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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Post Strange Japanese beliefs & urban myths

    If one thing characterise Japanese people, it's the uniformity of their way of thinking and beliefs. They sometimes hold some kind of believes in order to distinguish themselves from the rest of the world (something they love doing). nfortunately for them, lots of these are just myths. For example :

    1) 4 seasons

    Japan is (one of the) only country to have 4 seasons

    No need to explain why this is plain stupid, as Japan doesn't even have much light difference between summer and winter, like in Europe. So no tennis at 9pm in summer and no going to school/work when it's dark at 8:30am.

    Everywhere in Europe and in most of North America, there are colourful autumn leaves, snow in winter, flowers in spring and hot summer days. Japan is far from unique. Even for cherry blossoms... Korea and China also have cherry, plum and peach blossoms galore, enough to advertise them on the official tourist websites.

    2)Farmers vs hunters

    Japanese have a majority of A blood type, because their society is based on farming, while Westerners are O, because they were hunters. This opposition farmer-hunter also explains the difference of Western individualism vs Japanese collectivism.

    If the blood types proportion have some thruth, the analysis that goes with it (farmers >< hunters) is completely erroneous.

    Actually it is the opposite.
    Farming came to Japan when the Roman Empire had already extended to its maximum and was on its way downwards. Agriculture came to Europe from several millenia (Greece) to several centuries (Northern Europe) before Japan. Farming has always been as important since then than any time in the Japanese history.

    I believe that Japanese prefer to consider themselves as traditionally "farmers" rather "hunters" because it sounds more civilised (others are just barbarians living in caves and wearing animal skins ! ). They maybe just think it fits more their peaceful and group-minded attitude. Thinking about how many times I have heard this argument in Japan, they must feel some kind of hidden pride in being the farmers. Sorry to disappoint them, but history shows they are actually one the the latest people in Eurasia to have acquire agriculture.

    3) European mentality is uniform

    So do most Japanese think. There is probably more difference between an Englishman and an Italian, a Finn and a Spaniard or a Greek and an Irishman, than between an Italian and a Japanese. Japanese tend to believe that all Westerners are the same, and many base their image on the American stereotype. That is as saying that carrots, apples, cabbages, cherries and nuts are all the same because they are not meat or fish. Gross overgeneralisation.

    4) What is (traditionally) Japanese and what is imported

    Lots of Japanese seem to have a problem with that. Some would believe that the classical music in their commercial (Mozart, Vivaldi, Chopin, Strauss....) is actually modern Japanese music created for the commercials. Other will tell you that French food in Japan is much better than in France, but have never actually set foot in France ! All Japanese are convinced that tonkatsu is a Japanese dish because it bears a Japanese name and is served in 和風 (wafuu : Japanese style) restaurants. Italian have had scallopine milanese and French cotelette de porc panee for ages. Tonkatsu is only one more Japanese import. As everybody know, Japanese were vegetarians before Meiji, and such kind of food didn't actually become popular before the 1950's or later.

    But what they really have hard to distinguish is the origin of modern traditions that have Japanese names, such as "mother and father's day "(haha no hi, chichi no hi). I've heard so many times : "In Japan we have mother's day, what about Europe ?" But it IS European in origin ! Same for valentine's day (though "white day" is a Japanese invention) or even sending greeting cards on New Year's day, which falls on the first of January (Japan has adopted Western calendar, not the opposite). As always, people the more at risk of comitting such aberration are those who have never left Japan.
    Last edited by Maciamo; Jun 28, 2003 at 01:18.

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