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Old 2007-07-13, 06:56   Link #161
Mueti
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joka View Post
Taken excerpt from one website and this excerpt deals exactly with what you said about the chopstick things etc.
the westerner coming to Japan will right from the airport be drowned in the "compliment" Nihongo wa jouzu desu neh, or "Your Japanese is good". It's usually spoken in a "Look Mom, the horse can do math problems" kind of way -- slightly condecending. The problem with all this is that it is put on you a thousand times a day, every time you open your mouth, in exactly those same words -- never once said in a different way. And the fact that it has nothing to do with your Japanese ability. In fact, the better your Japanese gets, the less you hear it. Even more demeaning is hearing "O-hashi wa jouzu desu neh" which means you can use chopsticks well. The fact that a 4 or 5 year old Japanese child is supposed to use them easily but you're never expected to know how is an insult few Japanese are "international" enough to realize. To the Japanese, they are not consciously looking down on you, but rather trying to establish rapport through bombarding you with things they think you like to hear. It's important not to get upset about this and just play humble by denying the praise over and over as they would. All of that is relatively benign. The real problem is dealing with the occasional neanderthal where even if you've attained near native fluency they still have a "See-White-Face, Hear-Japanese, Does-Not-Compute" mentality, or the elitist complaining how you foreigners never bother to learn Japanese, and then you come along speaking proper Japanese and they insist in doing all communication in English. The reason being that more conservative types see language as race, and race as language, and when there is someone not part of the group suddenly among "us", they unconsciously feel a threat. Dealing with such Groupthink is going to be a challenge, but while you never have to like it you're going to have to deal with it. Many Japanese view westerners on two levels -- if you are taken as a temporary visitor, they nearly always treat you extremely warmly and helpfully; even lavishly. But if you are someone trying to become a member of society, there can be quite a different attitude.
I have to admit that this is actually something I'm looking forward to. I think it'll be a very interesting experience to immediately be percieved as a "foreigner", which isn't exactly a common thing for a white person (not for me anyway).
Chances are it will be getting on my nerves soon enough after all but I'm still kind of anticipating it.
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Old 2007-07-13, 13:07   Link #162
Joka
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I am thinking of learning Japanese, but I am not sure.

I am not sure but I think i heard the language it self is simple (pronunciation, sentence structure) but the implementation is hard as hell because of all the cultural things I must take into account and remembering all the different ways to refer to similar situations at different times.
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Old 2007-07-13, 13:19   Link #163
Risaa
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mueti View Post
I have to admit that this is actually something I'm looking forward to. I think it'll be a very interesting experience to immediately be percieved as a "foreigner", which isn't exactly a common thing for a white person (not for me anyway).
Chances are it will be getting on my nerves soon enough after all but I'm still kind of anticipating it.
I've experienced this many, many times. (T_T) I don't think one can ever fully get used to the, "oh, you know the language?" and "you speak so well!" as it occures over and over and OVER every single day, with every new person you meet, but you do (hopefully) develop ways to keep yourself sane. For me, I just don't answer them. If it feels too rude at the moment, quickly change the subject and pretend you didn't hear them. You're already going to hear the same questions and phrases of astoundment over and over; you shouldn't have to repeat the same answers over and over, IMO. (I may be too harsh on this, but those questions *will* make you go insane if you don't find some way of coping!)

You have to keep in mind that they're just trying to be friendly, and in some cases, those annoying questions are their ice-breaker to you (a lame way to start a conversation eh?). As long as you don't snap at them and drive them away, it's a good way to make friends and become familiar with people. It's even better if you're together with a friend whom you met because they asked the questions, and then you get asked them by another stranger, because then you can both just laugh at how silly it is.
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Old 2007-07-13, 17:02   Link #164
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@Mueti: I rather like the feeling... I remember the first time I attended one of my (then future) wife's family gatherings. There were a few other whites there but 3 versus 30+ japanese-americans was kind of funny (look, I can see over the whole room....)

The first real smack of that feeling was about 25 years ago on Grant Street in San Francisco early one morning during the "not-tourist" season. My wife and I were shopping, the street was filled with asians (morning market). I was literally the *only* white person in visual range (several blocks in any direction) and a head taller than anyone else.

I caught a lot of curious looks, everyone was very nice, not a problem - but it was definitely that "you've just landed on Tau Ceti 5 and you're the only earthboy in sight" kind of sensation. I think all white people should experience it.
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Old 2007-07-13, 20:06   Link #165
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
@Mueti: I rather like the feeling... I remember the first time I attended one of my (then future) wife's family gatherings. There were a few other whites there but 3 versus 30+ japanese-americans was kind of funny (look, I can see over the whole room....)

The first real smack of that feeling was about 25 years ago on Grant Street in San Francisco early one morning during the "not-tourist" season. My wife and I were shopping, the street was filled with asians (morning market). I was literally the *only* white person in visual range (several blocks in any direction) and a head taller than anyone else.

I caught a lot of curious looks, everyone was very nice, not a problem - but it was definitely that "you've just landed on Tau Ceti 5 and you're the only earthboy in sight" kind of sensation. I think all white people should experience it.
Nothing wrong with that. Treating you a bit differently is also not too bad. However, when they act like it is impossible for you to know how to use chopsticks or speak Japanese, eventually, even if not doing it to hurt you, it does get to you.

EDIT: By the way think you can give us stories/awkward situations about when you were in Japan and were faced by the locals because of you being white? Any funny stories would be nice.

By the way is it looked down upon for a Japanese woman marrying a foreigner? I read that somewhere, but I do not know if it is true.
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Old 2007-07-13, 22:53   Link #166
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It is not really a problem in the urban areas (I know of several marriages of that sort). You have to decide how to handle the registration at the Records because you really don't want her to lose her registration rights (unless she plans on immigrating and never returning except as a tourist).
One couple I know took her name (aka -- "adopted into her clan") so that any children she had would have Japanese national status. The others managed the same thing in ways I'm not as clear on. But basically, the family name and being registered as such with the government is too important to lose. One couple has children... they've not experienced any bullying or hostility... just curiosity, but then they're in an urban school.

Even though my wife's family still has their Japanese name, technically when they visit Japan they have to spell it in katakana rather than the old family kanji because they are foreign Americans now (her grandparents immigrated to the US in the 1920s).

Just like any multi-racial marriage.. there's someone somewhere who's going to be personallly pissed off by it. There are rightwinger japanese, there are old folks who are going to glare at you (or yell occasionally). There are going to be restaurants, hotels, and bars with signs that say "No gaijin allowed". Keep in mind though that's mostly because of the poor behavior of some of our dear military boys whose mommas didn't teach them how to behave in strange places.

So.... it isn't looked down on .... on average. But it is still considered quite unusual, kind of like inter-racial dating in the 60s and 70s was considered unusual.

My wife and I get mostly curious stares (from whites in America or from Japanese in Japan), the occasional glare. Once I remember a businessman almost stepping into a pond he was so busy watching us.

The main funny is that my wife is third gen Japanese-Texan. Her japanese is minimal and terrible. Her accent stuns cattle at 10 meters. So when they look at her and ask a question in japanese and *I* answer --- its funny to watch their brain gears strip. She's had a few t-shirts made that say "Made in America" in kanji for the next time we go to Japan.
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Old 2007-07-13, 23:10   Link #167
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In a kind of related topic, don't you feel that Japan will have to open its doors to immigration in the near future? I mean, due to the heavy aging of its society, it's going to need young manpower that is able to maintain the elders... Much like it's happened in Europe.
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Old 2007-07-14, 01:28   Link #168
Vexx
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Yeah, I subscribe to several newsfeeds from Japan via my Googly portal - its very interesting to watch them thrash about it. I understand their fear of having their culture buried instead of newcomers smoothly integrating into it.... you only have to watch Europe's mixed results with that bag.

I dare say unless they start a massive breeding program and couple that with some serious attitude shifts on the part of the grumpy males they're hosed At the very least they'll need to get over the idea that you have to look japanese to BE culturally japanese. Hopefully, they're taking some notes from the occasional success of some countries in incorporating non-homogenous peoples into a single culture. I don't really want the world to become one homogenous culture though some overlap is fun.
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Old 2007-07-20, 01:07   Link #169
retardation
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i ain't read through this thread cuz of obvious reasons but i do have some non politically charged simple questions:

1. what is the popularity of basketball in japan? how popular were the world basketball championships last year?

2. i see in some shows, high schools don't allow the students to have part-time jobs. does that actually go on?

3. is there as much casual sex going on in japan as there is in america?
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Old 2007-07-20, 03:40   Link #170
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Its only 9 pages... god help you in a real thread O.o

1) Basketball is played in high school and a bit in college but its really marginal as a professional sport.
2) It depends on which high school. You apply for high schools like you do for college in the US and have to be accepted. The more intense high schools ... well, you don't have *time* to have a job. You have after-school clubs (social success) and lots and lots of homework (academic success). There are afterschool study groups, there are supplemental cram schools --- from the more rigorous school's perspective you are wasting their time and your time if you spend time at a job.
3) "casual sex" in Japan ... the rate really depends on which clique you're in (just like in America). Casual sex isn't statistically rampant in either country (though there's a lot of it). However, in Japan there isn't the same sort of "guilt trip" that is built into American society thanks to its 'puritan' undercurrents. There are some taboos but they're quite a bit different.
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Old 2007-07-20, 04:10   Link #171
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So now I'm labeled as a puritan for having some moderate moral values?

I would compare it to a place like Germany where prostitution is legal.
do not compare it to a place like thailand or burma where prostitution is deemed illegal on paper yet rampant all over. and do not compare it to las vegas neither. The japanese people do have alot of pride so there is sense of obligation for the most part.

Japan though, does have alot of broken families. Lately the trend in anime shows have been portraying this as a norm, and I find it disturbing.
A japanese girl I knew in college once said her mother told her to be sure to have lots of partners so she can find the person who is right for her. This is not the norm, this is just to let u know there are quite a few who have beliefs such as this, so do not stereotype the general populace.

remember, japanese companies have sort of their 'own' recreational sports teams, that are semi-pro. so you can always work for one of them
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Old 2007-07-20, 08:14   Link #172
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Quote:
So now I'm labeled as a puritan for having some moderate moral values?
Depends on how you consider moral values to be. I don't think there's any morality that needs to be applied to sex.
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Old 2007-07-20, 13:45   Link #173
Vexx
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Well... what I meant is that they don't have the judeo-christian moral codes that sometimes lead to odd little patterns of rather unhealthy behavior or guilt trips.
Japanese have their own moral codes built apon a sense of obligation and doing whats best for the community. Sex isn't 'inherently sinful' as some interpretations of J-C-I seem to imply. However, it is still considered something not engage in lightly by the average japanese. Statistically, they're having some trouble grasping that it isn't just "bad people" who get STDs.

The broken family issue plagues much of the industrialized world -- that boils down to people marrying too lightly, not working hard enough at it, ... just a pretty shallow level of commitment (especially after kids are involved). I won't pretend to have solutions for any culture -- I just know that it takes a lot of cooperation to have a proper marriage.

The divorce rate in Japan has more to do with recent changes in how pension plans are distributed. The women don't *have* to stay with unpleasant partners anymore to get their part of the pension. Some 50+yrs aged males are actually attending "how not to be an ass" schools to avoid this.

The falling marriage rate and plummeting birth rate are pretty directly related to the average japanese adult male having a "1950s" brain and being a very poor communicator while the women have moved on to the "1970s" mindset of expecting an actual *companion*. They would like to get married but not if it means shutting down careers or losing all their independence. Japanese businesses are being resistant to changes that support families (like not overworking so much or the practice of afterwork-drinking-binges. Both are abusive to both career worker females and the left-at-home female spouses).

The younger japanese males seem to be getting a clue and adapting so this is a transient issue... but they are in danger of a demographic population crash while the transition happens.
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Old 2007-07-20, 13:56   Link #174
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What do Japanese think about other Eastern Asian? Do they look down on them or do they see them as a equal?
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Old 2007-07-20, 14:54   Link #175
Vexx
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That's such a sweeping generalization question that its almost unanswerable. That's like asking if all elves are naturally snotty.

On a daily basis, an average japanese *probably* doesn't even think about other countries (just like most people on the planet). Japanese do tend to be proud of their country (just like most people on the planet) and they have some enduring myths like "japanese is the most difficult language in the world" or "we're one of the few countries with 4 true seasons". There is a particular affection of US culture (ignoring the fringe) but they seem to be realizing a need to protect their own culture from being swamped by it.

There's a right wingnut ultranationalist fringe in Japan (like most countries) that looks down on everyone else (they're pushing some of the more ridiculous things the Abe administration has done with attempts at historical revisionism and such)... but there's also a left-leaning fringe that includes an official communist party.

Most japanese have a range of opinions, just like any other country.
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Old 2007-07-20, 19:55   Link #176
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i don't know about most other people on the planet but most people in the west look like they think about people in other countries a lot. us news has nothing but talk about mexicans and middle easterners.

speaking on that affection for us culture, what's up with these animes that have people wearing stars and stripes motif clothes and that type of thing? is that just a fashion trend or do they like america for some reason? if it's just a fashion trend, then how'd that get popular? it reminds me of how punk rock guys used to wear british flags in the past. that was connected to punk rock though, so what's the story with this?
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Old 2007-07-20, 23:02   Link #177
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retardation
i don't know about most other people on the planet but most people in the west look like they think about people in other countries a lot. us news has nothing but talk about mexicans and middle easterners.
Actually, of all the Western countries, the U.S. is probably the most insular in its view of other countries. American news sources only pay large amounts of attention to the Middle East and Mexico because those countries directly affect Americans either in terms of war and security, or immigration issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by retardation
speaking on that affection for us culture, what's up with these animes that have people wearing stars and stripes motif clothes and that type of thing? is that just a fashion trend or do they like america for some reason? if it's just a fashion trend, then how'd that get popular? it reminds me of how punk rock guys used to wear british flags in the past. that was connected to punk rock though, so what's the story with this?
Japan has had a fascination with the U.S. and American culture since the time of Perry. For example, baseball was popularized in Japan in the late 19th century, and it remains one of Japan's favorite sports. As for fashion, there are entire stores in Japan that (presumably) sell nothing but "American"-style clothing. This trend extends to music, movies, and language as well.

This isn't unique to the U.S. either. In the past, Japan used to strongly emulate Imperial China (obviously where kanji comes from), and Imperial Britain and Prussia (schoolgirl sailor uniforms are modeled after Royal Navy designs, and schoolboy uniforms are modeled after Prussian Army designs).
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Old 2007-07-21, 00:26   Link #178
retardation
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Actually, of all the Western countries, the U.S. is probably the most insular in its view of other countries. American news sources only pay large amounts of attention to the Middle East and Mexico because those countries directly affect Americans either in terms of war and security, or immigration issues.


Japan has had a fascination with the U.S. and American culture since the time of Perry. For example, baseball was popularized in Japan in the late 19th century, and it remains one of Japan's favorite sports. As for fashion, there are entire stores in Japan that (presumably) sell nothing but "American"-style clothing. This trend extends to music, movies, and language as well.

This isn't unique to the U.S. either. In the past, Japan used to strongly emulate Imperial China (obviously where kanji comes from), and Imperial Britain and Prussia (schoolgirl sailor uniforms are modeled after Royal Navy designs, and schoolboy uniforms are modeled after Prussian Army designs).
well it's expected that the united states or any country is going to be more interested in other countries that directly affect them. but i was just trying to say it's not odd for people to be constantly thinking about what's happening in other countries. i'm guessing the the issues in other east asian countries probably affect japan pretty directly anyway (but that is just a guess).

hmm so what's up with that that other-nation japanese fascination then? it seems real peculiar to me but i don't even know if i fully understand it. i'm sure after ww2 with all those imposed policies there was a lot of american influence on japan but it's one thing to be into baseball and hamburgers and another thing to want to wear some other nation's flag and have your super sayan characters blond haired and blue eyed. also, all countries like american goods but it seems like the general trend with other developed countries is to turn their nose up to america... especially ones like japan with an older culture and higher living standard.
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Old 2007-07-21, 03:53   Link #179
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Originally Posted by retardation
well it's expected that the united states or any country is going to be more interested in other countries that directly affect them. but i was just trying to say it's not odd for people to be constantly thinking about what's happening in other countries. i'm guessing the the issues in other east asian countries probably affect japan pretty directly anyway (but that is just a guess).
Actually, the U.S. doesn't pay all that much attention to other countries. American news broadcasts don't bring up world news stories very much - barring special reports, they would make up about five minutes of a typical news hour. I've seen NHK news broadcasts, and they're not all that much better. Japanese people don't really concern themselves all that much about the rest of Asia at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by retardation
hmm so what's up with that that other-nation japanese fascination then?
I'm not a cultural anthropologist, but it's likely linked to the conflict between cultural chauvinism and inferiority complex. As Vexx pointed out earlier, Japanese people entertain quite a few myths about how unique they are; at the same time, they're also strong enough realists that they know that other countries are more successful in many respects. It seems a natural progression from this to wanting to emulate this success.

Quote:
Originally Posted by retardation
it seems real peculiar to me but i don't even know if i fully understand it. i'm sure after ww2 with all those imposed policies there was a lot of american influence on japan but it's one thing to be into baseball and hamburgers and another thing to want to wear some other nation's flag and have your super sayan characters blond haired and blue eyed.
It's no more difficult to understand than white people wearing urban clothing popularized by black entertainers or Chinese character tattoos.

Quote:
Originally Posted by retardation
also, all countries like american goods but it seems like the general trend with other developed countries is to turn their nose up to america... especially ones like japan with an older culture and higher living standard.
Que? Japan, of all countries, most certainly doesn't turn up their nose at the U.S. In fact, most Japanese like and are fascinated by all things American. Moreover, the U.S. is Japan's closest (and in a way, only) ally, so there's quite a bit of common interest involved. I'm not sure why you'd think otherwise.

As for the rest,
1. Not all countries like American goods. This is especially true of the more developed countries - witness the spectacular failure of Wal-Mart's attempt to penetrate Germany's market.
2. While the U.S. has always generated a bit of animosity due to its overwhelming power, most of the dislike is caused by American actions. And this isn't restricted to developed countries at all. Note that for similar reasons, in the late '80s, there was a certain amount of dislike, by Americans, of Japan's seeming economic powerhouse status.
3. Most of the world's current dislike for American policies can be directly attributed to the U.S.'s hamfisted adventures post-2001.
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Old 2007-07-21, 04:50   Link #180
Vexx
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I was very excited when Wal-mart failed in Germany thanks to natural market forces and their unwillingness to adapt to what the customer wanted ... and it was quite interesting watching Wal-mart being force-fed unions in China. (Despite the founder's good nature, some of his inheriting family are some of the most distasteful nasty arrogant people one could imagine)
Its also entertaining watching McD and KFC start to freefall in Japan because... wait for it.... they sell crap and the customer is figuring it out.

Keep in mind that these are barely "american" companies anymore -- they are multi-national corporations for whom the concept "country" is an annoyance.

As far as being American and getting news about other countries and what's going on in the world ... it is simply unavailable 99% of the time from American sources (network tv, local tv, newspapers, radio, etc)
I have to watch or listen to the BBC, Deutsche Welle, and/or specifically subscribe via internet to asian, indian, or other world sources.
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