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    Japanese Culture: A Primer for Newcomers

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    Kyouri Kai
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    Japanese Culture: A Primer for Newcomers

    Post by Kyouri Kai on Fri 22 Feb 2008, 2:44 pm

    Where do I fit in?

    For the foreign resident in Japan, the attitudes of the ex-pat actually goes through three predictable phases, of varying lengths 1)The Honeymoon Phase, 2) The Critical Phase 3) The Integrating Phase. Let's look at each of these--

    The Honeymoon Phase

    This always is the mindset of the eager foreigner who has just arrived, and usually lasts a few months to a year. Every day in Japan is like a new day at Disneyland; everything is new, there are lots of places to see and things to do, meeting the warm Japanese is always a joy. Usually the language isn't much of a burden since you simply don't know much of it and don't worry about it. It is these people who stay a short time, go home, and spread myths about Japan being a mystical Shangri-La, full of happy, happy people and money just lying in the street waiting for you to pick it up and make "Big Money Fast".

    The Critical Phase

    For those that stay longer, they usually leave the Honeymoon and then enter the Critical Phase, which might last several months to even a few years. The disillusionment of Japan not being a Paradise on Earth sets in hard, and the ex-pat encounters frustration at dealing with the language (which is profoundly difficult), cultural differences, and Japanese social obstructions such as the constant treatment of being an Outsider, as well as the needless difficulties in finding an apartment, getting a credit card, or functioning in society. The ex-pat may also find that some of the young Japanese have been really friendly more to practice their own English than to become genuine friends. The pleasures and joys of the things back home become missed more, and the realities of paying the highest prices on the planet become clear. Meeting other ex-pats who vent their stress by attacking nearly everything about Japan may aggravate the trouble. Depending on the person, isolationism or alienation may also set in. It is quite easy to spot an immature ex-pat by seeing how they make sweeping generalizations about Japanese people, Japanese women, etc. and think they know everything there is to know about Japan because they just do the same things every day. He may also believe he has all the answers to everything wrong with Japan and become more irate with the fact that Japan isn't following his brilliant conclusions. These types who go home for good usually have little positive to say about Japan, spread misinformation about Japan on the internet and may permanently hold enmity toward it.

    The Integrating Phase

    If the ex-pat sticks it out though, and usually takes a periodic vacation to blow off steam, he will usually enter the Integrating Phase, the most objective of all. He can see both the good and the bad of Japan and where he's from, and learns to appreciate the best of both worlds. This is the person who has matured more and is an asset to any company. It is not unusual for long-term ex-pats to have a love-hate relationship with Japan, but over all, they have a stronger resilience as well as a greater tolerance than most people back home. Different people of course will behave differently, and your mileage may vary. It is important though to keep an open mind, to learn about yourself as well as Japan and where you're from, and not to get bogged down with negativity. And remember whatever problems you face, others like southeast Asians have it far harder. It's not unusual to learn as much about your own country as well since you can note the differences.

    This then gives you a few of the more difficult cultural aspects of the Japanese. Many of them may delight you and others may completely sour your stomach -- but remember that they may take your behavior as equally "uncivilized", so there are always more than 2 ways to look at it. In many of the aspects listed above, the Japanese do not have any kind of monopoly; many traits could apply to other nations as well. Nor are the Japanese all wind-up drones - you'll find variety there, as anywhere (though many bureaucrats would love to run things more like an ant colony). Remember you're not from Utopia either, and if you were, you wouldn't be thinking of coming to Japan. Once again, for the "why-is-there-only-bad-things-in-the-newspapers" crowd, it's necessary to re-state that what's listed here is not the whole of Japanese culture, only the things that are difficult -- Japan has many, many positive traits as well but these of course will not be problematic for those adjusting to Japan. On the whole, the Japanese people are very warm, helpful, and gracious to the western visitor. One can attain a lot of personal growth as well as make a lot of good friends in Japan. Only when the westerner stays here long enough and tries to go deeper into the Japanese society does the resistance begin.
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    sharingan09
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    Re: Japanese Culture: A Primer for Newcomers

    Post by sharingan09 on Fri 22 Feb 2008, 9:44 pm

    so your saying that if I just decided to go to japan it would be pretty hard to fit in for a couple of years? but it will also be a good experience? ive always thought of going to live in japan but reading this makes me think more about it, its pretty confusing.

    so if someone like me went there by myself i would be treated bad and good? but it would probably mean if i went with a couple of my asian friends it would be easier? does that make sense? and also since me and a couple of friends want to go there.
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    Kyouri Kai
    Founder

    Knowledge :

    Re: Japanese Culture: A Primer for Newcomers

    Post by Kyouri Kai on Fri 22 Feb 2008, 10:21 pm

    Lol.. You figured it out! When I read this I just had to post it up for everyone else to read, too. I like how this guy is honest about it. He currently lives in Japan so thought it would be good to give other newbies some inside advice. He's right tho, no place is all glitz and glamour; eventually you will start to see the dark side, too. It's a good idea to know what we're in for before we set out on our own voyages to the land of kawaii. Wink
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    sharingan09
    hachi'dan
    hachi'dan


    Re: Japanese Culture: A Primer for Newcomers

    Post by sharingan09 on Fri 22 Feb 2008, 10:25 pm

    well this has tought me more about it and of course as you said no place is perfect. the main reason i always wanted to go is this: 1) they have great technology 2) site seing of course and 3) games games games games games xD

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