to didn't pick up on this. It can be frustrating, but I know the people I'm talking to are usually genuinely trying to help. If I don't understand someone's poor English, I find that it's a lot better to ask for clarification in Japanese. The pointing and gestures are rude and Japanese people should be aware of that, but I don't find it bothersome, I just wish Japanese people were aware that it could be considered so.

    My girlfriend has had a bit of a similar problem, as she is Japanese, speaks fluent English and dresses much more European than most Japanese women. When with me, I've seen more than once people start talking to her in English. She gets annoyed when it's in business situations like banks and shops, but when it's some guy on the street, she lets them have their fun and pretends she's from Ireland (where she used to study).

    As far as being addressed in a public place, it rarely happens to me, but when it does I am a bit surprised. I live in Tokyo, and it's uncommon to randomly talk to a stranger here, so it's outside cultural norms to do such, and the assumption that I'm a foreigner so it's okay is a bit offensive. It's also not rare to see a foreigner here, tourist or otherwise. When I travel outside the Tokyo metropolitan area, I often get someone trying to strike up a conversation. I don't know the cultural rules of small towns, but I assume it's odd to talk to (Japanese) strangers, but I am aware that while traveling, especially with my camera, I look like a tourist because I am one. Does anyone have an opinion on talking to strangers in small towns?

    What it all really comes down to is education. Japanese people are not really educated on how to deal with non-Japanese, or often worse, falsely educated due to stereotypes and prejudice. It does no one any good to take offense to often well intended but misguided comments. The best that can be done is whenever someone says something that they shouldn't, try in a friendly or joking manner to correct them and move on with life.

    Sorry for the long post, but I found the topic really interesting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by caster51 View Post
    A lot of foreigners think it to be a very unpleasant ...
    however, most of them will go home sooner or later...
    of course, if you have a family in japan and a certain purpose of future in japan, it would be another story.
    It is true that most foreigners do leave eventually, but it's rude to assume they will.

    Glad you liked my post. Foreigners here may or may not be temporary guests, but they are living in a country with different cultural rules than their home land. I'm sure most people here for the long haul have no problem with that. On the other hand, Japanese people need to take a long look at how they deal with foreigners. Of course, that is not at all unique to Japan, but Japan is the topic here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skipphead View Post
    For the 4 seasons, I say that Northern California does not have 4 distinct seasons, but Boston very much does.
    When I read this thread I didn't think about how Americans would answer the 4 season question. As a European I assumed that a country either had 4 seasons or didn't (in the case of tropical countries). But now I realise the irony in the Japanese stereotypes discussed here. On the one hand they frequently assume that a Westerner is American, and on the other they ask these supposed Americans if their country has 4 seasons. How could an American answer that without explaining the huge climatic variations between Alaska and Hawaii. I suppose that 3/4 of US states have 4 seasons, and only the southern ones don't. But the same is true of Japan. Okinawa is as tropical as Florida or Hawaii.

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    Most Japanese never think there is four season only in Japan as Geographically common sense...
    However, The Japanese will answer that there are wonderful four seasons in Japan.
    if there are 4 season in your country. too, You only have to answer that there are also in my country.... that is it.

    The four seasons for Japanese is neither only a climate, a
    temperature nor scenery.
    it means how much the season and lifestyle, manners and food etc be close...

    BTw, i think Japan has five seasons.
    There are 24 seasons in the Japanese calendar .
    Last edited by caster51; Jan 12, 2009 at 23:02.

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    Quote Originally Posted by caster51 View Post
    The four seasons for Japanese is neither only a climate, a
    temperature nor scenery.
    it means how much the season and lifestyle, manners and food etc be close...
    BTw, i think Japan has five seasons.
    There are 24 seasons in the Japanese calendar .
    If you think like this, we have countless seasons here too : the hunting season, the foie gras season, the tulip season, the strawberry season, and so on. Food and lifestyle change at least once a month here.

  17. #92
    Just me Glenski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caster51 View Post
    A lot of foreigners think it to be a very unpleasant ...
    however, most of them will go home sooner or later...
    Does anyone else but me see the connection between these two lines of thought?
    BTw, i think Japan has five seasons.
    Yup, in parts of the USA, too. It's called road repair.

    BTw, i think Japan has five seasons.
    There are 24 seasons in the Japanese calendar .
    More self-contradictory gibberish.
    5 vs 24? Pick.

  18. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenski View Post
    BTw, i think Japan has five seasons.
    There are 24 seasons in the Japanese calendar .
    More self-contradictory gibberish.
    5 vs 24? Pick.
    The first sentence seems to be caster's own idea, and I think caster is referring to “ń\Žlß‹C with the second one.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_term
    (Actually it originally came from China, so it is not "Japanese calendar", to be precise...)

    Sorry, this post is off-topic-ish, and and the above is just an observation, I'm not particularly for or against caster's opinion about the seasons in Japan.
    *I love undrentide by Mediaeval Baebes*
    And here're my bloggies (JP) & (HU)

  19. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by A ke bono kane kotto View Post
    You are assuming that a foreigner in Japan cannot live there as if he were "home". Foreigners in Japan, like in any other country, can also buy their house in Japan and be part of society, as opposed to temporary guests or tourists.
    I was born and grew up in a different country from where I have lived for half of my life until now. I find it offensive that people would think that I am just a guest after so many years. That is why I sympathise with the OP.
    No I didn't as I own my house and land here in Japan. And just to clarify the OP had lived here for about 3 years when he made the thread, so yes telling people how to act is arrogant. In the real world people who live here and have equal ability in spoken Japanese as a native will very rarely be asked a lot of these questions. The problem is those with accents or broken Japanese will ultimately be thought of as someone who has lived here for a limited time or was not brought up here. So don't try and shift the blame on to the Japanese for a forienger being treated the way they are.
    Quote Originally Posted by A ke bono kane kotto View Post
    Do you really have to learn and practise to be able to eat sushi or be used to different seasons ?
    Anyway the OP made some point about the way the Japanese should ask their questions and proposed better alternatives. I think that it is praiseworthy. I agree that I would be at a loss if someone asked me if I could eat fish. Can I, if you defy me ? Do I like fish in general ? What fish in particular ? Do I want to eat some now ? I wouldn't know what to think and how to answer such a question.
    So how did you answer the questions ? Say, if you have never eaten natto and people asked you if you could eat it, what would you answer ? Well, I suppose that you had better try all kind of foods quickly if you didn't want to answer "I don't know" every time you were asked.
    What do you expect? Small talk is in every society and just b/c the small talk of most Japanese does not sit with you well it is nessecary to explain to them about what they should and shouldn't ask. And if you have not tried natto and you haven't you would answer "I haven't eaten it yet, what does it taste like?", or "what is it?".

    I am starting to wonder if it would be safe to ask you any questions at all. How would you answer to a question like this "Do you like scuba diving?" If you have not done that how would answer? You point is ridiculus on being asked question you don't know how to anwser, I mean why bother even talking then? Maybe you could like write on your forehead, "Only ask questions that I know the answer too". Or "only talk about stuff I want to talk about".

    Everytime you meet new people, you are inevetably going to induce the same line of questioning in most cases.
    Quote Originally Posted by A ke bono kane kotto View Post
    I haven't lived in Japan, but I would be annoyed if people always asked me the same questions all the time. When I visited the country I was asked such questions by a lot of people I met. It must get tiring after a while. I don't think that is a sensible way to socialise.
    Come on, 90&#37; of Westerners come from temperate regions with 4 seasons. If you come from Florida or Arizona you are really the exception rather than the rule. All Europe is temperate.
    Do you ask Japanese people what they can eat and can't eat ? I would ask people what are their favourite dishes or what they dislike in general, but not be specific about a dish (let's say spaghetti vongole) and ask everyone I meet if they can eat it.
    It is not about what you would or would not ask. What people decide to talk about when small talk is taking place is part of this culture, what I mean is that food and whether is a very big part of this culture so it is only natural that Japanese will want to talk about it, especially to someone from another country.

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    The first sentence seems to be caster's own idea, and I think caster is referring to “ń\Žlß‹C with the second one.
    and,Zassetsu
    http://www.nao.ac.jp/koyomi/faq/24sekki.html.en

  21. #96
    Just me Glenski's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by A ke bono kane kotto
    I was born and grew up in a different country from where I have lived for half of my life until now. I find it offensive that people would think that I am just a guest after so many years.
    Get used to it if you intend to live in Japan. It's offensive to many of us, but it's a fact of life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skipphead View Post
    For the "Can eat" thing, it's purely semantics. Saying "can" implies a physical ability.
    Right, but you intentionally forget the two words, "in English".

    Your next step may be to consider the semantics in both English and Japanese.

    ***snip***
    Just curious, but I am wondering how different she is.
    Quote Originally Posted by Skipphead View Post
    dresses much more European than most Japanese women
    If it is not how, enlighten me what she usually wears to be an Irish woman, please. (I am not fashion-conscious, though)

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    Quote Originally Posted by pipokun View Post
    Right, but you intentionally forget the two words, "in English".

    Your next step may be to consider the semantics in both English and Japanese.

    ***snip***
    Just curious, but I am wondering how different she is.

    If it is not how, enlighten me what she usually wears to be an Irish woman, please. (I am not fashion-conscious, though)
    You're right about the semantics in English. When speaking Japanese, the story is different, but if we are talking about what not to say in English, only English semantics apply. I didn't intentionally forget English, I just assumed that 'in English' was understood, as this whole thread is in English.

    As for my girlfriend who dresses different, she usually wears vintage 60's or 70's jackets, slightly ripped jeans, knit hats that aren't often seen around here, bright colors other than pink, and some other things that just aren't common. She also has short, naturally black hair cut in a kind of a bob and likes dramatic eyeliner and multicolored lipstick. She never carries a proper purse, and instead uses Irish reusable grocery bags and old backpacks. Over the summer, she used to wear tank tops and spike her hair straight up, as it was much shorter. The point is, she doesn't look like most Japanese women I see around here. I can't blame anyone for thinking she's not Japanese. Honestly, if I just saw her on a train, I'd think she was a foreigner too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skipphead View Post
    You're right about the semantics in English. When speaking Japanese, the story is different, but if we are talking about what not to say in English, only English semantics apply. I didn't intentionally forget English, I just assumed that 'in English' was understood, as this whole thread is in English.

    The point is, she doesn't look like most Japanese women I see around here. I can't blame anyone for thinking she's not Japanese. Honestly, if I just saw her on a train, I'd think she was a foreigner too.
    A point of this thread is what not to say in English in Japan, so not only English semantics, but different stories also apply here. The Can story is nothing but a small talk in Japanese after all.

    Even for someone like you properly educated without stereotypes or prejudice make mistakes, the story when you met her, so it is fair and natural for falsely educated Japanese to make mistakes.

    Hopefully you ask your girlfriend if she learned 4 seasons ONLY in Japan at school, for it may take ages before A ke bono kane kotto gets the answer from a Japanese.

    *snip
    I don't know if her fashion represents Irish, but she must be beautiful as well as fashion-conscious.
    Thanks, anyways.

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    The Can comment has been said to me by some people who are quite smart and good in English. A few times, I've met someone who said "Can you eat..." and then corrected themselves with "Do you like..."

    Although the "Can you eat natto?" question I understand as many people, Japanese or otherwise, can't stomach the stuff. On the other hand, I love it.

    I asked my girlfriend about the 4 seasons. She said she learned a lot about the world from her well educated and internationally minded mother, so I can't at all say what is taught in school.

    Maybe her fashion sense isn't very Irish, as I must admit I've never been to Ireland, but I know it's not very Japanese and those are the only two countries she's lived in. She is quite lovely, thanks.

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