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Does Japan hate me?

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RE: Does Japan hate me?

Postby Hatori » Sat 12.30.2006 8:33 pm

paul_b wrote:
Mike Cash wrote:
Why do people tend to speak of "the Japanese people" as though they were a monolithic entity?

Same reason people round my way tend to to speak of "the Americans" as though they were a monolithic entity.


i didn't understand a word Mike said. :o XD
我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。
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RE: Does Japan hate me?

Postby doinkies » Sat 12.30.2006 8:45 pm

Basically, Mike was asking why people tend to think of "the Japanese" as being all the same.
あなたが好きだと言ったこの街並みが
今日も暮れてゆきます
広い空と遠くの山々 二人で歩いた街
夕日がきれいな街
-森高千里 「渡良瀬橋」
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RE: Does Japan hate me?

Postby flammable hippo » Sat 12.30.2006 9:04 pm

From what I've experienced, Japanese people in the US tend to be very VERY happy when they find out I've been learning Japanese. My sister's friend is Japanese and over the summer my mom told her mom that I was learning Japanese. She told my mom that she was visiting Japan shortly with her family and told her that she would buy me anything I wanted from Japan. Unfortunately, she left before I got a chance to ask for anything :@. Another time a few weeks ago I had a conversation with her on the phone in Japanese and you could just hear in her voice the joy.

Also, my Japanese teacher likes to make a habit of "showing me off" to the Japanese parents that come by to pick of their children after lessons. She shows them my Japanese journal entries (she asks me to write one weekly, nothing personal so it doesn't matter) and they always get happy afterwards. Not because I have some insanely awesome Japanese ability (because I don't) but because I am not Japanese and yet I am interested in their culture and language. It sort of fills them up with pride to see someone else attempt to be a part of their culture.

That's why I believe that the Japanese don't generally hate foreigners. They actually most of the time want others to learn their language and are very supportive.
Two muffins were baking in an oven. One turns to the other and says "sure is hot in here." The other replies "AH TALKING MUFFIN!"

二つのマフィンがオーブンで焼かれていた。片方のマフィンがもう一方のマフィンに向かって、"暑いね”と言った。すると、話しかけられたほうのマフィンは"アッ!喋るマフィンだ!”と驚いた。 :)
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RE: Does Japan hate me?

Postby Hatori » Sat 12.30.2006 9:11 pm

doinkies wrote:
Basically, Mike was asking why people tend to think of "the Japanese" as being all the same.


oh yeah, i totally agree with that statement. on a website i'm in "The Japan Union" and i made a japanese stereotype list and people adore me now... and i put down that everybody thinks the japanese all look alike. and i also stated that the japanese think that americans all look alike. just like any other country, everybody stereotypes.
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RE: Does Japan hate me?

Postby Mike Cash » Sat 12.30.2006 9:52 pm

paul_b wrote:
Mike Cash wrote:
Why do people tend to speak of "the Japanese people" as though they were a monolithic entity?

Same reason people round my way tend to to speak of "the Americans" as though they were a monolithic entity.


Well, that's to be expected of the British.

Hatori lamented:
i didn't understand a word Mike said. XD



I thought you were an honors student. I can adjust my vocabulary downwards as far as necessary, so you let me know what's comfortable for you.
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RE: Does Japan hate me?

Postby odysseus123321 » Sat 12.30.2006 11:16 pm

I think my one and only experience was that I went to buy a gift certificate to thise Japanese restaurant for my father. We both love sushi and well I got him that for Christmas. Anyway, I was inside and spoke to a guy by the name of Takashi and I told him I was teaching myself Japanese and he just LIT up. He even took the time to teach me a little bit and I thought it was awesome. I could speak a little bit with him but i'm still very very limited. I have a very hard time listening to Japanese. But luckily I can get the "Fujisankei News" on the AZN channel so sometimes I"ll watch that. I also got the complete set of Samurai Champloo for x-mas as well so, that'll give me some practice. But back to my story, Takashi was really cool and just stunned at the fact i'm teaching myself. It was a nice experience. It just makes me realize how far behind I am at learning the language. I want to be able to at least read and speak at a comfortable level. It might make my trip a little more enjoyable.


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RE: Does Japan hate me?

Postby Hatori » Sun 12.31.2006 3:46 am

Mike Cash wrote:

Hatori lamented:
i didn't understand a word Mike said. XD



I thought you were an honors student. I can adjust my vocabulary downwards as far as necessary, so you let me know what's comfortable for you.


just from how much i know you, i'm not sure if you are either being sarcastic or truthful. >>;
我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。
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RE: Does Japan hate me?

Postby Mike Cash » Sun 12.31.2006 4:39 am

Sarcasm and truth aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.
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RE: Does Japan hate me?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 01.06.2007 3:31 pm

I lived in Japan for 2 years (out in Tochigi, the boondocks) and I found my experience to be tainted heavily with racism and xenophobic attitudes, but not really in the way that people expect. It's not about racist slurs or death threats; it's more about a pervasive pattern of treatment. Part of the issue depends on how long you are staying there -- there's a big difference in your treatment depending on whether you live there or are just there "temporarily" (even for a few years).

The racism is somewhat subtle and unintentional on most people's parts, and some people are able to ignore it -- I found that I was not able to; it bothered me greatly. People have commented on the politeness and friendliness of the Japanese towards foreigners -- this is fine at first, but there comes a point when you want them to stop treating you like a guest and start treating you like a coworker, or a friend, or at least someone that they acknowledge as residing in Japan.

I was very annoyed by the people in my office who, even after I was there for 2 years every weekday, still treated me like I had just arrived in Japan yesterday. I remember talking to one of the teachers one day about the day's lunch (this was in a middle school). This was far from the first time I had talked to her, and this was after I had been working in this school for over a year and a half. The conversation went something like this (in Japanese):

Me: What's the lunch today?
Her: SUGOI! You're speaking Japanese! This is what we call DAI KON. hmm..yappari wakaranai nee. (Turning to one of the English teachers "'daikon' tte eego de nani?" English teacher: "Japanese radish")
Me: Yes, I've had daikon before.
Her: SUGOI! You know Japanese radish!? Sasuga nee! We're also having fish. But I guess you don't like fish, since you are a foreigner.
Me: No, fish is fine. I've had this lunch before.
Her: SUGOI! You like fish!?

And so on. While this may seem amusing and quaint, having a similar discussion to this multiple times a day for two years wore on my patience to the point where I hardly wanted to talk to anybody anymore.

I remember another co-worker who was there for two years. She had worked pretty hard at learning Japanese and her Japanese was fairly good (I think she passed JLPT level 2). At her goodbye party she gave a speech in Japanese, based on some notes she had made that were written in Japanese. After the speech, one of the teachers came up and told her that she was surprised her notes were written in kana (the teacher said "hiragana" even though she had used some kanji as well); the teacher though she could only read romaji. The teacher meant this as a compliment, but the co-worker was very hurt by this to the point of crying (in private) -- she had worked very closely with this teacher over the two years she had been there and considered her a friend, and to have her give this rather insulting compliment (which even some of the other Japanese people later said they thought was rude) really soured the end of her stay.

It's things like this, rather than overt racism, that can cause people to dislike Japan. On the other hand, a lot of people are able to ignore it and don't really find it much of a problem.
Last edited by Yudan Taiteki on Sat 01.06.2007 3:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Does Japan hate me?

Postby odysseus123321 » Sat 01.06.2007 3:57 pm

Wow, I can definitely see that being REALLY annoying after awhile. My question is, is this "nice-ness" out of actually being nice, or assuming we're complete idiots. Is it part of their culture to be this "nice" or part of their culture to look down upon us. For our point of view, I think it's tough because if we learn this language and truly want to learn every aspect of it, we don't want to be treated like retards. So is it us that are acting "snooty" towards them? Oh yeah and i hope this doesn't offend anyone. I just say this stuff out of observation of what's going on. Maybe its just the result of two opposite cultures clashing with one another. Oh well, those are my thoughts. Mata ne.


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RE: Does Japan hate me?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 01.06.2007 4:10 pm

One thing that can be done to overcome this (in some sense) is to have a good "cultural knowledge" of the language -- that is, not just what words in English translate to what words in Japanese, but how to use honorific language (and -masu forms) properly, how to use aizuchi in a conversation, how to introduce yourself (beyond the textbook "hajimemashite"), which "ritual expressions" to use when (i.e. stuff like "otsukaresama deshita", "gomen kudasai", etc.)

Personally I think that for life in Japan, knowledge of those aspects of the spoken language is far more valuable than any number of kanji, and I think the common advice of "learn to speak when you get there" is not good -- you will not pick these things up naturally, and by the time you do learn it "when you get there", you will have made your indelible first impressions already. I was not very good at this aspect of the language when I was there -- I could read well, and I could use the spoken language to convey a wide range of information, but I was not really able to use the language culturally as a native speaker would use it. I have a feeling this goes a long way towards overcoming the prejudices and preconceived notions some people have.
Last edited by Yudan Taiteki on Sat 01.06.2007 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Does Japan hate me?

Postby Schattenjedi » Sat 01.06.2007 5:07 pm

Good post.
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RE: Does Japan hate me?

Postby Mike Cash » Sat 01.06.2007 9:26 pm

odysseus123321 wrote:
My question is, is this "nice-ness" out of actually being nice, or assuming we're complete idiots.


I have long said:

"The greatest unfairness about Japan is that while foreigners are often treated like idiots, idiots are never treated like foreigners."
Never underestimate my capacity for pettiness.
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RE: Does Japan hate me?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 01.06.2007 9:56 pm

Were you also the one who came up with the great "glass of water" metaphor for living in Japan? I'd have to search the fj.life.in-japan archives to be sure.

The two archetypes you want to avoid becoming to have a great time in Japan are the Bitter Asshole and the Annoying Idealist -- it seems like 90% of the gaijin population in Japan is composed of one of those two types, though. If you learn too much about Japan and interact too much with the Japanese, you start to tend towards the Bitter Asshole, whereas if you avoid Japanese people and only find happy things about Japan, you may become the Annoying Idealist. The two are mortal enemies.
Last edited by Yudan Taiteki on Sat 01.06.2007 10:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Does Japan hate me?

Postby Mike Cash » Sat 01.06.2007 10:29 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
Were you also the one who came up with the great "glass of water" metaphor for living in Japan? I'd have to search the fj.life.in-japan archives to be sure.


Hey! That was me! I say so much brilliant stuff that I had entirely forgotten I ever said that. I tried to find it, but couldn't.

The two archetypes you want to avoid becoming to have a great time in Japan are the Bitter Asshole and the Annoying Idealist -- it seems like 90% of the gaijin population in Japan is composed of one of those two types, though. If you learn too much about Japan and interact too much with the Japanese, you start to tend towards the Bitter Asshole, whereas if you avoid Japanese people and only find happy things about Japan, you may become the Annoying Idealist. The two are mortal enemies.


That reminded me of something else I had posted, so I searched for it and, oddly enough, landed on the "glass of water" post you asked about. I'll cut-n-paste it here:

Usenet Post from 2003

Ed has done nothing more than say what I've been restraining myself
from saying for quite some time.

I was thinking today that the shortest book one could possibly write
would be "The Japanese: A Compendium Of Their Altruistic Acts"

I was also thinking that I really really really need to make an effort
to get out and be around Japanese who aren't driving so that I can
remind myself that Japanese aren't 100% a$$holes 100% of the time.

I was also thinking that the primary difference between a Japanese
roadway and a porcupine is the number of pricks per square inch. (It's
higher on Japanese roadways, in case you didn't know).

Japan and the Japanese are very interesting in that the less you know
about them, the easier they are to like. The longer you stay here and
the more you learn about them, the greater becomes the contempt with
which one regards them. The secret to staying relatively happy and
maintaining some slight grasp on your sanity is to studiously avoid
picking up too much information on them.

It's as though when we arrive in Japan we are handed a large glass
full of water, which represents all the love we are ever going to have
for the place and the people, and we have to carry it around with us
at all times. Things we learn about the place startle us, or the
people's behavior jostles us, and there goes some of the water
sloshing out of the glass. We're all going to spill some; it can't be
helped. But after a while you realize that you have to make a
concerted effort to hang onto what remains in the glass. This is a
large part of the reason that I purposely avoid news items about this
place these days. There is never anything that raises the place or the
people in my estimation, and my glass has little enough remaining in
it as it is.
Never underestimate my capacity for pettiness.
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