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Gaijin/Wannabe? Or Awesome Barbarian?

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  • Gaijin/Wannabe? Or Awesome Barbarian?

    There is a lot of emphasis on how much the 'Gaijin' has to try to be Japanese. Tons. More than for any other country. It is good to learn the culture that one is going to live in, especially if you like that culture and admire it. Also, I understand the severe importance of propriety in the business realm.

    However, since WW2, the Japanese have been OBSESSED with the West. Starting with French culture. And shifting gears to American. Many Japanese I've known, heard about, and seen in films, etc. are so obsessed with American culture, that they are more American than me!

    So then, should a Westerner (esp American), really try to suppress all that is American/Western about themselves, and try to pretend to be just a large, pale, blue-eyed Japanese?

    Or would it be actually more recommended to be more openly Western? Or even play off it? Sell the American image? (at least the good parts :/)

    Thanks for reading and for your replies.

  • #2
    You've got to find a happy medium. Nobody expects you to change who you are to fit in, but at the same time you need to recognize that you're now a part of something that isn't inherently yours, so you need to respect it. There's nothing wrong with keeping your American pride, but if you're faced with a situation that you don't necessarily agree with(custom/culture/etc), it's not your place to openly critique it from an "In America we would do it this way, and it's better/more efficient..." perspective.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by culture_high View Post
      You've got to find a happy medium. Nobody expects you to change who you are to fit in, but at the same time you need to recognize that you're now a part of something that isn't inherently yours, so you need to respect it. There's nothing wrong with keeping your American pride, but if you're faced with a situation that you don't necessarily agree with(custom/culture/etc), it's not your place to openly critique it from an "In America we would do it this way, and it's better/more efficient..." perspective.
      Oh, of course. Besides, I personally don't have any American pride. Though I suppose there are elements of me that are western. I'm eclectic, so...

      And I also understand respecting another's culture.

      It just seems there is more emphasis on 'pretending' to be Japanese, and none on finding that 'balance'.

      I think my question ties in with the racist thread. If so many Japanese are obsessed with western culture, why would they hate us so much?

      Perhaps it's all just an over-emphasis on either side of the spectrum? That it all is merely subjective to each individual? (for the Japanese and the gaijin)

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by truth8honesty View Post

        It just seems there is more emphasis on 'pretending' to be Japanese, and none on finding that 'balance'.

        I think my question ties in with the racist thread. If so many Japanese are obsessed with western culture, why would they hate us so much?

        Perhaps it's all just an over-emphasis on either side of the spectrum? That it all is merely subjective to each individual? (for the Japanese and the gaijin)
        Pretending to be Japanese is an illusion many foreigners fall into for whatever reasons (maybe to seem cultured). These are the type of people who don't realize that they don't fit in, regardless of if they nuthug Japan or break all the rules.

        The fact of the matter is, if you're not Japanese, you're not Japanese. You'll never fit in completely and any attempt is pretty much futile. Following Japanese customs and rules is something everyone should respect and do, but it will never make you Japanese. Some people consider this racism. For others, acceptance that they are who they are. Unfortunately, there is a rather large mess in regards to "Japanese equality" compared to "western equality," and comparing those topics to "Japanese rights" VS "western rights," and then further comparing those four topics to "Japanese customs" VS "western customs."* Until some more concrete lines can be accepted(which they won't), we'll just have to accept that being a foreigner in Japan(or any other nation not your own), is a great privilege.

        *An easy example is with Tattoos in Japan. Many westerners who have tattoos feel that there isn't equality when they are sometimes denied access to public places like onsens because they have tattoos. They feel it is their right to be able to use such places as the tattoos are not harming anyone. However, Japanese customs traditionally say that tattoos are bad. Who's right and whose wrong? The foreigners are in another country who has it's own customs, which they should respect, but they can be denied access for things as petty as a tattoo, which to many seems stupid. So do you abide by Japanese culture since you're in their country, or do you try and break down their customs for something you feel is your rights?

        As far as Japanese hating us, I don't think that's the case at all. A lot of Japanese just recognize that you are who you are, and they will appreciate that you've put forth effort into assimilating into their culture, but at the end of the day, you're still not Japanese.

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        • #5
          Be as American as you can!

          I say you be as American as you can.

          And at any chance you get, you should mention how America kicked Japan's ___ in WWII and remind them of the nukes that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

          That's the recipe to be everybody's best friend.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by ArnoldS View Post
            I say you be as American as you can.

            And at any chance you get, you should mention how America kicked Japan's ___ in WWII and remind them of the nukes that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

            That's the recipe to be everybody's best friend.
            Oh, of course. My friend's say that's why they have utterly acquiesced and obsess about us.

            Unfortunately, I'm not so prideful as to do so. I'm one of the "Japan shoulda won the war!" people. Even if that makes even less sense...

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by culture_high View Post
              Pretending to be Japanese is an illusion many foreigners fall into for whatever reasons (maybe to seem cultured). These are the type of people who don't realize that they don't fit in, regardless of if they nuthug Japan or break all the rules.

              The fact of the matter is, if you're not Japanese, you're not Japanese. You'll never fit in completely and any attempt is pretty much futile. Following Japanese customs and rules is something everyone should respect and do, but it will never make you Japanese. Some people consider this racism. For others, acceptance that they are who they are. Unfortunately, there is a rather large mess in regards to "Japanese equality" compared to "western equality," and comparing those topics to "Japanese rights" VS "western rights," and then further comparing those four topics to "Japanese customs" VS "western customs."* Until some more concrete lines can be accepted(which they won't), we'll just have to accept that being a foreigner in Japan(or any other nation not your own), is a great privilege.

              *An easy example is with Tattoos in Japan. Many westerners who have tattoos feel that there isn't equality when they are sometimes denied access to public places like onsens because they have tattoos. They feel it is their right to be able to use such places as the tattoos are not harming anyone. However, Japanese customs traditionally say that tattoos are bad. Who's right and whose wrong? The foreigners are in another country who has it's own customs, which they should respect, but they can be denied access for things as petty as a tattoo, which to many seems stupid. So do you abide by Japanese culture since you're in their country, or do you try and break down their customs for something you feel is your rights?

              As far as Japanese hating us, I don't think that's the case at all. A lot of Japanese just recognize that you are who you are, and they will appreciate that you've put forth effort into assimilating into their culture, but at the end of the day, you're still not Japanese.
              All good stuff. Thank you for your in depth, thoughtful response.

              Though one is left with the question: is it wrong to challenge another culture's standards? Like the tattoo example. We fight with Saudis and Afghans about women's rights. We don't simply say "Eh, it's their culture". Many dont accept culture as a good excuse for the mass incest in the Bible.

              Perhaps a thread on objective morality should be re-revisted...

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by truth8honesty View Post
                I'm one of the "Japan shoulda won the war!" people. Even if that makes even less sense...
                It makes sense: you're new to Japan and your shades are more pink than the entire workforce of Kabukicho. Nevermind which people Japan sided with back then, and how they insistingly invited themselves in all around Asia - hey, they're cool peace loving people. Haven't you seen how often they bow, right? Bowing people can't be bad...

                Back to the op

                You'll fit in by not fitting in. People are expecting you not to fit in. The more you try, the more you stick out.

                Or as my former (Japanese) director at a large (Japanese) company told me:
                "You're not Japanese. Try to be more American. Slap people on their back and shout "Gooodu mo---ningu!"".
                ...he knew fully well I am not an American.
                He even knew that the typical Swedish personality trait is far from the loud and upfront one he wanted me to be.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by truth8honesty View Post
                  Oh, of course. Besides, I personally don't have any American pride. Though I suppose there are elements of me that are western. I'm eclectic, so...
                  Originally posted by truth8honesty View Post
                  Unfortunately, I'm not so prideful as to do so. I'm one of the "Japan shoulda won the war!" people. Even if that makes even less sense...
                  Eclectic? Hardly. And do I detect a bit of White Guilt? Lemme guess, anthropology major?

                  I'm being a bit of a d&ck, but, trust me, you're an American. And the Japanese will definitely see you as an American.

                  Just take off your shoes and be polite (by your standards). And don't talk about the war. I did just for a second, but I think it's OK now.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Marius_II View Post
                    It makes sense: you're new to Japan and your shades are more pink than the entire workforce of Kabukicho. Nevermind which people Japan sided with back then, and how they insistingly invited themselves in all around Asia - hey, they're cool peace loving people. Haven't you seen how often they bow, right? Bowing people can't be bad...

                    Back to the op

                    You'll fit in by not fitting in. People are expecting you not to fit in. The more you try, the more you stick out.

                    Or as my former (Japanese) director at a large (Japanese) company told me:
                    "You're not Japanese. Try to be more American. Slap people on their back and shout "Gooodu mo---ningu!"".
                    ...he knew fully well I am not an American.
                    He even knew that the typical Swedish personality trait is far from the loud and upfront one he wanted me to be.
                    This is how I picture it. Though it must be a funny situation to be a different Westerner, and expected to act like an American. Ha, ha!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by steki47 View Post
                      Eclectic? Hardly. And do I detect a bit of White Guilt? Lemme guess, anthropology major?

                      I'm being a bit of a d&ck, but, trust me, you're an American. And the Japanese will definitely see you as an American.

                      Just take off your shoes and be polite (by your standards). And don't talk about the war. I did just for a second, but I think it's OK now.
                      Indeed I am eclectic. I think you barely know me to make such judgements against me...

                      Most of my friends are from all over the world, and I have adopted elements from their cultures I admire. Leaving me very un-American(by stereotype)

                      No, not a major in anything.

                      Not sure what white guilt is, but I am a bit racist towards whites. the statement is meant as a joke/protest. I really don't think anyone wins in a war. What's the old adage? "War doesn't determine who's right, only who's left."

                      And what do you mean by being seen as an American? Are you confirming the Japanese are narrow-minded racists?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by truth8honesty View Post
                        it must be a funny situation to be a different Westerner, and expected to act like an American.
                        Funny is one way of putting it...
                        Last edited by Marius_II; 2010-05-25, 03:14 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by truth8honesty View Post
                          Oh, of course. My friend's say that's why they have utterly acquiesced and obsess about us.

                          Unfortunately, I'm not so prideful as to do so. I'm one of the "Japan shoulda won the war!" people. Even if that makes even less sense...
                          You definitely watched "The Last Samurai" one too many times.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ArnoldS View Post
                            You definitely watched "The Last Samurai" one too many times.
                            Nope. Don't watch TV a whole lot. Besides... "The Last Samurai: Starring Tom Cruise"? Doesn't sound like a good plot.

                            Like Mooney's: "The last Niogga on Earth: Starring Tom Hanks"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by truth8honesty View Post
                              Nope. Don't watch TV a whole lot. Besides... "The Last Samurai: Starring Tom Cruise"? Doesn't sound like a good plot.

                              Like Mooney's: "The last Niogga on Earth: Starring Tom Hanks"
                              How about Kevin Kostner's Danicing With Wolves? Or perhaps James Camerons's Avatar?
                              You are probably a fan of one of those movies.

                              Comment

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