Are Japanese people really like that?

Talk about the culture and entertainment from Nihon.
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Noale
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Are Japanese people really like that?

Post by Noale » Sep 27th, '07, 22:00

There's a show on Dutch television that I just started watching. It's called "Lost in Tokyo".
It's about a group of Dutch and entirely westernised people who are being sent to Tokyo to complete all sorts of assignments in order to learn more about the Japanese culture.

The thing is, the Japanese culture that I got a glimpse of in that tv show really shocked me. The people in Tokyo seemed extremely anti-social, almost like they were autistic. The contestants of the tv show went out onto the streets to try to make contact with Japanese people passing by, but they were unable to do so. Everybody just ignored them, some even ran away. And that wasn't just because the Japanese don't speak English (which I do happen to find ridiculous).
Later in the episode the hostess of the tv show got on a bus and tried small talking to people sitting next to her about the weather and things like that, but nobody dared to make even the slightest sound and there was nothing but complete silence and a weird uncomfortable atmosphere.
Even worse, In another episode, the contestants were learning about Japanese entertainment and they had to play this popular Japanese game where they had to pretend they were in a quiet library and had to torture each other by pulling out nosehair and beating each other with a baseball bat. Apparently the Japanese think pain is entertaining?

Now my question to people who read this and happen to live in Japan or know a lot about its culture is: Are Japanese people really like that? And if they are, why?

PS: Do not assume that I blindly believe the television show.
Last edited by Noale on Oct 2nd, '07, 13:26, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by wujou_mao » Sep 27th, '07, 22:16

yes, i heard they send you to Coventry. still, it happens in korea too, although not as much. mostly the younsters will say hello, but the older generation will ignore you. [sending you to Coventry]. not my idea of fun for a holiday.

so in some ways i'm happy not to visit Japan or never will.

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Post by Noale » Sep 27th, '07, 22:28

Yeah.. I thought it would be great if I could go to Tokyo by myself one day and stay there for a while. But if people can't communicate with me, because of their poor English, and in the few cases they can will not communicate with me and will just run away if I try to approach them.. then there's just no point for me to go there.

That's what I love about my own country. We are nice and open to each other. Most of us are anyway. If strangers approach us and ask for directions then we won't act childish about it and say we don't know when we really do or just ignore them or walk away - no, we help them. :thumright:

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Post by OvertheRainbow » Sep 27th, '07, 22:42

Well I've never been to Japan so I'm theorizing all of this.

I think that they act the way they do is because the majority of Japan is homogeneous and they are not really accustomed to being with foreigners all the time. The majority of them might not have friends of other ethnicities so they might not know how to interact with them.

When I was in South Korea, my host sister told me that there are not a lot of foreigners there and that almost everybody is Korean. They are not used to seeing all different types of races as much as people in America or other places are. My friend was in Korea with me and everybody stared at her everywhere she went (she's white).

Also, it might be their personality and how society expects them to act. Maybe Japanese people are usually reserved and are not used to having a conversation with a person they've never met on a subway.

When I tried to find a music store in Korea, I tried to ask young people but even they were afraid to talk to me. I think it is because I speak English that they find it intimidating. It's not that they don't speak English or don't understand it at all but I think it's because they think we might make fun of them. When I visited a high school, a lot of kids avoided me because they did not know enough English to converse with me. And they believed I was going to make fun of their for their "horrible" English.

Why do you find Japanese people not speaking English ridiculous? Or am I misreading what you wrote.

Should there be a reason why Japanese people find entertainment in pain? Maybe it's part of their culture (maybe not but just saying) What you consider "entertainment" is all relative. The society and culture you grew up in defines certain things as right and wrong, funny and not funny, moral and immoral, etc. It just so happens that the Japanese find beating each other with a baseball bat and pulling out each other's nose hairs funny. Actually, I think pain in funny in general. It's not just the Japanese. I mean, look at the Simpsons...I wonder how many times Homer gets hit by stuff, punched by people or choked bart.

I've never really written such a long comment and I'm might be wrong but it feels good to exercise my brain :D

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Post by OvertheRainbow » Sep 27th, '07, 22:44

Noale wrote:Yeah.. I thought it would be great if I could go to Tokyo by myself one day and stay there for a while. But if people can't communicate with me, because of their poor English, and in the few cases they can will not communicate with me and will just run away if I try to approach them.. then there's just no point for me to go there.
Well If you're going to be staying in Japan then they shouldn't be learning English to communicate with you...you should be learning Japanese..you are going to be living in their society

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Post by Noale » Sep 27th, '07, 22:50

OvertheRainbow wrote:
Noale wrote:Yeah.. I thought it would be great if I could go to Tokyo by myself one day and stay there for a while. But if people can't communicate with me, because of their poor English, and in the few cases they can will not communicate with me and will just run away if I try to approach them.. then there's just no point for me to go there.
Well If you're going to be staying in Japan then they shouldn't be learning English to communicate with you...you should be learning Japanese..you are going to be living in their society
Not living - just staying there for a while during the holidays. Perhaps I'm being unreasonable, but I think they should be the ones learning to speak at least some decent English. I'm not English either, but I still learned to speak the language when I was in high school. If only they'd do the same in every country - communication is so important.

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Post by Kiriguchi » Sep 27th, '07, 22:56

Well, I actually went to Tokyo this summer for six weeks, and people aren't mean at all. It's part of their culture to basically ignore strangers, and if you're a foreigner you might feel as if people avoid you, which is actually only because they're afraid of speaking English (like OvertheRainbow said). They have these stern faces, but as soon as you start talking to them they melt to honey and go above and beyond to help you. I think they probably acted that way in the show because they were being filmed (maybe?).

About Japan being a homogeneous culture, yes, it's true, but in the past years big cities like Nagoya or Tokyo or Osaka have been getting a lot of foreigners. It's not that shocking anymore to see people from all over the world (it's actually quite common) and almost everyone speaks English --> I know a guy that's lived in Japan for 5 years and doesn't speak the language. You can get by without a lick of Japanese, I assure you.

Now, about the show, I really have no idea what to say. I'm sure not everyone likes that type of show! You know, different tastes do exist....

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Post by pn0yb0i » Sep 27th, '07, 22:57

THe whole "Silent Library" thing is totally misunderstood by westerners.

ITS A TV SHOW. Gaki no Tsukai (you can find some eps. on the torrent list) is a comedy show composed of several famous comedians who also star in other shows / and even few dramas.

Wiki-it

:D

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Post by Kiriguchi » Sep 27th, '07, 22:59

If everyone spoke a common language it wouldn't be much of a diverse world now would it? They do learn some English in school, but what do you expect, they rarely need it if they're going to stay in Japan. Not everyone can be fluent.

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Post by OvertheRainbow » Sep 27th, '07, 23:00

Noale wrote:
Not living - just staying there for a while during the holidays. Perhaps I'm being unreasonable, but I think they should be the ones learning to speak at least some decent English. I'm not English either, but I still learned to speak the language when I was in high school. If only they'd do the same in every country - communication is so important.
Well I mean who says they have to learn English? Who says English should be like unofficial language of every country and that every country should know it? If that happened with Spanish, I would die because you can't force someone to learn a language if they have no interest it in (Hence why I am never going to progress in Spanish) Honestly, the majority of them might not use English again unless they go overseas or something but thats very rare. They aren't required to learn a new language just to accommodate some tourists who won't be staying in their country for long.

When I stayed in Korea, my host family did not speak any English at all and we communicated through body language...well I did know some Korean so that helped but I think them speaking English would probably ruin the experience (although it would have made a lot of things easier)

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Post by Tamis » Sep 27th, '07, 23:00

that wasn't just because the Japanese don't speak English (which I do happen to find ridiculous).
Who said that everyone needs to speak english? They're in their country, so they dont have to know english.
They speak japanese,not english.
:glare:

They're not like that. You gotta understand that they're from another country and they have different habits and culture. They're not like you or me.

You can find their habits rude or something like that, but it's not. Japanese people use to be shy and they dont speak to strange people.

But dont worry: if you need them, they will help you. Japanese people always help who needs. :-)

Just dont expect hughs and kisses when you meet one of them.

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Post by Tamis » Sep 27th, '07, 23:06

Well I mean who says they have to learn English? Who says English should be like unofficial language of every country and that every country should know it? If that happened with Spanish, I would die because you can't force someone to learn a language if they have no interest it in (Hence why I am never going to progress in Spanish) Honestly, the majority of them might not use English again unless they go overseas or something but thats very rare. They aren't required to learn a new language just to accommodate some tourists who won't be staying in their country for long.
AGREE! :-)

I speak english because I wanted to. You can't say they need to know english. If YOU are going to Japan, so learn japanese, because they're in their country speaking their language...
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Post by Noale » Sep 27th, '07, 23:08

Respond to Overtherainbow's first comment:

Oh I love long comments :lol They give me something to read and they tend to have some serious content.

Hmm, I think there's definately a degree of truth in some of your theories. I'm around all types of people all the time. White, black, asian, you name it. So I'm used to it. But in the tv show it became clear that nobody talked to anybody in the bus, regardless of their race. And I don't think it's likely that everybody refuses to make contact, because they're ashamed of their English. Perhaps in some cases, but not all I assume. So I guess it just comes down to the fact that they're pretty reserved people. It's probably the way they're raised, the way their society works.

But yeah, you read it right. I think it's ridiculous that the Japanese education system doesn't include teaching the new generation English. Don't get me wrong. It's not that I'm English and want the entire world to speak my language, so I can be lazy and don't have to learn theirs. But there would be a whole lot less misunderstanding if people learned a second language that is spoken by most people in this world, like Spanish or English..

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Post by Kiriguchi » Sep 27th, '07, 23:14

who says they don't learn English in school?

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Post by ali_sen » Sep 27th, '07, 23:14

When I was in Korea, it was like that at first. People avoiding me. I tried to learn the language really fast (fortunately it is the easiest asian language to learn... basic reading can be mastered in an hour). I think it is mostly shyness. And alot of people have the idea that Americans are a stuck up culture that doesn't bother to learn other cultures. Sadly this is often true. However, when I was on a subway reading Korean signs out loud, MANY times a total stranger (Korean) would come over to me, and delighted to hear me speaking Korean, would help me pronounce correctly and show where that place was on the map. Even more happy when I thanked them in Korean. Places that I went to frequently, such as the library or the grocery store or the same bus, the people who worked there would ask me every day what "new words" I knew. So I'd have to say them, and they'd correct me. They were always thrilled to hear a foreigner learning their language, and always eager to correct.

I found that very young children, who were less shy of peer pressure and embarassment, were very quick to speak English regardless of mistakes. Older (middle school and high school) children were more embarassed. I found that if i reacted very very happy to simple things, such as a "Hello" in English, they lost a little bit of their shyness. I also always showed a lot of gratitude for any help.

The only thing I had a hard time with in Korea was the way their culture isn't as open as the US. In America, if someone hates you, you KNOW it right? In Korea, someone will hate you but will act like your best friend while talking garbage about you to other Koreans. At first I didn't know this, but as I became fluent in Korean, it really became painful to hear how rude the Koreans were to foreigners, especially when they weren't aware that I could understand them. It was refreshing to return to the US where you at least KNOW who already hates you and who your real friends are.

Just my two cents!

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Post by Noale » Sep 27th, '07, 23:14

Kiriguchi wrote:If everyone spoke a common language it wouldn't be much of a diverse world now would it? They do learn some English in school, but what do you expect, they rarely need it if they're going to stay in Japan. Not everyone can be fluent.
If the common language is only a second language and first languages are kept, then there will be much of a diverse world. But you're right that you can't speak a language fluently if you don't use it often, but more than only three words could do, right?

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Post by OvertheRainbow » Sep 27th, '07, 23:16

Well I've never written long comments before today because I'm really insecure about my answers...

The thing about Japanese people being reserved, I think it might apply to most Asians (or I just might be generalizing). More so the older generation than the younger. Take myself for example, my friends really really like to hug each other and they're very open and can say stuff like "I love you" easily. However, in my household, my mother and father never really told me they loved me. I naturally assumed it was implied but now that I'm already in my teens..I would find it awkward to be emotionally open with my parents so I usually skip the emotional mushy stuff. Maybe they felt uncomfortable being open with a stranger and talking with them.

I think the whole learning English thing really depends on your situation. America has included a second language as a requirement for graduating ( at least at my high school) but thats because its a melting pot and has so many different races and ethnicities that it would be hard the future to communicate if we all didn't try to learn a second language. However, in Japan I'm guessing they aren't expecting to be speaking English a lot (apart from the tourists who they might avoid) so they might not see any value in it. However, I think they are starting to implement English little by little. I honestly don't know.

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Post by Noale » Sep 27th, '07, 23:17

Kiriguchi wrote:who says they don't learn English in school?
I'm afraid that would've been me. But I actually meant that they don't learn it well. Not well enough to actually have an English conversation with a person. That's what I noticed from watching the show though.

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Post by omoiyou » Sep 27th, '07, 23:18

maybe they were being filmed at and they dont like it? foreigners are not uncommon in japan, as i have seen MANY caucasians in tokyo, its not like ancient times anymore. When i asked for directions there didn't seem to be any problem, even though i do not know japanese and used few basic words put together with no grammar at all.

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Post by OvertheRainbow » Sep 27th, '07, 23:19

ali_sen wrote: Even more happy when I thanked them in Korean. Places that I went to frequently, such as the library or the grocery store or the same bus, the people who worked there would ask me every day what "new words" I knew. So I'd have to say them, and they'd correct me. They were always thrilled to hear a foreigner learning their language, and always eager to correct.
Ohh..me too!!! People are shocked that I can speak their language (some of it). Actually, there's this program in Korea devoted to like foreign girls learning Korean...they're very good!!! Anyways my host mother would almost never try to talk to me in Korean because they probably thought I wouldn't understand it so she'd try to figure out how to say it in english first

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Post by OvertheRainbow » Sep 27th, '07, 23:20

Noale wrote:
Kiriguchi wrote:who says they don't learn English in school?
I'm afraid that would've been me. But I actually meant that they don't learn it well. Not well enough to actually have an English conversation with a person. That's what I noticed from watching the show though.
I think its because they learn English in Japanese and maybe the teacher who teaches it really sucks at pronouncing. Oh year, I found that the Korean school I went to didn't really practice pronunciation

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Post by omoiyou » Sep 27th, '07, 23:24

In japan they teach english for test taking, nothing practical.

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Post by Noale » Sep 27th, '07, 23:24

OvertheRainbow wrote:
Noale wrote:
Kiriguchi wrote:who says they don't learn English in school?
I'm afraid that would've been me. But I actually meant that they don't learn it well. Not well enough to actually have an English conversation with a person. That's what I noticed from watching the show though.
I think its because they learn English in Japanese and maybe the teacher who teaches it really sucks at pronouncing. Oh year, I found that the Korean school I went to didn't really practice pronunciation
Haha :lol So the solution would be to speak English with a Japanese accent. I think I can do that! Hmm, even though we learn English quite well in our country, not much is being done about pronunciation either. I hate the Dutch accent.

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Post by OvertheRainbow » Sep 27th, '07, 23:27

In Japan, do they have different units for learning English or do they just do some random stuff?? Because when I was looking at my host brother's journal for english, he had like the most random words ever. He had to write each word like ten times and they weren't connected in any way...it was like pickle, sweater, thermometer or something like that. Then he studied with a book by himself and the book was like formated so weirdly. He learned some words that I rarely use

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Post by OvertheRainbow » Sep 27th, '07, 23:28

Noale wrote:
Haha :lol So the solution would be to speak English with a Japanese accent. I think I can do that! Hmm, even though we learn English quite well in our country, not much is being done about pronunciation either. I hate the Dutch accent.
No.. the solution would be to learn some phrases from a handbook and then butcher it with your dutch accent while hoping that the Japanese person understands your fragmented sentences :lol

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Post by Noale » Sep 27th, '07, 23:31

I'll get right to it :salut:

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Post by OvertheRainbow » Sep 27th, '07, 23:32

Well I have an essay due tomorrow and a math project to do so I probably shouldn't be here

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Post by doink-chan » Sep 27th, '07, 23:38

Kiriguchi wrote:Well, I actually went to Tokyo this summer for six weeks, and people aren't mean at all. It's part of their culture to basically ignore strangers, and if you're a foreigner you might feel as if people avoid you, which is actually only because they're afraid of speaking English (like OvertheRainbow said). They have these stern faces, but as soon as you start talking to them they melt to honey and go above and beyond to help you. I think they probably acted that way in the show because they were being filmed (maybe?).
Yeah, a lot of Japanese people don't feel confident speaking English, despite the fact they have to take it in school, and sometimes will panic if someone talks to them in English. I think that knowing some Japanese helps in these situations especially if you're good at it. It is more reassuring to them when they see you can speak Japanese.

I've also heard that people in Tokyo tend to be 'colder'/sterner than other people in Japan, but since I haven't been there myself I don't really know. Perhaps apartofmylife-san or one of the members who's been to Japan can confirm whether or not this is true or just a stereotype. It is true that many people ignore strangers though, likely because they don't want to bother them, or because they are just shy.

As for the Silent Library game...it is part of a TV show, Gaki no Tsukai (as mentioned), which is famous for its over-the-top "batsu games" that losers of other games played in the show have to play. However, the show never has ordinary people on it - all the participants are comedians, TV hosts, etc. They don't make Tanaka Tarou and Yamada Kaori off the street participate in such shows. Bonking people on the head is also a part of manzai, a type of stand-up comedy that is often seen on these types of shows. Manzai groups have a boke (literally 'idiot' or 'blockhead') and a tsukkomi (the straight man), and it is common for the tsukkomi to hit the boke on the head with something whenever the boke says something stupid. It is slapstick, no different than, say, The Three Stooges.

There are also some other variety shows that also sometimes feature more 'extreme' games, and many Japanese people have complained about some of these games (Mecha Mecha Iketeru, in particular, has the most criticism for its games, with some people even saying that one of the games was tantamount to bullying). However, like Gaki no Tsukai, all of the participants are celebrities, and the games are often exaggerated. Likewise, there are also shows with gentler games that aren't quite as extreme. I think that judging all Japanese people as sadists because of these shows is like judging all Americans and Europeans because of the "reality shows" that are often just as extreme - and they're probably worse because they do not have established TV personalities on them, but ordinary people.

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Post by ali_sen » Sep 27th, '07, 23:52

When I was in Korea, I was an English teacher. Students would come to my school AFTER their "regular" school to practice English. The way they explained it, it is almost impossible to progress in the working social world without English. So many careers requiring a high level of English, with the influx of foreigners into Korea. So everyone was required to reach a level of English in order to graduate.

That said, I really did find the Korean way of teaching English incomprehensible. I felt like I had to fix a ton of learning mistakes in my lessons. It seems they had to learn more from rote memorization than from understanding, so grammer was very confusing to them. If a sentence wasn't the kind they had memorized, they felt lost. And they were terrified, even in a laid back classroom, or making mistakes. The peer pressure against mistakes is just awful there. Against my colleague's advice, I made a habit of showing my students what I was learning in Korean. I told my students that if they got 80% or higher, they could give me a test on Korean vocabulary and grammer. This was not so much to make them work harder (which they did) but to let them see that I was very capable of making embarassing mistakes too. Sometimes in class when they clammed up and wouldn't speak English, I'd try to ask them something in Korean... they'd usually laugh at me and then, because my Korean wasn't as good at their English (ha ha) they'd try to explain it to me in English. Funny how they'd improve that way... All in all, kids are very very shy of using their English skills, and are worried of being made fun of... by their teacher and their peers. Teachers are very very respected in Asia, and are supposed to be respected... and make no mistakes. This is why my Asian co-teachers disapproved of my methods. It is true that my students didn't respect me as much as the other teachers. But it is also true that they had a better understanding of grammer, were less afraid of practicing it, and learning was more enjoyable to them... which to me, was invaluable to them as well as myself.

I'm digressing aren't I? ^_^

*goes back to lurking*

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Post by cldswater » Sep 27th, '07, 23:53

Hmm, I've been to Tokyo several times. I think a lot of Japanese won't speak english to a stranger because as somebody wrote previously they just don't feel that confident speaking and they're afraid of an uncomfortable misunderstanding. That being said most Japanese can read english without any problems.

I understand the feeling. I've studied Japanese for a longtime and I still feel very uncomfortable speaking. Living in Chicago, I just don't get that many chances to speak Japanese and to practice. Just like Japanese people really don't get chances to speak english. They go to work and work long hours talking to Japanese people.

But if you speak Japanese to strangers they'll be glad to help you out and will even try to speak some english. They realize that you took a risk and tryed Japanese so they'll try English.

I don't think people are any colder than any other people who live ina big city. You get used to lots of strangers. They become just part of the background.

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Post by Le_Muse » Sep 28th, '07, 00:02

okay I travel to tokyo a lot and study over there as well. I am a caucasian female with blonde hair so you get the point that I stand out.
you have to understand that there are all types of cultures in this world. the japanese society tends to be very conservative with any type of public display. The point is not to bug the people around you. It is also about fitting in with your social group when you are in a crowd. they aren't mean or trying to be rude when they are ignoring you. they are just figuring it is what you want and what the people around you want. to basically not be bothered.

why do you think that they get so loud and crazy when they are drunk? because being so uptight with your emotions and outward appearances can lead to drinking. Being drunk allows you to let go because as crazy as you may get, as loud and obnoxious and even as perverted as you get, the ultimate excuse that will have everyone forgive you is the fact that you are drunk.

another reason why most japanese don't converse with gaijin (aka foreigners) is that about 95% of the time, it is a fruitless effort. More often than none, foreigners speak limited japanese if any at all so they tend to just ignore you. the same with the japanese. they actually can read and write better english than they can speak. however if you can speak a good amount of japanese, they end up praising you and your efforts to learn the language. it truly does amaze them and make them all the friendlier if you understand their culture and language.

I am sorry to go on such a rant but it is always interesting to see how people react to different types of cultures. ^^ I am absolutely enraptured with japanese culture so I enjoy talking about it.

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Post by Gir » Sep 28th, '07, 00:31

I've only been to Tokyo a couple of times for short vacations. But when standing on a corner looking at a map, trying to decide where to go next, I've had Japanese people approach me and ask if I need help. Yes, the general population on the street and trains may seem distant, but that's pretty much the same anywhere. People aren't just going to run up and start up conversations with strangers or expect (or really want) others too either. Though I have had a few instances where people have asked me where I was from. The first time I went I didn't know a word of Japanese, the old "point, smile, and nod" routines pretty much got me through quite well. Going into stores usually was a pleasant experience, the ones I went to the employees were quite nice and helpful, and patient with a non Japanese speaker. Of course in some instances before I could even say anything, they would run and bring forth a English speaking person.

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Post by Kazuya_ » Sep 28th, '07, 00:44

If you truly want to see and experience the japanese culture for yourself, don't be discouraged by what you might have seen on a television program.

I know lots of people that have either visited or even lived in japan and none have come back and said that it was a horrible experience. There were, of course things that they didn't understand about japanese culture and society or even agreed with philosophically, but it didn't detract from their visit.

I would say also, that you take what you put in, that is to say, if you can learn some japanese even if its basic phrases you 'll be better for it. People will engage you more comfortably and it will make your experience so much better.

I don't think you 'll regret making the effort to learn about the people and its diversity.

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Post by lunargen » Sep 28th, '07, 00:50

actually, the japanese are quite warm and hospitable, its just that you have to know each other first for them to open up to you. It is part of their culture to not talk to strangers at all. ACTUALLY, most asian cultures are like that. Like when my family and I first migrated here to the US, I was quite culture shocked at how strangers tend to talk to me and ask how my day was, sometimes suggest stuff especially when in the grocery, and sometimes take out like family photos. and i just froze up towards all these for the first few months, cause i didn't know how to react. only later on did i understand that that's how the americans are. so i guess it would be best as well for you to understand that it is something uncomfortable for them japanese, since they don't really know how to handle situations like that. but when you get to know them, it's really a big change. like almost 18 years ago, we lived in japan for 2 years when i was little, and to this day, they still send us like new years gifts and cards (hehe yeah, the japanese absolutely LOVE giving gifts)

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Post by ali_sen » Sep 28th, '07, 00:56

Le_Muse wrote:okay I travel to tokyo a lot and study over there as well. I am a caucasian female with blonde hair so you get the point that I stand out.
I also used to have blond hair in Korea. I only put up with it for a few months. I kept having perverts trying to pick me up (or worse, feel me up... you know those stories where a creepy man feels up a girl on a subway, such as in It Started with a Kiss? Those aren't exactly common, but I got more than my share of those perverted incidents). Finally I decided to dye my hair dark dark brown, so I'd blend in better. After that, if i kept my face down and my hair dark colored, I was a lot safer.

That was one of the bad aspects of Korea, unfortunately. For every genuinely nice person, there seemed to be an equal pervert. :cussing:

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Post by greyhorse » Sep 28th, '07, 01:17

Noale,

I don't know what kind of TV show you were watching, but don't you think it makes for a more interesting show if the contents are shocking? The producers of that show probably took some of the more extreme footage to portray a certain image of Japan. While there are truths to what you saw, it doesn't show the complete picture.

My parents are Japanese, and I've lived in Japan for about ten years total, so I guess I'm somewhat qualified to say something about the culture. First I'm going to admit they are shy and easily embarassed. It has something to do with the way we're raised. Try Googling the concept of amae or read up on Japanese culture at your local library. From a global perspective, the Japanese are wierd, with somewhat warped tendancies, but it doesn't make us outright bad necessarily. Less suited globally? Probably, though things are changing.

As for the level of English being taught at Japanese schools, I think it's all dependant on the school and the student. About a year ago my niece came over to visit from Japan and crashed at my parents place. Man, I was shocked at how good her English was. In her case, she has an interest in the language, but it wasn't just that she could make conversation. Her pronounciation was also waay less Japanese than I was used to hearing about a decade ago in Japan.

As for Tokyo, yeah, the people there are colder than say people from the Kansai area. It's just the way it is. If you're coming to Japan maybe you should do the Kyoto thing and not the Tokyo thing. I dunno, not sure what you're planning on doing in Japan. My two cents.

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Post by Megumi@CS » Sep 28th, '07, 01:20

I went to Japan alone for 3 weeks last September and I must say I had the best time. The people were kind, polite, and very helpful. The older and younger people were very nice to me. I went everywhere and got the same treatment everywhere. Maybe it's because I was nice, kind, and polite to them. They stared at me alot but I expected that.

I love their sense of humor too! My friend turned me onto Silent Library and it's funny but you have to have an open mind.

BTW, most Japanese people can read English so just write down if you can't say it. But I advise that you learn some of their language because when in Rome....

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Post by crazyjnx » Sep 28th, '07, 01:49

Megumi@CS wrote:BTW, most Japanese people can read English so just write down if you can't say it. But I advise that you learn some of their language because when in Rome....
...do as Romans...exactly. Japan and Japanese people are not just another foreign tourist country(that goes for all countries). they exist just like human beings exist, like you and me, like my country and yours...people with lives.

they are Not there to learn english to make it more convenient for you, and they should not have to, they are in their own country for G sake.
in their own country living their lives, speaking japanese, and not thinking they should learn and practice english to accomadate tourists.

Like many americans and other people, even with such a diverse population, many americans don't think about learning other languages to accomodate other americans who may not speak english well.

if you are going to japan to experience speaking to japanese people in english, then i think you should re-examine your desire for the cultural immersion.
if you want people to speak to you in english, then go to america or england...or other english speaking countries...is my advice.

On the other hand - japanese culture, yes i do agree that it is very different from what i am used to, what many westerners are used to, but then again many japanese people may be thinking exactly the same thing about american culture, european culture...etc

**sorry, guess i was really into the topic... ^_^

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Post by ali_sen » Sep 28th, '07, 02:16

crazyjnx wrote:
if you are going to japan to experience speaking to japanese people in english, then i think you should re-examine your desire for the cultural immersion.
I agree. I was appalled by the number of teachers in Korea, spending a year or more there, who couldn't be bothered to learn more than "Hello, yes, no, beer, soju, goodbye." ESPECIALLY in Korea, where the language is one of the simplest languages to learn. It's nothing but rudeness to not try to learn a language when you visit another country. When someone comes to the US most Americans would expect that person to speak English. To be truthful, I'd expect them to at least try, because that's the manners of visiting another country. So naturally we should be polite and do our best to speak the native language of a country we go to. Of course, its okay to revert to English if you get stuck... I think they'd be understanding of that :) :unsure:

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Post by fuyu » Sep 28th, '07, 02:25

Noale, It's a different culture and country... It's not surprising that certain things that happen on the other side of the planet are different than the way things are in a completely different content.

Lots of Japanese (especially the older generation) tend to have somewhat of a complex but they ARE NOT anti-foreigner if that's what you thought. Sometimes, if you're obviously not from Asia you can get stared at because you just stand out... especially if you're tall/blond-european/american (less in the big cities, but more so in the smaller country-side areas). If you ONLY speak in English and you try to speak to some random person in Tokyo, it's not uncommon to be ignored. Even if your Japanese -- you will still get the same reaction. Lots of people don't want to be bothered, or stopped. Lots of Japanese people are also shy or just like how someone earlier said -- they may not be confident either to try to help. It also depends on where they went while they were in Tokyo. There are information stands in train stations or department stores (depending on the area) where the workers WILL HELP you AND can speak simple English. Normal workers can help if they're not busy -- they can't run away lol and they would probably try to find someone who can help you or try their very best to understand. However, people heading somewhere most likely not stop and talk.

I also agree with what was said earlier that the show probably only showed what was "interesting" -- as in what could be viewed at as not good. TV programs edit a lot out, and keep the bad things to make things more juicy (as you see with reality tv). AND.. most likely the "torture" you saw was by Japanese comedians who will do anything to get a laugh. There are lots of good things .. not just bad. I think it just takes a person to actually learn from the culture itself. Please don't judge it based on a tv show. If you walk around with a camera and film people -- of course, no one will freely talk to you. I would run away too. On Japanese TV programs, if people are on camera -- the majority of the time, they have been asked permission beforehand -- and there are times you will also see people's faces are mosiac.

About the whole global english thing... while, it would be nice to be able to speak to everyone.. I don't think it should need to be forced upon people. People from other countries aren't forced to speak Japanese -- they learn because they want to.
Last edited by fuyu on Sep 28th, '07, 03:26, edited 7 times in total.

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Post by poetry2capullet » Sep 28th, '07, 02:28

As far as i know, japan and some of country in Asia have a complicated cultural systems. In here, we can say that those country is in a high-context culture, while the low-context culture is the opposite such as some western countries. Japanese people are used to live with those complicated culture, and plus they quite live individually because they are one of the most hard working people in the world.

I think not only in japan which some people seems so ignorant, but in most of high-context country i think will quite the same. And another plus, they actually shy people, who felt nervous when they have to deal with foreigners. But I guess, since MTV and other western products has emerge with their daily life, you won't hard to find some friendly teens with good English.

For us who has different view in living our live, i understand it will be quite difficult to understand. But isn't that makes the world more variety? If people in this world react the same way, than it won't be any uniqueness right?

(PS: sorry for my bad english.. well, i'm Asian .. LOL)

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Post by RyuNoKami » Sep 28th, '07, 02:30

there are people here that already posted enough about the whole language thing but i still want to say something...so.

Why do people insist on having English as a global language? It is just as stupid as the notion of the French ranting about how they want the official language of the European Union to be French...these people..arg.

The Japanese aren't anti-foreigner, well for the most part at least. Even here in America, people are not nice. In a way, its even worse. Correct me if i'm wrong, but i thought it was not generally accepted in Japan that one uses a cellphone in the trains right, as in using it to speak rather than text message? They find that highly inappropriate and disturbing the peace or something like that. I kind of like that, some people speak way too loud into their cellphones.

As for the whole thing about the korean people talking negatively about you in korean. If you MET people that spoke another language, ask them why they would speak in another language. Its simply cause they don;t want to be heard. Maybe you are up for a confrontation but they are not like that.

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Post by daelite » Sep 28th, '07, 02:44

I'm just gonna be totally honest: If I was walking down the street going somewhere, on a bus, on a train, whatever... and some total stranger starting asking me about the weather and stuff... I also wouldn't respond. And I'm American :|
Just because people don't want to talk to total strangers (not to mention ones with VIDEO CAMERAS) doesn't mean they're being racist or rude. It means they don't want to talk to random people (normal) and/or don't want to be on whatever TV show or movie is being filmed.

And before you wonder why the Japanese don't know English, maybe why don't you know Japanese? Or why don't the Japanese know Dutch? etc etc... not everyone in every country is going to know every language. It's no big deal...

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Post by siantut » Sep 28th, '07, 03:07

daelite wrote:I'm just gonna be totally honest: If I was walking down the street going somewhere, on a bus, on a train, whatever... and some total stranger starting asking me about the weather and stuff... I also wouldn't respond. And I'm American :|
Just because people don't want to talk to total strangers (not to mention ones with VIDEO CAMERAS) doesn't mean they're being racist or rude. It means they don't want to talk to random people (normal) and/or don't want to be on whatever TV show or movie is being filmed.

And before you wonder why the Japanese don't know English, maybe why don't you know Japanese? Or why don't the Japanese know Dutch? etc etc... not everyone in every country is going to know every language. It's no big deal...
Totally agree with this :thumright:

PS: I'm a Japanese.

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Post by giggle weed » Sep 28th, '07, 03:18

@daelite
I totally agree.

To respond to this thread. Yesterday, for example, I went to the corner store to buy a pack of gum. When I went to the cash, there was this lady ranting to the cashier about... How hard it was to lose weight from your upper belly. xD
He simply was answering, "Yeah, yeah." As if trying to get rid of her.
Then she said something to me, and I tried to aviod her by responding with "huh."

It's kind of scary to talk to random people on the street. I can't blame japanese people for not wanting to talk to a non japanese speaking person in japan, as it's scary enough to talk to someone of the same language you don't know.

I've actually been wanting to visit japan sometime soon. This thread is really interesting to me, 'cause I really didn't know that people would react to foreigners speaking to them on the street like that.
But I'm learning japanese myself. It would seem kind of.. Not quite rude, but close, so visit another country without atleast learning a few basic conversing phrases.

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Post by ali_sen » Sep 28th, '07, 03:47

RyuNoKami wrote:As for the whole thing about the korean people talking negatively about you in korean. If you MET people that spoke another language, ask them why they would speak in another language. Its simply cause they don;t want to be heard. Maybe you are up for a confrontation but they are not like that.
I think you misunderstand. Who said anything about a confrontation? I just don't want someone to pretend to be a best friend when they really hate me. I know asian culture has a tendency to put a LOT of emphasis on appearances. But why waste so much effort to convince me of being friends? Don't like me? Fine. Don't bring me food, don't ask me to hang out, don't pretend to be all buddy-buddy and then talk crap about me to the other Korean co-workers. In the beginning, I didn't know much Korean (despite a lot of studying.. but everyone should know that you don't become fluent overnight) and I thought these co workers were genuine friends. It ruined much of my enjoyment of life in Korea as my language skills progressed, when I realized that the people who had been asking me to hang out all the time and who I had worked hard to be friendly and respectful towards, really didn't like any of the foreign teachers. Rather than pretending, I would have preferred them to just do their job, and I do mine. After learning how fake they were, it made me highly distrustful of Koreans and Korean society in general. Sad to say. That, combined with the amount of perverts...

My favorite part of Korea? Was the work. And the food. Not the people.

At least my students were really wonderful. And strangers were helpful and kind.

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Post by Yorokobi » Sep 28th, '07, 04:08

It quite interesting to see what responses this thread gets.
Ive been living in japan for the past 4 months or so and I say it totally depends on the type of people you come across.
For example Tokyo is a busy city most people on the streets are in a hurry and have their own stuff on their minds and wont really be in the mood to talk to random people they dont know.
However in the place I live everybody waves and smiles to me and I even get old people coming up to my on the street telling my they love me.
To tell you the truth im more worried about the random Japanese people talking to me then the other way round.

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Post by rumen » Sep 28th, '07, 05:22

^ yeah i agree with the comment above.
it depends on where you are and the time of day.
people during the work day are in a hurry so they dont want to be bothered when they are rushing from point a to b.

the first time i went to tokyo i felt avoided.
but after one night hanging out in shinjuku, that went away.
i've met so many types of people on nights out just sitting on the sidewalk doing nothing.
people just come up to you and start talking.
probably out of curiosity.
one of my friends, i met him while i was waiting to use a payphone.

so its really just the types of people you run across.
though if youre female, you might come across some very bold men who straight walk up to you and ask you if you want to go to a hotel.
this one night my friend and i were sitting around and this guy completely wasted came up and kept trying to sit in our laps / hug us. he kept leaving than coming back, it was kinda funny till he got pissed and started rolling his Rs at us and lunged for us, so we had to knock him over and run. those are the kinda people you dont want to run across in any country.

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Post by Le_Muse » Sep 28th, '07, 05:26

ali_sen wrote:
Le_Muse wrote:okay I travel to tokyo a lot and study over there as well. I am a caucasian female with blonde hair so you get the point that I stand out.
I also used to have blond hair in Korea. I only put up with it for a few months. I kept having perverts trying to pick me up (or worse, feel me up... you know those stories where a creepy man feels up a girl on a subway, such as in It Started with a Kiss? Those aren't exactly common, but I got more than my share of those perverted incidents). Finally I decided to dye my hair dark dark brown, so I'd blend in better. After that, if i kept my face down and my hair dark colored, I was a lot safer.

That was one of the bad aspects of Korea, unfortunately. For every genuinely nice person, there seemed to be an equal pervert. :cussing:
omg I know what you mean!! the same thing with Japan. the businessmen over there have serious issues especially when they are drunk. what is worse is that no one comes to your rescue or anything and if you make a big scene, it means nothing. the excuse is the fact that they are drunk therefore they do not have to take responsibility for their actions. Psshhhh so lame. where is my "densha otoko?"

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Post by Yorokobi » Sep 28th, '07, 06:53

Le_Muse wrote:
ali_sen wrote:
Le_Muse wrote:okay I travel to tokyo a lot and study over there as well. I am a caucasian female with blonde hair so you get the point that I stand out.
I also used to have blond hair in Korea. I only put up with it for a few months. I kept having perverts trying to pick me up (or worse, feel me up... you know those stories where a creepy man feels up a girl on a subway, such as in It Started with a Kiss? Those aren't exactly common, but I got more than my share of those perverted incidents). Finally I decided to dye my hair dark dark brown, so I'd blend in better. After that, if i kept my face down and my hair dark colored, I was a lot safer.

That was one of the bad aspects of Korea, unfortunately. For every genuinely nice person, there seemed to be an equal pervert. :cussing:
omg I know what you mean!! the same thing with Japan. the businessmen over there have serious issues especially when they are drunk. what is worse is that no one comes to your rescue or anything and if you make a big scene, it means nothing. the excuse is the fact that they are drunk therefore they do not have to take responsibility for their actions. Psshhhh so lame. where is my "densha otoko?"
Im lucky not to have come across any situations like that yet but thenks to the dramas im always on the lookout for it in case I can help someone else or avoid it myself. I hate crowded places though so I avoid going on the crowded trains anyway.

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Post by Peggy » Sep 28th, '07, 07:39

Well I am kicking myself for not learning Japanese years ago. Who knew I would be madly in love with all these Japanese actors.
I don't even remember much of my Latin or French or Spanish.

I do not expect people in other countries to speak English for my benefit. I do know a few Japanese phrases and Korean phrases. Makes the door open if you can say Hello and goodbye and Sorry and Please. Unfortunately I am too old for travel these days.

I really don't think English or French will be the main languages for the future. It's going to be Mandarin. Start it on this now my young friends and you will do very well in the next ten and twenty years.

Just for interest...Most of the ATP players can speak more than one language. Rafael Nadal has learned English extremely well over the last couple of years and I believe he can understand several others. Roger Federer speaks several languages. It can be done.

Good Luck.

Peggy

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Post by Peggy » Sep 28th, '07, 07:48

re the person who was from Amsterdam...

My husband frequently visited Japan on business and it was a given that a slight bow and exchange of business cards was absolutely necessary and hardly ever would they shake hands. You would never see them put a friendly arm across a shoulder and it would be considered offensive. You have to know that Japan is a small group of islands and the population is tremendous. Therefore everyone is very careful not to intrude into the other person's space. Business would frequently be carried over from an office to a club where a private dining room would be arranged. This was a very expensive way to do business for them so the proper appreciation was always given.
In Asia the cultures are different and there are reasons for everything. I find it fascinating and have very few reservations.

Peggy

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Post by Noale » Sep 28th, '07, 09:15

ali_sen wrote:When I was in Korea, I was an English teacher. Students would come to my school AFTER their "regular" school to practice English. The way they explained it, it is almost impossible to progress in the working social world without English. So many careers requiring a high level of English, with the influx of foreigners into Korea. So everyone was required to reach a level of English in order to graduate.

That said, I really did find the Korean way of teaching English incomprehensible. I felt like I had to fix a ton of learning mistakes in my lessons. It seems they had to learn more from rote memorization than from understanding, so grammer was very confusing to them. If a sentence wasn't the kind they had memorized, they felt lost. And they were terrified, even in a laid back classroom, or making mistakes. The peer pressure against mistakes is just awful there. Against my colleague's advice, I made a habit of showing my students what I was learning in Korean. I told my students that if they got 80% or higher, they could give me a test on Korean vocabulary and grammer. This was not so much to make them work harder (which they did) but to let them see that I was very capable of making embarassing mistakes too. Sometimes in class when they clammed up and wouldn't speak English, I'd try to ask them something in Korean... they'd usually laugh at me and then, because my Korean wasn't as good at their English (ha ha) they'd try to explain it to me in English. Funny how they'd improve that way... All in all, kids are very very shy of using their English skills, and are worried of being made fun of... by their teacher and their peers. Teachers are very very respected in Asia, and are supposed to be respected... and make no mistakes. This is why my Asian co-teachers disapproved of my methods. It is true that my students didn't respect me as much as the other teachers. But it is also true that they had a better understanding of grammer, were less afraid of practicing it, and learning was more enjoyable to them... which to me, was invaluable to them as well as myself.

I'm digressing aren't I? ^_^

*goes back to lurking*
That was interesting to read. I'm all for your teaching methods. Instead of creating this distance between teacher and students, where the students are too afraid to ask questions and make mistakes, a team is created where teacher and students work together to reach their goals without being ashamed of not getting it right the first time. Unless it gets to a point where the students have absolutely no respect for the teacher anymore, but I can hardly imagine that's often the case in Korea.

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Post by Noale » Sep 28th, '07, 09:21

Kazuya_ wrote:If you truly want to see and experience the japanese culture for yourself, don't be discouraged by what you might have seen on a television program.

I know lots of people that have either visited or even lived in japan and none have come back and said that it was a horrible experience. There were, of course things that they didn't understand about japanese culture and society or even agreed with philosophically, but it didn't detract from their visit.

I would say also, that you take what you put in, that is to say, if you can learn some japanese even if its basic phrases you 'll be better for it. People will engage you more comfortably and it will make your experience so much better.

I don't think you 'll regret making the effort to learn about the people and its diversity.
The one thing I'm afraid of is to arrive in Japan and finding out that I can't communicate with anyone and that there's no-one who can help me. I'm seriously considering teaching myself Japanese though. With the internet and all it's much more accessable.

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Post by Noale » Sep 28th, '07, 09:30

Yorokobi wrote:It quite interesting to see what responses this thread gets.
Ive been living in japan for the past 4 months or so and I say it totally depends on the type of people you come across.
For example Tokyo is a busy city most people on the streets are in a hurry and have their own stuff on their minds and wont really be in the mood to talk to random people they dont know.
However in the place I live everybody waves and smiles to me and I even get old people coming up to my on the street telling my they love me.
To tell you the truth im more worried about the random Japanese people talking to me then the other way round.
I must say I had never had that happening to me before :rofl:
But you're right. Within a country there are many different kinds of people. People from the country tend to be a whole lot more social than people from the city, because the second group simply faces a lot of work and pressure everyday and doesn't have the time and usually isn't in the mood for small talk. Still I don't think that's a reason to brush people off when they start talking to you, but to some level it's understandable.

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Post by siantut » Sep 28th, '07, 09:42

Noale wrote: Still I don't think that's a reason to brush people off when they start talking to you, but to some level it's understandable.
If you know each other, it is rude to brush people off when they talk to you, but in case that both are mutually complete strangers, I think the right is equal, whether to start talking (uninvited) and to reply to that (if we understand what you are talking about).

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Post by Noale » Sep 28th, '07, 09:56

siantut wrote:
Noale wrote: Still I don't think that's a reason to brush people off when they start talking to you, but to some level it's understandable.
If you know each other, it is rude to brush people off when they talk to you, but in case that both are mutually complete strangers, I think the right is equal, whether to start talking (uninvited) and to reply to that (if we understand what you are talking about).
Such a cruel and anti-social world this has become.
I understand that one has the right to decide when and when not to talk and there certainly is no law that says "Thou shall always respond", but come on, where is the love? :hissy:

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Post by siantut » Sep 28th, '07, 10:03

Noale wrote:
siantut wrote:
Noale wrote: Still I don't think that's a reason to brush people off when they start talking to you, but to some level it's understandable.
If you know each other, it is rude to brush people off when they talk to you, but in case that both are mutually complete strangers, I think the right is equal, whether to start talking (uninvited) and to reply to that (if we understand what you are talking about).
Such a cruel and anti-social world this has become.
I understand that one has the right to decide when and when not to talk and there certainly is no law that says "Thou shall always respond", but come on, where is the love? :hissy:
the love is when one tries to understand and accept other culture and not generally judging the whole nation or culture just from one single TV show.

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Post by Noale » Sep 28th, '07, 10:08

I usually try not to insult people, but don't you think you're being rude here?
I do not jugde, I only say what I have seen and I ask people who know more about the Japanese culture to tell me whether what I have seen is true or not and to teach me more about it. That is the way it is. I, however, do not appreciate such insults. So if that's the only reason why you have posted in this thread, I advice you to spend your time elsewhere.

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Post by siantut » Sep 28th, '07, 10:23

Noale wrote:I usually try not to insult people, but don't you think you're being rude here?
I do not jugde, I only say what I have seen and I ask people who know more about the Japanese culture to tell me whether what I have seen is true or not and to teach me more about it. That is the way it is. I, however, do not appreciate such insults. So if that's the only reason why you have posted in this thread, I advice you to spend your time elsewhere.
Your topic itself is a sensitive and insulting topic. I read everything and I saw a lot of people trying to explain to you the reasons and the culture, but you keep going on saying negative things about the japanese. So who is insulting who? I don't think you will like it either if someone wrote the same thing about the Dutch. But you are right, I am wasting my time here. I just posted because your topic attracted my eyes. Bye.

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Post by Noale » Sep 28th, '07, 10:33

I understand that if you are Japanese yourself and proud of your country you may find this a sensitive and insulting topic. But I am dissapointed you think I am not willing to learn more from what people who post here say and that I just like to talk negatively about the Japanese. It is perhaps because I am being straightforward and open, instead of keeping my mouth shut and my thoughts to myself. It might be a western thing.

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Post by Noale » Sep 28th, '07, 10:52

fuyu wrote:Noale, It's a different culture and country... It's not surprising that certain things that happen on the other side of the planet are different than the way things are in a completely different content.

Lots of Japanese (especially the older generation) tend to have somewhat of a complex but they ARE NOT anti-foreigner if that's what you thought. Sometimes, if you're obviously not from Asia you can get stared at because you just stand out... especially if you're tall/blond-european/american (less in the big cities, but more so in the smaller country-side areas). If you ONLY speak in English and you try to speak to some random person in Tokyo, it's not uncommon to be ignored. Even if your Japanese -- you will still get the same reaction. Lots of people don't want to be bothered, or stopped. Lots of Japanese people are also shy or just like how someone earlier said -- they may not be confident either to try to help. It also depends on where they went while they were in Tokyo. There are information stands in train stations or department stores (depending on the area) where the workers WILL HELP you AND can speak simple English. Normal workers can help if they're not busy -- they can't run away lol and they would probably try to find someone who can help you or try their very best to understand. However, people heading somewhere most likely not stop and talk.

I also agree with what was said earlier that the show probably only showed what was "interesting" -- as in what could be viewed at as not good. TV programs edit a lot out, and keep the bad things to make things more juicy (as you see with reality tv). AND.. most likely the "torture" you saw was by Japanese comedians who will do anything to get a laugh. There are lots of good things .. not just bad. I think it just takes a person to actually learn from the culture itself. Please don't judge it based on a tv show. If you walk around with a camera and film people -- of course, no one will freely talk to you. I would run away too. On Japanese TV programs, if people are on camera -- the majority of the time, they have been asked permission beforehand -- and there are times you will also see people's faces are mosiac.

About the whole global english thing... while, it would be nice to be able to speak to everyone.. I don't think it should need to be forced upon people. People from other countries aren't forced to speak Japanese -- they learn because they want to.
Yes, that's the thing about such TV shows. They tend to only show what is entertaining and usually the shocking and bad things are what we find entertaining. I'm almost beginning to think that my country is the opposite of Japan, because the Dutch are so relaxed and straightforward. Sometimes too straightforward. When you walk around with a camera through Amsterdam, people will not run from you, but will actually follow you and try jumping in front of the camera to say hi to their mom ^^

Hmm, yes, the global english thing.. Forcing English on people may sound extreme, but I honestly do think it would be great if in every country the educational system offered a second (global) language that is taught well, so it's not a waste of time, but people can actually use it.

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Post by Yorokobi » Sep 28th, '07, 10:57

Not all japanese people would run from the camera especially not a lot of the teenagers.

About the english being taught, im pretty sure its part of every junior and senior high school curriculum and many start learning it younger to. However they dont get a lot of speaking or listening practice so they are usually quite shy about using it. Also once the finish high school if they dont take a course using english then they wont learn anymore and are likely to forget a lot of it as they get older. But they are all taught the basics.

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Post by Noale » Sep 28th, '07, 11:04

Yes, more people have said that the Japanese are shy about their English. It's understandable, I wouldn't feel very confident speaking French, German or Spanish either in front of people from those countries, even though I am learning those languages at school.
I guess the reason why I speak English so well is not so much because of how it's taught in Dutch schools, even though it's taught pretty well, but more because the majority of Dutch television shows and programs is spoken in English, so we get in touch with the language daily.

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Re: Are Japanese people really like that?

Post by regregreg » Sep 28th, '07, 13:52

I strongly recommend you to read The Xenophobe's Guide to the Japanese! It answers a few questions about the Japanese.
Noale wrote:Even worse, In another episode, the contestants were learning about Japanese entertainment and they had to play this popular Japanese game where they had to pretend they were in a quiet library and had to torture each other by pulling out nosehair and beating each other with a baseball bat. Apparently the Japanese think pain is entertaining?
Well, The Xenophobe's Guide says that Japanese people can only feel relaxed and have a good laugh in social situations if they make a fool of themselves. And they expect it from the others, too. That's why those kind of tv programmes are so popular in Japan. :blink

Uhh... It was written by Japanese... So it has to be true! :lol

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Post by Megumi@CS » Sep 28th, '07, 14:40

crazyjnx wrote:
Megumi@CS wrote:BTW, most Japanese people can read English so just write down if you can't say it. But I advise that you learn some of their language because when in Rome....
...do as Romans...exactly. Japan and Japanese people are not just another foreign tourist country(that goes for all countries). they exist just like human beings exist, like you and me, like my country and yours...people with lives.

they are Not there to learn english to make it more convenient for you, and they should not have to, they are in their own country for G sake.
in their own country living their lives, speaking japanese, and not thinking they should learn and practice english to accomadate tourists.

Like many americans and other people, even with such a diverse population, many americans don't think about learning other languages to accomodate other americans who may not speak english well.

if you are going to japan to experience speaking to japanese people in english, then i think you should re-examine your desire for the cultural immersion.
if you want people to speak to you in english, then go to america or england...or other english speaking countries...is my advice.

On the other hand - japanese culture, yes i do agree that it is very different from what i am used to, what many westerners are used to, but then again many japanese people may be thinking exactly the same thing about american culture, european culture...etc

**sorry, guess i was really into the topic... ^_^
Perfectly said. I'm not sure how or why you chose to believe one television program but please for your own sake be more open minded. If you go to someone Else's country, you are in their country, you should accomodate them. That includes Korea. They don't have to like you or associate with you. You can go home. They are at home.

I'm African American and I really stood out in Japan but they weren't rude. Shy, not rude. When I made eye contact some of them would quickly look away but not all. I would smile and some would smile, some wouldn't. I didn't take this personally. When I was in Utsunomiya, a "train" no lie the whole train of kids were waving at me! About 4 cars! I think they thought I was someone famous :lol It was adorable! When I was waiting in line in Tokyo, 2 women felt my hair. I guess they'd never felt African American's hair before. I didn't offense at that either. They were curious. What was funny though is when I turned around, they immediately apologized. I then replied "daijoubu" (it's okay).

English is taught in high school and there are many private schools. Here's the problem. They learn it using Katakana. Well that's really more sounds....like ka, ki, ko, ku, ke. It's difficult to learn how to say "spell" because there is not an L in the characters so it's superu. Can you see why it would be difficult? I been studying Japanese for 3 years and I can speak in at a 3 year old level. I was so intimidated that I would make a mistake and say the wrong thing in Japan but I pressed forward anyways. To "English" speaking people, Japanese is super hard because everything is completely different. English is the same for them.

Open your mind, go to Japan and have a great time. Try gyoza, sushi, toriyaki, and soba all with Sake and have a great time. Don't worry about anything else. :roll And that's my 2 cents.

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Post by Noale » Sep 28th, '07, 14:59

To Megumi:
I'm not sure about the going to Japan part, but perhaps one day I will. I'll make sure to learn at least some Japanese before I'll do that though. And thank you for your advice. Don't assume that I'm choosing to believe one television program though, because if I did I wouldn't have any reason asking you guys about its degree of truth.

To regregreg:
If it's written by a Japanese person, then it's likely to be true, though of course you still shouldn't blindly trust it. It sounds like a helpful guide though ^^ I'll go google it!

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Re: Are Japanese people really like that?

Post by apartofmylife » Sep 29th, '07, 11:20

Noale wrote:There's a show on Dutch television that I just started watching. It's called "Lost in Tokyo".
It's about a group of Dutch and entirely westernised people who are being sent to Tokyo to complete all sorts of assignments in order to learn more about the Japanese culture.

The thing is, the Japanese culture that I got a glimpse of in that tv show really shocked me. The people in Tokyo seemed extremely anti-social, almost like they were autistic. The contestants of the tv show went out onto the streets to try to make contact with Japanese people passing by, but they were unable to do so. Everybody just ignored them, some even ran away. And that wasn't just because the Japanese don't speak English (which I do happen to find ridiculous).
Later in the episode the hostess of the tv show got on a bus and tried small talking to people sitting next to her about the weather and things like that, but nobody dared to make even the slightest sound and there was nothing but complete silence and a weird uncomfortable atmosphere.
Even worse, In another episode, the contestants were learning about Japanese entertainment and they had to play this popular Japanese game where they had to pretend they were in a quiet library and had to torture each other by pulling out nosehair and beating each other with a baseball bat. Apparently the Japanese think pain is entertaining?

Now my question to people who read this and happen to live in Japan or know a lot about its culture is: Are Japanese people really like that? And if they are, why?
I am not a professor or something, but as a Japanes I write some about your questions.
About Japanese doesn’t help people in the street, on the subway, in the bus..etc…:
I think we usually try to help those people. But people in hurry don’t want to be spoken or some Japanese are not nice.
But if you are not Japanese, situation will be different. Like in the show you watch, some just run away or try not to make eye contact with you. I think the main reasons are we don’t speak English well and we don’t get used to communicate with non-Japanese people. So you might be the first non-Japanese to the person you ask for a help and they might have never expected to come across the situation. They might be so nervous and kind of in a panic. You are not from the Mars, but they might get nervous as the same as spoken by a Martian. It’s sad, right?
If you, by any chance, visit Japan and need to ask people for a help, my advice would be.
1. Don’t expect we speak English.
2. Don’t speak to people in hurry. Extremely hard to pick the right person to ask during commute time. I usually ask a worker at ticket gates.
3. Start with Sumimasen, which is Excuse me in Japanese. A little Japanese will probably make Japanese feel at ease.
4. Show a map or a note to them. Even if it is written in English, they will understand written English much better than spoken English.
5. Maybe to ask group of people better???

Anyway, you don’t have to believe the show too much. 90% of foreigners I have met say Japanese helps them, even though some of them don’t speak Japanese. And some of them said they were surprised that many Japanese knew basic English. My English is much higher than the average of Japanese, but I have a lot of complex about it. A lot, I mean, a lot!!!

About Japanese not speaking to strangers, not only foreigners but also Japanese…:
It’s our culture. I think partly it might come from internal-external culture. We try not to intrude other’s space.
We don’t talk with people sitting next to us. You don’t know if the person wants to talk with you. The person might want to be alone, or think about their work, or daydream, or silence or whatever. You might think if they don't want to talk with you, they can just say so. But it is hard for us to say no. If you speak to strangers and they don’t want to talk with you, they will not probably say no, but ignore you, which is one of our ways to say no….kind of.
Speaking about me, I almost never talk with people sitting next to me in Japan, but I enjoy it in foreign countries. Hahaha, it’s weired. Maybe I just want to speak English??? I don’t want to think so. :P Usually they speak to me and I have a chat with them.

About Japanese variety shows…. pain is entertaining thing:
Yes, we think it’s funny. I enjoy the tsukkomi person hit the boke person, but I don’t enjoy too much pain on variety shows. I enjoy “boke” and “tsukkomi” style of show or sarcasm or tease in their talk more. About “boke” and “Tsukkomi”, doink-chan san explained it very well. I don’t know why Japanese variety shows do those pain stuff, but maybe we enjoy something we can’t do in our daily life? I don’t know!

Oh, now I remember some people’s posts about Hana-Kimi ep1. In the episode, an all-boy school had a transfer student, Mizuki, who was a girl disguised as a boy for a reason. When their teacher introduced her, the students kicked a soccer ball toward her and a huge basin dropped on her and stars were circling around above her head. They checked her muscles and made fun of her and bla bla bla. I was surprised to find some posts that some people thought they bullied her and they were disappointed. It’s just their way to welcome new comers.

I want to watch the show, “lost in Tokyo” I like the movie, Lost in translation. I laughed so hard. They exaggerated Japan and Japanese, but it’s kind of true.
Thank you for reading.... :-) it's got really looong :sweat:
Last edited by apartofmylife on Sep 29th, '07, 14:46, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by megera » Sep 29th, '07, 13:04

Well, I've never been in Japan, but i kind of understand them when it comes to talking to strangers. I would probably do the same as the people in the show. My reasons may be a bit different though. If a foreigner approaches me and asks for directions or something like that i'll gladly help him or at least try to. But some random person, that i don't know, talking to me about the weather... It happened to me once and i was kind of scared. I was going somewhere in a hurry, and a man i was passing by, asked me "How are you?"And i was like "What the heck?!" He was at least 7 - 8 years older than me, how should i know, he's not some pervert or something. So i just ignored him.
About the torturing... it may be entertaining, and there are a lot of shows based on this. Probably a lot of the people have seen "Tom and Jerry" and a lot of other cartoons like this. So it's naturally for people grown up with these kind of cartoons to find torture entertaining. Or at least this is my opinion.

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Re: Are Japanese people really like that?

Post by Karate-ka » Sep 29th, '07, 13:51

apartofmylife wrote:
Noale wrote:There's a show on Dutch television that I just started watching. It's called "Lost in Tokyo".
It's about a group of Dutch and entirely westernised people who are being sent to Tokyo to complete all sorts of assignments in order to learn more about the Japanese culture.

The thing is, the Japanese culture that I got a glimpse of in that tv show really shocked me. The people in Tokyo seemed extremely anti-social, almost like they were autistic. The contestants of the tv show went out onto the streets to try to make contact with Japanese people passing by, but they were unable to do so. Everybody just ignored them, some even ran away. And that wasn't just because the Japanese don't speak English (which I do happen to find ridiculous).
Later in the episode the hostess of the tv show got on a bus and tried small talking to people sitting next to her about the weather and things like that, but nobody dared to make even the slightest sound and there was nothing but complete silence and a weird uncomfortable atmosphere.
Even worse, In another episode, the contestants were learning about Japanese entertainment and they had to play this popular Japanese game where they had to pretend they were in a quiet library and had to torture each other by pulling out nosehair and beating each other with a baseball bat. Apparently the Japanese think pain is entertaining?

Now my question to people who read this and happen to live in Japan or know a lot about its culture is: Are Japanese people really like that? And if they are, why?
I am not a professor or something, but as a Japanes I write some about your questions.
About Japanese doesn’t help people in the street, on the subway, in the bus..etc…:
I think we usually try to help those people. But people in hurry don’t want to be spoken or some Japanese are not nice.
But if you are not Japanese, situation will be different. Like in the show you watch, some just run away or try not to make eye contact with you. I think the main reasons are we don’t speak English well and we don’t get used to communicate with non-Japanese people. So you might be the first non-Japanese to the person you ask for a help and they might have never expected to come across the situation. They might be so nervous and kind of in a panic. You are not from the Mars, but they might get nervous as the same as spoken by a Martian. It’s sad, right?
If you, by any chance, visit Japan and need to ask people for a help, my advice would be.
1. Don’t expect we speak English.
2. Don’t speak to people in hurry. Extremely hard to pick the right person to ask during commute time. I usually ask a worker at ticket gates.
3. Start with Sumimasen, which is Excuse me in Japanese. A little Japanese will probably make Japanese feel at ease.
4. Show a map or a note to them. Even if it is written in English, they will understand written English much better than spoken English.
5. Maybe to ask group of people better???

Anyway, you don’t have to believe the show too much. 90% of foreigners I have met say Japanese helps them, even though some of them don’t speak Japanese. And some of them said they were surprised that many Japanese knew basic English. My English is much higher than the average of Japanese, but I have a lot of complex about it. A lot, I mean, a lot!!!

About Japanese not speaking to strangers, not only foreigners but also Japanese…:
It’s our culture. I think partly it might come from internal-external culture. We try not to intrude other’s space.
We don’t talk with people sitting next to us. You don’t know if the person wants to talk with you. The person might want to be alone, or think about their work, or daydream, or silence or whatever. You might think if they don't want to talk with you, they can just say so. But it is hard for us to say no. If you speak to strangers and they don’t want to talk with you, they will not probably say no, but ignore you, which is one of our ways to say no….kind of.
Speaking about me, I almost never talk with people sitting next to me in Japan, but I enjoy it in foreign countries. Hahaha, it’s weired. Maybe I just want to speak English??? I don’t want to think so. :P Usually they speak to me and I have a chat with them.

About Japanese variety shows…. pain is entertaining thing:
Yes, we think it’s funny. I enjoy the tsukkomi person hit the boke person, but I don’t enjoy too much pain on variety shows. I enjoy “boke” and “tsukkomi” style of show or sarcasm or tease in their talk more. About “boke” and “Tsukkomi”, doink-chan san explained it very well. I don’t know why Japanese variety shows do those pain stuff, but maybe we enjoy something we can’t do in our daily life? I don’t know!

Oh, now I remember some people’s posts about Hana-Kimi ep1. In the episode, an all-boy school had a transfer student, Mizuki, who was a girl disguised as a boy for a reason. When their teacher introduced her, the students kicked a soccer ball toward to her and a huge sink dropped on her and stars were circling around above her head. They checked her muscles and made fun of her and bla bla bla. I was surprised to find some posts that some people thought they bullied her and they were disappointed. It’s just their way to welcome new comers.

I want to watch the show, “lost in Tokyo” I like the movie, Lost in translation. I laughed so hard. They exaggerated Japan and Japanese, but it’s kind of true.
Thank you for reading.... :-) it's got really looong :sweat:
Noale dat is het enige wat je ziet van lost in tokio, lost in tokio vind ik zelf belachlijk stom. Als je echt wilt weten hoe de japaners zijn dan moet je maar zelf er naar toe gaan.

Noale thats the only thing that you will see from lost in tokyo, I think lost in tokyo is stupid. if you wanna know how japan realy is then you should go your self.

Because the most dutch people if they see one bad thing, they would think the whole japanese society is like that.
Im glad the ratings are bad because in my opinion they dont let us see the good things about japan. They only bring cosplay up just one time, but as for the other media such J-music and J-drama they didnt show us nothing.

And about the Pain and stuff why would Japan be any diffrent? I mean the west got Jackass right?

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Post by Sayumi » Sep 29th, '07, 14:18

I also agree that you have to be there and experience it yourself, you never know until you try it yourself! I for example heard from a lot of people who went to Japan that they want to go back :)
I also think that mostly the older people will try to ignore you, because you are a 'gaijin' (foreigner), especially if you don't speak any japanese.
So: don't say you don't wanna go bcz of what you've seen o/t tv, just GO and see for yourself :)

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Post by Megumi@CS » Sep 29th, '07, 14:28

Yes, Jackass is the same kind of show. I know ppl who really like these kinds of show. I do! It's not because I like to see ppl get hurt but its all to make someone else laugh, not cringe. Thanks Noale. It's nice to hear from a Japanese person 1st hand on their culture.

Sorry to assume you'd only watched one show. You didn't really mention any of the others you'd gotten your perceptions from though. I encourage you to visit Japan. Kyoto is absolutely beautiful. Make sure to go to Gion district. When I was there, I saw 2 of most beautiful Geisha. They were fully made up and so elegent. Nikko and Kamakura also have beautiful things to see. Oh yeah, remember to check the language differences in Osaka vs Tokyo and some of the customs too. Like in Tokyo you ride/walk on the right side of the steps and escalators but in Osaka it's the left. :lol

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Post by KoalaKachou » Sep 29th, '07, 15:33

Ok I'm basing this on the year I speant in Japan and my own experiences in that year. Anyone is free to disagree with my observations hell lets get this dialog going!

Ok If You walk up to a japanese person and ask them very directly for help 90% of the time they will run away the percentage gets lower based on age and gender ratio's in comparison to your own. For instance I am early 20's female and white with a intermidiate japanese ability. When I asked Women around the same age as me for help most were very helpful. Guys however... would stutter that they didn't speak english in spite of my japanese ability and run away.

However If you are standing on a street gazing at a map with confusion or look at train timetables I found that 80% of the time someone would come up to me and ask me if I was ok and If I needed help.

That said the laws of irony are hevily in place and most of the time when you do need help you end up having to ask for it but when you're simply checking which train will get you there faster 3 people will check to make sure you are ok.

Oh and about the language it was my experience that it didn't matter what you spoke It all depended upon what the japanese person thought you spoke. I Asked a woman in a store for directions once (in japanese) And she freaked out and sat there racking her brain trying to think of english words for the directions as i continued to coax her along in japanese. It didnt register to her for about 4 minutes that i was speaking japanese and that was what she was responding to....

In the main tourist areas you dont usually get that though everyone is rather desensetized to your presence.

I think thats all I have to say... oh and about the language thing coming from an english speaking country where most of the population only has one language then to watch australians english and americans yell at people in places like japan china and south east asia about their lack of english ability. i have to say it makes me really angry. and i have yelled at people in the past for it.

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Post by Karate-ka » Sep 29th, '07, 18:38

KoalaKachou wrote:
I think thats all I have to say... oh and about the language thing coming from an english speaking country where most of the population only has one language then to watch australians english and americans yell at people in places like japan china and south east asia about their lack of english ability. i have to say it makes me really angry. and i have yelled at people in the past for it.
Yeah in my opinion why dont they try learning their language, for them its hard to learn english becaus we western write with Roman alfabet and the japanese write with characters.

And then you exeperience how hard they having for learning english.

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Post by regregreg » Sep 29th, '07, 23:28

Hmm, I've read what apartofmylife wrote about Japanese not talking to strangers even if sitting next to each other on a train... and it's quite understable, really. But the thing that I was wondering about is... how do Japanese people make friends then? If you don't talk to strangers, you will never get to know them and you will never have friends! Or is it okay to talk to a stranger if you two attend the same class and/or work at the same place? Japanese people don't even talk to anyone who's not in their family or is not their classmate/workmate? And how the hell do they get a boyfriend/girlfriend if they don't talk to anyone? :unsure: Someone explain it please!

And about the Japanese don't talk to foreigners thing... Well, I'm not Japanese but I don't talk to foreigners either. I'm kind of afraid of them too, so I'd probably run away if anyone came up to me and asked something in English! I'd never ever speak a word of this language aloud. :whistling: So, I'm with the Japanese on this one! :lol

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