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Thread: Bad Japanese manners / Where are the polite Japanese ?

  1. #51
    Junior Member DoctorP's Avatar
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    Speaking of the eating/drinking of hot items. Many Japanese tend to believe that one problem with Westerners (mainly US) is that we drink too many cold liquids. They say that it isn't healthy to always drink ice laden drinks. (Of course the Japanese love ice cold beer!) But if you notice, they usually drink coffee or warm/hot tea.

    They say these warm liquids help in the natural movement of energy in the human body.

    My wife loves her soup extremely hot...so hot that I usually have to wait 10-15 minutes for it to cool enough to eat it. She thinks this is strange, but I too think she is strange, so it evens out!

  2. #52
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    Bicycle and umbrella thefts are rampant in Japan...
    Wtf...? Umbrella thieves? Umbrellas cost like, what? Ten bucks?
    That is not true. They do it at home too (I have lived with my in-laws in a while), even when they cook it themselves. So it's definitely not to show appreciation.
    I stand by my arguement. I was told that it was traditional manners. And maybe the reason why people do it even if they cook the food themselves is probably because that tradition turned into a habit that everyone is taught to pick up.

  3. #53
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pbjsandwich View Post
    Wtf...? Umbrella thieves? Umbrellas cost like, what? Ten bucks?
    Anything from 100 yen to 50,000 yen. As you know Japanese people are addicted to brands, and I know quite a few people who had pretty expensive umbrellas (some more expensive than a mountain bike).

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  4. #54
    Junior Member DoctorP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pbjsandwich View Post
    I stand by my arguement. I was told that it was traditional manners. And maybe the reason why people do it even if they cook the food themselves is probably because that tradition turned into a habit that everyone is taught to pick up.
    Actually Maciamo is correct. The primary reason for slurping is to cool the food.

  5. #55
    Hullu RockLee's Avatar
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    I also heard in China you have to burp after dinner to show appreciation. What a load of crock ! I didn't even hear 1 person burp...Only saw even really hot girl spit on the ground. Stereotypes are just what they are, nothing more.
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  6. #56
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    I don't consider slurping "bad manners", it's just different manners. It might have originated as a way to cool off your food/drink, but it has a nice advantage that it improves your tasting. Wine-tasters also slurp their wines so they get more oxigen in their mouths and so they can taste better.

    Anyways, the few things that bother me in Japan is sexism and racism. Women are often treated differently than men and are supposed to fulfill a taxing role in the old-fashioned man-woman-relationship, taking care of the man. At the same time the male counterpart is unable to perform a wide array of tasks like cooking, washing and other basic tasks to take care of one self.. I just find that very, very sad.

    The other thing is racism, but a lot has been said about that and there is little I can add to it. One recurring thing springs to mind though. When I am with my Japanese girlfriend and I order something (for example curry rice) many waiters/waitresses ask my girlfriend for further questions (for example how hot I want the curry to be). I keep telling myself that they do that out of politeness (what if the customer doesn't understand what the waiter is saying, he might look like a fool), but I can't help experiencing it as very rude.

  7. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by leonmarino View Post

    Women are often treated differently than men and are supposed to fulfill a taxing role in the old-fashioned man-woman-relationship.

    When I am with my Japanese girlfriend and I order something (for example curry rice) many waiters/waitresses ask my girlfriend for further questions (for example how hot I want the curry to be).
    Japanese men are esteemed in society at the expense of their women-folk is how Japan structures it,I am not seeing any sign of dramatic changes in regard to gender matters.

    This scenerio comes up often,is it customary or these Japanese individuals just want to get it right as they're known perfectionists

  8. #58
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leonmarino View Post
    The other thing is racism, but a lot has been said about that and there is little I can add to it. One recurring thing springs to mind though. When I am with my Japanese girlfriend and I order something (for example curry rice) many waiters/waitresses ask my girlfriend for further questions (for example how hot I want the curry to be). I keep telling myself that they do that out of politeness (what if the customer doesn't understand what the waiter is saying, he might look like a fool), but I can't help experiencing it as very rude.
    First when I read your post I thought you were complaining about waiters asking how people want their curry, but as it didn't make sense I re-read and understood that the problem was that they ask your girlfriend about your curry (not hers), rather than asking directly to you, just because you are a foreigner. It has happened countless of times to me.

    There have been times with my in laws when my wife's mother or grand-mother wanted to ask me a question they asked my wife, who repeated it to me in Japanese, rather than ask me directly (even at the dining table). When I told my wife that I found this strange, she explained that traditionally it was not polite for a woman to address a man directly. That doesn't make sense because my wife is also a woman, and we are all family... It also doesn't make sense because male waiters or JR staff would also answer to my wife when I asked them a question. I stayed long enough in Japan to notice that women all address men directly between Japanese. Only foreigners get asked questions indirectly.

    I suppose that the main reason for them to do that is because they think that foreigners cannot understand Japanese. But again, my in laws knew as I usually spoke only Japanese with my wife after 2 years in Japan, and they (esp. the grandmother) kept making indirect questions via my wife, although I answered in Japanese. Sometimes my wife would even repeat what I said in Japanese with the exact same words. When I complained about it, she said that her grandmother couldn't understand my pronuciation, which is obviously a false pretext, as everybody else understood without problem. I came to understand that the true reason is that she didn't really want to talk to me directly (maybe was she intimidated by my being a foreigner). But it seems to be true for many waiters, shop assistants and JR/metro staff too (not all, fortunately). They are so intimidated at talking to Westerners that they had rather talk back to my wife than me when I ask them something. More than racism this is actually xenophobia (literally "fear of foreigners"). Actually I cannot think of a better illustration of the term xenophobia in its most literal sense. Naturally, people who seek to meet Westerners (in bars, nightclubs) or take private English lessons with a Westerner do not behave like that.

  9. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post

    she explained that traditionally it was not polite for a woman to address a man directly.

    she said that her grandmother couldn't understand my pronuciation,which is obviously a false pretext,I came to understand that the true reason is that she didn't really want to talk to me directly (maybe was she intimidated by my being a foreigner).

    More than racism this is actually xenophobia (literally "fear of foreigners"). Actually I cannot think of a better illustration of the term xenophobia in its most literal sense.Naturally,people who seek to meet Westerners (in bars, nightclubs) or take private English lessons with a Westerner do not behave like that.
    It's only true for older female generations in any East Asian culture,no longer in practice though.

    There are Oriental grannies ( including my mother ) do feel un-comfortable talking directly to " foreigner males " not necessarily imply disliking or disrespectful.

    Honestly,there are some Orientals in Pacific Rim region not comfortable socially interact with " foreigners ".I can't say that's the case for Japanese in this regard since they're indoctrinated at very young age by the notion Japan is part of Western World.

    I am NOT defending certain perceivingly " racist or foreigner-unfriendly " behaviours of Japanese,I can understand gaijins are irritated by those social annoyances in Japan.I would find it extremely rude if a waitress chooses not to address me directly because I look racially or ethnically different.
    Last edited by ricecake; Sep 4, 2006 at 19:08.

  10. #60
    Five times to Japan. ArmandV's Avatar
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    I think a lot of waiters/waitresses are so used to gaijins like me (who know diddly-squat in Japanese) that they automatically turn the the Japanese person who's with you and then are shocked when the occasional gaijin shows up who speaks Japanese.

    When I went to a French(!) restaurant in Ginza with a Japanese ladyfriend, I didn't feel at all that I was given rude treatment. The menu was bi-lingual but she ended up telling the waiter our order and what wine I requested. It just made things go all the more smoothly.

    Armand's Rancho del Cielo

  11. #61
    puzzled gaijin
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    Yes, but this aspect of Japan seems to be often overlooked by the natives here, who are puzzled why 'others' be annoyed by it until you treat them the same way. I have had a soft right-winger at another site try to aoid admitting anything, looking for any excuse as to why Japanese might ;

    not sit near any foreigner in some cases (old, young, fat, thin, short, tall, etc)

    always direct questions to another if they are Asian looking, even if they don't understand Japanese

    insist on not allowing you as you 'might' upset the other customers

    If this is traditional behaviour, I'm glad I'm not atraditional xenophobe-racist!

  12. #62
    Five times to Japan. ArmandV's Avatar
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    I've had numerous Japanese go out of their way to sit near me (mainly older men and younger women) to strike up conversations. I've never noticed "avoidance."

    The fact is, if you allow minor things to upset or annoy you, you will be upset and annoyed.

  13. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by gaijinalways View Post

    I have had a soft right-winger at another site try to avoid admitting anything, looking for any excuse as to why Japanese might not sit near any foreigner in some cases (old, young, fat, thin, short, tall, etc)

    always direct questions to another if they are Asian looking,even if they don't understand Japanese
    I've read a lyric written by a gaijin on another Japan-oriented forum,in describing how one can be frown upon for gaijin-looking in JR/metro.I've had some reservation to that post,this confirms some of you actually experienced it.

    This is a bit surprise to me,Japanese in Japan are comfortable with Asiatic peoples as it's the opposition elsewhere.Probably a minor case of Japan's Dr Jekyle and Mr Hyde.

  14. #64
    puzzled gaijin
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    Question Where are all the polite Japanese?

    I know that I have discussed on different threads about Japanese politeness, sometimes focusing on what is important such as keeping the 'wa', even if it means telling untruths that not even a child would believe.

    No, this is something different, people who seem to think that everyone else has rules except them. I believe I did relate this first incidence earlier, where in a sushi bar there were two kids running around as if it was a play ground. Not a word from the owner or the parents. This seems to be a more common occurance recently, where I get middle-aged Japanese disbelieving that it happened, forgetting that the way their parents raised them is different than how some 'Shibuya' Moms raise their kids now.

    This more recent event ocurred at a dance festival on Saturday. It was raining, so people started using umbrellas and in some cases raincoats. What was appalling was how some people were using them. First case in point was a woman who showed up, and throughout the festival continued to talk to her friend on her cellphone, while absentmindedly poking her umbrella dangerously near the back of my wife's head. Of course people are near each other as they cowd in to try and see the dancers, but I have never seen some one so intent on her conversation for the duration of event as to forget there are other people around.

    But this wasn't the worst. Two women in front of us decided for some reason to keep leaning their umbrellas backwards, at one point practically soaking my wife on one side of her jacket. When my wife politely decided to point this out to the woman directly in front of her, the women continued to swear at her, and then stood up trying to push the umbrella further behind her, ignoring the fact that she was hardly keeping herself drier. She stated that she had f%%%%ing been there since the morning so she had the right...I think you get the picture.

    I have to wonder, where are the polite Japanese I keep hearing about?

  15. #65
    Just me Glenski's Avatar
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    People can be oblivious on their cell phones, gaijinalways. I hope you "pointed" that out to her. Pun intended. Let's just hope she doesn't drive and use her cell phone.

    By the way, what was your wife's reaction to the f%%%%ing ***** with the umbrella soaking you?

  16. #66
    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    I'd like for him to teach me the Japanese swear words.

  17. #67
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    Tokyoites can be really rude. Someone told me about one obasan on a bicycle who hit another obasan in the back with ther bike then complain that the walking obasan shouldn't have been in her way!
    The Japanese have a saying, "Tokyo is not Japan."

  18. #68
    puzzled gaijin
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    I'd like for him to teach me the Japanese swear words.
    I'm sure you probably already know them. I didn't hear exactly what was said, just providing my wife's translation. It was a somewhat heated arguement. I probably should have butted in with an "Oi, nani-o shimashita ka?" in a booming voice, but I'm not sure that would have ended it or not. This woman was obviously someone with no concept of manners.

    Tokyoites can be really rude. Someone told me about one obasan on a bicycle who hit another obasan in the back with ther bike then complain that the walking obasan shouldn't have been in her way!
    Exactly, this seemed to be her atitude, that having waited for a long time to see this dance festival made it permissable for her to act in any fashion she chose.

    The Japanese have a saying, "Tokyo is not Japan."
    What's interesting is that Tokyo often gives me the impression of being an 'inaka-shi' or a city full of country bumpkins. With some 70% of the city residents being from elsewhere (and often rural areas), this is not that far off the mark.

    Sophisticated is not quite the word I would use.

  19. #69
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    On average, Japanese are politer than many other nationalities. But you could find all kinds of people there too.

    On a side note, your constant whining is starting to get on my nerves.

  20. #70
    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gaijinalways View Post
    I'm sure you probably already know them.
    No, I don't already know them. That's why I asked you to teach them to me. Your (English) version of what was said intimates that there was some Japanese vocabulary I have somehow managed to not run across despite nearly two decades of working with Japanese truck drivers. I'd love to hear what came out of an okusama's mouth that has never come out of theirs.

    I didn't hear exactly what was said, just providing my wife's translation.
    Just as I thought. You irresponsibly ramped it up a notch claiming profanities in your English version for the purposes of sensationalizing it. As though it weren't bad enough just as it was.

    I probably should have butted in with an "Oi, nani-o shimashita ka?" in a booming voice, but I'm not sure that would have ended it or not.
    If that is indicative of your ability to participate at a heated level, I can guarantee you it would have accomplished nothing.

  21. #71
    Œp‘±‚Í—Í‚È‚è bakaKanadajin's Avatar
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    Yea unfortunately.... well fortunately, actually.. in a society as non-violent as Japan's the ability to navigate the grey area of swearwords and (dis)respect is so important it's tantamount to fisticuffs. Therefore language barriers keeps most foreigners on the perimeter of an argument unless their Japanese is excellent, and I mean excellent. Using masu-ke when you're angry is, as Mike Cash said, not going to be terribly effective.

    In his defense though, given his Japanese level, perhaps it wasn't his fault and his wife just gave him a Western-friendly translation that she thought equated the f-word.

    To respond to the topic, Tokyo is quite unfriendly, I agree. It's cold because it's what's needed to get by in a city so densely populated. Actually I think I'm still happier to be here than in Toronto simply because despite the relative rudeness this place is still ten times better than any major Western city I've spent time in.

  22. #72
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    Therefore language barriers keeps most foreigners on the perimeter of an argument unless their Japanese is excellent, and I mean excellent.
    Gaaah, I think you are over-analyzing. Japanese is not that insanely difficult.

  23. #73
    puzzled gaijin
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    I'd love to hear what came out of an okusama's mouth that has never come out of theirs.
    Just get out more, I'm sure you might. You might want to consult some slang dictionaries as well.

    Just as I thought. You irresponsibly ramped it up a notch claiming profanities in your English version for the purposes of sensationalizing it. As though it weren't bad enough just as it was.
    I didn't do any such thing. I just repeated what my wife said and I assume she had no reason to lie. Interesting that you'd like to pit your Japanese knowledge aganist hers, a native speaker.

    gaijinalways posted
    I probably should have butted in with an "Oi, nani-o shimashita ka?" in a booming voice, but I'm not sure that would have ended it or not.
    mikecash posted
    If that is indicative of your ability to participate at a heated level, I can guarantee you it would have accomplished nothing.
    I think it would depend on the person. I have used it in some cases and the results have been varied. I'm pretty big so my voice and body language often get enough of the message across. Just sometimes I can't be bothered (as in this case I just thought the woman was annoying more than anything else). Kind of like a similar case in an Internet forum...

  24. #74
    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    Yeah, that's my whole problem; I've just never spent enough time where people were speaking Japanese. You conveniently ignored the "nearly two decades of working with Japanese truck drivers" part.

    Please ask your wife how to say "F%%%%ing this and F%%%%ing that" for us in Japanese. One can be rude in Japanese, one can be crude in Japanese, but it is nigh on to impossible to be profane in Japanese.

  25. #75
    Offender of all religions Emoni's Avatar
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    People vary because they are people. I've run into assholes in Japan just like anywhere else. Just because the initial behavior "tends to be" one expectation doesn't mean you won't sometimes run into those who fit the exact opposite of that expectation from time to time.

    Just remember that one person doesn't represent an ENTIRE culture, race, social group, or nation. It's my hope that one person isn't considered a representative as I know plenty of Americans who have f'd up a lot of situations in Japan due to their behavior and I don't want to be labeled along with them.
    -Emoni
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