Survey asks: What makes Japanese citizens feel distinctly Japanese?

Survey asks: What makes Japanese citizens feel distinctly Japanese?

TOKYO —

No matter what country you call home, there are always moments when you feel like a true citizen. 

What about Japan? What makes Japanese citizens feel distinctly Japanese? My Navi News asked 1,000 of their members to tell them about a moment when they felt Japanese. Here are the results of their survey:

During a Trip

—I can never sleep on hotel beds, but I fall fast asleep on tatami and a futon. (Male, 31)
—When I stay at a hotel, I mostly have rice and miso soup for breakfast…I must be Japanese. (Female, 29)
—When I’m using an onsen. (Male, 28)
—When I wait in line without complaining. (Female, 31)

Whether you stay at a domestic hotel or Japanese-style inn, there are many moments when you feel Japanese, especially for those who crave miso soup in the mornings.

At Meal Time

—When I’m eating Tamago-kake-gohan (Rice with a raw egg on top). (Male, 53)

—When I put natto on top of rice. (Female, 24)

—When I settle down with a bowl of chazuke (rice with green tea poured on top). (Male, 45)

—When I’m drinking hot Japanese sake. (Male, 24)

Tamago-kake-gohan and Chazuke are exceptionally Japanese dishes. There are also times when the food you normally eat very casually turns out to be a food characteristic to Japan. It’s safe to say that there’s a lot of delicious food and alcohol that is native to Japan.

During an Event

—When I’m enjoying cherry blossom viewing with everyone. (Female, 23)

—When I eat mochi on New Year’s Day. (Female, 24)

—When I get excited when Japan wins a medal during the Olympics or when there is a Japanese Nobel Prize winner. (Female, 30)

In Daily Life

—When I get annoyed when the train doesn’t come exactly on time. (Female, 27)
—When I get into the tub and sigh, “Ah.” (Male, 53)
—The joy of drinking water right out of the faucet. (Female, 39)
—When I buy pasta from the convenience store and the cashier asks me, “Would you like a fork or chopsticks?” I always answer, “Chopsticks.” (Female, 31)
—When I get upset when a toilet doesn’t have a bidet function. (Female, 23)

Communication

—Even if I’m dealing with a difficult or unreasonable situation, I never show my true colors and keep my feelings to myself.  (Female, 24)
—When I get irritated with people who are unable to read a situation or pick up on the mood of a conversation. (Female, 30)
—When I say words such as “yoroshiku onegai shimasu,” “Otsukare sama,” and “Okagesamade.” (Female, 23)
—When I bow while using the phone. (Male, 25)

Other

—When I think Shiba Inu dogs are the cutest (Female, 35)

What about you?  What makes you feel like a citizen of your country? 

Source: NicoNicoNews

RocketNews24

  • 33

    gaijinfo

    Surprised nobody mentioned the four seasons, which only happen in Japan.

    The joy of drinking water right out of the faucet.

    Dude, really?

  • 34

    iceshoecream

    Complimenting his fellow gaijin friend/coworker/stranger for such amazing skills to handle chopsticks.

  • 24

    Meguroman

    When I smoke irregardless of who is sitting nearby.

  • 30

    Sanjeev Kumar

    Stading on red light pedistrerian stop, & road is clear from miles :-P

  • 16

    sfjp330

    Maybe making a loud slurping noise by a beautiful girl while they eat hot ramen and peace sign while taking photos.

  • 2

    Maria

    Some very superficial answers.

    Also, I think some people are confusing being Japanese with being happy, or with holding back their irritation (and having to find a good enough reason for doing so).

    The only ones I relate to are under Events.

  • 12

    6wings

    I totally don't get it. Just the idea that people feel a swell of national pride from things like this makes me gag.

  • 9

    LiveInTokyo

    I totally don't get it. Just the idea that people feel a swell of national pride from things like this makes me gag.

    I agree. Things like this are ridiculously silly. When I hear Japanese speak about these types of topics, the more provincial I think they are.

  • 36

    bilderberg_2015

    Not being able to speak English despite years of learning it?

  • 4

    Maria

    Out of interest, Mod, is the accompanying illustration meant to be ironic? seeing as how nobody has mentioned any of these people / events?

  • 26

    BurakuminDes

    "When I pretend to be asleep on the Tokyo Subway and refuse to offer my seat for pregnant women. That's when I know I'm Japanese." - Male, 37.

  • 13

    Antonios_M

    When I push everyone to board on a train even though it is already full and the next one arrives 5 minutes later? When I am wearing a ridiculously short skirt and then have to hide my pants with my hands when I am climbing a stair? When I believe everything that "tarento" on TV say? When I don't ask people for their astrological signs, but for their blood type?

    Of course, there are many good ones as well. Discipline, cleanliness, kindness, sense of duty, etc.

  • 28

    Speed

    When somebody is in trouble I don't act nor call for help but just watch. (Male 15-70)

  • 12

    smithinjapan

    In other words, people feel their own nationality over just about anything. There's nothing distinctly Japanese about any of these things any more than taking a hot shower makes you Canadian.

  • 26

    TokyoGas

    When I avoid getting in line because there is a foreign looking person there.

  • 18

    Thomas Anderson

    Japanese people are typically more obsessed with their nationality for some reason than anybody else. What they talk about "being Japanese" is nothing more than leftover propaganda efforts by the Japanese establishment from the pre-WW2 days. The overemphasis on "Japanese-ness" was conveniently used by the Japanese establishment as a means to control the population, nothing more. They were told to believe that the Japanese people were something unique and different than everybody else, so they believed that. And they still believe it hence the weird obsession and attachment to their own nationality as if they were something special and unique. They don't understand that Japanese people are on average, just like anybody else. What really matters is what kind of societies and/or cultures that they live in and grew up in.

  • -5

    nigelboy

    They were told to believe that the Japanese people were something unique and different than everybody else

    Reading this site, it appears that anything negative is "unique" to Japan while something "positive" is no "different than everybody else". But I guess we won't be seeing any generalization about Japanese from you. Hope you practice what you preach.

  • 1

    slumdog

    Reading this site, it appears that anything negative is "unique" to Japan while something "positive" is no "different than everybody else".

    Sadly, I very often get the same impression.

  • 8

    Yardley

    There's nothing distinctly Japanese about any of these things

    Having miso soup for breakfast, eating mochi on New Year's, bowing while using the phone, putting natto on top of rice - Of course, not everything on the list is exclusive to Japan, but these seem particular to Japan, I think. In any case, if an American said he/she feels her nationality when watching a baseball game, is that not valid just because people play baseball in many other countries?

    Also, many of the commenters here are just being sarcastic by mentioning the same usual negative things about Japan. We've heard it all before. Try to be more original.

  • 7

    slumdog

    Japanese people are typically more obsessed with their nationality for some reason than anybody else.

    What the heck is this based on? Every foreigner I have ever met seems to love to talk about their country.

  • 4

    Thomas Anderson

    What the heck is this based on? Every foreigner I have ever met seems to love to talk about their country.

    I said nationality, not country.

  • 11

    vctokyo

    the only words in my vocabulary are sugoi, kawaii and oishii

  • 5

    slumdog

    What really matters is what kind of societies and/or cultures that they live in and grew up in.

    In other words, it's not okay for Japanese people to be proud of being Japanese, but it's okay for them to be proud of their society and/or culture? Unless I am mistaken, if Japanese are proud of their Japanese society or culture, it is the same as Japanese being proud of being Japanese.

    Why aren't Japanese people allowed to be proud of what they are? What exactly is wrong with that? Aren't people al over the world proud of where they come from or at least some aspect of where they come from for the most part?

  • 0

    slumdog

    I said nationality, not country.

    So, it is okay to talk about Japan, but not to talk about being Japanese? Sorry, that does not make a lot of sense. It still does not address my point, either. Foreigners here love to talk about what it is like to be such and such a nationality or how such and such a nationality do things. Usually, it is in reference to something they think their nationality does better than Japanese do.

  • -1

    Thomas Anderson

    In other words, it's not okay for Japanese people to be proud of being Japanese, but it's okay for them to be proud of their society and/or culture?

    No, I never said such things, please don't completely misconstruct what I have said.

  • 5

    slumdog

    Thomas,

    What is ironic is that in your claim of Japanese not being unique you see

    It is ironic that you seem to be claiming Japanese people are not unique at all and at the same time claiming they are unique in thinking they are unique. Quite a Catch -22.

  • 0

    The_True

    What the heck is this based on? Every foreigner I have ever met seems to love to talk about their country.

    not me, because i'm me not my country.

    Japanese want to be part of the group because if they be one self, they are nothing with a life without accomplishment.

    not all, but i'll give respect to those japanese who make japan what is today or was back in the 80's, now with have people who just leach to the success of the founder of Honda, the Toyota and the Sony amount others.

  • -3

    slumdog

    >They were told to believe that the Japanese people were something unique and different than everybody else, so they believed that.

    What really matters is what kind of societies and/or cultures that they live in and grew up in.

    I did not 'miscontsruct' anything. Maybe you should explain what you mean more clearly as what I commented on is clearly expressed in the quotes above. Each country is unique. Each nationality is unique. There is nothing wrong with this. It is only a problem if this prevents a nationality from getting along with or getting to know other nationalities. I do not see this as a problem for Japanese now for the most part.

  • 3

    Thomas Anderson

    It is ironic that you seem to be claiming Japanese people are not unique at all and at the same time claiming they are unique in thinking they are unique. Quite a Catch -22.

    Well you see you have a quite a way with your logic. I can never be sure how you reached that conclusion, but ok.

    No, Japanese people, like anybody else, are no more special or unique than anybody else. I am not saying that they are unique in them thinking that they're unique, I'm saying that they're misguided in their beliefs. I never said that they were "unique" in the first place, it is you who interpreted it that way.

  • -8

    slumdog

    I'm saying that they're misguided in their beliefs.

    Why? Are you saying there is nothing unique about being Japanese?

    I never said that they were "unique" in the first place

    Yeah, you did. Here:

    Japanese people are typically more obsessed with their nationality for some reason than anybody else.

  • -11

    nigelboy

    After that sentence, I clearly explained why. You need to actually read what I wrote. I said that the reason why the Japanese people are obsessed with their nationality is because of the previous propaganda efforts by the Japanese establishment.

    OK. OK. OK. Stop. Can you be more specific about this "previous propaganda efforts by the Japanese establishment"?

    I'm not trying to be combative here, Thomas. I think it would help me understand what you're trying to get at.

  • 7

    combinibento

    Honestly this is a decent list. When I read the headline I expected to see a litany of the usual crap Japanese folks occasionally brag about, such as the four seasons, long intestine, safety, etc., etc., but this is basically a bunch of responses that can be summed up as "when I eat Japanese food" (fair enough) and "when I have my butt wiped for me" (not only in customer service but quite literally with a bidet as well).

  • -5

    lucabrasi

    Kanji, rice, tofu, soybeans, noodles, acupuncture, silk, chopsticks, tea, mahjong....

  • -5

    slumdog

    After that sentence, I clearly explained why.

    Yes, you clearly explained why you thought they were unique in that they were the most obsessed. What did I miss? What is out of context? Stand up for what you believe.

  • -4

    slumdog

    Again, it is you who made it AS IF the Japanese WERE unique

    No, you wrote clearly that the Japanese are more obsessed than anybody else. That makes them unique in your eyes. Sadly, to you, they are only unique when it comes to negative stereotypes. Other than that, you do not think they should be considered unique. Interesting way to have your cake and eat it, too.

  • 7

    The_True

    JaneM let me fixed for you:

    Yet, what makes us Japanese superior to the foreigners? Nothing. We are not superior. We are just different. I wish more of the we japanese in Japan would be more open-minded and understand that being different is not equal to being strange or lesser.

    there!!

  • 3

    smithinjapan

    nigelboy: "Reading this site, it appears that anything negative is "unique" to Japan while something "positive" is no "different than everybody else"."

    Depends entirely on what it is you are talking about, as a good many people will point out that, in the even of some big incident, it happens elsewhere as well. WHat a lot of the people you mention WILL say it unique to Japan are domestic laws and how they are applied. And there are also a lot of positive things that I think you can say are uniquely Japanese -- or at least not Western customs -- but as it is most of the aforementioned things are just everyday things done all over the world. I mean, how 'Japanese' is it to get into a bath and say "ah"? Finally it depends on the person whether the thing they do is positive or negative. Many Japanese I know will automatically join a line up if it's there and leading into some store, in some cases not knowing at first what the line-up's for. I think it's an utter waste of time, but others might not.

    Anyway, the best way to get a feel for your country and what reminds you of it is to leave and stay away from some time. You might have a feeling of 'wabi sabi' while standing under a cherry blossom tree in another nation, or making yourself a bento with traditional Japanese foods.

    For me, nostalgia hits most with certain foods, or listening to old Christmas tunes around that time of year. I don't think that's uniquely Canadian or anything either, although pretty Western.

  • 0

    slumdog

    Yet, what makes us Japanese superior to the foreigners? Nothing. We are not superior.

    Suggesting something is unique does not equal the suggestion that it is superior. Each person, nationality and country, etc have their good points and their bad points. These points are what make things unique.

  • 0

    slumdog

    Many Japanese I know will automatically join a line up if it's there and leading into some store, in some cases not knowing at first what the line-up's for.

    That seems like a strange thing to do. Have you ever asked them what they are waiting for? Do they actually say they do not know?

  • 4

    Yubaru

    Kanji, rice, tofu, soybeans, noodles, acupuncture, silk, chopsticks, tea, mahjong....

    You Chinese?

    The joy of drinking water right out of the faucet. Dude, really?

    It was a female that said that one! (But I agree really?)

  • 5

    Probie

    That seems like a strange thing to do. Have you ever asked them what they are waiting for? Do they actually say they do not know?

    @slumdog:

    Yes. My ex-wife's sister used to do it all the time. If we went to a department store's food section, and there was line, she'd join right away. When I'd ask her what she was lining up for, she'd say "I don't know, but everyone is lining up, so it could be something good!". I've heard others saying the same thing too.

  • -6

    megosaa

    ;-p funny that there's so many smart a**es here that nobody seem to answer the question:

    Other

    —When I think Shiba Inu dogs are the cutest (Female, 35)

    What about you? What makes you feel like a citizen of your country?

    Source: NicoNicoNews

  • 6

    pointofview

    I`m not sure about everyone else but What makes me feel distinctly Canadian is when I look at my passport and it says Canada.

  • -7

    nandakandamanda

    megosaa, when I get in the bath at night and go "Aaaah", I feel like a citizen of my country.

  • 4

    Thunderbird2

    What about you? What makes you feel like a citizen of your country?

    So to answer the question, when I'm at home in the UK I don't even think about this... except during this year's Olympics and Queen's Golden Jubilee.

    However, out here in Japan it's different. I saw an old style Mini the other day and felt a little wave of pride. However, things that I do... like standing patiently in a queue, thanking people in shops and bus drivers, being polite and having toast and tea for breakfast all make me feel British. Oh, and not really bothering about the rain... I'm used to it, lol

  • 1

    Simon Phillips

    What makes think British? Walking down in the rain (spinkle) with out an umbrella...........

  • 0

    Ivan Coughanoffalot

    Is the answer putting up an umbrella at the slighted trace of the finest of mild drizzle or when it has stopped raining completely?

  • 0

    Lew Archie

    Megosaa - ;-p funny that there's so many smart a**es here that nobody seem to answer the question:

    Spot on. And now for what makes me feel like an Australian citizen, umm . . . listening to illegal immigrants explain the many loopholes of our welfare system. That's truly when I feel like an Australian. It's so typical, or does it happen in other countries?

  • 2

    Mike_Fagg

    Is the answer constantly posting on comment boards and forums how their wife is a crazy and horrible person because she's no longer the bikini wearing nympho that they married and expect her to still be? Or, maybe the answer is wasting day after day away posting anything and everything they find negative about a country they have chosen to live and work in?

  • 6

    Sabrage

    Interesting survey topic.

    Good layout on the page, easy to read.

    Many people taking life too seriously here, on JT.

    Lighten up - no one gets out alive anyways.

  • -3

    slumdog

    I never said that they were unique, you did.

    Last time, Thomas. You wrote that you thought Japanese people are typically more obsessed with their nationality for some reason than anybody else. That is a claim of their uniqueness regarding what you consider their obsession with nationality. In addition, you have not even proven this to be the case that they are the most obsessed people in the world. Your words have meaning. I understand them and you perfectly well.

  • 16

    Nessie

    My girlfriend came over the other day and said "Make me feel like a Japanese woman!"

    I told her to do unpaid overtime.

  • -1

    slumdog

    Yes. My ex-wife's sister used to do it all the time

    Okay, but she did know she was lining up for something to eat.

  • -3

    Thomas Anderson

    slumdog... seriously. You're interpreting what I wrote in your own way, not how I intended. If you want to do that then there's no point in even talking to you.

    You wrote that you thought Japanese people are typically more obsessed with their nationality for some reason than anybody else.

    I did write that, but nowhere did I say that that was a unique, inherent characteristic of the Japanese people.

    I've already said that the reason was because of the result of propaganda (e.g. ichioku isshin or "one million hearts (beating) as one", ware ware nihonjin wa or "we the Japanese people", etc) during WW2. Get it?

  • -5

    slumdog

    Megosaa - ;-p funny that there's so many smart a**es here that nobody seem to answer the question:

    It's not a question. It's an article about a question in a survey and the answers to it.

  • 5

    Bluebris

    "When I ignore a stop sign and pull out in my truck in front of someone on a scooter, causing them to swerve and crash the scooter, leaving them sitting and bleeding with a broken scooter at the side of the rode, then I drive around them and away. " (Male, 35) "When I drive around man sitting and bleeding with with broken scooter at side of road having just seen truck cause him to crash, without stopping to check on him." (All drivers, male and female 20-90)

  • 4

    smithinjapan

    slumdog: "That seems like a strange thing to do. Have you ever asked them what they are waiting for? Do they actually say they do not know?"

    I do sometimes ask, if I think it might be something worthwhile, and in a number of cases I've gotten the "We're not sure" answer. In every case where I've gotten that answer it's been women lining up at a department store, for some roll cakes or 'nama-caramel' or whatever the latest trend is. I also hear from people who lined up at some point over the week somewhere who admit they also didn't know at first what the lineup was for. It's weird, but that is one thing I would say is pretty uniquely Japanese.

    I answered the question posed at the end of the article, to an extent, but if there's anything that REALLY takes me back home more than anything else it's if the is a slow-falling but heavy flurry of snow, which covers tall pines, roof tops, the roads. There's a light wind blowing, but that's all you can hear -- it's like the scene has been insulated. Still, though, that kind of just takes me back to my hometown (which is quite small), it doesn't make me feel that it's something uniquely Canadian. Butter tarts? The Hammy Hamster Show? I'd kill to have a few decent street meats vendors on corners here and there in Osaka.

    Another interesting point people should be aware of is when you return home, be it for a visit or to live, after a long time in another nation. THAT can also teach you what you've picked up that is uniquely of the nation you just came from, or at least that's very different from the one you're used to. On my infrequent trips home I usually don't slip up as much as I expect, but I do say, "un... un... un..." while on the phone instead of "Yeah... uh-huh," etc. or I make the axe-chopping hand gesture when passing in front of someone, say "sumimasen" and go out doors backwards if people are in the room I'm leaving. When I get weird looks or replies as a result of these actions I am reminded that they are not from my native culture.

  • -8

    slumdog

    I did write that, but nowhere did I say that that was a unique, inherent characteristic of the Japanese people.

    When you claim that someone does something more than anyone else, you are claiming they are unique. That is the interpretation of the word unique.

    You claimed (completely unsubstantiated) that the Japanese are typically more obsessed than anyone else (in the world, right?) . That is the very definition of something unique: a quality others do not have or do not have to the same extent.

  • -2

    slumdog

    It's weird, but that is one thing I would say is pretty uniquely Japanese.

    I don't know if it is unique or not, but it sure is weird. Thanks for sharing.

  • -3

    Bluebris

    rode

    Not rode, but road.

  • -4

    slumdog

    Actually, I stand corrected. I assumed the question at the end of the article was rhetorical. Perhaps not.

    • Moderator

      We would like readers to answer that question.

  • 3

    Thomas Anderson

    If an American, for instance, said something like "I feel so distinctly American for eating hamburgers!" and "Only an American can truly enjoy hamburgers!", then that would be a very strange thing to say. But that's what many Japanese people actually say or believe. They say something like "Only a Japanese person can truly appreciate miso soup in the morning", or whatever. But none of that has to do with anything. Anyone can enjoy hamburgers and eating hamburgers do not make one more or less an American.

  • -5

    slumdog

    There is an expression I have seen that goes something like, 'as American as apple pie' (if I got it wrong, someone correct me). What is wrong with saying 'as Japanese as miso soup'.

    They say something like "Only a Japanese person can truly appreciate miso soup in the morning",

    I've never heard anyone say anything resembling that. Maybe you just know some strange people. Just because someone says something strange does not mean they represent their whole nation.

  • 0

    Probie

    @slumdog

    Okay, but she did know she was lining up for something to eat.

    Yeah, because when you're in a department store's food section, it's kind of a no-brainer. But, she'd do it in the street if there were a bunch of people waiting for something (usually some "famous" person or whatever to come out of somewhere. She wouldn't even ask someone why they were waiting. Just join them standing there with a dumb expression on her face.

    @Thomas

    It's true that Japanese people are typically more attached to their nationality than most other people.

    I'd say the Chinese or Americans are the most nationalistic. S.Korea too.

  • -2

    slumdog

    Well, I have heard enough similar things from Japanese people where they make excuses and automatically deflect any criticism whenever they are criticized or have their flaws clearly pointed out.

    Interesting, do you think this is unique of Japanese people?

  • 0

    Thomas Anderson

    I'd say the Chinese or Americans are the most nationalistic. S.Korea too.

    Well I didn't necessarily mean nationalistic. What I mean is that Japanese people frequently bring up being Japanese as a way to explain their own behavior. They would say something like, "We're Japanese, we can't help it" or "You wouldn't understand it. You're not Japanese", etc.

  • 2

    horrified

    cleo -

    You really think people today are influenced by 60-year-old propaganda?

    Isn't it obvious they are? Then again, a lot of non-Japanese seem to be in a 'happy-to-be-here-no-matter-what-bubble," so never-mind and carry on in your obliviousness.

  • -9

    slumdog

    What I mean is that Japanese people frequently bring up being Japanese as a way to explain their own behavior.

    So? What is wrong bringing up the fact that they are influenced by their culture? Aren't you influenced by your own culture? Seriously, you really seem to dislike Japanese people. What is the source of this emotion?

    • Moderator

      Readers, please focus your comments on the story and no Japan-bashing please.

  • -5

    slumdog

    She wouldn't even ask someone why they were waiting. Just join them standing there with a dumb expression on her face.

    Interesting. I've gone up to a crowd of people to see what they were crowding around or up to a line to see what they were waiting for. However, I always ask someone what is going on to see if it is worth my time. Weird to just stand there for a long period of time without knowing why.

  • -2

    Thomas Anderson

    I can never sleep on hotel beds, but I fall fast asleep on tatami and a futon. (Male, 31)

    When I stay at a hotel, I mostly have rice and miso soup for breakfast…I must be Japanese. (Female, 29)

    When I’m using an onsen. (Male, 28)

    When I wait in line without complaining. (Female, 31)

    When I put natto on top of rice. (Female, 24)

    etc, etc... What do any of these things have to do with being Japanese? And why would those things make them feeling "distinctly Japanese"? If you enjoy a hamburger, is that supposed to remind you of being "distinctly American", or something? Is it weird for Japanese people to eat western food and dress in western clothes?

  • -1

    kurisupisu

    Having free speech and freedom of association-that is NOT denied in the EU

  • -4

    slumdog

    What do any of these things have to do with being Japanese?

    Thomas, read the question, it asks clearly what make Japanese feel Japanese. Those things make them feel Japanese. What is the big deal? You seem to continue to mix up the words being Japanese and feeling Japanese. Even if you are not Japanese, you can feel Japanese if you want to.

  • -1

    slumdog

    Having free speech and freedom of association-that is NOT denied in the EU

    I don't get it.

  • -1

    Yubaru

    Seems to me that people are more concerned about Japanese people and their nationality than Japanese people themselves

  • -1

    Sabrage

    What makes me feel like a citizen of my country?

    When I'm picking shellfish, mushrooms, hunting and gathering.

  • 2

    smithinjapan

    Every single thing posted by a person, in this survey or on comments about the survey, can easily be ripped apart and criticized, but who cares? Let people feel how they want to. I know that if I leave this place there will be moments, wherever I end up, where a smell, sound, or feeling will put me write back where I am now, and I can say it makes me feel ______ (fill in blank). Ask anyone what it means to be their nationality and I guarantee after the uncomfortable stumblings and possible silence you're going to get an answer that could apply to pretty much anyone in any other nation.

  • 1

    Probie

    When I put natto on top of rice. (Female, 24)

    I wonder if she feels American when she eats a burger; or Italian when she eats pasta?

    Most of the replies to the question are stupid, and have nothing to do with really being Japanese.

    Interesting. I've gone up to a crowd of people to see what they were crowding around or up to a line to see what they were waiting for. However, I always ask someone what is going on to see if it is worth my time. Weird to just stand there for a long period of time without knowing why.

    Yeah? Well that's you, we, and the article aren't talking about you, are we?

  • 0

    nandakandamanda

    Some of the people expressing their opinions in the survey above probably remember times when they were abroad and became conscious of inner urges differing from the people round about them; at that moment they may have felt distinctly Japanese for the very first time. Many of their answers make sense in this light.

  • -4

    y3chome

    When I get irritated with people who are unable to read a situation or pick up on the mood of a conversation. (Female, 30)

    Ummmm, what has this got to do with the price of fish? This was the strangest on the list by far, as it seems to be assuming that Jpnese somehow have a higher EQ than other nationalities. There are even plenty of skits on TV that make fun of the exact people she is complaining about in Japan.

  • -3

    slumdog

    Yeah? Well that's you, we, and the article aren't talking about you, are we?

    Be nice. I am just making conversation and suggesting that is what your aquaintance was doing.

  • 0

    slumdog

    Let people feel how they want to.

    A double men.

  • -1

    italiandream

    when I use the palm of my hand like a calculator (Male 35).

  • 0

    nandakandamanda

    Have you heard of KY, y3chrome? It is an acronym for Ku-ki Yomenai, formed by J school kids to express how some kids are unable or unwilling to read the unspoken atmosphere in a room.

    Being able to read the group silence is a very Japanese attribute I reckon, and has nothing to do with intelligence, but more with sensitivity to mood and inner understandings of social rules. For better or for worse, this would be on my list of things Japanese.

  • 0

    Thomas Anderson

    Being able to read the group silence is a very Japanese attribute I reckon, and has nothing to do with intelligence, but more with sensitivity to mood and inner understandings of social rules. For better or for worse, this would be on my list of things Japanese.

    I think that's basically herd-mentality and it's not exactly unique to Japan.

  • -4

    slumdog

    I think that's basically herd-mentality

    Since when is being sensitive to your surroundings equal having a herd mentality. Heard mentality, maybe.

  • 4

    nandakandamanda

    Well, going with your definition Thomas, the herd mentality is exceptionally strong here, making it recognizably Japanese to me, as living and working here I am often confined within it.

  • -2

    flipper2

    Here I got one or two. '' When someone asks me a question and it takes me 45 minutes to answer and the answer belongs to a different question because I didnt really like the question or didnt really understand it and I didnt have the courage to tell you I didnt understand which makes me feel inadequate..'' Then finally I answer UHHHH?

  • -3

    Laguna

    Perhaps a better question for the JT crowd would be "how you learn you're becoming Japanese."

    I've become quite sensitive to honne and tatemae, for example: an ambiguous comment is most invariably negative; maybe usually means no; and being called "sensei" is often sugarcoated with irony.

    That reminds me: Subversiveness and the ability to read it - Japanese seldom rebel but excel at being subversive. Once keyed into this, great humor is often found.

  • 0

    ReformedBasher

    The original question - "What about you? What makes you feel like a citizen of your country?"

    As an Australian? Speaking Aussie slang, eating pies and drinking the local beer, the Outback, etc. I like Australia but it's a bit of a cultural desert. Great place to "play" but more than a bit shallow.

    In Japan, the food is better, it's more interesting and the people are more reliable and politer. So I prefer here.

  • 0

    Yubaru

    Perhaps a better question for the JT crowd would be "how you learn you're becoming Japanese."

    Unless you actually "look" Japanese no matter how much you "think" you are becoming one, the only person/people that will comment so are non-Japanese.

  • 0

    Laguna

    Completely agree, Yubaru. You know the "uncanny valley" - where robots that look too human but are not are repulsive? The same thing seems to apply to foreigners who are "too Japanese." I have too many things to think about to care about what people around me think; I just notice their reactions with interest and file it away. It is another source of humor.

  • 0

    Yubaru

    I have too many things to think about to care about what people around me think; I just notice their reactions with interest and file it away. It is another source of humor.

    More power to you! And to the one's that are able to get to this nirvana, life get's so much easier, and enjoyable here without having to think or worry about whether or not one is "Japanese" enough.

  • -1

    iceshoecream

    Answering the last question,

    Back home everyone inside the airplane clap their hands once we land (always!).

    Food; eating mofongo in a wood pilon (can't really translate that into English but you could google it).

    At the dance club; dancing reggaeton with a Japanese girl and she goes like "nanikore!!?" to what I reply "mami this is how we (Puertoricans) dance reggaeton".

  • 6

    zichi

    What about you? What makes you feel like a citizen of your country?

    Many comments but few answers?

    When I'm eating fish and chips watching football and drinking beer. The rest of the time I seem to forget I'm a Brit.

  • 0

    Thunderbird2

    Another thing that made me feel really British was the other day... my ex and I went to a family restaurant in Matsudo and I had tea... sweet, milky tea just like I make at home. (She had stronger black tea... meh)

    Oh, and this comment section... my UK English spelling and not using Americanisms ^__^

  • 6

    mrkobayashi

    I feel American when I get ticked off at someone who makes disparaging remarks about my country. Come to think of it, that's true for most people. Funny how some on JT will bash Japan at any and every opportunity and then start fuming when someone so much as suggests that food in their home country tastes bad.

  • 2

    Aliasis

    Some of these really do relate to culture, but some of these are stupid, and I've heard Japanese people always assume they are "unique" about things, such as -

    -Drinking tap water: Hey, Japan, like every developed country has clean tap water. Ironically I'm uncomfortable drinking Japanese tap because of radiation scare, but in my home in America I'd never drink any other kind of water.

    -Four season: this one is just bizarre. Why does Japan think they are the only country that experiences four seasons? As a Minnesotan, I'd say Tokyo doesn't experience winter at all, haha.

    -Being polite: I do think Japan has great customer service, but it's way offensive to assume you are more polite than everyone else.

    -Being passive/shy/keeping feels to yourself: Again, nothing to do with being Japanese. This is a personality trait. Maybe Japanese culture encourages this, but personality is personality.

    -Not complaining about standing in lines: Whaaaat?

    etc etc.

  • 8

    wasao

    I feel American when I pay my student loans every month.

  • -8

    slumdog

    KY" or kuuki yomenai or "reading the atmosphere/between the lines" or whatever, has not much to do with sensitivity, but it's merely going along with the crowd, or doing what everybody else is doing. It's basically about killing your own individuality for the sake of group "harmony". If you blindly go along with the crowd or somebody else, then does that mean that you really care about others? Probably not.

    That is not what KY means at all. Seriously, do you actually have any Japanese aquaintances? First of all the term is "yuu wo yomu". "Yomenai" would be if you were not able to do it. It does mean to read (or not read or not be able to read as the case may be) the atmosphere or to read what others are feelings and what would be appropriate in those circumstances or what others might want you to do. That is quite different than a herd mentality, which is to blindy follow what others are doing as apparently some women do with lines at the department store.

  • -4

    slumdog

    As for me, I feel distinctly Japanese when I walk into a convenience store in winter and see and smell the oden near the cash register. That and eating mikan while sitting under the kotatsu on a cold winter's day.

  • -2

    slumdog

    Why does Japan think they are the only country that experiences four seasons?

    Koreans do it too actually. A (I believe he was Japanese, but I read it a long time ago, so I don't remember) poet long ago talked about how the Japanese tend to celebrate each season in a specific way and have foods and customs for each one and that this was a unique or special quality to Japanese culture. As time has progressed, this slowly morphed into Japan being unique for its seasons. It is not the seasons that were said to have been unique, it was how they were celebrated and observed that was said to be unique. Whether you think it is unique or not is an entirely different matter of course.

  • 9

    lucabrasi

    I almost never get the chance to feel like an Englishman in Japan: the trains are on time, the bars are free of fat, red-faced beer-swilling morons and the weather's very nice 90% of the time. Have to go back once a year to re-connect with my misery-roots.

  • 10

    Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land

    I feel American every time I hear someone say "We Japanese".

  • -3

    slumdog

    lucabrasi,

    You are on the fast track to becoming one of my favorite posters!

  • -7

    slumdog

    First of all the term is "yuu wo yomu".

    Whoops! What's that expression about glass houses again? That should have been "kuuki wo yomu", unless you are trying to read someone named Yuu.

  • -10

    Serrano

    What about "sabisu zangyo" / unpaid overtime?

    Voting for Romney and then seeing Obama get every one of my state's electoral votes makes me feel like an American!

  • -3

    GyGene

    To me, this answer kind of says a lot about Japanese:

    —Even if I’m dealing with a difficult or unreasonable situation, I never show my true colors and keep my feelings to myself. (Female, 24)

    Actually, I am not out done by most of these answers - miso and natto for breakfast - no Japanese will outdo me in my love for miso and natto. Getting into ofuro - no, I'm Japanese with that too. I guess I lived in Japan so long that I have become Japanese in many ways...

  • -1

    GyGene

    Oh, I forgot - when Japanese say われわれ日本人。。。(we Japanese) - now that phrase really separates Japanese in their minds I think. We Japanese are .... whatever, I think to Japanese, it means how they see themselves as different.

  • 4

    Serrano

    "the weather's very nice 90% of the time"

    lucabrasi, you don't spend summer or winter in Japan, do you?

  • -2

    Serrano

    Seeing my country's national debt balloon to $12 trillion makes me feel like a citizen of the USA!

  • -3

    lucabrasi

    @slumdog

    I blush at the fullsomeness of your compliment....

  • 9

    Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land

    I feel American when I feel like I'm splurging to buy a small hunk of cheese.

    I feel American when I get really excited ordering sausages over the internet, because the supermarket's selection is a disgrace.

    I feel like an American every time a high school kid can't say Good Morning or some other simple English thing without laughing after saying it.

    I feel American when people say wild boar or some other game meat is kusai.

    I feel American when I can't get into an onsen because of my tattoos.

    I felt American when I showed up to my 3 year old's 8am happyokai in shorts and t-shirt and all the J-parents were wearing suits and ties.

    A cop stopping me because the light on my bicycle is turned off makes me feel American.

    Me automatically saying, "It's my bike. Please check the registration number." makes me feel American.

    Standing on the street drinking a beer because it's legal, even though no one else does it, makes me feel American.

    I feel American when I read a big news scandal about someone getting busted for less than a gram of Marijuana.

    Saying No makes me feel American.

    Making a lot of noise at night makes me feel American.

    Refusing to press the 'over 20' button on the register screen when buying alcohol at Lawson makes me feel American.

    I feel American when I go to a restaurant with my family and the hostess looks over my shoulder to talk to my wife behind me.

  • 0

    lucabrasi

    @Serrano

    Love the autumn, winter and spring down here in Kyushu. It's never all that cold, just crisp enough to make you feel really alive. And I've learnt to love summer, too; you just have to accept the heat, not fight it. Listen to the cicadas, admire the blue sky and swig a cool beer. It's all good! : )

  • -2

    tmarie

    What makes me feel Canadian?! Talking about hockey, poutine, Timmy's, MEC and hosers. Mind you, I don't think these topics are uniquely Canadian.

  • -1

    lucabrasi

    @ Stranger

    Refusing to press the 'over 20' button on the register screen when buying alcohol at Lawson makes me feel American.

    Why on Earth would refuse to do that?

  • -1

    wipeout

    Why on Earth would refuse to do that?

    Well who wouldn't want to win a battle of wills with an 800-yen an hour employee trying to apply company policy?

  • -3

    Seiharinokaze

    I used to feel Japaneseness when I hear the word "totsugu" (for a woman to get married). It is somehow different from "kekkon-suru". It expresses some sort of resolution and sorrow she may feel at leaving her parents and home. Sada Masashi wrote a beautiful song on the theme. And also I feel Japanese when I am supposed to read "秋桜" as kosumosu.

  • -3

    Kabukilover

    I feel Japanese when I check my Rollex before getting into my BMW.

  • 0

    lucabrasi

    @Kabukilover

    If it's a "Rollex", it's probably not genuine.... : )

  • -1

    Aída Posadas

    —When I bow while using the phone. (Male, 25)

    Hahahaha, so typical! I find it even cute :)

  • -1

    Aída Posadas

    When someone sneezes and everyone ignores it (doesn't say "bless you" or something) :)

  • -3

    kcjapan

    JT presents a very interesting question. (Surprising how caustic the comments are.) It would seem interesting to know more about the Japanese even in their more candid and unscripted moments.

    It seems if you can't appreciate the little things that seem Japanese to the Japanese how can you understand the big Japanese picture? (What's with the weird vibe on this question?)

    "What do any of these things have to do with being Japanese?" someone asks.

    What's really Japanese is when they apologize for their English which they speak far better than I will ever speak Japanese.

    What's really Japanese is when they feel genuine pride, accomplishment and obligation in helping others.

    What's really Japanese is when they feel very self conscious about being very different, even from each other.

    What's really Japanese is when they have such strong affection for the simplest things, and cats.

  • -2

    kcjapan

    Excellent: owenfinn Nov. 14, 2012 - 11:18AM JST

    'Finally, a nation is an imagined community because "regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings."

    Excellent: smithinjapan Nov. 14, 2012 - 12:50PM JST

    Nostalgia as a measure of 'national' identity. "nostalgia hits most with certain foods, or listening to old Christmas tunes around that time of year"

  • 2

    JeffLee

    • Hockey Night in Canada, especially the theme music,
    • The smell of freshly cut grass on a summer evening while the sun is still shining
    • Consideration toward complete strangers, such as instinctively holding doors open for others
    • Having impromptu friendly conversations with complete strangers while waiting in line at the bank, insurance office, etc
  • 0

    spudman

    Having the most successful international sports team ever: Despite a population of 4 million winning more olympic gold medals than most countries. Having a national nickname that we like. Not having problems with other countries. Pavlova and hockey pockey ice cream. Beating the Aussies at life saving. Telling USA to feck off with their nuclear weapons.

    Having our own indigenous language

    Kia kaha.

  • -3

    MasterBape

    There is good and bad in every culture.

    Whilst the post ,entionssome good points, like eating Mochica on New Year, some of them, like taking a bath, are a. Bit silly and I don't believe they reflect the culture that can't be found in other countries.

    The mass gathering for cherry blossom season is one Japanese obsession.

    Another might be the good (but possibly over the top) customer service, but that can be found in other countries.

    There are bad points, however.

    The ability to turn a blind eye and avoid any kind of responsibility - pretending to be asleep on the train to avoid giving up your seat for the elderly, pregnant, disabled is one that comes to mind. It's becoming more and more common.

    Also, although it might be only in Tokyo, the way people push themselves, backwards to avoid looking you in the face, when boarding a packed train.

  • 0

    tmarie

    Oh and pointing out faults with a country doesn't mean you don't like it. I can spend hours pointing out issues here but I love Japan. Don't confuse the two.

  • -1

    Thomas Anderson

    "Feeling Japanese" is not the same as "being Japanese". Feeling Japanese merely means "I belong to this particular Japanese group" or "I am doing things that this Japanese group has been doing for generations". So how do you define "Japanese"? In this context, "Japanese" implies the "Japanese culture". How do you define culture? Culture is defined as:

    a. The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought.

    b. These patterns, traits, and products considered as the expression of a particular period, class, community, or population

    One feels "Japanese" when one repeats the stereotyped patterns and traits that are collectively expressed for generations by the Japanese people, i.e. that is the Japanese culture.

    "Being Japanese" is not set in stones but people define and change themselves that "being Japanese" implies. Is it considered "Japanese" to bow or not to bow? Who knows? In one generation, bowing is considered to be a polite gesture, however in another generation, it may be considered to be a rude gesture. It may depend on one ruler to the next. Modern Japan is undoubtedly different from Feudal Japan. Cultures, societies and traditions change. It's the people within the culture who define and change their own culture.

  • -3

    slumdog

    Feeling Japanese" is not the same as "being Japanese"

    Wise words. Where have I heard them before?

    slumdogNov. 14, 2012 - 05:05PM JST You seem to continue to mix up the words being Japanese and feeling Japanese. Even if you are not Japanese, you can feel Japanese if you want to.

    One feels "Japanese" when one repeats the stereotyped patterns and traits that are collectively expressed for generations by the Japanese people, i.e. that is the Japanese culture.

    I think your definition of 'feeling Japanese' is way too narrow. I also feel you are over-thinking things in this discussion way too much.

  • -3

    slumdog

    To be fair, the quote that begins with 'One' is not mine.

  • 0

    malfupete

    this survey is absolutely ridiculous... feeling like a citizen during meal time?!?! How does cracking an egg over rice make one feel "more Japanese" ?? When I was in Japan and eating a steak (none of that wagyu stuff but imported australian beef - couldn't find any north american meat) I didn't feel any more or less Canadian.

    I'd agree with the events listing.. but I'd say this is more about being patriotic for your country.

    But really, why would you even think about this, i.e if you're Japanese living in Japan. Was the question really: What is unique about being Japanese?

  • -2

    slumdog

    Then please, feel free to define what "feeling Japanese" even means.

    It is like asking someone what 'feeling happy' means. It is an individual intellectual and emotional response that should be respected as such. It is how people identify with themselves. You can be a man and feel like a woman. You can be a woman and feel like a man. However, this article gives several personal definitions of feeling Japanese. I am suggesting that you accept that these are people's feelings and they have a right to them.

    One person's happy can be another's sad. It each his or her own.

  • -1

    Thomas Anderson

    It is like asking someone what 'feeling happy' means. It is an individual intellectual and emotional response that should be respected as such. It is how people identify with themselves. You can be a man and feel like a woman. You can be a woman and feel like a man. However, this article gives several personal definitions of feeling Japanese. I am suggesting that you accept that these are people's feelings and they have a right to them.

    Well you see, without defining what "happy" means in the first place, it's completely meaningless to say that one is happy, because we don't even know what "happy" means. If I said, "I feel so fantatious!" and you said, "Well, what does that mean?", and I said, "I don't, I just feel that way", then you would not be satisfied with that answer.

    I'm not saying that you can't feel a certain way. I'm saying that you should define what it is that you're supposedly feeling. Without defining something first, you can not give a proper answer, because then the answer will be vague, empty, meaningless and opening to multiple nonsensical interpretations.

  • -3

    slumdog

    then you would not be satisfied with that answer.

    Sure I would. You have every right to feel whatever way you feel for whatever reason or not.

    without defining what "happy" means

    What's the definition of 'happy'? Is there only one? The definition of 'happy', just as the definition of 'Japanese' is up to a multitude of interpretations. There is nothing wrong or meaningless about that in my opinion. Let people have their feelings Thomas. I've been asking you to explain yourself, but, as you know, you do not have to explain your feelings in order to have the right to have those feelings. Humans are complex creatures and they and their feelings cannot be define in one single way.

    If I feel distinctly Japanese when I eat a mikan while sitting under a kotatsu in winter, that is my feeling. You can think my feeling is meaningless if you wish, but it does not change the fact that is how I feel.

  • -3

    slumdog

    You can think my feeling is meaningless

    Note, I am not suggesting you feel this way.

  • -3

    komuso killa

    It's that moment between I am suspended in mid-air where it feels time has stopped and the train slams uncontrollably into me. That's when I feel most Japanese.

  • -3

    Thomas Anderson

    Sure I would. You have every right to feel whatever way you feel for whatever reason or not.

    No slumdog, I'm not talking about what I'm feeling, I'm talking about defining the meaning of a word or the state of my feeling.

    What's the definition of 'happy'? Is there only one?

    Yes, there's only one general definition of what happy means. "Happy" certainly does not mean anything else other than that it's the general feeling of being satisfied in some ways. Feeling happy is certainly not the same as feeling angry or jealous. The opposite of happiness also has a specific meaning. We don't just randomly come up with the meaning of "happy" out of thin air and change the definition all the time.

    Let people have their feelings Thomas. I've been asking you to explain yourself, but, as you know, you do not have to explain your feelings in order to have the right to have those feelings.

    Like I said, I've said nothing of what people should or should not feel. I'm talking about defining what something means. Those are two completely different concepts. You are confusing these two concepts.

    If I feel distinctly Japanese when I eat a mikan while sitting under a kotatsu in winter, that is my feeling. You can think my feeling is meaningless if you wish, but it does not change the fact that is how I feel.

    I could say that it's a very Japanese thing to be against nuclear power, while another might say that it's a very Japanese thing to be for nuclear power. Who says who is right? I could say that Ishihara is a very Japanese guy, while I could say the same for some other politician.

    If you say that "I am right and I could feel however I want and if that makes me feel 'Japanese' then so be it", then that would actually be very narcissistic and infantile, since you're not considering and taking into account of how others define "Japanese" .

    So the question is, how do you define "(feeling) Japanese"?

  • -1

    y3chome

    nandakandamanda

    Yes I do understand KY. Just because there is a romanised abreiviation of the japanese word, does not mean it is a Japanese trait. AND if this were a Japanese trait, then they would only be using this word with reference to foreigners, which is not the case. The fact that there is a necessity for the word, would imply that Jpnese society is filled with a variety of people. So again, how is this anything to do with being Japanese?

  • -3

    Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land

    "Why on Earth would refuse to do that?"

    @Lucabrasi

    Because it's the stupidest thing in the world. I don't want to participate in the stupidity.

  • -1

    Serrano

    What makes me feel like a citizen of the USA is enjoying root beer floats.

    For those who have never imbibed one, get a can or bottle of root beer ( good luck in Japan - Don Quihote was selling it recently ) , chill it well, pour it slowly over some vanilla ice cream in a glass mug and enjoy.

    Yer welcome!

  • -3

    slumdog

    Yes, there's only one general definition of what happy means. "Happy" certainly does not mean anything else other than that it's the general feeling of being satisfied in some ways. Feeling happy is certainly not the same as feeling angry or jealous. The opposite of happiness also has a specific meaning. We don't just randomly come up with the meaning of "happy" out of thin air and change the definition all the time.

    Did you notice you did not give a definition of happy? Do you understand that your one definition of it meaning 'a general feeling of being satisfied in some ways' is neither the only defintion for the word nor is it even a clear definition?

    You want to narrow the discussion to suit your personal feelings. I do not think that is fair to others whose opinions are equally important to respect.

    how do you define "(feeling) Japanese"?

    I already answered you:

    I feel distinctly Japanese when I eat a mikan while sitting under a kotatsu in winter. It is my right to feel this way. It is my right to define my feelings as I see fit. Why not stick to defining your own feelings as opposed to shooting down others' feelings? Anway, I am definitely out of the conversation with this post. You do not seem to want to understand the feelings of others. You seem to have a strong desire to push your personal definitions of other people's feelings on them. I prefer to respect other people's feelings. As such, I will avoid potentially hurting yours further and bow out of this discussion. I can imagine no further progress in continuing.

  • -1

    Thomas Anderson

    I already answered you:

    You gave a circular answer, which isn't an answer at all. You're saying that you define Japanese as being Japanese, or you feel Japanese when you feel Japanese. That's circular and it makes no sense. If I said "I feel happy because I feel happy", then I didn't answer why I feel happy, I just said that I felt happy.

    I feel distinctly Japanese when I eat a mikan while sitting under a kotatsu in winter.

    Notice how this is exactly in line with how I defined "feeling Japanese" before? You feel "Japanese" when you do things that are/were (supposedly) done by the Japanese people for generations. Or what we normally call culture and traditions.

    It is my right to feel this way.

    I'm not telling you how to feel, I'm telling you to think more clearly and logically. You think that your feelings are being attacked when I'm only trying to elucidate the matter. I'm not blaming your or condemning you when I ask how you define "Japanese", however I AM challenging your preconceived notions of the meaning of "Japanese", which must be painful for you from what I can tell from your posts.

    You do not seem to want to understand the feelings of others.

    This is not about feelings, but how we define and agree with things. How do you reconcile with the fact that my meaning of "Japanese" is different from your meaning of "Japanese"? Or anybody else's for that matter?

  • -2

    slumdog

    Last time, I feel distinctly Japanese when I eat a mikan while sitting under a kotatsu in winter. I feel happy when I eat a mikan while sitting under a kotatsu in winter. It is clear and it is logical.

  • 1

    GW

    I feel Japanese when the PM's change every 365days or less.

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    slumdog: "That and eating mikan while sitting under the kotatsu on a cold winter's day."

    The problem with this is that it falls into grey territory in regards to the question. I'm not Japanese, but I DEFINITELY relate to the feeling of being in Japan with the mikan while sitting under the kotatsu, or eating chestnuts while under the kotatsu.

    tmarie: Ice hockey is of course not limited to Canada, but poutine and good old Timmy? I say pass me a double double.

    kcjapan: ""What do any of these things have to do with being Japanese?" someone asks.

    "What's really Japanese is when they apologize for their English which they speak far better than I will ever speak Japanese."

    You need to study more, or visit more than the local elementary school and see how far English gets you.

    "What's really Japanese is when they feel genuine pride, accomplishment and obligation in helping others."

    Sorry, but that's just common-sense, not 'being Japanese'.

    "What's really Japanese is when they feel very self conscious about being very different, even from each other."

    Not Japanese at all -- just insecure.

    "What's really Japanese is when they have such strong affection for the simplest things, and cats."

    Again, nothing Japanese about this, and it is also very incorrect. If the "simple is best" axiom you probably read in a manual on your way here were so true of the culture, explain to me why they can't sell s straight forward tuna sandwich anywhere -- it's always got to be half tuna and half egg-salad, or else tuna, egg salad, and some fruit sandwich of all things -- or why all pizza needs to have corn on it.

  • 2

    tmarie

    Smith - and with that, I award you a timbit!

  • -5

    slumdog

    I'm not Japanese, but I DEFINITELY relate to the feeling of being in Japan with the mikan while sitting under the kotatsu, or eating chestnuts while under the kotatsu.

    I have no problem with that. There is no problem with that. I would go even further and clearly state my opinion that it is perfectly okay for you to say you feel Japanese when you do that stuff. You do not have to have a Japanese passport to feel Japanese. I can't imagine anyone living in a country for a long period of time and not feeling like citizen of that country at times whether they have the passport of that country or not. You go ahead and feel Japanese if you want to! I'll be right there cheering you on!

  • 2

    honey

    Japanese are no different than any other culture,perhaps just a little more insecure.

  • -3

    slumdog

    Japanese are no different than any other culture,perhaps just a little more insecure.

    Yes, that make sense. The culture shock some people get when they come to Japan to live from other countries is no doubt due those people's expectations of Japanese culture being very different from their home country when it is actually exactly the same as their home country's and every other country's culture in the world.

  • 0

    realist

    When I read the responses to thisquestion as posted here, I totally despair for the future of Japan and the Japanese.

  • 1

    smithinjapan

    slumdog: "There is no problem with that. I would go even further and clearly state my opinion that it is perfectly okay for you to say you feel Japanese when you do that stuff. You do not have to have a Japanese passport to feel Japanese."

    Hmm... well, I appreciate the sentiment, thank you, and the open-mindedness in saying it's okay to feel Japanese (I doubt too many Japanese would say you honestly can feel like one of them), but you kind of missed my main point from an earlier post -- there is no 'Japanese' feeling, there is only feeling, and while that can trigger or be triggered by place, smells, memories, or what have you, the feeling is not a nationality any more than a toothache makes you feel Sudanese or Argentinian. I will always have fond memories of my time here, and certain practices and customs will bring those to the forefront more than others, but that's just nostalgia. The article asks, with its title, what makes Japanese feel Japanese, and as I've said you could simply replace 'Japanese' with any nationality and it would be no more or no less true. I think, "What makes you think of Japan" would be the better question, since 'Japanese' is a concept, not a feeling.

  • -4

    slumdog

    smithinjapan,

    I understand what you are saying as well. I even wrote something similar above myself. This is huge thread now, so it can be easily missed. There is a difference between being Japanese and feeling Japanese. Japanese is not a feeling, but you can feel Japanese. I think a lot of language learners attempt to feel like or imagine they are the nationality of the language they are trying to learn. While Japanese is definitely a concept, it is possible to feel like a concept. I would agree that the rewording to "What makes you think of Japan" would be just fine, too. Honestly, I am really surprised at some of the posts here, yours not included, that seem to be taking this thread as an opportunity to trash the country they are living in. I am not talking about criticism. I am talking about real bashing over a mild subject of what makes some people feel like a citizen of their country. Some have even gone so far as to suggest there is no difference between Japanese culture and any other country in the world. While I think it is usually healthier to focus on things in common, it is rather unrealistic of some of these posters to say there is nothing unique about Japan and by saying its culture is just like every other country, saying no culture is unique at all.

    Kind of got long winded there. Sorry. I respect what you have written and again don't see any problem with it except for the details I talked about above. Perhaps, to some (or all actually) talking about what makes them feel distinctly Japanese is that same as talking about what makes them think of Japan. In fact, I think they are exactly the same thing.

  • 1

    smithinjapan

    slumdog: "I think a lot of language learners attempt to feel like or imagine they are the nationality of the language they are trying to learn. "

    With this comment you are talking about the concrete (language learning) and extending it to what is not (ie. a feeling of nationality). I'm not bashing you, not saying you are 'wrong' or what have you, I'm just saying there is absolutely no point to this kind of article except to spread crap overseas about generalizations here, or to help people here feel like those generalizations are somewhat warranted for whatever reason. I will repeat, NONE of the examples given in the original article could be DNA tested and shown to be a 100% test, tried and true. The only thing Japanese about this thread, if anything, is that there is something distinctly Japanese about it.

  • -5

    nigelboy

    The original question.

    自分は日本人だなと思った瞬間

    A moment that you felt you were Japanese (nationality).

    It's an innocent question with many interpretations. Some are unique and some aren't. Big effin deal.

  • -2

    slumdog

    With this comment you are talking about the concrete (language learning) and extending it to what is not (ie. a feeling of nationality).

    That is not exactly what I was intending. I just meant that many (most?) people try to feel and act the part when they take on a language. I do not think that is an extension. Where a language comes from is naturally part of what a language is.

    The only thing Japanese about this thread, if anything, is that there is something distinctly Japanese about it.

    And that, my friend, is the point. To the people quoted in the articles, there was something distinctly Japanese about the things they mention. To you, it is this article. Feelings cannot be DNA marked, but they are there. As you wrote somewhere above, let people feel how they feel. That is the only point to the article. To show what some people think. I don't see anything negative about that. As to spreading generalizations about Japan or the Japanese, I think there is just as much or more of that going on outside the country and it is not even being done by Japanese people, nor is it even correct. Some of the 'expert' articles on 'the Japanese' are more humorous than an intentional comedic novel. This article is all in fun. Better not to make too much of it and take it for what it is.

  • 0

    wipeout

    A moment that you felt you were Japanese (nationality). It's an innocent question with many interpretations. Some are unique and some aren't. Big effin deal.

    Fair point.

  • -2

    whiskeysour

    What about you? What makes you feel like a citizen of your country?

    I can buy all the guns (25 guns in my house) I want and 6000 rounds of bullets without being questioned by police, DEA, FBI, and ATF. I must be an American. ( caucasian male 30 - 80 )

    Say wild things about the President. I must be a willld American ( disillusional male female 18-90 )

  • 0

    Dutch2

    I feel Dutch when i'm embarrassed by the behaviour of some soccer fans and soccer players. I feel Dutch when i confuse honesty with diplomacy. I feel Dutch when i think ALL topics are up for discussion at any time. I feel Dutch when one of the most commonly used expletives is bleeped on American shows (that wouldn't f***ing going over too well in Holland). I feel Dutch when i have no hesitation saying English sounds way better. I feel Dutch when i'm a little sad when frank Japanese say Dutch food has no variety ("-")!

  • 0

    Dutch2

    Meant: go over..

  • 0

    Dutch2

    Oh yeah, i feel Dutch when the Japanese expression "Dutch wife" doesn't get a reaction from the Dutch government as "turko" did from the Turkish government..

  • 0

    Dutch2

    And yes, i appreciate a woman thinking it's fair she pays for the food she consumed, even on a first date.

  • 0

    cleo

    'Dutch wife' isn't a japanese expression. The term originated in Dutch Indonesia.

  • 0

    Thomas Michael Lewis

    lol its fun reading this, Im a bit confused about the four seasons comment though, most of Europe has four distinct seasons...? was he from California or something? anyways ! As we are all having a turn -I feel distinctly British when Im dying for a hot cup of milk tea and a biscuit regardless of everything else

  • 1

    Daffy_Duck

    Is the answer constantly posting on comment boards and forums how their wife is a crazy and horrible person because she's no longer the bikini wearing nympho that they married and expect her to still be? Or, maybe the answer is wasting day after day away posting anything and everything they find negative about a country they have chosen to live and work in?

    What are people not allowed to complain about their wives or say anything negative about Japan?

  • 0

    Daffy_Duck

    I find it funny that folk here can give better answers than Japanese people themselves.

  • -3

    Bryan Villados

    Not being able to speak English despite years of learning it?

    Totally, totally wrong. Japanese learn to "read" English. They never learned to "speak" Japanese. I can read Japanese kanji, but I can't speak Japanese, so I can reason with them.

  • 0

    alliswellinjapan

    Don't know what the answers may have been if asked the same question 30 years back, but believe many of the answers above in part illustrate the loss of confidence once held as result of the lost decades. See little sign of any desire to feel a sense of superiority here but rather the desire to cling on to that special harmless comforting factor that makes people feel the peace of being right at home. Don't see anything analytically confusing in any of the answers above in that regard.

  • 0

    T-Mack

    I'm an American Native, but after reading all these post, I must also be part Japanese...I feel alot of the same sentiment's, and feeling's. but if where asked what makes me feel Native American? I would say living on the Reservation. What makes me feel American, would be getting as far from the Reservation as I can....Like maybe Japan...

  • 2

    JTDanMan

    "Who are we Japanese?" one noted author once asked. "We are the people who ask ourselves 'who are the Japanese'?" And, I will add, have never come up with a satisfactory answer. This inability of Japanese to articulate who they are has plagued modern Japan since, well, the begining of modern Japan.

    Until they come up with a satisfying answer, they will continue to suffer from the malais they currently have.

  • 1

    wtfjapan

    when I pee on the side of the road in full view of the public, when I stop on the side of the road in peak hr traffic to talk on the phone use of hazard lights to justify the 5km hold up behind me, not using my horn to tell that person to MOVE!, thinking a burp is way more disgusting than a fart, when I enjoy sitting under a cherry blossom tree with 50 other people with space for only 20, when I think its fun to sit on a brown sand beach with 10,000 other people with space for only 2000, when I never get bored watching the 100 cooking & game shows on each week, when I say "sugoi" at things that really arent that great, when I think harder is better than bigger, when I back into a carpark when even when its easier to drive in forward, when Ill wait in line for 2 hrs because a new noodle shops just opened, when I sprint to get on a plane when boarding is announced, but take all the time in the world to get off , when I buy a Japanese smart phone while the foreign ones are far superior, when I buy a new car Ill only select a monochrome color, when I say one thing but mean completely the opposite, when I need 15 pieces of paper just to shaken my car, ............etc etc

  • -1

    flipper2

    When I ask foreigners the 5 top profile questions when I first meet them and answer ''USO!!' to at least 3 of them.

  • -1

    moomoochoo

    I think the most important one is

    "seeing a problem or mistake and not doing anything about it".

  • -1

    Psyops

    American here but when in Japan. I feel Japanese when I can go to a sushi restaurant and enjoy eating whale. :D Impossible to do that in the US....

  • 1

    Tuntematon Sotilas

    Japanese people are Japanese because of their ethnicity and their culture and the habits that result from it. You need BOTH to be Japanese. If I lived in Japan for 50 years, I would not be Japanese. I would be a well-assimilated foreigner. Japanese people are unique because of their culture and history, but that is not to say they are 100% better, but Japan is different than most countries.

  • 0

    shanabelle

    The safety driving and the chopsticks.

  • 0

    y3chome

    when I say "sugoi" at things that really arent that great- haha, nice

  • 0

    cracaphat

    Got dual nationality,so I'm always fluctuating. Depends who I'm with.

  • 1

    ReikiZen

    Not sure how I am going to answer this without getting slammed for it but here goes.

    What makes me a citizen of my country is no more unique then what makes anyone else a citizen of their country.

    Most Americans other then native Americans aren't native to begin with lol. So we can't use that as an excuse. My wife had once asked me.

    Genealogy is a popular subject in america isn't it? Are Americans not proud of being American?

    Nothing like putting me on the spot on this one lol. I eventually told her:

    Being American in an of itself has no meaning. That it is important knowing where we come from and the hardships, triumphs of our ancestors, the lands in which they lived, and the events that impacted their lives. Which can give each of us a richer sense of self awareness. The opportunity to benefit from the experiences of our kindred, to gain an ever-expanding recognition of our origins, and to pass that knowledge on to future generations.

    She was quit taken back by that as she said "I never looked at it that way before." We are a country of many countries and therefore what makes us unique I guess is that we are a country of many countries haha. Are we Americans because we believe in freedom? Hardly! There are many people in the world in other countries who believe in freedom. Is it that we are born in America? No, because then my grandmother would not have been American. Is it that we speak American-English? No, because many of the early immigrants did not speak English when they came here. Is it that we have relatives here or family here? My grandmother said "America is her home; her family is there." Yet she still had family back in Germany. That is not what made her American. Well, what makes us feel like a citizen of your country? There is only one answer.

    An American is one who takes an oath to live under the Constitution. The legal immigrants go through a process to prepare them to take a public oath to support and live under the Constitution of this country.

    Granted, speaking a common language, American-English can be extremely beneficial in our daily tasks and our relationships, business and personal. But there are many people who may speak American-English and still are not American. People from many other countries have been taught our language, but are still citizens of their home countries. There is only one characteristic that makes us American and that is committing ourselves to living by the Constitution. What makes us feel like a citizen of our country. It isn't a question of what we look like or what our names are.

    What makes us who we are is our shared belief in the enduring promise of our country and our shared responsibility to leave it more generous and more hopeful than we found it.

    Take that for what's it's worth but for me is something I live by every day.

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