lesson at a café in Yokohama with a Japanese private student
Student: So, what is your book about?
Me: It’s about some of my experiences in Japan…
Student: Really? That sounds interesting.
Me: While we’re on the topic, do you mind if I ask you a question?
Student: No problem…what is the question?
Me: Well, I’d like to publish the book in Japan. I want to attract Japanese readers…
Student: I see.
Me: What would you like to read about in a book written by a foreigner living in Japan? You understand the question?
Student: I think so…I want to read about what foreigners feel are Japanese people’s good points and bad points.
Me: Really? What are the Japanese good points in your opinion?
Student: Good points wa ne. (Scratches head vigorously.) Ja, we always smile. Japanese people always have a smile all the time.
Student: Yes I think so.
Me: And that’s a good point?
Student: Maybe it’s a bad point da ne.
Me: I don’t know. I want to know what you think the good points are.
Student: Ah…Japanese don’t answer questions clearly…like when…”
Me: This is a good point?
Student: Well…yes, um, well…good point, bad point, nan darou…
Me: Ok, let’s drop it. Muzakashii deshou.
Student: (Grumbling, head scratching for almost two minutes) Ah, I got it! Japanese are more faithful than foreigners.
Me: I wasn’t asking for a comparison, just a good point. What does that mean anyway?
Student: Well, for example, When we work at the company our Japanese co-workers will support us, but in the US and Europe, zenzen. US workers don’t support each other…
Me: I see…why do you say that?
Student: I have a counterpart, an American, and he doesn’t support me. He only does his own work. Japanese people do other people’s work, too, even if it is not their responsibility.
Me: If it’s true, that would be a good point. Any more?
Student: (Growls, scratches head) I give up. I should ask my wife.