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List of things Japanese think we don't understand, have difficulty with


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(1)お歳暮・お中元 Year-End �Thank You� gifts (oseibo) & Mid-year gifts(ochuugen) 319

(2)遠慮・謙遜(けんそん) restraint/reserve (enryo) & humility/modesty (kenson) 189

(3)正座 sitting correctly (Japanese style) 186

(4)節分・豆まき Setsubun/Mamemaki 168

(5)宗教観 Religious Practices 159

(6)おじぎ Bowing 145

(7)家では靴を脱ぐ Not wearing shoes inside houses 141

(8)納豆を食べる Eating Natto 138

(9)風呂・湯船に浸かる Taking a bath 92

(10)わび・さび Wabi-sabi 85

(11)銭湯 Public bath houses 75

(12)茶道 Tea Ceremony 70

(13)初詣で The first temple / shrine visit of the New Year 65

(14)(麺類などを)音を立てて食べる Slurping sounds while eating noodles 62

(14)あいまいさ Communication through ambiguity/indirectness 62

(16)贈り物で「つまらないものですが」と言 358; Belittling a gift before giving it 53

(16)本音と建前 Honne and tatemae 53

(18)正月行事 New Year�s Events 47

(19)お年玉 Cash gifts on New Year�s day 44

(20)根回し Nemawashi

 

 

 

Number 10. Get a grip, ask any Japanese what does wabi-sabi mean and they cant answer it themselves.

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1-3 I agree with.

 

A lot of the others (taking bath, shoes in the house etc) sound like they were stated by some inbred farmer.

 

The interesting one for me is 14 because I thought many Japanese were not even aware that their language was so indirect.

 

1 and 19 are the same, unless I am a classic example or a gaijin who doesnt understand them \:D

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Oh they are acutely aware of it Bobby12. Have you never had Japanese people go on at you about how YES and NO is so clear in the "West" and how Japanese people find it hard to be so clear cut? I think they are told that a lot through school. As for 2 and 3, there are plenty of Japanese who have trouble with these too. I personally have no probs with 3...

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For me everything on the list doesn't apply when it is applied to Japanese people. Everybody here has experienced some old Japanese guy who doesn't wash himself before getting into the onsen. But as soon as a gaijin breaks the rules then 10 people will stand up and tell you, "you are wrong" "dame" big crossed arms etc.

 

Top 10

 

(1)Tell this to the company I work for, nobody has ever seen a bonus.

(2)Tell this to the people who will say you use chopsticks wrong. Or ask you what size your dick is.

(3)Seiza is becoming less popular since everybody is moving into fully western flats.

(4)Read a guide book. Seasons passing is marked universally even Christmas is a pagan seasons festival.

(5)Is more tradition than religion, who here is a real Shintoist?

(6)Read a guide book or watch anything to do with Japan.

(7)Read the inflight mag on the way to Japan.

(8)Not even Japanese.

(9)Again guidebook/flight over

(10) The importance of this list is in how small it is...

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I agree with 14. I don't understand the slurping noodles thing for a country that prides itself on politeness.

 

I have no idea why they would prefer to talk with food in their mouths either, or why they insist on (what I consider) very large mouthfulls, half of which is often hanging on their lips.

 

Quite frankly, at my office, I have no idea why sounding like a horse when you eat is considered normal. On the contrary, I refuse to eat my meal while others are eating theirs. It grosses me out way too much. Often I straight up leave the office on soba or ramen day. And I have no problem "offering" them the freedom to finish chewing before I continue the conversation.

 

something not on this list;

why it is okay to come to work looking like you slept on the curb with your dandruff ridden hair in shambles and your electric shaver buzzing throughout the office while you brush your teeth. WTF is up with that?

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It's kind of a curious list. I wouldn't have thought things like oseibo/ochuugen (number 1) and setsubun (number 4) would be so high. I'm surprised 'the four seasons' didn't make it up there....

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Well hot Udon is at its best when really hot, so when you inhale quickly you are effectivly blowing to cool your food(its considered childish in japan to blow food) it shows appreciation to the chef to slurp because you want to eat them when they are at their best.

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 Quote:
Originally posted by YellowSnow:
Well hot Udon is at its best when really hot, so when you inhale quickly you are effectivly blowing to cool your food(its considered childish in japan to blow food) it shows appreciation to the chef to slurp because you want to eat them when they are at their best.
while I understand that ideology, I think it's crap and refuse to do so. Some of my cultural upbringings are very deeply engrained. And listening to people slurp their noodles is perhaps the most difficult thing for me to tolerate... compliments to the chef or not- I F'ing hate it.

My wife knows I can't stomach a meal with those surroundings. It honestly makes me sick.
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I see where you are getting at. Although its "cultural" people are just doing it because they want to. But there are "cultural" thangs we want to get a free pass for.

 

I eat Udon maybe 4 times a week and I have mastered hovering them up.

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Agreed on the noodles Yellow.

Used to freak me out abit but when living in Indo, I got used to alot of other shit so it didn't really faze me and before to long I was fitting in with the locals!

I don't know how I am going to go back to eating spaghetti with a fork and spoon.

 

Samurai, if you think it's crap then that's fine, but when in Rome.... relax a bit and you might not notice it so much..

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Heres addition to the list

Japanese style toilets. Its 2007 people. I always worry I'm going to spring a leak on my clothes. I Highly avoid using those toilets.

 

Having a car with a loud exhaust is a no-no but all the annoying trucks with blairing speakers for politicians, recycling and my personal favorite the Petrol truck that rolls around my neighborhood at 7am to 9am in the morning with the repeatitive music.

 

Holding hands in public is ok (showing affection) but kissing totally taboo even for a quick peck on the cheek.

 

HOUSES (The biggie)

The color of houses, Never paid attention to it before until recently but majority of buildings, houses and apartments come in one of 3 colors, grey, white or bland yellow.

 

The ability of ones house to be its own perpetual landfill. Recycling here is the worst.

 

The western style home toilets here. Many houses are equipped with toilet seats that NASA would be envy of. I cannot come to grips with how much people spend for this item when all you use it for at most is 5-10min a day.

 

Paper thin walls on houses. Totally un-economical. How does using keorsene for winter make up the long time cost of not installing insulation in the walls. It would also help dampen the likelyhood of knowing the exact time in the morning your nextdoor neighbor takes a crap on his space age toilet seat.

 

Sorry but I have a deep rooted dislike for houses in Japan.

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Bobby

 

In simple terms

 

1 is year-end token style gifts to customers, parents etc.

19 is New Year pocket money to younger members of the family

 

Note that the question explicitly stated "cultural things" so that's why all that non-everyday stuff is in there. It suggests people see a lot of culture in terms of "events". Perhaps this is from a questionnaire with checkboxes. Setsubun is so minor that I think the idea has been put in peoples heads. The same list hasn't given them a chance to tick hanami, going to the grave at obon, or whatever.

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FRANK RYAN, I am so with you on the houses thing. I like old straw houses, but I think sometimes that Japanese revere their own culture so much they forget to have a renaissance once in a while.

Wood block printing is good, but there are serious gaps in the evolution of art and architecture here.

 

Toilet culture in Japan also gets to me. How is it acceptable for a cleaning lady to come in and take a look at my junk? Why do some mens urinals on the train actually have a glass door. Why do public toilets in the park have no barrier to see you taking a piss?

 

Park design, everything needs a path and lots of concrete. Tradition Japanese gardens are often a perfect balance, but then you have a huge design gap to modern day parks, which are more about function (housing homeless) than design.

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It must depend on where you live, Frank. The rusted ruin which surrounds our house is finally coming down. It's 30-40 years old, but the walls are insulated.

 

The cyber-dunnies. I've gone from 0 to 100% on these. The thing I miss most when out of Japan is not being able to wash my arse after I've had a shit.

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 Quote:
...there are serious gaps in the evolution of art and architecture here.
Actually I have often heard that Japan is considered to have the worlds most progressive architecture.

This guy, Alain de Botton , had a TV series about architecture and some of the places he introduced in Japan were awesome.

But the general point about everyday housing in Japan is valid.
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The do have some of the best, even there is a very exciting new building being built very quickly in Shinjuku and I love watching it take shape. But a constant progression with out influence from the rest of the world, I doubt it.

 

2 pieces of Archecture that would of made Japan stand out was the millenium tower and another tower that was to be built half underground. ( I forget the name) were scrapped. The new Tokyo tower is gawd awful ugly pretty, much like the old one. Just my opinion though.

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 Quote:
Originally posted by samurai:
I agree with 14. I don't understand the slurping noodles thing for a country that prides itself on politeness.
Me neither. I guess probably noodles are exceptions.

 Quote:

I have no idea why they would prefer to talk with food in their mouths either, or why they insist on (what I consider) very large mouthfulls, half of which is often hanging on their lips.
I think they were educated badly. My parents raised us 3 boys very strictly at this point.

 Quote:
Quite frankly, at my office, I have no idea why sounding like a horse when you eat is considered normal. On the contrary, I refuse to eat my meal while others are eating theirs. It grosses me out way too much. Often I straight up leave the office on soba or ramen day. And I have no problem "offering" them the freedom to finish chewing before I continue the conversation.
I think manners for meal time are getting worse and worse nowadays. People often do something else "while eating". Not so many people seem to "enjoy" their meals. Probably they are so busy to do a lot of things, not enough time only for meals but meals are exact stuff for us to survive. People misunderstand something, I guess.
;\)

 Quote:
something not on this list;
why it is okay to come to work looking like you slept on the curb with your dandruff ridden hair in shambles and your electric shaver buzzing throughout the office while you brush your teeth. WTF is up with that?
That's something I dont want to see!
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 Quote:
Originally posted by bobby12:
 Quote:
...there are serious gaps in the evolution of art and architecture here.
Actually I have often heard that Japan is considered to have the worlds most progressive architecture.

This guy, Alain de Botton , had a TV series about architecture and some of the places he introduced in Japan were awesome.

But the general point about everyday housing in Japan is valid.
In terms of usage of tight space, Japanese apartments are very advanced. Room layouts for new apartment buildings in the UK actually look "Japanese" in their functionality. For those of you scratching your heads, just think about which is more functional in a limited space, an open plan kitchen-dining-living area (Japanese) or a formal dining room (largely unused), formal living area (heavily used but separated from other areas), and kitchen with a breakfast bar. That's what you get in the typical UK newbuild house regardless of how you what to live. If you want an open-plan design, you'll have to find a plot with planning permission and commission an architect. de Botton's series is largely about British people being trapped by a brick and mortar tradition that prevents us from adopting better building methods and house designs that are more suited to modern living. His main target are big housebuilders who claim that mock Georgian plus garage in brick is what everyone wants. In that sense, he's got a point. The Japanese part of the series struck me as cherry picking in the extreme, but his basic intention seemed to be that a modern Japanese house would give the cook a nice kitchen, the violinist a big music room, and the avid bather a nice bath. Not one size fits all. The problem is that however practical, versatile, or even beautiful (from a mordernist perspective) architect-commissioned Japanese houses can be, the "lets build one house a time according to individual desires and prevailing fashions" approach is never going to produce really nice neighbourhoods. You have to have some kind of unified vision and planning for that. The estate full of modern but similar Dutch houses he introduced is probably a better example of what could/should be tried in Britain.
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Cheese.

 

The concept of real cheese does not seem to be going well here. Not only is it delicious and nutritious, but fun for all. I'm surprised that quality cheese hasn't made inroads in becoming more popular here.

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nor has bread. or wine. or beer.

 

This country can serve you sashimi with the fish still flapping it's tail and its gills still gasping for air, but the above prove to be culinary impossibilities.

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 Quote:
Originally posted by samurai:
nor has bread. or wine. or beer.

This country can serve you sashimi with the fish still flapping it's tail and its gills still gasping for air, but the above prove to be culinary impossibilities.
your being relentless in this thread. have a bad week?
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