mayqueen356 comments

Posted in: Foreign disillusionment in the Land of the Rising Sun See in context

These compliments are sincerely meant as icebreakers – and almost seem like behavioral algorhythms ingrained into many Japanese on how to behave around foreigners.

I understand that there is no ill will behind these comments, but I am always pleasantly surprised and relieved when I am able to have a conversation with a stranger or new acquaintance that doesn't focus on my foreignness, as I've already had that conversation hundreds of times and it gets less and less interesting every time I have it.

I knew my husband was a keeper because when we met, the first words out of his mouth were, "Hi, I'm (name), what's your name?"

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Posted in: How to win an argument – Japanese style See in context

The use of this quote bugs me. It is misinterpreted. The original meaning is not a threat not to stand out, but a statement of the human condition. It means that those who stand out because of extraordinary ability or another enviable quality, and don't hide it out of modesty, are hated due by those who envy them.

This is true. It isn't meant to apply to anyone who is different. I usually hear it in the context of school bullying towards an exceptionally pretty or talented child.

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Posted in: A culture shock – generosity isn’t free See in context

He didn't know me, he didn't know my problem and he still decided to help me. That is real kindness.

I had an almost identical experience the first time I visited Korea: a total stranger went far out of his way to make sure that I got what I needed, with no expectation of anything in return. Which just goes to show, kindness and generosity aren't limited to any one country.

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Posted in: A culture shock – generosity isn’t free See in context

That line rings in many peoples ears as just rude, but somehow I feel it isn't meant to be taking so literally, I hope.

I think it's just that for many of us who have lived in Japan for a long time, we have heard the same or similar sentiments expressed so many times, with varying degrees of rudeness, that it's hard to take those words at anything other than face value.

Or in other words, she is doing to us precisely what she accuses people in other countries of doing to her, and she does it without any self awareness at all, which makes it even more annoying and hypocritical.

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Posted in: A culture shock – generosity isn’t free See in context

This whole article could just as easily have been written with the nationalities reversed.

"Here in Japan, I have met some people who think they can run over me or they are better than me if I am nice to them. What the heck? It was totally different from what I was used to. When we are nice in the US, we don’t mean we want to be your friends immediately nor do we want something in return. It’s just the right thing to do."

See? It works just the same, and is much closer to my own experience than the original text. So you felt more at home in your own country than you do in a new one? Big surprise there.

I've experienced plenty of instances of people being unkind and impolite in Japan. I've also run into plenty of people who expected something in return for their kindness that was totally inappropriate to expect, and plenty of people who thought that their kindness made it okay for them to look down on me or treat me like I was less than them. I'm sure I would experience the same no matter where i found myself on this earth. This is a classic example of the fundamental attribution error: when the author encounters unkind people in Japan, she writes them off as being an individual jerk, but when she meets one jerk in the US, she thinks it's the entire culture.

A word of advice, Makoto: The sooner you lose all this cultural stereotype baggage and start seeing the people you meet as individual human beings, the happier you'll be.

“Wait a minute. I am supposed to be more polite than them. I am Japanese!”

This just shows how little you know about the culture of the country in which you reside. The US is a patchwork of regional and ethnic cultures, many of which place a heavy emphasis on politeness and manners. I was raised in a culture that expected me to be polite, deferential, and modest, yet for some reason many Japanese people think these things are strictly the purview of the Japanese, and if I have these traits too, it must be that being in Japan has made them rub of on me. On the contrary, this is my native culture, and being in Japan has not changed the way I interact with people at all.

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