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Thread: The three circles

  1. #1
    忍心してます! Sharingan's Avatar
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    Mar 13, 2007

    The three circles

    I heard that in Western cultures we have "three circles" of intimity with people : the family, friends, and acquaintances. I heard that in East Asian cultures, the circle of acquaintances doesn't exist. If you are just an acquaintance, you are nobody, just like a stranger. Is that true ? Is that only in China maybe ? Also in Japan ?

  2. #2
    継続は力なり bakaKanadajin's Avatar
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    Apr 30, 2007
    That's a tough one to call. The Japanese in Japan are polite enough such that even if you were 'acquaintances' with a Japanese person, you'd rarely know that you were 'nothing' to them. But thats a gaijin perspective of course. I had a few neighbours who took an interest in me in Kanagawa, and they always stopped to say hi if I did, otherwise we'd pass each other but still acknowledge each other at least with a wave or nod. The only time I ever really received a cold shouler was when I'd pass a student on the street who'd gotten it into their head that NOVA teachers and students speaking ouside of school = immediate death or something.

    Here in Toronto, the young Japanese crowd (recent grads, world travellers) all seem very eager to chat and meet again, but they probably aren't representative of Japanese culture at large.

  3. #3
    Cute and Furry Ewok85's Avatar
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    Nov 14, 2003
    I'd say it exists in Japan, and you can put it into specific groups too.

    At a young age you have dokyusei - people of the same "age". Because from kindergarten to the end of elementary school you are with the people of the same age, in the same area. Then you'll meet them again at your Seijinshiki.

    Also applies to those that you go to High School with for 6 years, and people you go to Uni with. Its not unusual for people in their 40's and 50's to meet up with people from school and uni and have long ties with them.

    Also related is the teachers and sempai.

    Then you have work colleagues.

    And of course family.
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  4. #4
    Regular Member KirinMan's Avatar
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    Jan 23, 2007
    Also applies to those that you go to High School with for 6 years, and people you go to Uni with. Its not unusual for people in their 40's and 50's to meet up with people from school and uni and have long ties with them
    You made a good point however students here do not go to High School for 6 years it is only 3.

    Usually from Elementary school through Junior High School the kids are together. Cumpulsory education here runs through JHS, students then pretty much spread out when they enter High School, although some choose to study at the same HS's.

    Here in Okinawa the bonds of friendship formed from ES last until death in most cases.

    Here these friendships are a necessary part of life, it's not so much what you know but who you know. That extends from family life into business as well.

  5. #5
    Just me Glenski's Avatar
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    Aug 20, 2003
    Somecity, Japan (American)
    Even family can be more like an acquaintance, depending on circumstances. So, I wouldn't lump "family" into just one group.

    As for Japan, you have plenty of "circles". Some families are closer than others. Some friends are, too. Look at New Year's cards (nengajo). Some people keep sending those out into their senior citizen years for people they met in kindergarten, and they may not have seen them or spoken to them for decades.

    Acquaintances. Could be just someone you know in your neighborhood, or perhaps a co-worker. Lots of those around in both cultures, I would think. Probably the biggest group of them all, with so many variations. In Japan, even being an acquaintance can sometimes be very important for networking, and I mean networking anything! Perhaps this delves into another category for Japan, that of sempai and kohai.

  6. #6
    Junior Member elektrokitten's Avatar
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    Jun 19, 2007
    I've actually seen these and wondered about them. Nice to know what they are.

  7. #7
    Regular Member
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    Feb 4, 2005
    After the one-child policy, Chinese people may change their idea, but Mukoyoshi, a system in which a man marrys into the family of his bride and succeeds to it is the most different aspect of Japanese family value comparing other East Asian cultures like China or Korea.

    About the community oriented or hungry people, you can find them anywhere in the world.

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