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It's natural!!

kirei_na_me

Where I'm Supposed to Be
31 Jan 2003
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Okay, for those of you that have spent quality time with many Japanese people, have you ever noticed them giving this one explanation for everything?

No matter what it is, no matter negative or positive, no matter safe or life-threatening, no matter polyester or 100% cotton, the answer is always, "It's natural".

I'll give you an example that's kind of personal, but a good one. A little over 6 years ago, after only dating 3 months, I told my husband I was pregnant. I was only 20 years old. He was 28. After having many bad experiences with many different guys, I was really in turmoil thinking of a way to tell him that. I thought my life was ruined, I thought I had ruined his life--you know, those kinds of thoughts. I spent a whole week or so trying to get up the courage to tell him and when I finally did, his response was only, "It's natural."

That, of course, isn't the only example. He--and a lot of other Japanese people I know--also has the attitude that even if something is synthetic/man-made, it is also "natural". I have tried telling him that I like to have organically(or "natural", as we say here) grown vegetables, meat, milk, etc., but he doesn't understand the difference between those and the ones they sell at the chain grocery store. It's all natural to him.

Also, other examples. Children screaming and running through stores--"It's natural", child burning up with fever and you want to give him/her Tylenol to bring it down--"no! the fever is natural!", your husband has to go away on a week long business trip and you're not at all bothered by it because--"It's natural".

There are many other examples, of course, but these are just some I can think of now. It seems all the Japanese people I've ever been around use this phrase as an explanation to well...just about anything, and after they give that as an explanation, that's the end of it. No elaboration. Just saying "It's natural" is enough.

Has anyone else noticed this or am I the only one? Not saying that it's a bad thing. It can be a kind of humorous and simple response to something that needs that kind of response, but it also can be quite a bit frustrating.
 
mebbe you should start saying to them on every topic "Oh, it's unnatural." or "Oh, it's artificial" and see the reaction.. :D
 
I've never experienced that. He must be translating some common Japanese phrase to "it's natural".

Perhaps in Japanese he's thinking "shikata ga nai" or "shou ga nai" which is a very common phrase and literally means "it can't be helped." It's used in cases where we might say "oh well" or "there's nothing we can do" or "no use crying over spilled milk."

I think he must be mistranslating something in his mind in at least some of these cases. Next time he says polyester is natural, ask him what he would say in Japanese and let us know.
 
Interesting, but I've never heard it...... yet ;)
As for my husband, since we have started this super healthy diet for our health he is really concerned about truly natural organic products. We don't even buy shop bread because of all the preservitives etc etc in it..... We don't buy canned food, or food that has a long shelf life because of all the chemicals.... it goes on and on...... *sigh* sometimes I wish we could go back to being a little more unnatural hehe :p
 
Hajimemashite! :) This is my first post here.
Sorry for my poor English, since I'm Japanese and English is not my first language.

Like mdchachi-san, I was thinking that he was trying to say "shou ga nai".
I read a book before which said that Japanese have a tendency to accept the fact (or give up) easily and move on to next. It's because we have many natural disaster like earthquake, volcano, typhoon. We think that we can't control things as we want it to be from our long time experience. If our house is destroyed by natural disaster, it's waste of time to complain about it, so we just say "shou ga nai" and then build it again.

In daily life, "shou ga nai" is useful when you want to move on to next or when you don't want to think about it. There are good points and bad points about this, but I understand it will be frustrating when you want have a discussion but the reply is just "shou ga nai". I should be careful because I use it often too...😌
 
Not in Hokaido !

I asked my Japanese teacher who is from up north and she was not familer with the term ?

Frank
 
Maybe it's an Aichi/Gifu thing?! Everyone I know from there says it all the time--not just my husband.

What I find interesting is that when they say it, that's it. End of discussion. No elaboration, no emotion, nothing.

Anyway, I just thought I'd ask.

Den, he really didn't say polyester was natural. I was just giving that as an example, because he's said that about other things that were just as non-natural as that. I was exaggerating a tad. Hmmm...no I wasn't. :p

By the way, hey qchan! 🙂 Welcome and thank you for the response!
 
qchan, welcome!

knm, now you got us curious! (me, anyway).

Ask him what he's thinking in Japanese when he says "it's natural." Could be an aichi/gifu thing -- maybe they all used a bad textbook. ;)

I also checked with my (Tokyo) wife and she wasn't familiar with the term.
 
Well, I asked him what he was thinking in Japanese when he says "it's natural" in English, and he just said "shizen".

He also threw in the example that a person trying to fly in the sky wasn't "shizen", but then I asked him about polyester( :D ) and he said that he couldn't help but think that something like that was also part of nature at one point...

You can't tell me these Japanese minds are not complicated! :p
 
"shizen" crossed my mind as well since that's the most literal translation for "nature" and "natural" but I couldn't imagine anybody saying that in some of the contexts you gave. I guess Aichi folks are just closer to nature.
;)
 
Originally posted by mdchachi
"shizen" crossed my mind as well since that's the most literal translation for "nature" and "natural" but I couldn't imagine anybody saying that in some of the contexts you gave. I guess Aichi folks are just closer to nature.
;)

Maybe so...who knows?! :p

Thanks for your insights... ;)
 
Originally posted by kirei_na_me
You can't tell me these Japanese minds are not complicated! :p

Japanese minds are not complicated....foreigners/gaijin/Westerners and other peepo not born and living in Japan make things more complicated than need be is all :D
 
Originally posted by den4
Japanese minds are not complicated....foreigners/gaijin/Westerners and other peepo not born and living in Japan make things more complicated than need be is all :D

Yeah, sometimes I think I'm always fighting an uphill battle... :eek:

I was told the other week that I needed to learn how to be less complicated and try to have more of a Japanese way of looking at/thinking about things, but there I was thinking that the Japanese are far more complicated because they never show emotion, they never say what they really feel, and then they think we(Westerners in general) are complicated because we do all of those things.

It definitely has two sides and it's very difficult to meet in the middle sometimes.

Anyways...
 
I think a lot of these discussions about Japanese vs Western thought are a red herring. One could easily be having many of the same issues with an American guy. There are plent of Americans who don't say what they think, don't show their emotions, get less romantic after marriage, say things that lead to misunderstandings, etc.

Men are from Venus and women are from Mars, remember? (Or was it the other way around).
;)
 
yep it's the other way around ;)
I read a little and thought it was quite good, so I'm going to buy a copy and read the whole thing and then perhaps buy a copy in Japanese for my hubby hehe all men need a little reminding at times :p
btw what you said about it not only being J-men has some truth I think, I come from an English family and the men in it aren't very expressive. Americans are definately more..... expressive (some might say loud....) and outgoing compared I think. but a lot does come down to individuals ;)
 
Well, I wasn't the one saying that that's the way all Westerners are or that's the way all Japanese are. My husband was the one making the generalization there. It all started when I asked him his opinion on why there were foreign women having trouble finding Japanese guys to date in Japan(that's for another thread!).

Yes, you're right about the Mars/Venus thing mdchachi(and yes, you had them backwards). I believe I put on another post that my husband is often telling my dad or some other regular American guy(friend or another one of my family members) that "women are women" when they ask him if, in fact, Japanese women are less evil(hehehe) than American ones.

We also weren't just talking about Japanese men. We were talking about both Japanese males and females.

By the way, I also think Japanese and the English have quite a bit in common as far as expression of feelings go. My best friend is from England(Reading), and after she spent a lot of time around my husband, she soon picked up on the similarities between the two cultures as far as that particular subject was concerned. I even think they found some other similarities as well. It was very interesting indeed. ;)
 
Read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and it explains all about Earthlings.... :D
 
Ford Prefect's view of Earthlings...If they stopped talking their brains would start working... :D
 
Originally posted by den4
Japanese minds are not complicated....foreigners/gaijin/Westerners and other peepo not born and living in Japan make things more complicated than need be is all :D
I think getting less romantic after marriage or after a long-term relationship is perfectly healthy actually. If my boyfriend were still running all over Tokyo looking for anything I mentioned wanting or sending me tapes even though he didn't know what to say and I was still asking him to listen to CDs or look at my pictures or something I was never sure he really appreciated it would just create a lot of unnecessary distance and tension. When he doesn't seem to be paying attention or being a bit stingy or whatever I just stop writing for a while, he has time to reflect on his actions, is then normally very solicitious; and when he seems particularly busy, I also just lay off or we just talk about something less stressful. Even if we were living together, I can't really see things changing all that much. It just seems to me like the most natural way of interacting with someone.
 
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