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What do you like about Japan or Japanese people?

  • Supreme Tolerance (a drunk on their shoulder on a train-type situations )

    Votes: 3 6.8%
  • Transparency - unlike other countries, it is no secret companies run the country

    Votes: 1 2.3%
  • Safety

    Votes: 11 25.0%
  • A love of nature and nature-like artificial stuff

    Votes: 2 4.5%
  • Endurance - to suffer is to live

    Votes: 1 2.3%
  • Openness to new ideas and concepts

    Votes: 2 4.5%
  • The ability to transform those ideas and concepts into a uniquely Japanesey version

    Votes: 6 13.6%
  • Resilience - turning out relatively normal human beings after going through the education system

    Votes: 4 9.1%
  • None of the above

    Votes: 14 31.8%

  • Total voters
    44

craftsman

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There are many 'bad things' I could point to about Japanese culture and people when comparing them with my own culture and people. It would be a very easy thing to do for me.

At first in Japan I used to get upset and even angry when I came across something which appeared rude or racist etc, but then as the years went on I began to actually understand that it was my misunderstanding of the culture and people that was the real problem. For me ignorance bred negativity and I had started to dislike the country so I left for a while.

Now I am contented in my little piece of Japan. I do not make negative general statements about the Japanese - 'they do this' or 'they do that' - because I know better. I know how varied and diverse the people really are.

So in short, I like it here. I work as a wood craftsman and acupuncturist in a national park and wake up every day to the sound of monkey and deer calls. The local people are exceedingly friendly and welcoming, even to a foreigner, and the concept of 'gaijin' does not exist in the heads of the school children. The forests are endless and unspoilt and at any time, in any place, you can chat to a complete stranger in any language they understand - Japanese, English (not because anyone presumes you to be of any nationality or tongue - but purely because it is the international language) or even sign language.

My question is basically one of balance - we can all think of the bad stuff - but can anyone tell me the GOOD?
 
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taehyun

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Yes!

1. The way they treat each other with respect to each other's feelings
2. Order and respect towards the authorities-I think this is the main reason why Japan is so safe
3. Aesthetics
4. The long and unique history , which has shaped also uniquie culture
5. The way Japanese people preserve their culture and their nature, their history
6. They still write letters and post cards-this shows concern to the other side
7. Japan is so clean!
8. Unlike many European and US public officers, Japanese ones would help you and at least give you an advice ,even if some other is responcible for that. They don't tell you: It's not my job, go there!, they help.
Well, this is for now.Of course, there are nasty people everywhere, but my general inpressions from Japan are as above.:)
 

craftsman

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The way they treat each other with respect to each other's feelings

I know sometimes the Japanese people I meet are not telling me the truth because they want to respect my feelings and I must admit to having a masochistic enjoyment in trying to guess what they really think. I'm getting quite good at it now.


Order and respect towards the authorities-I think this is the main reason why Japan is so safe

Yes. I don't recall the last time I locked any door. In fact I once lived in a house with no door to lock.


Japan is so clean!

Boy, you could eat your dinner right off the street.
Where I live there are 2 small public garbage bins for a population of 16,000 people and 200,000 tourists and it is still spotless.


The way Japanese people preserve their culture and their nature, their history

As I live in a national park and a UNESCO world heritage site I've got to agree here.
 

thistle

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I like your super duper poll, so much better than listing your dislikes.
When I think of 10 things I like about Japan I'll post them, or does it
not have to be 10?
btw, where is Yaku Island, how far from Kagoshima is it?
 

craftsman

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I like your super duper poll, so much better than listing your dislikes.
When I think of 10 things I like about Japan I'll post them, or does it
not have to be 10?
btw, where is Yaku Island, how far from Kagoshima is it?

Thank you thistle. You can post as many things as you like.


My little island - Yakushima - is about 60 km south of the mainland of Kagoshima Prefecture. There's loads of pictures of it on the internet.
 

retrodisease

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i happen to appreciate their tolerance and opened mindedness.
also their perspectives in simplicity and real art vs. modern deco.
 

thistle

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firstly, politeness
the efficiency and cleanliness of trains and train stations
onsen(spa)
kotatsu
the four seasons
cherry blossoms
and the annoying sound of cicada in the summer

dislikes will always outweigh the likes, but that is because I have
been here TOO long, and we always complain about where we live
don't we.
 

craftsman

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firstly, politeness
the efficiency and cleanliness of trains and train stations
onsen(spa)
kotatsu
the four seasons
cherry blossoms

Yep. I've got to agree with all these. Particularly the four seasons part - it's so vivid here - the climate is sub-tropical on the coast yet the mountains are so high that they have a climate not unlike Tohoku. So now the trees at the peaks are browning beautifully while guava and mango are still being grown near the sea.

and the annoying sound of cicada in the summer

Yes. I have a love-hate relationship with cicadas. I love hearing them buzz as a sign of late Japanese summer but when one is sitting on a tree right outside my window - I want to kill the little bugger.

dislikes will always outweigh the likes, but that is because I have
been here TOO long, and we always complain about where we live
don't we.

I can't agree more with the last bit. I have a list of dislikes longer than my arm much the same as anyone else who lives here and I could rant and rave and foam at the mouth about them, but I do that enough to my family, and too much negativity is not good for the soul.
 

taehyun

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While in Japan , I'm trying to visit all world heritage sites, and I wanted to visit Yakushima too. I've been to Kagoshima before and I really like yakusugi. The great thing in all this is that they use for making differents stuff, even furniture, only dead trees.Noone destroys the forest and these old, old trees only for pleasure and comfort of the people.
 

craftsman

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While in Japan , I'm trying to visit all world heritage sites, and I wanted to visit Yakushima too. I've been to Kagoshima before and I really like yakusugi. The great thing in all this is that they use for making differents stuff, even furniture, only dead trees.Noone destroys the forest and these old, old trees only for pleasure and comfort of the people.

That's right. Some of the yakusugi trees that come through my workplace are well over a 1000 years old and we are only allowed to use 'domaiboku' which, as you say, are dead trees lying about in the forest. Most were felled in the Edo period and discarded as they were not good for use as roof tiles.
 

craftsman

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I've got more that should be there in that poll:

Silence - the ability to use silence as a regular conversational tool.
In fact, the ability to have a complete and full conversation with only one person speaking and the other grunting or nodding - without any eye contact and without the speaker annoyed in the slightest. A work of simplistic genius.

The wonderfully complicated gift-giving rituals - there is surely a sixth sense passed down in Japanese genes which enables people to automatically know when, who, what and how much of something to give to their neighbours/friends/relatives etc.

The diversity of ideas- Going through a tough and suppressive school system and coming out the other end with critical thought processes still in tact. There are many people who appear to be sheep following the pack but away from public view there's a wolf inside with just the same diversity as anywhere else.
 

Karamuucho

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Reinvention.
Japan has a great sense of expanding other ideas, trains (the JR system) for example, was taken from the British railway system.

I know for fact that the Japanese railway system now puts the London underground to complete and utter shame!
 

Kinsao

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Silence - the ability to use silence as a regular conversational tool.
In fact, the ability to have a complete and full conversation with only one person speaking and the other grunting or nodding - without any eye contact and without the speaker annoyed in the slightest. A work of simplistic genius.

Sounds like some of my convos..... :D *is quiet and dislikes eye contact* 😌

There are many people who appear to be sheep following the pack but away from public view there's a wolf inside with just the same diversity as anywhere else.

I just had to quote that for truth. Of course, I can't say about Japan specifically, but it seems like there is sometimes a stereotype of people being conformist, and a very conformist culture (underneath a sometimes wacky surface XD), but when all's said and done, people are people the world over..... :p
 

CBC Guy

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Hmm... I'd say the way that Japanese people insist on doing things the right way every time. It may be hard, but it is the right way. That's pretty impressive IMO.

Also, the politeness and the fact that they almost never get openly mad at you. That takes a lot of self-control.

Its been mentioned before, but reinventing and renewing concepts from other cultures and making them better.

(PS Rice cake you happy now I posted positive things about Japan.)

I've never been to Japan yet but those were the things I got from the Japanese people I have met.
 

Maciamo

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Damn, you really chose strange qualities for Japan. I could have thought of dozens of good things about Japan, but none are in the list: tasty and cheap food, good service, reliable trains, huge department stores, mild and dry winters (in Tokyo at least), peaceful people, clean streets, low taxes, near absence of monotheistic religions, cute girls with a real sense of fashion...

But in your list, I find more to criticise than to praise.

1) Supreme Tolerance (a drunk on their shoulder on train-type situations): the Japanese are quite tolerant about some things like drunkenness, but not about any other (see the article on tolerance and prejudices in Japan compared to other countries)

2) Transparency - unlike other countries, it is no secret companies run the country: But this results in a lot of political corruption (amakudari system, bribes from companies, etc.). I usually know whether companies run the country (e.g. in the USA) or whether it is the other way round, with the government running all major companies and protecting them (e.g. France).


3) Safety : yes and no; Japan is safe in regard to thefts or mugging, but where else have you seen fights in the metro (nowhere else in my case), groping in crowded trains (an issue for women, especially if beautiful), frequent police checks (only the US since the Patriot Act does worse to the best of my knowledge)... then add earthquakes, typhoons, asbestos in train stations and in houses, risks of attacks by North Korea or China, etc.

4) A love of nature and nature-like artificial stuff: the Japanese love of nature is mostly a thing of the past, of that traditional Japan that has almost disappeared. Read my articles about the Japanese attitude to health and environmental issues and about the lack of biodiversity in Japanese cities.

5) Endurance - to suffer is to live: Is that a good thing to "suffer to live"? Anyway, I think this is also a myth, or a thing of the past (like samurai). I have found the Japanese (especially women) to complain much more easily about small problems, little pains, etc. than people do here. Japanese grandmas are a real pain; they spend their days complaining to their relatives about anything just to get attention. Here old people live by themselves and are more stoical.

6) Openness to new ideas and concepts/
The ability to transform those ideas and concepts into a uniquely Japanesey version: The Japanese are open to what they want, and completely closed to the rest. Their vast ignorance of the world is the best proof. They only copy stuff for their own profit but lack a genuine interest in other cultures (hence their ignorance).

7) Resilience - turning out relatively normal human beings after going through the education system: the Japanese education system is one of the top 5 worst things about the country if you ask me. People spend more time studying after school (juku and homework) than almost anywhere else in the world, and they still don't learn anything. Another bad point is that their education creates people completely deprived of individuality and critical sense, a society of weak-willed robotic clones. No way I will praise that.
 

Maciamo

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firstly, politeness
the efficiency and cleanliness of trains and train stations
onsen(spa)
kotatsu
the four seasons
cherry blossoms
and the annoying sound of cicada in the summer
dislikes will always outweigh the likes, but that is because I have
been here TOO long, and we always complain about where we live
don't we.

Damn, again good things for one that are bad things for me.

- politeness => yes, but dissimulated in hypocrisy. Then a lot of typical behaviours towards foreigners is not what I would call "polite" (replying to the Japanese person accompanying you when you ask them something in fluent Japanese) + bad Japanese manners.

- onsen => don't like it, but that's personal. If I liked it Japan would be a paradise in that regard.

- kotatsu => I dislike it because my legs are too big to fit under those tiny tables (or I may burn myself). It is just needed because there is no insulation and central heating. Here it is 2'C outside (nearly freezing) and 22'C inside (enough to be in a t-shirt) and we hardly use any heating.

- the four seasons => the relative lack of it you mean?

- cherry blossoms => which temperate country doesn't have them? Japan happens to have more cherry trees, but what prevents you to buy a big field and plant cherry trees for your personal enjoyment in the country of your choice?

I've got more that should be there in that poll:
Silence - the ability to use silence as a regular conversational tool.
In fact, the ability to have a complete and full conversation with only one person speaking and the other grunting or nodding - without any eye contact and without the speaker annoyed in the slightest. A work of simplistic genius.

What is so easy as to stay silent? The difficulty is to find something to say to stimulate a conversation. Anyway, I don't see why this is a particular Japanese characteristic.

The wonderfully complicated gift-giving rituals - there is surely a sixth sense passed down in Japanese genes which enables people to automatically know when who, what and how much of something to give to their neighbours/friends/relatives etc.

I tend to dislike gifts, especially when they are "duty gifts", as is so common in Japan. It is hypocritical, a waste of time and money, and often end up in bins or given to somebody else.

The diversity of ideas- Going through a tough and suppressive school system and coming out the other end with critical thought processes still intact. There are many people who appear to be sheep following the pack but away from public view, there's a wolf inside with just the same diversity as anywhere else.

Are you kidding? Only someone deprived of critical sense could think that the Japanese have one (a critical sense). There isn't the same diversity as anywhere else. Just look at the way everyone dresses the same, have the same hobbies, visit the same places, etc. Sheep mentality.
 
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craftsman

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Great reply Maciamo. I enjoyed it very much.
tasty and cheap food, good service, reliable trains, huge department stores, mild and dry winters (in Tokyo at least), peaceful people, clean streets, low taxes, near absence of monotheistic religions, cute girls with a real sense of fashion...
Yes, you're right they're the good stuff too but many of these are so obvious, I wanted to focus more on people.
the Japanese are quite tolerant about some things like drunkenness, but not about many other (see article on tolerance and prejudices in Japan compared to other countries)
I took a peek but your article seems to be stating what many Japanese people really believe behind closed doors. I'm referring to the tolerance required in situations when that tolerance is tested.
But this results in a lot of political corruption (amakudari system, bribes from companies, etc.). I usually know whether companies run the country (e.g. in the USA) or whether it is the other way round, with government running all major companies and protecting them (e.g. France).
Yes, this is the point. Political corruption is rampant and we all know it is. I would contest the second point about France and say that Corporations run it as well but that's going off on too much of a tangent.
Safety : yes and no
Yep, I agree. It does depend on what danger we're talking about.
the Japanese love of nature is mostly a thing of the past, of that traditional Japan that has almost disappeared.
Now I read lots of your posts about nature and I still don't get it. Do you mean the love of nature or the nature itself? As far as I am aware people still love nature as much as they always did, even if because urban areas have grown it may not be immediately around them any more.
As for the nature itself, of course it's disappearing everywhere. You can't find much in the large urban areas BUT get out of those areas and nature and the four seasons are alive and well.
I never understood about the four seasons posts. The fact that people proudly quote sayings and shared knowledge about the four seasons and you don't see any trees, doesn't mean that it has disappeared and they are wrong.
Anyway, I think this is also a myth, or a thing of the past (like samurai). I have found the Japanese (especially women) to complain much more easily about small problems, little pains, etc. than people do here. Japanese grandmas are a real pain; they spend their days complaining to their relatives about anything just to get attention. Here old people live by themselves and are more stoical.
Ah, the complaining. Yes, it gets to me sometimes. It is however a matter of cultural difference - it's considered good form to complain about aches and pains, that it's hot or cold, tired or sleepy. It does NOT mean that whoever says it is more of a moaner or a complainer than anyone else.
Maciamo, if you think the grandmas are bad, come and meet my mother in law!
But endurance is more a part of Japanese life than ever. I don't know anyone around me who has a real day off - as in relax and do nothing - in addition to the demands of a job, there are community meetings, road crossing duty, weed picking, sports days, recycling events, school PTA etc. All of which are 'voluntary' but you are expected to take part, and if you don't people begin to notice. On a day off or after coming home from work no one really wants to do this - but they have to. It really is something that has to be endured.
Phew. I'll continue with rest later.
 

craftsman

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The Japanese are open to what they want, and completely closed to the rest. Their vast ignorance of the world is the best proof. They only copy stuff for their own profit, but lack a genuine interest in other cultures (hence their ignorance).
The first bit I agree with. As to the ignorance part you seem to have that well covered on another thread. The last bit about genuine interest makes me wonder who you met while in Japan. Obviously different types of people to me - I see a great deal of curiosity of other countries and cultures among Japanese people. It was very interesting in my findings when I did my walk across Japan - in that the people with the most curiosity I found to be in the poorer areas of cities, rural communities and particularly in Kyushu.
The Japanese education system is one of the top 5 worst thing about the country if you ask me. People spend more time studying after school (juku and homework) than almost anywhere else in the world, and they still don't learn anything.
Yes, the educational system is awful. Notice that from the wording in the poll I agree with you here. I know it is bad because I have two children going through it. But it's probably going to an extreme to say that they don't learn anything ( I am presuming you mean anything useful) and would be rather disrespectful to anyone who has gone through the educational system to say so. That is of course that you are basing your assumptions on first hand knowledge and not the say-so of, perhaps a select number and variety, of people you have come across.
Another bad point is that their education creates people completely deprived of individuality and critical sense, a society of weak-willed robotic clones. No way I will praise that.
I have no idea what you look like but I just imagined you jumping up and thumping a table as you wrote this. You seriously should have got out more and met a different set of people while you lived here. Where is this 'weak-willed robotic clones' coming from? 'Completely deprived of individuality and critical sense'? And also this one from the next post:
Are you kidding ? Only someone deprived of critical sense could think that the Japanese have one (a critical sense). There isn't the same diversity as anywhere else. Just look at the way everyone dresses the same, have the same hobbies, visit the same places, etc. Sheep mentality.
Let me change one of your sentences back to you. And I mean no offence to you personally.
- Only someone as shallow an understanding of where he used to live could someone possibly make such sweeping generalizations.
Your comments make me wonder whether you ever but scratched the surface of understanding Japanese people when you were here. These are comments that a tourist would make.
 
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sabro

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Pride in workmanship. Beauty in simplicity. Wabi Sabi. Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well. Gamen. Grace. Sensibility. Honor. Integrity. Respect.
 

Kinsao

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☝ I know that to some extent generalisations are unavoidable when talking about a nation, but Mac, I was really taken aback by some of your statements!

Maciamo said:
people completely deprived of individuality and critical sense, a society of weak-willed robotic clones . . . There isn't the same diversity as anywhere else. Just look at the way everyone dresses the same, have the same hobbies, visit the same places, etc. Sheep mentality.

^ I'd say that's a commonly-held perception of Japanese society which is indeed rooted in fact, with, as you pointed out, the education system discouraging individual expression and praising the 'group mentality'. But Japanese people are not brainwashed. Everyone is shaped by their upbringing and education, so in that sense we are all deprived of our 'individuality' to some extent. It's only that in what's commonly known as the West, expressing individuality is celebrated and conformity is seen as a lack of individual thought or initiative. But aren't we just as much 'conforming to being non-conformist'? ........... *sigh* My thoughts are running away with themselves again and I'm accidentally going onto a bit different subject... sorry... :sorry: ............... anyway, I wanted to say that I don't think that Japanese people are at all deprived of their individuality even by a conformist education system... I don't mean that people should be blind to the faults of the education system or blind to the ways in which conformity is bad (as well as good) for society... but that doesn't make them any more 'weak-willed' than any other nation ☝ in fact you could say they have to be strong-willed in order to produce original ideas. I mean, if you look at Japanese culture, look at the talented writers, poets, painters, dancers, musicians, sculptors, film-makers... all professions that are strongly associated with being individual and creative and having a well-developed critical sense... and would you honestly say that Japan as a nation is more 'deficient' than other countries in this area? Or don't you think it produces as many great 'artists' as any other nation?! ............

And as for 'sheep mentality'...... I think this is true in other countries as well, and it depends on who you look at, and what cross-section of the population. I reckon that if you cross-questioned many people in England, ordinary people off the street, you'd find that they had many of the same hobbies, went to the same places on holidays, and bought the same popular brands of clothes. People are like that. People are like sheep! 😌 What I mean is, it's not an exclusively Japanese characteristic.

Oh dear, my post seems to have got rather long, doesn't it? I'm sorry! :sorry:

I know you pointed out some of the good things about Japan, Mac :p and I appreciate that you don't want people to labour under rosy-spectacled misconceptions, but I think it's a bit churlish of you to take so much effort to systematically shoot down all of the OP's 'good points' and argue them to be either bad things really or non-existant. ☝ You'll notice he says:

craftsman said:
we can all think of the bad stuff - but can anyone tell me the GOOD?

... and I think that's what the thread should mainly be about, I know we don't want to be misinformed about the good things but it would be nice if we could keep the tone of the thread positive as originally intended. :)
 

DoctorP

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Maciamo said:
I tend to dislike gifts, especially when they are "duty gifts", as is so common in Japan. It is hypocritical, a waste of time and money, and often end up in bins or given to somebody else.

Very rarely will I agree with you, but I do on this point. I was so frustrated with my wife when I went on vacation and had to buy all of these gifts for other people. I was like...why didn't I just pay to bring them along too?
 

Gentleman10

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hmmm, What confuses me about these articles is why people have to express their unsatisfaction with another country so much?
I mean, honestly, Japan is just another country like America, France, or wherever: it has its own set of problems just like anyone else. I don't think any of us here, especially as foreigners, have the right just to come here and rip on Japan because we went there and didn't like it. If the way the Japanese people act bothers you, I don't think they should have to bend over backwards to accomodate someone who came to their country, no? There's no such place as paradise on earth, so why are we setting higher expectations on Japan?
I think all of us would be offended if someone from another country came and said "Oh your place is nice, but really this place is much worse than it is good".
Craftsman, we must remember to respect the place as vistors/residence because we are the ones that are technically invading their 'way of life'. I think it's unfortunate that you see more bad than good in Japan and that such a topic must be made (the way I think about it, I imagine someone saying 'hey guys America sucks, but is there anything that doesn't suck about it?<-- I'd find this unsettling as an American). What I don't understand, though, is that you still live in Japan :). If you are so unhappy there that you find more bad than good there, maybe it' would be better to move to another/your home country?

Take care and good luck :)
 

Revenant

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Hmmmmm..... well I am generally content wherever I am, but I do like the fact that I can go out and drink and I don't need to worry that an angry drunk is looking for a random fight. Other things? The food is great, I love traditional Japanese food. I love some of the actual nature here. Mt. Daisen is especially beautiful at this time of year, and I saw pics of a place near where Mars Man live, incredible beauty there.

What else? Yeah, the Japanese are good at tolerating differences. Some of the fashions and stuff chicks wear is both unique and sexy. They seem to prioritize fun and community over political, religious, or other agendas, which is laidback but perhaps not the best way to go about things ethically.

Really, I am a very phlegmatic guy, and what drives a lot of other foreigners around a bender really doesn't phase me at all. Dunno, I just like Japan, but I also like living in Canada just as much as here. Been here seven years now.
 
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