View Full Version : Cultural Differences Real and percieved
2004-03-11, 12:50 AM
I thought I would start a new more general thread in relation to my older thread about sleeping before my wife etc.... Assumptions you make about japan vs the reality of it... Or contradictory things in Japanese culture.
Have you noticed how dirty and dusty it can be inside japanese homes? There is this whole preconcieved notion that Japanese are super clean. I mean you have to take your shoes off here and there etc, but you go into the house and it is disgusting.... I was in a number of houses and there was at least half an inch of dust on the wires. I've been in a house where the dog goes for a walk, not to go to the bathroom, but just walk. Once inside the dog gets it's feet wiped with some water.... You know to keep the house clean, but it deficates inside the house! In the living room! Like it is supposed to!?! Somethings not right...there in my mind. I guess in America nothing is more unclean or dirty than unchi. It seems that outside dirt is the dirtiest thing in japan and unchi falls somewhere below that.
Post Edited (03-11-04 03:32)
just leave then. really good title...
2004-03-11, 03:49 AM
1. I don't live there anymore. I did, but it was under my in laws roof and I guess I'm too stubborn to bend to their ways of doing things. I left with my wife and son when okasan started hitting my wife in the face. We were there two weeks when that happened, we were planning on staying years. I studied sociology in college, and I used to be a relativist as far as cultural differences go. After that I'm more and more an absolutist. Some things are just wrong. A Mother smacking her grown daughter in the face in front of the husband is wrong, even in Japan I bet. But her family would have me believe other wise..... I always seem to get these made up rules thrown at me for the other (japanese) persons benefit.
Does it bother people that it is rather easy to offend a japanese person (at least my in laws) yet they can say offensive things all the time, but we should just take it because "they are japanese" and don't know they are being offensive?
2004-03-11, 05:51 AM
Dirty homes vary with the individual family and perception. My in-laws and other J family members keep their homes spotless, even with pets. Same with other J people's homes I have visited.
Same thing goes for being "offensive". It's all case by case.
2004-03-11, 06:52 AM
> Dirty homes vary with the individual family and perception. My
> in-laws and other J family members keep their homes spotless,
> even with pets. Same with other J people's homes I have
> Same thing goes for being "offensive". It's all case by case.
Yeah, I would have to agree with you. I guess that all goes back to my real vs percieved thing abuot Japan. When I first visited Japan I was quite ignorant and had a positive prejudice about japan. But they are like everyone else in the world.... There are good and bad
2004-03-11, 09:35 AM
OK I'll add to this.....
The above post sounds more like personal differences in habit(s) as opposed to cultural differences. As Glenski wrote: "case by case." Our house and my wife's relatives' houses are all very clean but I understand my daughter's husband's in-laws place is a real fur ball - one huge dog and two cats.....so case by case, no?
2004-03-11, 02:49 PM
3 Big Myths about Japan / the Japanese people:
1) They are obsessive about being clean
2) Japan is a safe country (ie, no guns, drugs, whores, mafia, crime or other nastiness)
3) Japanese people are so very polite and mannerly
It's amazing how many of my family/friends living outside Japan believe in these 3 myths...it's part of the popular image that Japan (naturally enough) wants to perpetuate. I love telling people stories about the Yakuza, homeless people, glue-sniffing teens and prostitution districts in Japan, just to see their stunned reactions...;)
2004-03-11, 03:05 PM
Too many coffee-table books; glossy travel guides and glitzy documentaries, photographed and written by overpaid hacks who parachute into a Tokyo Hotel for a week, travel around in taxis and communicate with the natives through interpreters and translators.
Echoes of "Lost in Translation?"
2004-03-20, 04:33 AM
actually, dr drew, i think most homeless people in japan measure up to your three myths pretty well. clean, safe, polite..... that describes most of the tarp-dwellers ive encountered.
2004-03-22, 04:57 PM
I have to agree. I've seen and heard from others surprise encounters with exceedingly dirty/cluttered houses that run against the Japanese are "clean people" myth. (Not to say they're dirty, just not uniformly clean...)
My first experience in Japan was a homestay with a family that runs a ryokan in Tohoku. I had a great experience but did encounter lots of situations that ran contrary to the perceptions I had developed while studying Japanese and about Japan in the U.S.
When I helped clean the dining hall after meals I was to mop the floor with a disgustingly filthy mop and cold water. No soap, no disinfectant. The most important thing was that everything 'look' clean. It didn't really matter if the kitchen floor was crawling with bacteria as long as it seemed clean.
I had also been given the impression that "Japanese people do not say 'no' very often." I quickly found out the error of this statement when, while wiping a plastic-coated table top against the 'grain' of the wood my host-father shouted not the textbook taught 'chotto...' or even 'iie' but 'NO! (in English), DAME!'.
These experiences led, of course, to greater understandings of Japanese culture (for example, the importance of the father figure - also the shacho in this case - in the Japanese family). Still, when you come with various preconceptions that have been reinforced by media, previous visitors to Japan, Japanese people, and even books that purport to educate one about Japan the first encounter with behavior to the contrary is quite surprising...
2004-03-22, 06:55 PM
Hey, you might have stumbled across something with the `wood grain` experience.
I don`t know why, but I think it`s possible some Japanese people don`t see the difference between real and simulated wood.
Exhibit A) Your example of Papa getting angry about wiping a fake-wood table against the `grain`.
Ex.B) My husband polishes our 70`s, fake wood cofee tables with lemon oil. (I`ve stopped arguing about it). He pays careful attention to the top...
Ex.C) The same person as ex. B calls our kitchen floor `wood`. It`s not. It`s not even vaguely wood-like...unlike the coffee tables... It`s not a matter of vocabulary; Japanese has `bi-ni-ru`.
The big shocker for me, though, was seeing Japanese kitchens. They are dark and cold and generally filthy... and I`ve been house-hunting for a year and have seen a lot! When I do buy, the kitchen is going to have to have a complete re-model. It`s no wonder that the kitchen is NOT the heart of family life here.
2004-03-22, 10:55 PM
Implausible, here in the "Cultural Differences Real and perceived" thread, to assume morning wood has any hope of gaining and maintaining purchase.... after all, "Japanese people don`t see the difference between real and simulated wood".....
Arithmetic is real and colours can be trusted.
2004-03-23, 01:21 AM
Wow, Kent.... can I share whatever you`re smoking?
After that, we can place plastic PET bottles full of water around my yard to ward off cats.
Then, maybe, we can polish some melamine....together, if you know what I mean...
I like polishing melamine with hi-grit sandpaper.
OK, the thread is interesting! Let`s get back to it! Please!
2004-03-23, 02:37 AM
> After that, we can place plastic PET bottles full of water around my yard to ward off cats.
Don't be mocking the water bottle trick. It works!
I'm the most stubborn skeptic in the world so it totally kills me to admit it. But it's true. When I first moved into our current apartment our tiny garden was little more than a litter box for the neighborhood strays. Out of desperation (the orange peel/garlic/hot pepper mixture that wards off Canadian cats don't seem to have any effect on these little sh*ts) I put out a few plastic bottles filled with water, and the they stopped coming around.
I have no idea why it works, but I swear to god it does.
The only problem is that now my garden is filled with these ugly plastic bottles...
2004-03-23, 08:24 AM
Here in the "Cultural Differences Real and perceived" thread, to idly label
the plastic bottles as "ugly" reeks of ethnocentrism. THEY ARE YOUR GARDEN GNOMES.
2004-03-23, 09:49 AM
Sounds like laterthanyou is living in a minor level of hell. You can argue all day about cultural differences, but what kind of Japanese house allows their dog to poop in the living room? That's not japanese, that's just plain wrong. My in-laws house is really clean. Painfully clean. So clean in fact, that I get tired when I go over there cause I can't help thinking about all the cleaning.
Meh. Anyway, about those plastic bottles, you don't need the whole bottle, just the cap. And firmly insert 1 cap into each cat (hold the _______ tight, they have sharp claws) and presto! No more poopy.
2004-04-30, 10:17 PM
The great irony is that Japanese people say they are so clean and so attuned to nature, but look around the place, what do you see -- this is one of the ugliest countries I have ever seen! Even third world countries look better, because in third world countries you can usually find vast areas of wild nature, untouched by man. In Japan they have covered all the nature with concrete. The only animals you see (in the Tokyo region at least) are urban scavengers like rats, crows and pigeons. And Japanese people have the nerve to say that they understand nature more than foreigners. It's like Americans saying that their country is the home of freedom. Well, if you are the home of freedom, why are you enslaving the Iraqi people, and bombing them into democracy? It doesn't add up.
Don't get me wrong, I love Japan, but only a fool would say that this is a beautiful place to live. I like Japan (Tokyo) for its sheer urbanity, its faded futurism, its BLACK RAIN/BLADERUNNER edginess. It is like a world where nature has been completely removed, and replaced with Disneyland. That's interesting, but it's not beautiful in the traditional sense. But where else in the world could you see a country as bizarre as this one?
2004-05-01, 07:24 AM
You are right about Tokyo, but Japan does not equate Tokyo.
If you want nature, try getting out that colossal city.
2004-05-03, 10:39 PM
It's true. I haven't travelled that much outside Tokyo, even though I have been here so long.
Are there any good places for nature?
I liked the Japanese Alps in winter -- all the snow and stuff. But still, it didn't seem 100 per cent authentic. Theer were always power lines and **** to ruin the view.
2004-05-04, 10:58 PM
I must be missing something, because I don't recall Los Angeles or New York having much in the form of nature either.
Nature is everywhere in Japan, considering most of the nation is unlivable due to mountains. Take a train west out of Takao/Hachioji, go through a tunnel, and bam, you're in the middle of the Sagamiko valley. Take an Odakyu train out to Enoshima or Hakone. Drive up to Kusatsu during the fall to see the leaves change color and go to the onsen there. The entire island of Hokkaido is gorgeous all year long.
But seriously, if you hate Tokyo, try moving to Tohoku or Hokkaido. There just isn't space in Kanto/Kansai to leave room for wide swaths of green in cities, apart from the parks and temples.
2004-05-04, 11:18 PM
there are tons of beautiful natural spots in japan....get out of tokyo!
2004-05-08, 03:03 AM
I could become a millionaire cleaner there then when I fly to Tokyo in August. My profession.