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Japan is not cool as I thought it is

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Before I actually started learning Japanese I thought that Japan and by extension the Japanese are cool.
Very quickly into my studies, when I realized how the Japanese actually communicate with one another , and what it really meant to speak Japanese , I had realized that this isn't the case at all.
I will explain why in this post.
First of all what's up with all the ooooh , ahhhh, eeeeee that the Japanese say almost after every word that someone who is talking to them says. I believe it's called aizuchi. I mean if you really care about the other person and you respect him, you will remain quiet until he finishes saying what he had to say , and you will not make an annoying noise after every word he utters. It also shows a severe lack of self - control and self - discipline in my opinion. Let's continue with all those annoying interjections and exclamations. All those ne, yo, na and the list goes on and on. I mean it might not have been so annoying if the Japanese didn't use them in every second sentence.It makes this language look like a one big interjection or exclamation.
I mean if the beer is tasty just say : "this beer is tasty", why do they have to always say " this beer is tasty isn't it ?"
let me continue with the constant nodding. It makes all the Japanese look as if they suffer from a severe neurological disorder that causes them to involuntarily nod their head every 2 seconds.
And the bowing, why do they have to bow all the time?. That's just plain unnecessary.
And the endless apologies. That's not called living, it's called a one big apology.
Take the phrase "Ojamashimasu" , which you are supposed to utter before entering someone's home.
This phrase means something like " sorry to disturb you " or something like that. This phrase makes no sense.
apparently even if you called me and invited me to come to your home I still have to apologize to you.
Another great example for what I'm trying to explain here, and this all post , is the phrase " Tsumaranai mono desu ga" , which means something like "sorry for this lame and boring thing", which again you are supposed to utter when you give someone a present. Yeah, it seems that even If I bought you a brand new iPhone 6, I still have to apologize to you, for how lame my gift is.
Anyway this made me think if all of these annoying customs, behaviors and phrases were always part of the way the Japanese communicated, or was it added later (unfortunately). Or are there Japanese people who don't communicate like this?. If so I'll sure love to meet them and talk to them. Or do all Japanese people behave and talk like this. Because as things stand at the moment, this just makes speaking Japanese or communicating with the Japanese a really annoying ordeal.
Now for all those who will call me a "troll", the fact that someone happens to hold an opinion, which is different from yours, or that you simply don't like, doesn't make him a troll.
I meant every word of what I have written here , and I raise extremely valid questions about trying to study Japanese as a foreign language, questions which I asked myself as a result of me studying the Japanese language and how the Japanese people actually communicate. (This wasn't a major question if all of the things that I have described here were not so common or so central to the way Japanese actually speak their language, but the more I watch Japanese people speak or learn new phrases this seems to be the case unfortunately).
So please If you can't reply intelligently and in a mature manner to my post don't do it.
 

Mike Cash

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You hit the key point in the end of your post. You were attempting to learn Japanese as a foreign language. That means you have the option to walk away from it and doing so will have negative impact on your life. It didn't matter if you learned it; your motivation was no more than a vague and shallow notion that mundane interpersonal communication automatically becomes "cool" if conducted in Japanese.

Some of learn Japanese as a second language. That means we have a genuine need to be functional in it and that it will negatively impact our lives not to study it.

Learners of a foreign language can walk away. Learners of a second language have to take things as they are.

I totally disagree with your view of aizuchi, even though I fully understand why you see it that way. It actually shows that the other person is actively engaged in listening to you. Once you get used to them, their absence is very unsettling and disconcerting. Every now and then I call my mother via Skype (audio only) and if I speak more than a couple of sentences without hearing something back I stop and ask her if she's still there....thinking the connection must have been broken.

I was born and raised in the South as well as in an era when people still had some manners, so I don't find the Japanese customs regarding good manners (what you mistakenly lump together as incessant apologizing) to be either foreign or burdensome.

Aren't you glad you found out how awful things are before your studies progressed past learning a few set phrases and into actually learning the language? You saved yourself a lot of time and bother. Now you can move on to the next shiny and trendy thing that attracts your attention.

PS

Actually, when it actually like comes to like actually annoying like speech habits, actually, like actual English speakers are actually like actually as actually bad as like anybody., actually.

Add some of the extremely annoying tooth-sucking sounds used as audible punctuation marks which are so popular among American women. And a liberal helping of "if I would of" and "try and <verb>" and listening to the English that pours from most native speakers mouths is about as pleasant as having your ears vigorously rubbed with a cheese grater.
 
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nice gaijin

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I'm disappointed by this thread.

I was hoping it was someone who had finally achieved their dream of moving to Japan forever and ever, just to realize that it's a place like any other and it has its own unique ups and downs... Instead it's just a handful of linguistic complaints from the subjective point of view of a JFL student and how they interpret those quirks from their own narrow cultural perspective. As an American I can understand how things like aizuchi and kimarimonku may make no sense or even be annoying if we analyze them enough, but that's pretty much par for the course in human communication. Regardless of the language, we all say and do things that are kind of silly or stupid out of habit or comfort. Like Mike, now that I'm used to it, the absence of aizuchi is far more unsettling than its presence.
 
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It's just social/communication rituals, or codes. Every culture has its own. Japanese people communicate like this, foreign people don't. I don't understand the problem.
 

Mike Cash

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I don't understand if we're supposed to talk him into learning Japanese or if he's trying to talk us out of it.
 
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I'm not trying to convince anyone here , all I'm trying to say here is that all these expressions and customs just feel too much , it all becomes one big ritual of politeness and apologizing instead of doing or saying what you want. And I actually visited Japan. I stayed at the home of a japanese family , but because I knew of this insane emphasis of politeness and apologizing that the Japanese have, I felt almost paralyzed , feeling like I can't breath almost so to not offend anyone.
I never felt so stressed in my life.
It was like living in a prison. Which if you think about all Japanese people live in, this prison of social customs and the " not to offend anyone" prison.
I was supposed to stay at that family for 1 months , it was a " host family " kind of program , where you lived with a family and studied Japanese at the same time. It was in Kanazawa.
After 2 days I Skyped my dad and told him I want to get the he'll out of there and go back home, and leave this prison of social customs which was too much for me to handle.
I was on the plane shortly after.
and no I am not from the USA, if any of you think I am.
I wish I was.
I can't understand how anyone will trade the freedom and the wide open spaces of the USA for Japan...
 
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I kinda like
this insane emphasis of politeness and apologizing that the Japanese have
. Because of my education (quite strict), I was already used to it before coming. Of course, it wasn't at the same level. It can be viewed as a "prison of social customs" but this is how Japanese society is structured. Some people, even Japanese people, can't stand it, though...
 
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This is your basic culture shock, nothing more. You had an idea of what things were going to be like, and the reality (compounded by language issues and the fact that you were away from your usual support network) hit you a bit hard. Symptoms such as anxiety, etc, are common. In reality you needn't have been so worried about the occasional social blunder - nobody was expecting you to be perfect.

I'm guessing that this was your first time on an extended trip solo in a foreign country (e.g. without friends or family from home travelling with you). The reaction you had is not uncommon, but the best thing you can do is realise that Japan is not at fault. Neither are you at fault. Human beings are just animals that don't cope very well with change.

Personally, extended visits to the US (I have lived there for brief periods, no more than a few months at a time though) send me bonkers. I'd never move there permanently. It doesn't mean the US is objectively a terrible place to live, it just doesn't agree with me (sort of like brussel sprouts).
 

Mike Cash

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It is tragically sad how needless your concerns were. You seem to be the most extreme example of what I have seen so many times....foreigners who have some notion that the Japanese are all thin-skinned bundles of raw nerves who spend their days ready to be horribly offended at the most trifling and trivial things....muttering things about "honor" and "respect" and "code of the warrior" under their breath while they wait for a chance to chop somebody's head off for holding their chopsticks the wrong way.

Their biggest concern about visiting is that they will inadvertently do something to offend the Japanese.

Let's give the Japanese a little more credit than that, why don't we? They've survived the antics of millions of foreign visitors by now, almost always good-humoredly, seldom taking genuine offense, and generally find us more fascinating and amusing than anything else.

In a case where they invited you...a foreigner...into their home, it was to share things about Japan with you, learn about your country from you, and do all they could to see you had a good time. They didn't expect you to behave like a Japanese person, and quite frankly I'm confident in saying they would have been tremendously disappointed if you had.

The problem here wasn't Japan; it was all the utterly ridiculous preconceived notions about Japan that you brought with you and let run wild in your mind while you were here. It wasn't Japanese society's rigidity and uprightness that caused you to set a world speed record for pussing out of a situation; it was your narrow-mindedness and rigidity.

I find pretty much all of your observations regarding Japan, the people, the society, and the language to be 180 degrees opposite from my own experiences here. I do wish you had joined us before you visited so we could have removed some of your concerns and helped you have a pleasant stay. What happened to you arose from within your own head and was entirely unnecessary. This has to be one of the easiest countries in the world in which to be a foreigner and one with the absolute lowest expectations placed on foreigners to try to blend in. Pretty much all they ask of us is to take our shoes off in the house, don't bathe in the bathtub, and resist the urge to stand out chopsticks up in bowls of rice.

It is very hard to genuinely offend people who aren't expecting very much from you to begin with.

Ironically, you ended up doing the only thing you could do that would truly hurt your host family's feelings...you ran off on them without giving the experience a chance. They'll spend a good many years blaming themselves and wondering what they did that offended you so horribly.
 
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I want to clarify something here.
I admire Japan and the Japanese.
I believe they are advanced and intelligent.
Japan transformed rom being a poor agricultural country on the fringes of East Asia i(in the beginning of the Meiji era) to an industrial superpower in the span of only a few decades.
I also think that Japanese culture is far , far superior to arabic, turkish,Iranian,afghanistan, african or any other of the many failed "cultures" of our world who are stuck in the stone age.
This world would sure benefit from more "Japans" around.
Japan is the world's 3rd largest economy and has many huge corporations, Toyota is the world's largest automaker right now. I will be the last person to take such great achievements away from the hands of the Japanese. I just think that they went too far with the whole "politeness and not offending each other thing". I mean it's important to be polite for sure, but not so much that it stresses you out and makes you behave and talk like a robot instead of saying what you really want to say and behave like you want to behave. Let me illustrate my point. Imagine the following two possible scenarios. You are sitting in a bar with your boss is the first. The second is you sitting in a bar with a really close friend. How do you feel in the first scenario ?. You are stressed and nervous, thinking about what to say and will it be ok to say it. In other words you are not free to act the way you really want to act. Now imagine sitting in that exact same bar, only this time instead of your boss, you sit with your best friend. How do you feel?. You feel free,relaxed and happy knowing you can behave and talk like you really want to.
For me, being in Japan felt like sitting with my boss.
on the other hand being in the USA ( which I also visited in the past) felt like hanging out with my best friend. I knew I could behave how I wanted ( save for killing someone or stealing something, or in other words within the boundaries of the norm ) and say ( again, save for cursing someone or using profanities) whatever I wanted to say.
And so I feel it's a shame because if the Japanese would drop all that politeness obsession and aizuchi and all those things , it will be much cooler and enjoyful being there. It will feel like hanging out with your best friend as well.
 
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Funny, I'm sure a lot of Japanese would find your idea of how people should act (without the aizuchi and constant apologizing) to be strange or even annoying. It's not right. It's not wrong. It's just different.
 
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Funny, I'm sure a lot of Japanese would find your idea of how people should act (without the aizuchi and constant apologizing) to be strange or even annoying. It's not right. It's not wrong. It's just different.
Maybe. But maybe a lot of them think exactly like me but are just afraid to say it , because everyone around them are behaving like that ( but might also think like that).
a classic case of "The Emperor's New Clothes".
And really If anyone stands to benefit from what I'm proposing here , are the Japanese themselves. I believe that they will be much relieved if they stopped their enslavement to these aizuchi and politeness.
I believe that then they could act more freely and naturally without this constant , irrational and above all unnecessary fear of offending eachother or being impolite.
Kind of like taking off a very tight shirt at the end of the day and taking a sigh of relief .I believe that ultimately they will be much happier.
 
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Maybe. But maybe a lot of them think exactly like me but are just afraid to say it , because everyone around them are behaving like that ( but might also think like that).
a classic case of "The Emperor's New Clothes".
And really If anyone stands to benefit from what I'm proposing here , are the Japanese themselves. I believe that they will be much relieved if they stopped their enslavement to these aizuchi and politeness.
I believe that then they could act more freely and naturally without this constant , irrational and above all unnecessary fear of offending eachother or being impolite.
Kind of like taking off a very tight shirt at the end of the day and taking a sigh of relief .I believe that ultimately they will be much happier.
Yes, because you can read the minds of Japanese people...unless you had each of them admit that to you in a private conversation or something. Irregardless, what you're asking is equivalent to asking, say, the German populace to stop being so cold and distant. It's a culture. It's the way things are. You're probably more likely to win the lottery then have your winning ticket eaten by a shark on your way to claim your reward than get Japanese culture to change. Japan didn't wake up one day and say, "Hey, let's all do this aizuchi-thing and apologize a hundred times a day!" No, this has been a thousand years of history, culture, and tradition.

Besides, have you stopped to think that what makes you happy might not make other people happy? I personally adore being overly polite and using/hearing aizuchi when having a conversation, as do all my Japanese friends, so I'm not sure where you get the idea that people there must feel imprisoned. Well, you definitely do, and that's okay, Japanese culture isn't for you. I totally don't think everyone would feel at home there. However, don't sit here and assume it's all Japan's fault for not making your stay pleasant.

Though, judging from all the responses you got from everyone else...I'm probably beating a dead horse, haha.
 
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