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Ben PalmerAug. 19, 2012 - 12:06PM JST
While readers get that it's meant to be humorous, I just find the pomposity unfunny.
I've heard all this before, and came across it myself definitely, but one day I pulled my head out of my ass by considering the following things.
If you bring a Japanese friend out to your foreign hometown (especially one where 90% of the population is of one ethnic group, far far from Japan), and sit them in a room with your friends, what predictable and seemingly dumb ass things would your friends and family ask?
Probably lots (from my experience anyway).
And if you go and visit enough friends, you'll get the same questions.
This is not disimilar from the same questions that you personally get asked from people at parties or gatherings in your hometown when you are back home and the person learns you live in Japan. And the same questions range from the local to the highly educated, well travelled worldly scholar.
When I go home and someone learns I live in Japan, I can predict the following questions. But this doesn't mean those people are stupid, or different actually from anyone else in the world.
(Except people in Japan of course, but hey just ask different questions :p)
Next, go and ask your Japanese friends who lived abroad for a few years, what kinds of strange questions they were asked by the people they met in their foreign hometown.
Finally, when you were learning Japanese, what seemingly stupid things did you ask Japanese when you wanted to make conversation?
I'm saying this because it reminded me recently of sitting in a cafe watching a non-Japanese group bother two girls with the 'Making Out in Japanese' book. Two girls out together just getting some food, being told 'You're pretty', 'Can I have your phone number'' and other phrases fumbled badly, whilst they semi-politely tried to get left alone.
The problem being that the group then was unable to understand why they didn't want to talk to him.
That was the most shocking lack of awareness or 'stupidity'.
There's loads more examples.
A classic from when I originally left for Japan, was a friend asking how was I only going to be able to eat fish and rice all the time. Not exactly original question but actually Japanese in general do eat a heck of a lot of fish and rice to the levels he eats potatoes and pork. So perhaps from his position, a fair thing to ask. He never had been abroad.
This seeming wisdom comes only from your position in the circumstance.
It would be more astute to consider the situation from another view and then see how it's not really that funny.
The funnier thing is becoming aware of all the times you thought you were funny and the total boss when actually you were acting like a complete douchemonkey.
And... that I am sure is all of us and will continue to be.
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Ben PalmerJul. 03, 2012 - 08:47PM JST
And if you want to see what research is being done in Japan about this then look at CICASP which is the international proxy for Kyoto University's Primate Research:
I thought it a shame this being Japan Today, the article doesn't focus more on the work being done in Japan in this field. But that's the problem, people don't really know about it, which is one reason the University formed CICASP.
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