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Understanding Nihonjin

Secret4Now

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I am recently back from a two-week home-stay program in Chichibu, Saitama. It is difficult to explain my experience to other Americans. I am not sure I understand it myself. Perhaps native Nihonjin or others more experienced than I can help.

It was glorious. In Chichibu, I felt well loved, and thought I developed friendships with those Nihonjin who showed me Tokyo, many shrines, and the so much more. I left with a strong feeling that I should have been born Japanese.

So now I am back in the states, and those that can get my email say they are busy, and don't return my emails, generally.

Why is that?

Is it that I was Honored Guest, and their duties of hospitality are concluded now that I am out of Nihon? The friendliness I thought I experienced, was it just politeness?

For your thoughts, thank you.
あなたの思考のために、ありがとうございました。

<Please forgive - I posted this on the Members Intro page. I did not receive a response, so thought that perhaps that was not the correct venue.>
 
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WonkoTheSane

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I am recently back from a two-week home-stay program in Chichibu, Saitama. It is difficult to explain my experience to other Americans. I am not sure I understand it myself. Perhaps native Nihonjin or others more experienced than I can help.

It was glorious. In Chichibu, I felt well loved, and thought I developed friendships with those Nihonjin who showed me Tokyo, many shrines, and the so much more. I left with a strong feeling that I should have been born Japanese.

So now I am back in the states, and those that can get my email say they are busy, and don't return my emails, generally.

Why is that?

Is it that I was Honored Guest, and their duties of hospitality are concluded now that I am out of Nihon? The friendliness I thought I experienced, was it just politeness?

For your thoughts, thank you.
あなたの思考のために、ありがとうございました。

<Please forgive - I posted this on the Members Intro page. I did not receive a response, so thought that perhaps that was not the correct venue.>

It's 4 AM in Japan. Patience.
 

Majestic

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People do have things to do, and responding to emails from houseguests is probably low on the priority list. But, it could also be the case where they were polite to you, but didn't expect the experience to turn into a lifelong deep, meaningful relationship. Give them some time and some breathing room.
 

Uncle Frank

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I lived with Japanese friends for 2 years. Within 3 months of leaving Japan , they all faded away. Life goes on and you tend to leave the past and concentrate on the here and now.
 

mdchachi

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Japanese people generally keep a pretty full calendar and if you are corresponding in English, it's that much more headwind to getting a response. The typical way to keep in touch is to send traditional greetings at the traditional times (such as new years and mid-year). If they don't respond at those times then you know they really don't give a damn.
Many people are poor at keeping up correspondence in general though despite their actual feelings or intentions.
 

Secret4Now

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Thank you all. This is what I guessed. Hosting is a lot of work, especially for the Nihonjin, I suspect. They are back to their own lives. Me, I have all sorts of questions, so I may look to this Forum for answers.

Meanwhile I learn Nihongo and have put in extra ventilation and a noise generator in the guest bathroom in preparation for visitors from Nihon this next July. Dude, our bathrooms are PRIMITIVE. I am embarrassed.
 

Secret4Now

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Japanese people generally keep a pretty full calendar and if you are corresponding in English, it's that much more headwind to getting a response. .
Actually I use a translator - and reverse translate to make sure it is OK, and one of the folks spent a year in Canada, so no problem there. However, your other thoughts seem to be right on. Thank you.
 

nekojita

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Do not use internet translators to try and contact people in Japanese.

The fact that you reverse it (on the same translation engine) and it 'seems okay' does not mean that it's correct, understandable, polite, etc. (like, the example in your first post, that's been autotranslated, right?)
 

lanthas

 
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It's like Uncle Frank wrote... You may never meet those people again, your homestay hosts will likely have new guests coming over soon enough, etc.

I left with a strong feeling that I should have been born Japanese.
Hah - the grass is always greener on the other side, isn't it. I wouldn't say that two weeks (where you experienced neither school life nor professional life) is enough to warrant such a statement. :)

あなたの思考のために、ありがとうございました。
As nekojita implied, even this short sentence feels weird:
  • "あなた" (anata) is a close form of "you" that really shouldn't be used with people you want to show respect to. When writing in Japanese, that includes strangers on an internet forum; and of course your former hosts.
  • 思考 is a thought as in thought process, reasoning.
  • The "for" was translated to a word that means "for" as in "this elevator was built for (= in order to accomodate) disabled people".
  • The "thank you" was translated in the past tense, indicating gratitude for something that was already done. That is, you would use this to thank people for their comments at the end of the thread, not to thank them in advance at the start.
Hopefully this will convince you to refrain from sending out machine translations in the future. They usually turn out confusing at best and disrespectful at worst.
 

Glenski

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Your short stay is typical of a honeymoon phase with a new culture. But do not expect reciprocal feelings. It takes far longer to get truly close to Japanese.

Also, I have known home stays where only the wife was really into it, and the husband was actually against it. Japan is into projecting images and not rocking the boat. Don't hold your breath, but welcome anything you get.
 

Lothor

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So now I am back in the states, and those that can get my email say they are busy, and don't return my emails, generally.

I've found that many Japanese people have a narrow focus, only concentrating on what is directly in front of them, and you are no longer in that position. Despite the lack of response to your emails now, if you were to email them in, say five years, remind them of the good times you had with them and announce that you were coming back for a visit, you'd get a lot of positive replies.
 

Secret4Now

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Do not use internet translators to try and contact people in Japanese.

The fact that you reverse it (on the same translation engine) and it 'seems okay' does not mean that it's correct, understandable, polite, etc. (like, the example in your first post, that's been autotranslated, right?)

It's like Uncle Frank wrote... You may never meet those people again, your homestay hosts will likely have new guests coming over soon enough, etc.

Hah - the grass is always greener on the other side, isn't it. I wouldn't say that two weeks (where you experienced neither school life nor professional life) is enough to warrant such a statement. :)
>>Yes, you are correct.

As nekojita implied, even this short sentence feels weird:
  • "あなた" (anata) is a close form of "you" that really shouldn't be used with people you want to show respect to. When writing in Japanese, that includes strangers on an internet forum; and of course your former hosts.
  • 思考 is a thought as in thought process, reasoning.
  • The "for" was translated to a word that means "for" as in "this elevator was built for (= in order to accomodate) disabled people".
  • The "thank you" was translated in the past tense, indicating gratitude for something that was already done. That is, you would use this to thank people for their comments at the end of the thread, not to thank them in advance at the start.
Hopefully this will convince you to refrain from sending out machine translations in the future. They usually turn out confusing at best and disrespectful at worst.

>>Wow. Thank you so much.
I am stunned and embarrassed. Also now helpless.
Must I learn the Japanese language before writing a letter or email to a Japanese person?
 

mdchachi

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Must I learn the Japanese language before writing a letter or email to a Japanese person?
That's certainly not realistic. You should use English (you said they home-stayed in Canada).
Also nothing to be embarrassed about. They won't be offended by machine translations. But it won't give them incentive to correspond. It's a lot of work to figure out what you're trying to say and then to reply. If you do continue that strategy make sure to use very basic, clear sentences that the translator can't easily mess up.
 

Secret4Now

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If you do continue that strategy make sure to use very basic, clear sentences that the translator can't easily mess up.
Yes - English for the person who was in Canada for a year, English and machine translation both for those w/ a little English. Short sentences. I worked hard to make sure - I thought - that the translation was at least understandable. But I didn't realize "anata" was familiar/rude.
I did my best. Not good enough.
I am taking an on-line Japanese language class to start, have Katakana and Japanese vocabulary words flash cards. Still, it will be a long time before I can check my machine translator for correctness, politeness.
 

Lothor

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Adding to
Still, it will be a long time before I can check my machine translator for correctness, politeness.

No, don't use your machine translator at all. They really don't work and even the simplest expressions can be problematic. I've more than once had Japanese people coming to me for help after desperately trying to work out how to say 'Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu' in English (answer: no such expression exists in English). I was watching Breaking Bad last night in English with Japanese subtitles. The words in the subtitles were often completely unrelated to the ones used by the actors but successfully conveyed the meaning of what they were saying. In short, successful translations convert meanings into different languages, not words.
 

Glenski

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Do NOT use machine / online translation at all EVER. Trust a teacher who has to deal with it every day.
 

mdchachi

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Do NOT use machine / online translation at all EVER. Trust a teacher who has to deal with it every day.
While being close, it seems to be the time when it can operate automatically, but automatic translation is unready, isn't it?

[近いうちに自動運転ができる時代になりそうだけど自動翻訳はまだですね。]
 

mdchachi

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"unready"????
Indeed.
Bing is even worse: I'm going to age can be automated in the near future, but automatic translation is still is.
Excite gives the exact same as Google. So I guess they are outsourcing to Google or vice versa.
 

Glenski

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Translation software often ends up using it or one as sentence/Claude's subjects, a sure sign it has been used.
 

RichardH

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Hey I understand how you feel.
It's been a few years, but the first time I made Japanese "friends" didn't go so well either. It went more or less the same way as it did for you.
Like others have said before, they are often busy and it's hard to stay in touch on regular basis.
For me I mistook politeness for friendliness. That's why most of my prior email correspondence ended up in "darkness".
Another thing is, you've used an online translator, I also did this in the past. And, as others have said - bad idea.
It will come across as rude most of the time. So it's better to write in English. You're in luck since you know they speak English.

Anyway, it's best to stick to communicating the same way when you were with them in person.
And keep in mind that when you've met it was a guest-kind of relationship. Best not to confuse that with friendship, unless you've really hit it off perhaps.

Once you make friends in a bar or some other more casual environment you'll see it will be easier to keep in touch!
Also I find it easier to keep in touch with younger people. But that could be too subjective..

Anyways, don't let it throw you off! I'm sure you'll make some real Japanese friends at some point!
 
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