Wa-pedia Home > Japan Forum & Europe Forum
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 39

Thread: 10 adjectives that best describe your image of the Japanese national character

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    西京
    Posts
    2,434

    Arrow 10 adjectives that best describe your image of the Japanese national character

    All people see and feel the world differently. All people are biased according to the cultural environment and experiences. All people have different personalities and abilities. This is why I am interested in asking what is your image of the Japanese according to the ones you know, and your personal experience as a foreigner in Japan, or a Japanese that has lived abroad (the Japanese who haven't lived abroad or the foreigners who haven't lived in Japan will find it more difficult to reply to this thread).

    Here is my list :

    - polite (and hypocritcal)
    - respectful
    - industrious
    - obedient
    - childish (and naive)
    - epicurian
    - sociable
    - anxious (easily worried)
    - prejudiced (toward foreigners)
    - influenceable
    Last edited by Maciamo; Jun 29, 2006 at 22:55.

    Visit Japan for free with Wa-pedia
    See what's new on the forum ?
    Eupedia : Europe Guide & Genetics
    Maciamo & Eupedia on Twitter

    "What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?", Winston Churchill.

  2. #2
    Regular Member misa.j's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 6, 2004
    Location
    NYS, US
    Age
    47
    Posts
    81
    Hmm 10 adjectives, eh? Here they go.

    -Punctual
    -Clean
    -Persistant
    -Unaffectionate
    -Organized
    -Calculating
    -Excitable
    -Kind
    -Efficient
    -Dependent

    These are some of the characteristics of the Japanese I know(knew) that stand out. With some of those, I couldn't help comparing with the Americans I know.

  3. #3
    遠いから行きません GaijinPunch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 25, 2004
    Location
    Tokyo
    Posts
    67
    Hmmm....

    I probably won't use 10, but:

    -Punctual (definitely)
    -Abudantly fortefied with work ethics (uh... )
    -Kind
    -Unsympathetic

    That's all I can think. Why unsympathetic? Conclusions I drew myself, after examining the homeless situation. They get no tax break for making donations, and for the most part (at least all the Japanese I know), don't donate to the needy. You donate for one of two (or both) reasons. Either b/c you want the tax break, or b/c you're sympathetic to people in their situation. I've never seen one Japanese person give a homeless person anything... not even a look.

    Then again, most westerners aren't really sympathetic either... just a noticeable nitche group, I would say.

  4. #4
    Banned
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2005
    Age
    46
    Posts
    64
    Why didn't you just entitle this thread "List all the stereotypes you have about Japanese people"?
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    (the Japanese who haven't lived abroad or the foreigners who haven't lived in Japan will find it more difficult to reply to this thread).
    Would you like to explain why? Why would a Japanese who hasn't lived abroad have difficulty in defining their impression of their own national character? Furthermore, I've never lived in any countries other than England and Japan, but I could easily think of ten adjectives that fit my impression of what the average German, Frenchman, Spaniard, Italian, Australian or American is like.

  5. #5
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    西京
    Posts
    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by Stinger
    Why didn't you just entitle this thread "List all the stereotypes you have about Japanese people"?
    You could, but stereotypes has three connotations which I wanted to avoid : negative, untrue (myths) and shared by a large group of people. Here are I asking for both positive and negative adjectives, which true to you based on real experience, and personal (not how others feel about it, but YOU).

    Would you like to explain why? Why would a Japanese who hasn't lived abroad have difficulty in defining their impression of their own national character? Furthermore, I've never lived in any countries other than England and Japan, but I could easily think of ten adjectives that fit my impression of what the average German, Frenchman, Spaniard, Italian, Australian or American is like.
    Everybody has "stereotypes" and first-hand impressions on people from various countries. But I know from experiences that these images change a lot once you have actually been (for at least a few months) to the country in question.

  6. #6
    Banned
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2005
    Age
    46
    Posts
    64
    I'm still unclear as to why a Japanese who hasn't lived abroad will find it difficult. Do Belgians find it difficult to identify their own national characteristics unless they live somewhere other than Belgium?

  7. #7
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    西京
    Posts
    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by Stinger
    I'm still unclear as to why a Japanese who hasn't lived abroad will find it difficult. Do Belgians find it difficult to identify their own national characteristics unless they live somewhere other than Belgium?
    Yes, of course ! If you only know your country you forcedly have false stereotypes about other countries, and cannot determine how much more of less of something (e.g. polite, anxious, clean...) people are elsewhere. It is only by opposition that it becomes clear. Maybe that is why so many Japanese have such strong prejudices against foreigners, as too many of them have never lived abroad or interacted with foreigners in their own cultural environment (foreigners in Japan often don't behave as they would in their home country, justly because they are in a different culture and society).

    As for Belgium, I find it much harder to define its national character, even after living in many countries, than defining the one of other countries where I have lived. But maybe that is because there is more than one dominant culture in Belgium.

  8. #8
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    Feb 4, 2005
    Posts
    189
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    ...
    As for Belgium, I find it much harder to define its national character, even after living in many countries, than defining the one of other countries where I have lived. But maybe that is because there is more than one dominant culture in Belgium.
    Belgian is, at least, more pragamtic than Japanese, even though you have far greater cultural differences than the one, Hanshin Tigers v. Tokyo Giants.

    So which cities did you spend at when you were a kid?

  9. #9
    Techno Nudger Rich303's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 31, 2005
    Location
    From Kent,just outside London
    Age
    44
    Posts
    15
    Quote Originally Posted by GaijinPunch
    Hmmm....

    -Punctual (definitely)
    -Abudantly fortefied with work ethics (uh... )
    -Kind
    -Unsympathetic

    Then again, most westerners aren't really sympathetic either... just a noticeable nitche group, I would say.

    re; Punctual/ Work ethic -
    Small issues aside, I've been hugely impressed by how seriously take their jobs, since I've been working for NHK in London (It is nearly all Japanese people). My technical dealings with Tokyo have nearly always gone smoothly.
    If someone says they will do something, they do it.

    When I deal with English people I have to chase them and pester them a lot to do their job (even though they are making money from the situation).

    E.G - Sony UK had one of my machines in for repair for well over a month, during which I had to keep calling them to start the job (because of lost information, bad communication and general slackness)
    Eventually I had to send a second purchase order to start the repair job again. What they don't realise is I have people at NHK chasing me about the machine and wondering if it is my fault...



    ...Kind and unsympathetic is a strange juxtaposition, and I'm still making my mind up.
    My (ex?)G/F(?) whatever she is/was is not very sympathetic.
    I read something here about needing a 'thick skin in Japan', maybe mine is not thick enough to have a Japanese girlfriend.
    Vinyl rules!

  10. #10
    遠いから行きません GaijinPunch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 25, 2004
    Location
    Tokyo
    Posts
    67
    When I deal with English people I have to chase them and pester them a lot to do their job
    I live in perhaps the worst mainly English speaking place on Earth for that (Hawaii). You're lucky to find anyone working a full day. There's a restaurant with delicious food across the street. I go down there at 16:00 for my break every day, and they are always closed, yet the sign still says open until 17:00.

  11. #11
    Banned
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2005
    Age
    46
    Posts
    64
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Yes, of course ! If you only know your country you forcedly have false stereotypes about other countries, and cannot determine how much more of less of something (e.g. polite, anxious, clean...) people are elsewhere. It is only by opposition that it becomes clear.
    I don't entirely agree. We're talking about being able to identify national characteristics. I'm English, and long before I left England I could have told you 10 adjectives I felt described our national character. Whether or not I would be right, doesn't matter. It doesn't mean I can't try. You yourself said you are interested in people's observations based on their experience. Well that counts true for all. If you start narrowing the type of experiences that permit someone to make such an observation, your two views conflict with each other.
    Maybe that is why so many Japanese have such strong prejudices against foreigners, as too many of them have never lived abroad or interacted with foreigners in their own cultural environment (foreigners in Japan often don't behave as they would in their home country, justly because they are in a different culture and society).
    Forgive my curiosity, but do you never miss an opportunity to bash the Japanese for being prejudiced against foreigners? Perhaps you're misunderstood, or don't do it intentionally (maybe I'm missing something here), but I'm surprised that the admin of a Japanese forum seems to have such a low view of the Japanese people.
    As for Belgium, I find it much harder to define its national character, even after living in many countries, than defining the one of other countries where I have lived. But maybe that is because there is more than one dominant culture in Belgium.
    Fair enough, but then wouldn't you say that boiling down the Japanese to 10 words is also rather overly simplistic and doesn't reflect the diversity that exists in all countries (Japan and Belgium included).

    I have no issue with this thread per se, but I don't think we will learn anything from it that we don't already know.

  12. #12
    修行中
    Join Date
    Jan 8, 2004
    Posts
    158
    Quote Originally Posted by GaijinPunch
    I live in perhaps the worst mainly English speaking place on Earth for that (Hawaii). You're lucky to find anyone working a full day. There's a restaurant with delicious food across the street. I go down there at 16:00 for my break every day, and they are always closed, yet the sign still says open until 17:00.
    "I no late! I on Hawai'i time!" I believe is the saying there.

  13. #13
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    西京
    Posts
    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by pipokun
    So which cities did you spend at when you were a kid?
    None. I never really lived in a city as a kid.

  14. #14
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    西京
    Posts
    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by GaijinPunch
    -Punctual (definitely)
    I have my reserves on this. If I agree that most Japanese business people tend to be punctual (for work related matters at least), I have found that housewives tend to be as late as in Latin countries (5 to 15 min) to appointments (with friends, to private English lessons...). I have met a few Japanese (I admit it was a minority) who were almost always late at appointment (for lessons) - and when I say late, it is typically 15 min to 1h late ! Some don't even call to notify that they are not coming (one of them was an ANA flight attendant, which was even more suprising as her job was the ultimate customer-oriented job). In my experience real lower class Japanese (of which I met only a few) completely lacked the discipline of punctuality - which is maybe why they ended up with petty jobs and money problems.

    So, overall it is true that the Japanese as a nation are more punctual than many other nation's people, but I find this qualifier to apply to a lesser percentage of the population than the ones I chose. I would say that the Japanese are most punctual when they are worried/anxious about being criticised (mostly at work) or when they think it is disrespectful to be late (which highly depends on your relation with the person you are meeting or have a deadline with).

  15. #15
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    西京
    Posts
    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by GaijinPunch
    I live in perhaps the worst mainly English speaking place on Earth for that (Hawaii). You're lucky to find anyone working a full day. There's a restaurant with delicious food across the street. I go down there at 16:00 for my break every day, and they are always closed, yet the sign still says open until 17:00.
    Hawaii is famous for being easy going. I have never seen shops closed when they should be open in Belgium; at best some might close 5min early when there are no customers (but more actually stay open a bit later).

  16. #16
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    西京
    Posts
    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by Stinger
    I don't entirely agree. We're talking about being able to identify national characteristics. I'm English, and long before I left England I could have told you 10 adjectives I felt described our national character. Whether or not I would be right, doesn't matter. It doesn't mean I can't try.
    I never said they couldn't try. I just asked them in my OP to specify that they had never been abroad (or in Japan). I was interested to see your views on the English national character, so I started a thread about it here.
    You yourself said you are interested in people's observations based on their experience. Well that counts true for all. If you start narrowing the type of experiences that permit someone to make such an observation, your two views conflict with each other.
    It is just a thread. In this particular thread I want to hear about what people think based on real experiences.
    Forgive my curiosity, but do you never miss an opportunity to bash the Japanese for being prejudiced against foreigners? Perhaps you're misunderstood, or don't do it intentionally (maybe I'm missing something here), but I'm surprised that the admin of a Japanese forum seems to have such a low view of the Japanese people.
    Is this a low view ? Did I list only negative things in my 10 adjectives ? No. My views are actually much more objective and balanced that one may think considering my negative experiences in my last 2 years in Japan.
    Fair enough, but then wouldn't you say that boiling down the Japanese to 10 words is also rather overly simplistic and doesn't reflect the diversity that exists in all countries (Japan and Belgium included).
    Of course it is ! But believe me it is already difficult enough for most people. We are not making a scientific study. I just want to know how people have felt about the Japanese based on their own experiences and compared to the people in their own country. If you want to write a detailed study on the topic that is not to simplified, you are free to do so and post it on the forum. I am actually looking forward to it.
    I have no issue with this thread per se, but I don't think we will learn anything from it that we don't already know.
    It depends mainly on the contributions that are being made. I am still waiting for yours... Admit that it is not so easy to choose the 10 most suitable adjectives to describe a whole national character. That's the difficulty that makes this kind of thread interesting. If you don't like it, then pass your way. You don't have to reply or like all threads on the forum.

  17. #17
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    Feb 27, 2005
    Location
    japan
    Posts
    176
    Maciamo, you are really a poor guy.
    your prejudice is more than a racist one.
    You try to generalize everything and to put it in your frame by your supremacy.

  18. #18
    Banned
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2005
    Age
    46
    Posts
    64
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I would say that the Japanese are most punctual when they are worried/anxious about being criticised (mostly at work) or when they think it is disrespectful to be late.
    I think you could make that point about anyone.

  19. #19
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    西京
    Posts
    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by caster51
    Maciamo, you are really a poor guy.
    your prejudice is more than a racist one.
    You try to generalize everything and to put it in your frame by your supremacy.
    Could you explain what makes you think so and why ?

  20. #20
    Banned
    Join Date
    Feb 5, 2006
    Posts
    111
    To get back on topic;

    self-effacing
    polite
    understated
    generous
    forgiving
    stubborn (ganko)
    shy
    intranssient
    subdued
    selfish

  21. #21
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    西京
    Posts
    2,434
    Hachiro, what make you see the Japanese as "stubborn" ? My impression was rather the opposite, they usually don't insist over an argument (probably due to low self-esteem and an urge not to confront people). Socially, they often do what other people want what seems to be as an very flexible manner.

    As for self-effacing, shy and subdued (almost the same thing), it is mostly young males and older females. Young women (especially if they are beautiful) tend to be more outgoing. But the most confident and even pushy people in Japanese society are older men (especially if they have some status).

  22. #22
    Junior Member DoctorP's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 3, 2004
    Age
    49
    Posts
    198
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Hachiro, what make you see the Japanese as "stubborn" ? My impression was rather the opposite, they usually don't insist over an argument (probably due to low self-esteem and an urge not to confront people). Socially, they often do what other people want what seems to be as an very flexible manner.

    I have to agree with Hachiro here. Maybe it is because you never really had friends while you were in Japan, but more of a business relationship, but I find many of my Japanese/Okinawan (there is a difference) friends to be quite stubborn.

    On the punctual part, I find Japanese to be quite punctual most of the time, no matter what the reason. Okinawans on the other hand are very laid back and time really has a different meaning to them. I rarely find them in a hurry to get something done and they show up quite late at times with a quick gomenasai that usually seems like more of a routine than an actual feeling.

  23. #23
    Banned osias's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 5, 2006
    Posts
    74
    "The actual people who live in Japan are not unlike the general run of English people; that is to say, they are extremely commonplace, and have nothing curious or extraordinary about them." Oscar Wilde

  24. #24
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    西京
    Posts
    2,434
    Rather than stubborn (ganko), I would say that they are capricious (wagamama).

  25. #25
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 17, 2002
    Location
    西京
    Posts
    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by osias
    "The actual people who live in Japan are not unlike the general run of English people; that is to say, they are extremely commonplace, and have nothing curious or extraordinary about them." Oscar Wilde
    Given the huge difference of mentality between young and old Japanese, I can only imagine that Oscar Wilde's generation of Japanese was even further away from modern society. Victorian Britain was also a far cry from today's Britain... Just think of how a video clip of Robbie Williams would be considered in Oscar Wilde's days...

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. What is your image of Japan ?
    By Maciamo in forum All Things Japanese
    Replies: 24
    Last Post: Mar 15, 2013, 03:57
  2. What is your favourite National Anthem(s) ?
    By Maciamo in forum Miscellaneous
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: Mar 20, 2005, 11:01
  3. China bans computer game for smearing its image
    By Maciamo in forum Social issues
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: Aug 1, 2004, 21:15

Posting Permissions

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