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Say one thing - mean another?

neko_girl22

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I have my own English classes - in my town Hayato and in the city an hour away. I was talking to a friend of a friend who was visiting Hayato and she was sooo enthusiastic about joining my class in Kagoshima. This conversation took place in Japanese. She told me how her husband really wants to learn English and that she herself would join as long as I start from the basics. She asked me if it was ok if she joined. I of course said it would be great and that I look forward to seeing her there.

My husband knows her better than me and when I told him of this conversation he said that she was just being polite and probably wouldn't come.

So my point to this thread is - what did I miss? Was there some subtlety to the conversation I missed? Why would she say she wanted to come, when she never planned on attending?
Sometimes we say things just to be polite - but if she wanted to show polite interest in my classes , why go to the point of asking if she could join?:confused:

btw husband was correct - had the Kagoshima class on Monday and she wasn't there.
 

kirei_na_me

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How many times have I been through this?! A countless number of times. I have had my husband tell me the exact same thing your husband told you more times than I could possibly count by now. I must say that I do hate generalizations, but it seems almost impossible not to generalize on this particular topic. This is why I say that Japan is the land of contradiction. They say one thing but mean another all the time. I think they are notorious for always saying yes, even when they really want to say no.

There are so many instances where that has happened to me, that I can't even think of specific examples. I have had my closest Japanese girlfriend ask me if I could tell people "no" for her, when she just couldn't bring herself to do it. How many times has she told me that she did something someone asked her to do, but she didn't really want to do it or go somewhere with someone when she didn't like them, etc.? She just couldn't say no.

So, I'm not surprised by what happened. It has happened to me and I've witnessed it happening before. It can indeed get complicated with those Japanese folks--not to say that it can't get complicated with us as well... :p
 

neko_girl22

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Originally posted by kirei_na_me
I have had my closest Japanese girlfriend ask me if I could tell people "no" for her, when she just couldn't bring herself to do it. How many times has she told me that she did something someone asked her to do, but she didn't really want to do it or go somewhere with someone when she didn't like them, etc.? She just couldn't say no.

well..... I never asked her to come to the class, she brought up the conversation herself!
Basically I just feel stupid for being so bright and cheery in the conversation "yes! It would be great to see you there" when in fact she had no desire to go at all......
I believe all cultures say things to be polite in some situations, I am just wondering how do I know when someone is just being polite in Japan?
What did I miss?
 

mdchachi

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Maybe at the time she was really interested but is one of those people who just can't get off their duff and follow through. I don't know -- she sounds pretty flakey. I can't think of anything similar in my own experience.

Of course everything knm says is valid but, from what you're saying, you didn't invite her and she brought it up on her own.
 

den4

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Yes means maybe. No means most likely not, but possibly yes or a maybe. A maybe means most likely not interested.

Remember, when in J-land, a direct approach is frowned upon, since the language is set up to deal with situations indirectly. We Westerners tend to go for the "direct is the best" approach, and this tends to backfire in J-land. Japanese like the indirect approach, which is why there is a group minded attitude where the individual voice is part of the whole...and no one person is considered better than another (except for the boss or one's superior). At least in theory this is how it's supposed to work....but people being people, this is just how the theory ought to work in an ideal Japanese society. Japan nowadays is far from ideal, as you are no doubt aware, with the rise in crimes, many of them senseless, and the economy still in the slumps after a decade of attempted reforms.

Just remember that it is one of those cultural things that you will just have to keep watching and learning as long as you live there, since your husband seems to know something about the J-culture (assuming he is not japanese) you should ask him for more details.... and remember, also, that it's not you...it's just that you're not used to the Japanese way...yet.....
 

kirei_na_me

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nzueda, I was just stating what the general mentality is, which includes something like what that girl did to you. Inviting herself and then not coming, just for the sake of politeness or coolness...or whatever. I have had people do that to me too. That same exact thing(with the exception of it being a class). It's always been women so far, though, never men...hmmmm.

Anyway, it still fits in with the yes/no contradiction frame of mind. If you stick around longer, you'll definitely see more of it, and you don't even have to live in Japan. Living with a Japanese person 24/7 is the best way to understand their thinking/mentality, and that is what nzueda and I do... ;)
 

doudesuka

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I had that thing happen to me. When I came here in 2002. A girl from my husband's work was interested in meeting me. So, we met and seemed to have a good time at lunch. She brought up meeting again and never made another contact afterwards.
I felt really stupid for being so friendly. I never take them to seriosuly until they really give me a confirmation. I think the Japanese mind is so difficult to know. I rely on my husband's advice a lot. He's always right!
 

neko_girl22

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Thanks for your replies, guys ;)

I still don't really understand why, but either she's just a bit strange (hehe) or as you say, I need more experience. I've been around Japanese people for 8 years now, 3 years with my husband, but this is the first time I experienced this. Another strange thing is this woman is very friendly and outgoing - not this kind of person I would've thought would do that.

When my hubby(He's Japanese, Den) first told me that she was just being polite, I let it pass, because I thought to myself I must've missed something, or misunderstood. but going over the conversation to myself lately I know I didn't!!! so perhaps I should ask him again.

btw, Ash and I celebrate our 1st anniversary on the 28th- any ideas for gifts? men are sooo hard to buy for... :p
 

kirei_na_me

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nzueda, congratulations on the first anniversary coming up!! 😄

Gifts...hmmmm...I have bought my husband anything from a watch to games for the Nintendo to imported beer. Usually, I try to get him something having to do with whatever hobby or interest he has at the time. This year, I'm thinking about getting him something having to do with his motorcycle or his truck. I have gotten him clothes before, but I wondered just how much he enjoyed that...hehe. Also, I usually always try to make his favorite meal.

Hmmm...I'd like to hear what the guys have to say about this one.
 

Elizabeth

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Originally posted by nzueda
Thanks for your replies, guys ;)

I still don't really understand why, but either she's just a bit strange (hehe) or as you say, I need more experience. I've been around Japanese people for 8 years now, 3 years with my husband, but this is the first time I experienced this. Another strange thing is this woman is very friendly and outgoing - not this kind of person I would've thought would do that.

When my hubby(He's Japanese, Den) first told me that she was just being polite, I let it pass, because I thought to myself I must've missed something, or misunderstood. but going over the conversation to myself lately I know I didn't!!! so perhaps I should ask him again.

Then I think you're probably just reading too much of this woman's personality into a single conversation. Numerous personal or professional circumstances/obligations could have come up between the time she thought she might be interested and the actual class, or she just wasn't feeling well or whatever. ;) . Also, being friendly or outgoing doesn't necessarily mean not being superficial, or at least super-polite. Japanese are more loyal friends once you really get to know them, but I guess I'm just always naturally wary of anyone, even Americans, who seems interested in something or wants something from me after a single meeting. :cautious:
 

neko_girl22

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It's soooo difficult Knm, his hobby is music - he plays the guitar and collects Cds BUT he has everything.

I would buy him clothes, but that would be for my benefit , not his hehe! :p

I would buy him some really nice sake or shochu, but he is on this health diet with me and has stopped drinking (imagine my surprise!!)

I know he will do something really special for me -even the 4th of every month he does something romantic because that date has significance - and I want to do something really romantic for him.........

I was thinking of a gift ---plus--- I could learn Japanese calligraphy and paint a love poem or a kind of marriage cerificate? One of my students is an artist and I'm sure she could teach me in time. what do you think? any other ideas?????
 

neko_girl22

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Originally posted by Elizabeth
Then I think you're probably just reading too much of this woman's personality into a single conversation. Numerous personal or professional circumstances/obligations could have come up between the time she thought she might be interested and the actual class, or she just wasn't feeling well or whatever. ;) . Also, being friendly or outgoing doesn't necessarily mean not being superficial, or at least super-polite. Japanese are more loyal friends once you really get to know them, but I guess I'm just always naturally wary of anyone, even Americans, who seems interested in something or wants something from me after a single meeting. :cautious:

You're probably right Elizabeth. I suppose I was just confused because my husband and another friend said without being there during the conversation that she probably was just being polite.
btw It wasn't my first time to meet her. I had coffee in the city with her when I first arrived in May.I know her, but wouldn't class her as a friend yet.

anyway, it's not so important, just I was interested in your thoughts on this subject ;)
 

budd

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"I think the Japanese mind is so difficult to know. I rely on my husband's advice a lot. He's always right!"
that's because it's not really that much variation (_IMO_) edit: amongst the psyche -- slight differences if at all. i like the language for the same reason. just started chinese this past week and there are four different "a"s ?!!! *sigh* gonna be a long semester
as far as this sit, take heart though, it won't be like that always. i've had a lot of bumps and bruises myself, burnt by the stove and slammed my hand in the refrigerator (the only thing that i can't claim for injury is the dishwasher)
but i'm still not leavin the kitchen
peace.
 

den4

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hope your hubby will be able to explain what he means to you in more detail in the future...probably will entail you understanding the japanese language as well, though, since there are nuances in the language that makes some things easier to explain than in Engrish...and people in japan tend to take those nuances and other indirect inferences for granted, while the typical gaijin westerner will remain completely clueless...but more exposure and experience will eventually make those circumstances more easier to understand, hopefully.... :D
 
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