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What do the Japanese think of Europeans?

livingjapan

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1 Sep 2005
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whenever the japanese see caucasians in japan, the japanese conceive them americans immediately.
according to japanese poll, most of the young japanese don't know the meaning of EU.
the japanese know nothing about europe.
they respect only USA and look down on europe at heart.
i think so.



if i'm mistaken, correct my post.

thanx.
 
Actually, these days I'd say you have it backwards. Because of what they see of George Bush and the Iraq war on TV, the Japanese i've known have developed more of an interest in Europe and Europeans. Some Japanese make the mistake of colluding the feelings of the American people and the American government, unfortunately.
 
i think you r mistaken... judging by japanese people i know. they live here, in sarajevo, and love it (everybody really love it, so much that even i am surprised)... but they r also interested to explore rest of europe.. not so mush into usa... but thats those couple that i know. you should explore this forum little bit more, maybe that could help..

also, anyone can recognize difference between people from usa and europe (i dont mean this like bad thing...), doesnt japanese people too?
 
but that is just my opinion based on experience, obviously...

i guess you want some japanese to answer this :)
 
First, I am an American, neither Japanese nor European, so my answer will be biased. I can give you a relatively objective report of my Japanese friend's perceptions of Europeans.

they respect only USA and look down on europe at heart.
i think so.

I utterly disagree. If anything, I find more of my colleagues respect America less and Europe more. Maybe this is only in light of recent events. Maybe not.

the japanese know nothing about europe.

I won't say I agree with this but I will say my Japanese friends have mixed perceptions of what "European" is, at best. Often I hear something described as "European" in style only to find a mismatched collection of vague stereotypes. I do not waste my time trying to describe to them that Europe is not one big monoculture like Japan. Most of my friends just can't seem to believe me when I tell them that Norway is as more different from Italy than Japan is from Korea.

Of course, I've also known people back home who tend to do the same with the concept of something being "Asian."
 
My general impression was that the Japanese cannot differentiate much between Europeans, except maybe for food. They have a lot of stereotypes, but somewhat admire some countries for their beauty, fashion, cars, etc. Nevertheless they never miss an opportunity to tell Europeans that Japanese food is the best and less greasy than French or Italian food. As if food was everything for them (maybe it is). They tend to think of Europe as more dangerous than Japan, which again depend on the country and region. The majority of the Japanese could tell you a country culinary speciality, but not be able to place it on the map, tell what language people speak there or the country's capital. This is not just valid for Europe, but most countries.

Livingjapan, as I see you are from Poland, most Japanese will not know where Poland is, or will confuse it with Holland.
 
I've come across some Japanese who like Europeans, have met Europeans and one I know has traveled there. They have positive feelings towards Europe but I don't know what their specific ideas about it is, or how much they know about differences of European countries. And that dude from L'arc En Ciel wants to go to Italy. That's all I know.
 
Many (younger) Japanese love Europe for travelling, especially Italy, France and the UK. Many Japanese people study or live in the UK (more than all Europeans in Japan). For some Japanese (especially young and female), it is like a dream to live in Europe (or other Western countries). Quite a few Japanese celebrities have moved (at least part of the year) to Europe, including the best football players, some singers, actresses and top models. Many Japanese also go to Europe (or Hawaii or NY) for their wedding ceremony (in castles) or honeymoon, because it is much more dreamlike than the concrete landscape of Japanese (or simply Asian) cities.

But because of their strong group mentality, and the Japanese education system inculcating them that Japan is so unique (in a better way), safer, richer, etc. many hesitate to move to another country. In fact, they would have less to worry about (the famous Japanese concept of "fuan", which I would translate as "economic angst"), because of the very developed social security system in Western European countries. There is also the language barrier, and the Japanese are not known to be natural-born linguists !

The Japanese also import a lot of European products, from wines, liquors, cheese, jams, biscuits and chocolates, to cars, brand clothes, watches and furniture. There is clearly a strong attraction of European things in Japan. I found that they however know very little about the people, culture and system.
 
according to japanese poll, most of the young japanese don't know the meaning of EU.
That much at least is probably true. The Japanese translation is always given in news casts and such.

The few Japanese I've met with a strong interest in European people and culture (particularly German) tend to be independent minded and dissatisfied with their native system and social structure.

The last European I met personally in Japan (damn italian lady) was in a hotel where she asked me to translate in poor English, before I could get two words out implied my Japanese wasn't good enough, proceeded to do a worse job herself, only to then quiz me in front of the staff (who thankfully didn't understand fully) about the size of the rooms assuming I had stayed previoiusly, and rates (listed outside).

I'm sure there are some positives about Europeans but whatever image I had of loud, rude and aggressive in comparision to Japanese, even Americans, was strongly reinforced by that encounter. :sorry:
 
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A lot of Japanese girls seem to be interested in France, especially Paris.Must have something to do with fashion I guess :?
 
Elizabeth said:
I'm sure there are some positives about Europeans but whatever image I had of loud, rude and aggressive in comparision to Japanese, even Americans, was strongly reinforced by that encounter. :sorry:

I have to say that such people are more an exception than the rule. Italians can be loud, but that's almost common knowledge.
 
Japanese in general seem quite happy to not concern themselves too much about the world beyond japan, their a very self-reflective people, i wont say selfish, because that would be a wild fly from truth, but they do seem to be a people who in general find their own culture, and people interesting, they simply dont feel too concerned to bother themselves with the rest of the world for the most part ide emagine, but again, this doesnt go for all japanese.

And when they do show interest, i personally would put good money that they are comparing what they are hearing from a westerner heavily to their own country.

Basicly, as a hypothesis, Japan has everything it needs, culturally, socially, mentally, in Japan, so much so that for the majority, interest outside its borders is at best the ocassional interest in passing conversation.

I could be widly wrong though, i also get the impression, the situation in the west makes it much easier to want to learn about the rest of the world, in Japan, its about passing, not so much so learning, and this creates a situation of intelligent zombies, if you can understand the expression.

Technically very bright and smart individuals who can spout infomation about their career they learned from a highschool textbook, but the teachers forgot to teach them to love the process of learning.


For me, i make learning new things a daily thing, it can be anything from reading up a newspaper story, or it can be deciding to wikipedia and google infomation on galaxies or molecular phenomena.


Anyway, i'll finish by totaly discrediting my rant by saying that a good lot of westerners dont know the difference between japan or china either, while i can in general tell a japanese from a chinese individual, a mate i used to go to kindergarden with ages ago when i met him once said "you went to china then?" when he spotted my girlfriend....suffice to say i didnt want to offend her by telling her.
Maybe, the reason why more europeans and westerners seem to be on these forums and stuff is because the western world is a damn lot bigger then japan.

Rant off 😌
 
It's interesting... my best friend (who is Japanese, but the only Japanese person I know at present!) has travelled quite a bit in Europe and likes the culture there, and is studying now in the UK. When we talked it was usually about France (he lived there for several years) so I have no idea about the distinctions he makes between the different European countries. Yes, he did mention he likes the food! :p and also the friendliness of the people.

However, this is a well-balanced, open-minded sort of person with a realistic view of things... I have no idea what are the views of the majority of Japanese people. :sorry:
 
nurizeko said:
Japanese in general seem quite happy to not concern themselves too much about the world beyond japan, their a very self-reflective people, i wont say selfish, because that would be a wild fly from truth, but they do seem to be a people who in general find their own culture, and people interesting, they simply dont feel too concerned to bother themselves with the rest of the world for the most part ide emagine, but again, this doesnt go for all japanese.
The intensity of thought and care put into personal relationships and social activity is so intense, again broadly speaking, that it basically feels like there isn't enough energy left over to emphathize with strangers. Sometimes I'll try to bring up some of the stories on this board with a J-friend, for instance, only to be asked incredulously and without the slightest embarrassment, "Why should I be interested in someone I've never seen?" I promised to send their picture next time.... 😌
 
nurizeko said:
Japanese in general seem quite happy to not concern themselves too much about the world beyond japan, their a very self-reflective people, i wont say selfish, because that would be a wild fly from truth, but they do seem to be a people who in general find their own culture, and people interesting, they simply dont feel too concerned to bother themselves with the rest of the world for the most part ide emagine, but again, this doesnt go for all japanese.

I agree, and also agree with Elizabeth's comment. Let us not forget that there is a minority (usually young and female) of Japanese who are genuinely interested in the rest of the world, especially Western countries. These are often the same people who study abroad and take one-to-one English lessons with native speakers.

I could be widly wrong though, i also get the impression, the situation in the west makes it much easier to want to learn about the rest of the world, in Japan, its about passing, not so much so learning, and this creates a situation of intelligent zombies, if you can understand the expression.
...
Technically very bright and smart individuals who can spout infomation about their career they learned from a highschool textbook, but the teachers forgot to teach them to love the process of learning.

I agree with that to a certain extent. Where I disgree is that they cannot so easily spout information they learned from a highschool textbook, because like anywhere else, most of them forget what they are not really interested in, or is not directly relevant to their daily activities. I think the biggest problem with this educational system that favours "passing" over "learning for itself" is that people are much more likely to forget afterwards, as they don't really care. I was told since I was a child to learn for myself and not for my teachers or parents, and the result is that I have retained almost everything interesting I have learned since I was a child. Because I grew up in such an environment, I sometimes still can't understand how some people can forget very basic things needed to have reasonable understanding of the world we live in, and that they should have learnt at school. But of course if one studys just to pass tests, it's a lost cause from the start. A teacher's main role is to motivate students and make them like their subject, so that they want to learn more. If I was school director, I would fire all teachers that couldn't do that, or tell the children that they don't need to come to class if they only study "to pass", the forget everything. Japan still has a lot to learn in matters of education (so do many other countries, and many teachers worldwide).

Anyway, i'll finish by totaly discrediting my rant by saying that a good lot of westerners dont know the difference between japan or china either

In my experience, I have found this to be true mostly in English-speaking countries, where the education of "general knowledge" is less emphasised. For example, I can't think of anybody in Belgium who would think that Chinese and Japanese people, language, food, etc. are the same. Maybe that is because Belgian people are already utterly aware of the cultural and linguistic differences between themselves in such a small country, and can't imagine that much bigger country lack this diversity.
 
you've got to look at the opinions of each and every individual to make statements like this post, some have rash opinions some just lead by there own thinking.

TBH, i hate these posts about the Japanese and how do they perceive the different foreigners, i mean it'll be different for everybody, and making asssumptions gets you into a lot of heat sometimes.
 
That's true geno it's very generalized. I can relate because it's like when men ask the common question "what do women want" I say, ask them, because each one is different. It's annoying to be grouped and categorized with everyone else when you don't fit in with that.

My Japanese penpals are so very different from each other and very intelligent, creative people, some very funny. So I like learning about Japan through them as individuals, even though I know it's not representative of the whole of Japan, at least I will get a good understanding of a few, and through that, a better understanding of Japan. Of course my view about it will be different than anybody elses. Some generalizations may be true about alot of people, but it's complex. I take the generalizations with a grain of salt - don't assume individuals are like that. Because when you assume - you make and '***' of 'u' and 'me'. As Felix Unger once said, or was it Oscar?

However I think these discussions are interesting, and they bring up some interesting stories of people that some have known, esp. people that have lived in Japan have an interesting perspective I think.

I think it's hard to know alot about different countries, just because there are so many of them. I may know a little about alot of countries, and alot about a few countries, mostly English speaking I suppose because no language barrier there. And I know more about America and it's cultures (it's a big place) and Canada and Mexico for instance, even Asia and India, because there are alot of immigrants from there, more than I might know about some European countries. Even though alot of Americans have European backgrounds - it's so blended- I myself didn't know much about my German, Norwegian and Welsh backgrounds for a long time, we have more Irish, so that was the only thing I know directly about, that the family talked about. Also English, but that more due through the media than much my family talked about. But I think that alot of American culture is from Europe, but we can't remember where it came from, unless we learn about the other countries. Also I suppose I'm influenced by foreign films in how I view Europeans, but I suppose that's as bad as viewing Americans through Hollywood. My bad...
 
I heard that the Japanese like the French alot, I guess mainly because of fashion. Although from all the French people I have know this may not be a true stereotype of the French, lol.
Yeah I got mistaken for American a couple of times, which to be honest is really anoying. While I was over there me and my friend were really suprised over the coverage of the London Bombings, there was quaite alot and the Japanese seamed quite intrested and shocked.
We often had people saying to us how terrible it was, the whole of Japan even seamed to get really scared that they might be next for some unknown reason. Saw quite a few cloths and people waring cloths with the UJack on it or something else that was British, then again I also saw someone wearing a T-Shirt saying "No Pale Face" which made me laugh!

I know there were alot of Japanese at my college, and one of my friends says that she prefers England to Japan. She says that she likes the fact that its not so formal and to her alot more friendly, lol for me it was the other way round I really liked the formality (everyones so damn polite :)).
 
lv426 said:
I heard that the Japanese like the French alot, I guess mainly because of fashion.

This only works for youg people, and mostly female.

While I was over there me and my friend were really suprised over the coverage of the London Bombings, there was quaite alot and the Japanese seamed quite intrested and shocked.

They were interested and shocked because Japan was on of the few major country with the UK to support the US invasion of Iraq, and all Tokyoites fear that Tokyo will be the next target of terrorists. Don't fool yourself into thinking that most Japanese really care about the UK for that. Again, those who were genuinely concerned were those who have been to London, were planning to go there soon (on holiday or business) or have friends there (British or Japanese, as 20,000 Japanese live in London).

I know there were alot of Japanese at my college, and one of my friends says that she prefers England to Japan. She says that she likes the fact that its not so formal and to her alot more friendly, lol for me it was the other way round I really liked the formality (everyones so damn polite :)).

She is part of that minority who probably would like to live in a Western country (e.g. the UK) rather than Japan because of the strict social conventions, stress, etc. in Japan. There are now about 670,000 Japanese living in Western countries, over half of whom live in the USA. That is only 0.5% of the Japanese population, and my guess is that there is another 1 or 2% who wish to do it but can't, don't have the courage, or haven't had the opportunity yet. Many of my students (mostly in their 30's) have admitted to they were studying English because they plan to move to the UK, US or Australia. But some won't do it until they retire (usually those who choose Australia), and many others will study there for 1 or 2 year before making up their mind, to see if they really could live there. Some are married and have alreay agreed that in couple and visited the country where they want to move a few times.
 
original poster only posted one time since september the first?
and this was it?
this ain't nothing but a complaint topic?

"whenever the japanese see caucasians in japan, the japanese conceive them americans immediately."

america is physically one of the biggest countries?
what they supposed to think?
"oh, he is caucasian, but he's wearing a red hat... he must be from albania!"
 
budd said:
original poster only posted one time since september the first?
and this was it? this ain't nothing but a complaint topic?
Seems so.

On television these days, I see far more europeans and australians than I see americans, australia has a better visa relationship w/ Japan, so there are surely more australians visiting and studying in Japan than there are americans... I'm not sure of Europe, but I'd imagine it's similar as well...

To my knowlege, the Japanese have more local rivarlies than they ever 'look down' upon certain 'romanesque' foreigners...
 
yukio_neko^_o said:
australia has a better visa relationship w/ Japan, so there are surely more australians visiting and studying in Japan than there are americans... I'm not sure of Europe, but I'd imagine it's similar as well...

That's true for some countries (the big ones). Visa regulations can give a good feeling of how well other nationalities are perceived in a particular country. Regarding temporary visas, the Brits, Germans, Swiss and Austrians can saty in Japan for 6 months instead of 3 for other Western countries. As for working-holiday visas, Britain and France have an agreement with Japan, in addition to Australia, NZ, HK and Canada. Note that the US is one of the least favoured major Western countries in term of visas, despite its "special relationship".

To my knowlege, the Japanese have more local rivarlies than they ever 'look down' upon certain 'romanesque' foreigners...

What is a 'romanesque' foreigners ? 'Romanesque' is a medieval architectural style.
 
Maciamo said:
What is a 'romanesque' foreigners ? 'Romanesque' is a medieval architectural style.
Ahh, that's just my horrible english of trying to say people in countries of a Latin language descent... Roman-'esque' Europe/Americas... ;)

I'm a writer, I should know better, but sometimes I let myself lapse.
 
yukio_neko^_o said:
Ahh, that's just my horrible english of trying to say people in countries of a Latin language descent... Roman-'esque' Europe/Americas... ;)

So basically you wanted to say people from France, Italy, etc. Note than in "Latin America" only Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Cuba have a majority of people from Latin (or at least European) descent. Countries like Mexico, Peru or Bolivia are predominantly of Amerindian descent; most Caribbean countries have a predominantly Black population, while countries like Colombia or Brazil are a mix of every race.

I didn't know that the Japanese looked down on the French and Italians. My impression was rather the opposite, when we see the real cult given to Latin brand names (Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes, Dior, Gucci, Prada, Armani...) and the number of Japanese learning French, Italian and Spanish or visiting France and Italy and Spain.
 
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