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Thread: Some explanation about me in the last few months

  1. #26
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I fogot to say that, most importantly, when I am in Europe (whatever the country), people don't look at me strangely in the street, don't feign not to understand what I say so that they don't have to serve me, don't question my ability to do various daily things (use chopsticks, eat this or that...), are not surprised when I speak their language (even if they see it isn't my mother tongue), children don't point their finger at me saying "gaijin, gaijin !" or "Hello America !", I don't get refused entry or accommodation anywhere, neighbours don't check whether I sorted my garbage properly because I am a foreigner, people don't answer to my wife when I ask them a question (or vice versa), etc., etc. In Japan, there wasn't single a day in which many of these things didn't happen (except if I locked myself at home, and even then I could get salespeople ringing at my door and exclaim "ah, gaijin da !" and leave without explanation). Overall, it is much more relaxing NOT to be in Japan.
    本当 ? あなたの考えが読めるでしょう。 Anyway, you may have forgotten this time, but these stories of being a stranger in a strange land have been played and replayed time and time to no end for anyone still reading this thread....

  2. #27
    Regular Member Gaijinian's Avatar
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    Ah, Maciamo, glad to see you happy. You definitely had a negative going...
    Belgium sounds nice

    Anyway, do you still speak Japanese with your wife?
    これからも絶対頑張る〜

  3. #28
    悲しい話だと思いませんか jt_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I fogot to say that, most importantly, when I am in Europe (whatever the country), people don't look at me strangely in the street, don't feign not to understand what I say so that they don't have to serve me, don't question my ability to do various daily things (use chopsticks, eat this or that...), are not surprised when I speak their language (even if they see it isn't my mother tongue), children don't point their finger at me saying "gaijin, gaijin !" or "Hello America !", I don't get refused entry or accommodation anywhere, neighbours don't check whether I sorted my garbage properly because I am a foreigner, people don't answer to my wife when I ask them a question (or vice versa), etc., etc. In Japan, there wasn't single a day in which many of these things didn't happen (except if I locked myself at home, and even then I could get salespeople ringing at my door and exclaim "ah, gaijin da !" and leave without explanation). Overall, it is much more relaxing NOT to be in Japan.
    Maciamo,

    I can completely relate to the frustration you felt with all of these things you describe. It can be very aggravating for a person who is making a sincere effort to learn the language and culture -- to "go native", so to speak -- to be constantly confronted with people who simply cannot get beyond your physical appearance (or the fact that you may not be a 100%-flawless native speaker of the language) and deal with you as a human being.

    I just find it very unfortunate that you seem to have come out of Japan with only negative experiences. Personally, for me, I have had experienced some of the things you describe... if only occasionally. I can't say I've experienced all of them. I also work every day in an office setting with many people who I communicate with entirely in Japanese, and who never draw negative attention to my "foreignness" or make insulting stereotypes about me. They are eager to listen to my opinions/thoughts, and I'm interested in hearing theirs. Some people are more enlightened than others, but I have no doubts that they're all good and decent people. Anyway, that's just at the office. Then, outside of work I have other Japanese friends, and my relationships with them have even less to do with the fact that I'm a "foreigner"... we just enjoy each other's company, share our interests and thoughts on the world and life, and whatnot.

    I am still saddened on some level that I will never be fully accepted as "native" in Japan. (As opposed to say, a Japanese person immigrating to my home country or yours, who would no doubt be accepted as such after living there for a long enough time and picking up the language and local customs.) Still, this has come to frustrate me less and less through the years -- probably because my increased language proficiency and knowledge of the culture has allowed me to build more meaningful relationships with enough good people that it doesn't matter as much when I run into the occasional ignorant type. (Maybe it also comes from a gradual understanding and acceptance of the fact that ignorance doesn't necessarily stand for ill will.)

    I just think that it's unfortunate that you never reached this point, despite the time you invested into living in Japan and learning the language (at a fairly high, if not perfect, level). I can only conclude that maybe you met the wrong people, and spent too much time around them rather than seeking out more open-minded types who would accept you as who you are without being preoccupied with your "foreignness."

    I imagine that you'll be much happier in your new home, but it seems like you're still holding many negative feelings about Japan which won't be easily subdued. I hope that you can let some of these go with time, and still continue your involvement with Japan, getting a more positive experience out of it than you have up until now.

  4. #29
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    Hi Maciamo

    I haven’t been in this forum for long but I noticed your acute criticism toward Japan…

    I guess it is hard being a foreign in Japan than in any other country.
    Here in Europe and USA it is easier to have a mixture of ethnicities and people are not surprised is a Black can speak good Italian in Italy or a Chinese good French in France. May be due our colonialism attitudes in the past centuries? I don’t know

    Don’t get yourself down if you could not stand life there there is always the rest of the world… and if you get a ryanair flight to Scotland let me know we go out for a pint!

    Ciao

    Planet Scotland is Blue and there's nothing I can do!!!

  5. #30
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jt_
    I just find it very unfortunate that you seem to have come out of Japan with only negative experiences.
    It is not the case. There have been many good experiences, but more at the beginning. With time, the negative side accumulates with little new good experiences, and the balance shifts to the negative side. The balance has probably shifted early 2005 for me. There have been a few exceptional people I have met in Japan, whom I won't forget, that do not enter in the category of people who bother me.

    I am still saddened on some level that I will never be fully accepted as "native" in Japan. (As opposed to say, a Japanese person immigrating to my home country or yours, who would no doubt be accepted as such after living there for a long enough time and picking up the language and local customs.)
    I don't even ask to be considered as a native, just as a long-term resident with a good knowledge of the culture and customs. Unfortunately, most people won't even grant me that. I am just like any freshly arrived tourist to them. I was so shocked when after teaching a group of people for 2 years, they were still surprised that I could read such simple kanji as 使用中 ("in use"), although I had told them many times that I mostly speak Japanese at home with my wife.

    I imagine that you'll be much happier in your new home, but it seems like you're still holding many negative feelings about Japan which won't be easily subdued.
    How can you forget things that have bothered you for several years of your (relatively short) existence ?

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  6. #31
    悲しい話だと思いませんか jt_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    It is not the case. There have been many good experiences, but more at the beginning. With time, the negative side accumulates with little new good experiences, and the balance shifts to the negative side. The balance has probably shifted early 2005 for me. There have been a few exceptional people I have met in Japan, whom I won't forget, that do not enter in the category of people who bother me.
    I find this interesting (and unfortunate), because in my case, the balance has shifted more in favor of good experiences the longer I've been involved with Japan, and as my understanding of the culture and command of the language have improved. This is why I'm surprised that your good experiences have been so few (and actually decreased with time), as I know that you have a fairly good command of the language, and I would think that would have allowed you to make more positive relationships, i.e. people who you can have meaningful conversations with, as opposed to "Wow, you can use chopsticks!" etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I don't even ask to be considered as a native, just as a long-term resident with a good knowledge of the culture and customs. Unfortunately, most people won't even grant me that. I am just like any freshly arrived tourist to them. I was so shocked when after teaching a group of people for 2 years, they were still surprised that I could read such simple kanji as 使用中 ("in use"), although I had told them many times that I mostly speak Japanese at home with my wife.
    Well, it may be a stereotype, but I find it hard to blame them sometimes, as there are certainly a fair number of foreigners in Japan (especially those who work as language instructors) who have been in the country for an extended period of time and still are not particularly competent in Japanese. You may have told them that you speak Japanese with your wife, but perhaps it just didn't really sink in with them, as they weren't seeing you speak Japanese on a regular basis. (I imagine that you probably didn't use Japanese in your classes.)

    Did you ever consider trying to find another line of work -- one in which you would actually be working in a Japanese language environment? I guarantee that if you were working as a translator/interpreter or the like (I imagine you could be very successful in this field, considering you are not simply bilingual but multi-lingual) the people handing you translation assignments would not be shocked at your ability to read kanji -- since that would be part and parcel of the work that you receive a salary for.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    How can you forget things that have bothered you for several years of your (relatively short) existence?
    I'm not a good person to ask, as I have a hard time letting go of negative experiences myself. I just try to improve my situation (when I feel that the causes of my frustration are external) and reevaluate my attitude (when I feel that the causes are internal) -- usually it's a combination of both.

    You've improved your situation by moving back to Belgium. I can't question this decision, as I can never know your feelings and your situation as well as you do -- you sound happier, and if you are, then I think that's wonderful for you.  

    I just have this feeling that some of the negative experiences you had to suffer through were not just a product of "Japan", but rather your particular environment within Japan, and that you could have had a much more positive experience if you had explored some other opportunities. Perhaps you never would have been truly happy there -- as there are probably some fundamental aspects of Japanese society that you may have irreconcilable differences with -- but you may have been able to have a more rewarding and less frustrating experience there.

  7. #32
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jt_
    This is why I'm surprised that your good experiences have been so few (and actually decreased with time), as I know that you have a fairly good command of the language, and I would think that would have allowed you to make more positive relationships, i.e. people who you can have meaningful conversations with, as opposed to "Wow, you can use chopsticks!" etc.
    Exactly ! I wished to have more meaningful conversations, but I have noticed that it is hard to find people who are willing to go beyond the stereotypical questions. Actually, even with students who spoke well English and with whom I did have meaningful discussions about politics, business, history, cultural differences, travel or whatever, most of them still asked me those annoying stereotypical questions from every few months (but as I met lots of different people everyday, I got asked those questions in average once or twice a day).

    Well, it may be a stereotype, but I find it hard to blame them sometimes, as there are certainly a fair number of foreigners in Japan (especially those who work as language instructors) who have been in the country for an extended period of time and still are not particularly competent in Japanese. You may have told them that you speak Japanese with your wife, but perhaps it just didn't really sink in with them, as they weren't seeing you speak Japanese on a regular basis. (I imagine that you probably didn't use Japanese in your classes.)
    Indeed, I did not use Japanese during the class, but whenever someone thought aloud in Japanese about a word they didn't know, I proposed the English translation. So, they knew I could understand even some words they didn't know in English (and they were quite advanced students).

    Did you ever consider trying to find another line of work -- one in which you would actually be working in a Japanese language environment?
    I wouldn't like to work for a Japanese company for several reasons (hypocritical politeness, routine, litlle delegation of power or responsibilities to "junior employees", long hours compared to the pay, compulsory after-work drinking, etc.). I am too independent-minded to be an employee in any country, I think. I prefer freelance or self-employed.

    I guarantee that if you were working as a translator/interpreter or the like (I imagine you could be very successful in this field, considering you are not simply bilingual but multi-lingual) the people handing you translation assignments would not be shocked at your ability to read kanji -- since that would be part and parcel of the work that you receive a salary for.
    I did work as a freelance translator. But who knows that apart from the few people who order the translations ?

    The irony is that even people with whom I only speak Japanese (e.g. my wife's friends), who know I only speak Japanese with my wife, still get surprised that I can read simple kanji, and all ask stereotypical question. There seem to be no limit to the number of weird questions in the line of "do you have this in your country like in Japan ?" or "can you do that like the Japanese ?". It is justly the longer you stay and the longer you know people that you realise that they will never stop, no matter how well they know you. First they ask questions that everybody ask about typically Japanese things (chopsticks, sushi, futon, natto...). But then, when they have asked these things a few months or years ago, they still feel the need to ask about more ordinary things like a garlic-crusher or a vegetable-grater. Of course, the conversation is NOT limited to that. We speak about many things, but why on earth are they so obsessed about knowing whether we also have vegetable-graters in Europe, and why wouldn't there be ? What annoys me in all this is the way they ask, which usually feels like "you can't possibly have this in your country, can you ?". Maybe that's a problem with the language itself (most probably with the culture and way of thinking though).

    Perhaps you never would have been truly happy there -- as there are probably some fundamental aspects of Japanese society that you may have irreconcilable differences with
    Yes, that's probably it. That's because of the obsessive attitude of the Japanese to separate between uchi (Japan) and soto ("foreign countries"), so that no foreigner will ever be treated like a normal person, and that he/she will always be the object of the most naive questioning, that I can't accept. That's not a problem at all for short-term visitors (esp. first timers), but it prevents anyone with a substantial knowledge of Japanese culture and society to be satisfied as a long-term resident. The less you know about Japan, and the more you still have to learn from people, and the more you can enjoy Japan. I believe I have come to a point where I am highly fed-up of being ask 100x the same stereotypical questions over and over again. For me it feels like a formed of "societal nagging" (if you have ever experienced nagging from a woman, you might understand what I mean... ).

  8. #33
    Junior Member DoctorP's Avatar
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    so Maciamo...can you eat natto?

  9. #34
    gunjin Carlson's Avatar
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    well your were always nice to me. and i hope everything works out.
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    *Is often lack of insight, whereas cowardice in many cases is based on good information.

  10. #35
    悲しい話だと思いませんか jt_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Yes, that's probably it. That's because of the obsessive attitude of the Japanese to separate between uchi (Japan) and soto ("foreign countries"), so that no foreigner will ever be treated like a normal person, and that he/she will always be the object of the most naive questioning, that I can't accept. That's not a problem at all for short-term visitors (esp. first timers), but it prevents anyone with a substantial knowledge of Japanese culture and society to be satisfied as a long-term resident. The less you know about Japan, and the more you still have to learn from people, and the more you can enjoy Japan. I believe I have come to a point where I am highly fed-up of being ask 100x the same stereotypical questions over and over again. For me it feels like a formed of "societal nagging" (if you have ever experienced nagging from a woman, you might understand what I mean... ).
    (As I said in another thread, I'm going to be taking a break from this forum for a while. I just didn't want to leave this discussion halfway through.)

    Maciamo, I have no intention of denying the experiences you've had, or the frustrations you've felt from having people not be able to look beyond your "foreignness" and conduct meaningful conversations/relationships with you as a human being. I think that anyone who has spent any significant period of time in Japan has experienced this sort of narrow-mindedness from time to time (and to varying degrees) and that is natural for a sensitive and intelligent person to feel hurt and/or frustrated by this on some level.

    But I'm not sure it helps to speak the sort of absolutes that seem to be contained in the part of your post that I've quoted above (the emphasis is mine). The one line I've underlined, in particular, seems to suggest (please correct me if I'm misrepresenting your words) that any person who is satisfied with their life in Japan could only reach that conclusion due to a lack of true knowledge about Japan. They enjoy Japan more because they understand it less. After all, if they really understood how Japanese society worked, they would see its narrow-minded shallowness for what it is, and inevitably choose as you have chosen. This seems to me to be an unfair assessment of both Japanese society itself and people living in Japan, but perhaps I've misunderstood your position. (I don't think I've misrepresented your words.)

    I would agree with one line of your post in the sense that it is probably impossible for a foreigner to expect to be treated normally by 100% of the people they meet 100% of the time. Still, many people come to Japan, meet a not-insignificant number of people who do treat them "normally" (you expressed in a previous post -- correct me if I'm wrong -- that the people who treated you with the decency and respect you were looking for were the exception rather than the rule) build meaningful relationships with them, and manage to live a satisfying life in Japan where the meaningful encounters outnumber (far outnumber?) the negative ones you describe. This has been my experience, and I feel confident in saying that it's probably also been the experience of some of the true long-termers on this forum (I can't count myself among them yet). I can't make any definitive statements, but I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts as to why this never happened for you.

  11. #36
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jt_
    But I'm not sure it helps to speak the sort of absolutes that seem to be contained in the part of your post that I've quoted above (the emphasis is mine). The one line I've underlined, in particular, seems to suggest (please correct me if I'm misrepresenting your words) that any person who is satisfied with their life in Japan could only reach that conclusion due to a lack of true knowledge about Japan. They enjoy Japan more because they understand it less. After all, if they really understood how Japanese society worked, they would see its narrow-minded shallowness for what it is, and inevitably choose as you have chosen.
    Hmm... I have to admit that sometimes I get a bit too emotional and exaggerate a bit. Let's say that for me, the more I learned about Japan, and especially about the language, and the less I liked Japan. Other people may very well enjoy their time in Japan, maybe because they have a thicker skin, do not try "to go native", do not expect Japanese people to be less naive and more critical in their way of thing, or other reasons...

    You mentioned some "irreconcilable differences" that I may have with Japanese society. I believe that this includes the lack of critical thinking (e.g. the naive or "stupid" questions, or believing everything they were taught at school or by the media, even when it doesn't make sense, like the theory of the farmer vs hunter), hypocrisy (e.g. faking feelings of surprise, esp. women) and lack of general knowledge. The combination of all this made me write the article Common Japanese misconceptions regarding foreigners and foreign countries. It is true not all Japanese are like that. But I feel that such people are so common that it is annoying enough in daily life.

    I am pretty sure that some other foreigners in Japan may tolerate some "Japanese misconceptions" better than me. Personally, I don't see how I could still talk without rancour to someone who implies that the Japanese are more civilised than Westerners because their ancestors were farmers while Westerners were hunters. First of all it is racist, but worse than that it is not even true (as I explained here). But how did we arrived to talking about that in the first place, will you ask ? Just from a discussion about blood groups, and everybody knows how the Japanese like asking people about their blood group. They can tell me that they hate my haircut, dressing style or dislike Belgian chocolate - I don't care ! But tell me once this myth about hunters vs farmers, and I won't feel like talking to them again !


    I have made an effort to think about all the Japanese people I have met in Japan, and try to assess more equitably the problem. I estimate that in my job as one-to-one (or small group) English teacher, I have met between 250 and 300 people in 4 years. This includes about 100 people that I have only met once or just a few times. The reason is that students can decide after the first lesson whether they take me as their teacher or choose another teacher from that company. Naturally, there are natural personal affinities over which we have no control. I have checked my list of email addresses from ex-students, and I have over 100 of them, although I probably don't have the email of half of the students I have had (trial lessons apart).

    Looking at the names, I found 16 whom I cannot criticise for asking "annoying stereotypical questions" and with whom I had a fairly good to very good relationship. 8 of them were serious about studying, and always used a textbook, so that there was little time for free discussion, which could have revealed misconceptions or stereotypes in their mind. But I think they were better than average. Among the other 8, there are 3 which I haven't met for over 2 years, which leaves 5 people with whom I could have interesting discussions and who did not have strange misconceptions about the rest of the world. I could also add 6 people with whom had did have interesting discussions and good relations on the whole, but who did ask very stereotypical questions.

    So overall, most of the 250-300 people I have met while teaching were uninteresting and shallow, asked questions or had preconceived beliefs that irritated me, or didn't have a matching personality (or all of them). This is for people who are interested enough in "foreign countries" to take private English (or French or Italian) lessons. Among other people, such as people I have introduced to through my wife, in laws, for work, in shops, or whatever, the percentage of people that "meet my exigencies" (yes, I know I am exigent), is under 1%. In fact, I can hardly think of a single person outside the above-mentioned students, who did not assail me with some of the "misconceptions and prejudices" listed in my article, or who understood what not to say to Westerners. There have been a few, carefully selected people with whom I had a good relationship, but they ended up all coming back to these misconceptions - even those that had studied in a Western country for one year.

    So what is the profile of these "better than average people" (the few students I referred above) ? I tried to find what they had in common, but it was difficult. About half are men and half are women. They do very different jobs, come from different parts of Japan, have different interests and hobbies... Some have lived abroad, others have been to Western countries, but some haven't. Their personality is also very different, from very extravertite to more reserved. They were just maybe more "well-thought", consciencious and careful about what they say than average. It's difficult to find common traits. What is sure is that among the hundreds of people I have met, I have found a satisfying relationship only with a dozen people, and stayed in contact with only half of them in the last year.

    That's a long explanation, but don't forget that this is only a "fraction" of the reasons that made me leave Japan. Add to this actual discrimination, stress caused by always being looked at strangely or pointed at because I am a foreigner, poor quality housing, typhoons, earthquakes (a major deterrent to buy a house in Japan), bad TV, fascist politicians, racist mayor of Tokyo, bad street manners, too comformist and "brainwashed" society, too impersonal and hypocritical people, etc.

    I would agree with one line of your post in the sense that it is probably impossible for a foreigner to expect to be treated normally by 100% of the people they meet 100% of the time.
    My impression was more that it is probably impossible for a foreigner to expect to be treated normally even by 5% of the people they meet 100% of the time. That's really too little for me to feel comfortable living in such a country. After 3 weeks back in Europe, it only confirms my feeling that none of the problems I complain about exist for me in Europe. I don't think my wife will have to face similar experiences either (possibly other problems ?).

  12. #37
    Wanderer Mamoru-kun's Avatar
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    Hi Maciamo! That's a kind of story I couldn't have imagined. Thank you letting us know that kind of experience. It can be quite useful for people wishing to give a life there a try I think.

    In another side, if you need any help/hint about the Japanese community here in Brussels, I would be glad to help as far as I can. I personally work at "avenue Louise", just next to the Tagawa shop (I spoke about it in another threat), and as my wife is teacher in the Japanese school, she could also be of any help regarding the more or less 6.000 Japanese people around Don't hesitate to message me if you want…

    And by the way, Duo-san:
    Quote Originally Posted by Duo
    …if I'm not mistaken there is a Japan culture center right by Vleurgat(bus/tram station on the way to Avenue Louise from Av. Le Grand)
    what you are speaking about is the “Marubeni” building if I’m not mistaken (the building where the Tagawa restaurant is located), the big building at the crossroad corner, right? The Japanese Culture Center you are speaking about is in the same building than the Japanese embassy, at a jump from the Royal Palace. From Vleurgat, the busses 38 and 60 bring you there

  13. #38
    Happy 4321go's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mamoru-kun
    In another side, if you need any help/hint about the Japanese community here in Brussels, I would be glad to help as far as I can.
    Oh,you two are both living in Belgium, I find many members here are come from Belgium~

    And what I'v read in this thread makes me less desire to go go Japan ,I was curious about Japan though.

  14. #39
    Wanderer Mamoru-kun's Avatar
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    Of course! How could you consider going and live in Japan when you have Belgium near?!

  15. #40
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    Wow..

    Maciamo, I'm curious what you don't like about the language? I'm still learning alot about the sentence structure and different ways to say things.

    Did you go 'cold turkey' in japan where you didnt know any japanesE?

    Well I've always been interested in the japaense language since i was 7, and learned to count to ten in japanese from my karate class at the same age. I became interested from japanese pokemon cards, and now I no longer feel as hopeless in learning it. I probably know around 100 kanji, and I recognize alot more now. But I'm not gonna give up on it.

    I went to frys eletronics the other day, and saw some japanes eimport game. It sparked my interest once again. I love cities, big cities, the more lights the better. Something about it. I don't live in a big city (About 30 minutes away from phoenix) but I love neon lights. Heh. I've read many of your threads, and I feel like it's giving me a good view of japanese culture (albeit, one sided) of the culture.

    It is discouraging me though -- alot. It makes me not want to live there (Because I want to live there as a long term resident as well)
    Good luck to you.

    I'm saddened that you left after all that time. You learned to speak japanese fleuntly, now it's going to go to waste
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  16. #41
    As the Rush Comes Duo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mamoru-kun
    Of course! How could you consider going and live in Japan when you have Belgium near?!
    For those non-belgium informed i shall say that belgium is one of the best places to live that I know of... ;)

    furthermore i beleive we are in nsync with each other about the culture center mamoru-kun sorry to not have responded before but i have been slacking a bit lately when it comes to forum participation

  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4321go
    And what I'v read in this thread makes me less desire to go go Japan ,I was curious about Japan though.
    Don't take what you read in this thread about Japan as a representative sample of most foreigners experiences. Japan can be a hard place to integrate into, but if you make enough effort and are open minded enough then it is possible to live a happy life here.

    I have met (and work with) a lot of "foreigners", including Chinese who've been here a long time and they like Japan and Japanese people.

  18. #43
    As the Rush Comes Duo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gaijin 06
    Don't take what you read in this thread about Japan as a representative sample of most foreigners experiences. Japan can be a hard place to integrate into, but if you make enough effort and are open minded enough then it is possible to live a happy life here.

    I have met (and work with) a lot of "foreigners", including Chinese who've been here a long time and they like Japan and Japanese people.
    I'm sorry but y not ? Maciamo has surely tried enough to fit in Japan yet to no avail. Also I have read the same reactions that he has had by many other foreigners.... one of them Will Fergusson in the book Hokkaido Highway Blues..

  19. #44
    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    His biggest problem was, I think, the nature of the people he encountered in his work doing language teaching. The default mode in those settings is for the foreignness of the teacher to be a large part of the focus. A thing which bugged him to no end, and which I can well understand since it bugged me to no end either.

    Moving out of that field and into something where his foreignness (appearance, language ability, whatever) played no role at all would have done much to alleviate that particular stress.

    You are certainly correct that a good many other foreigners have similar experiences and reactions. Those few of us who make our peace with it stay; the overwhelming majority leave. That Maciamo couldn't tolerate it anymore and left is in no way a negative reflection on him. Nor should it be taken as a damning indictment of Japan.

    My personal opinion (and it is only that: opinion) has always been that part of the problem also stems from the tendency for foreigners to take a trip home once or twice a year. It's hard to settle your heart and mind in Japan when you're always busy bouncing your a55 in and out.

    Also, there is a very strong tendency for people to spend a lot of time examining their continued stays in Japan around the 3 year mark. Traditionally, that's about the time even the diehards give up and pack their bags. Concerns about family and career start to play very strongly on people's minds. This also seems to happen to guys a lot somewhere around the age of 30, regardless of their age when they showed up in Japan. It also happens when there are children involved who are about to reach school age.

    I left once before, but ended up coming back.

  20. #45
    天才じゃん! blade_bltz's Avatar
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    Maciamo - just out of curiosity, have you ever lived in the US? If so, could you briefly share some of your opinions/experiences. Sorry if this is common knowledge to the rest of the forum...

  21. #46
    Your Goddess is here Ma Cherie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blade_bltz
    Maciamo - just out of curiosity, have you ever lived in the US? If so, could you briefly share some of your opinions/experiences. Sorry if this is common knowledge to the rest of the forum...

    *whispers* Mac has been to the US, but...........I don't think he would want to visit the US again. *whispers*
    "Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot."
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
    by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  22. #47
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ma Cherie
    *whispers* Mac has been to the US, but...........I don't think he would want to visit the US again. *whispers*
    As a tourist, I wouldn't mind going back to the US. In fact, I really want to visit New York, Boston, Washington and California, and maybe also a few national parks. But I certainly wouldn't like to live in the US for several reasons (if I have too, it would probably be in NY or New England).

  23. #48
    Cat lover Apollo's Avatar
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    I have just seen this thread....I must be more active in here....
    I am surprised, but happy that you are happy with the choice.

    Was it very easy going back to Belgium? I mean, finding a house and finding a job for you/and your wife can be quite time-consuming.

  24. #49
    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gold Coin Lover
    It is discouraging me though -- alot. It makes me not want to live there (Because I want to live there as a long term resident as well)
    Quote Originally Posted by 4321go
    And what I'v read in this thread makes me less desire to go go Japan ,I was curious about Japan though.
    Do not make one, or a few peoples' experiences, decide for you whether you should go to Japan or not. As I've said in another thread, to deny yourself the experience of visiting Japan, if that is your desire, based on a few "bad experiences" is to deny yourself an education. Unless you've experienced it for yourself how will you ever know? Just because someone else had a bad experience doesn't mean that you will also. You may just find that you like the country.

    I have debated with Maciamo numerous times in the past and, if you've read any of my posts, you'll see that I had a completely opposite experience and I lived there many more years than he did.
    Quote Originally Posted by Duo
    Originally Posted by Gaijin 06
    Don't take what you read in this thread about Japan as a representative sample of most foreigners experiences. Japan can be a hard place to integrate into, but if you make enough effort and are open minded enough then it is possible to live a happy life here.

    I have met (and work with) a lot of "foreigners", including Chinese who've been here a long time and they like Japan and Japanese people.

    I'm sorry but y not ? Maciamo has surely tried enough to fit in Japan yet to no avail. Also I have read the same reactions that he has had by many other foreigners.... one of them Will Fergusson in the book Hokkaido Highway Blues..
    But the question remains, "Did he really try to fit into Japan or did he try and make Japan fit into his view of what Japan should be based on his views and opinions and western thinking?" After a year here on JRef, I believe in the latter as Maciamo's desire seemed to be that Japan should change its entire culture based on what he, and others, think it should be so that they would feel more comfortable living there. Unfortunately, this is an all too common ailment of foreigners living in Japan. They try to change it or lash out against it and, when things don't change, they leave in utter frustration giving others, who have never been to Japan, a false impression of the country and its culture.

    Do not misinterpret what I am saying here. Maciamo is not wrong in his assessment of Japan, but it should not be taken as the rule as I, and others, have a completely different assessment and experiences. What bothered him never bothered me as I understood just where the Japanese were coming from. His is just one mans opinion and is shared by many frustrated gaijin.

    As I said above, just because he and a couple of others had a bad experience, does not mean everyone will. Gaijin 06 is correct in his assessment.

    Quote Originally Posted by mike cash
    You are certainly correct that a good many other foreigners have similar experiences and reactions. Those few of us who make our peace with it stay; the overwhelming majority leave. That Maciamo couldn't tolerate it anymore and left is in no way a negative reflection on him. Nor should it be taken as a damning indictment of Japan.
    Like you Mike I left once only to return less than a year later. Foreigners who stay have made their peace with the differences in the culture and I do not forsee it changing anytime in the near, or distant, future.

    Quote Originally Posted by jt
    I find this interesting (and unfortunate), because in my case, the balance has shifted more in favor of good experiences the longer I've been involved with Japan, and as my understanding of the culture and command of the language have improved. This is why I'm surprised that your good experiences have been so few (and actually decreased with time), as I know that you have a fairly good command of the language, and I would think that would have allowed you to make more positive relationships, i.e. people who you can have meaningful conversations with, as opposed to "Wow, you can use chopsticks!" etc.
    You explained it so well and said much of what I wanted to say and feel that there is not much I can add to your fine assessment and analysis of the situation of living there as I feel pretty much the same way.

    As a famous author once said, "East is East and West is West, and never the Twain shall meet."

    Perhaps this story, "East is East - Get Used To It", in the British newspaper, The Guardian, explains a little better what I and others are trying to say here. Japan will never change, nor should she and bow to foreign pressure or by foreigners living there. If we (gaijin, foreigners) want to live there, we either accept the country and its customs and culture for what it is or, like Maciamo and many other foreigners, they let it get the best of them and high tail it out of there to live in a place they are more comfortable with. "Can you use chopsticks? Do you have fireworks in your country? Can you eat sushi? Do you sleep on a futon?"

    "Yes I can and yes we do", I answer for the umpteenth time. But it doesn't bother me and is a way to make new friends, maintain old ones, and keep a conversation going while learning the little intricacies of a foreign culture as, no matter how long I may be living there, there is always something new to learn. And, even if the same person asks me the same question for the fifth time, I'll politely answer and maybe, with a little frustration, think to myself how ignorant he might really be. But he really is a nice person and has made a sincere effort to be my friend.

    There were, and are, many things I do not agree with in Japan and living there. But I, like Mike Cash and jt and Gaijin 06, among others, have "made our peace with it." We understand the cultural differences and accept them and learn to live with them for, if we do not like it, we can always leave.

    "But Pachipro, you are not living there! How can you make such statements?", some might ask. Well, for those of you who are new and who may not have read my other posts on this subject, I have lived there for many years, visit once or twice a year and, in a few years, plan to retire there permanently. (Yes I know I have said this more than a few times in past posts.)

    As with all countries and cities around the world, Japan has it's good points and its bad points. To me, the good far outweighs the bad and it is a wonderful place to live, in my opinion, and experience. In fact I enjoy living there more than I do here in the US. And it is cheaper here, the roads are less crowded, and no one asks me silly questions unless it is something like, "Is it hot all year in Japan?" or "Do Japanese wear kimono everyday in Japan?" or something silly like that. Try it. You may just like it and discover something new.
    Do What You Love And You'll Never Work Another Day In Your Life!


  25. #50
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pachipro
    There were, and are, many things I do not agree with in Japan and living there. But I, like Mike Cash and jt and Gaijin 06, among others, have "made our peace with it." We understand the cultural differences and accept them and learn to live with them for, if we do not like it, we can always leave.
    I know this is true for you and Mike, but I am not sure for the two others. Gaijin 06 has only arrived in Japan a few months ago. Perosnally I did not feel irritated by all the things mentioned above until my 3rd year in Japan. You can't "make peace with it" if you haven't come into conflict with it first. And small things like the ones I mentioned are not things that would normally annoy me, if they happened just a few times a year. It is the frequency and accumulation over the years, combined with an increasing realisation that a majority of the people in that country behave like that, that lead to frustration and irritation...

    I guess I could have had a (slightly) more positive experience, had I lived in another area (with less conservative, elderly people), had another job (with less chances to be asked personal questions than as a one-to-one conversation teacher !). It would not have changed the way Japanese people are, but it could have made it more bearable by not hearing the same stereotypical comments and being asked the same questions almost everyday. But it was too late to change. I have reached a stage where just hearing a Japanese talk about the seasons, chopsticks or fireworks make me on the defensive, and being asked about them drives me crazy. When you have had an overdose of something, be it food, alcohol, music or some kind of people, you just can't have it anymore, even if you used to like it.

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