General Japanese Culture
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Posted 11/29/14
A thread for general discussion on what is unique about Japanese culture. What they would find weird about us, stuff they do differently.
Posted 11/30/14 , edited 12/1/14
As someone who has worked with and hung out with many Japanese (particularly those from Gifu, Osaka, Tokyo, and Nagoya) for the past several years, I can come up with a lot of things.

First thing that comes to my mind is their clan-like mentality. They do everything for the group and it's something that was most likely inherited and passed on from the old samurai days. They'd all look at me funny whenever I did something that didn't seem group-worthy. One time we had a meeting and we all sat down on the floor using pillows and everyone sat a certain way except for me. They started making comments until I changed my posture to theirs. Whenever they cleaned or prepared meals everyone had a specific role to play. Any act of individualism seems to taken as a sign of weakness or deviation. I think you can see this message conveyed all throughout their media too.

In speaking of media, if you think Westerners are heavy media consumers it's nothing compared to the Japanese. Their society seems to revolve around it and they produce tons of it every year. It made me question their social interaction with others. Almost every Japanese person I've met has been quite kind, polite, and outwardly quirky, but I think that's because they've been conditioned and programmed by their culture to behave that way. So it always made me wonder if that's how they really feel or not. Even when your Japanese language skills are bad, they will still compliment you for doing a good job. It's weird. In fact, they like to praise and compliment you for things that aren't even worth mentioning.

While on the topic of social engagement, Japanese aren't really the most exciting people to hang out with and it's difficult to have any close intimate friendships with them. You can't really have deep conversations about life or anything really insightful, and it seems like a neurotic insistence to not openly talk about how they feel. It also doesn't matter how deep into their culture you get, in their eyes you'll always be labeled and seen as a guest no matter what.

I know a lot of people who are obsessed with Japan for whatever reason. In my experience, once you get over the fact that they speak a different language from you, eat different food from you, etc. there's very little else that makes you believe that they're any more or less interesting than another culture.
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