I should ask my wife: Conversation 2/1/10

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.

Me: Really?

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.



13 Responses to “I should ask my wife: Conversation 2/1/10”

  1. 1 T.Holms
    February 2, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Very interesting and insightful… I’ve actually been hoping you would do something like this. We always hear how japanese view you yet we never hear how they view themselves… very interesting keep it up

    • February 2, 2010 at 8:43 pm

      Thanks T-san 🙂
      I will do just that! Anything for my loyal readers and commenters

  2. 3 WC
    February 2, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    It’s always interesting to see what people think of other countries, especially if they’ve never actually tried to learn anything about the country. We have all these preconceptions that we’ve formed from movies, books, news, and people around us… And every single one of these things is biased, often to the extreme. (Because it makes more money that way.)

    But when you start actually looking at the place yourself, you see it’s only a little like the picture you were given. Yes, those traits exist, but not nearly so strongly as you had been led to believe.

    • February 2, 2010 at 8:47 pm

      yeah, I like my post to be provocative, and provoke just the kind of thinking you’ve expressed. We all have to take a pause from our narcissistic isolated existences for a moment and just see things outside of our silos. If we can do that, well, that would be nice wouldn’t it? Thanks for the shout as always.

  3. February 2, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    This was a good one.
    I really laughed and I gonna read to my wife.

    Cheers 🙂

  4. 6 Jamal
    February 3, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Are you really putting out a book about your time in Japan?

    I’d buy it.

    • February 3, 2010 at 8:49 am

      Yep, Chitownboi-san, I really am, and I’m really gonna hold you to that pledge!
      Thanks for the shout!

  5. 8 Brewski_McChug
    February 3, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Funny! Though working in a japanese company, I strongly have to differ with his opinion that “Japanese do other people’s work”. Japanese teams will stay in the office as long as someone else on their team is working, but when it comes to actual work, the Japanese will only do the minimum of their own responsibility and will in no way help anyone else.

    As to being “more faithful”, he really should ask his wife.

    • February 3, 2010 at 2:32 pm

      LOL, Brewski-san thanks for the shout!
      Yeah, I was just there to listen. I hate to contradict my students, ifyouknowhutimean. They pay the bills

  6. February 4, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Enjoyable, as always…

    I like the idea of ‘faithfulness.’

    Too me it seems that on the surface, Japanese people are often quite faithful, but oftentimes when the obligations disappear, I find myself doing a headcount before a difficult moment and coming up empty….My US friends (and I) often fail at the little obligations and come thru when the shit really hits the fan.

    I also think the love hotel business is booming… ;-P

  7. February 5, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Hey Craig, yes indeed it is booming!
    I dont know if that speaks to faithlessness though. With the thin walls over here sometimes its just a place for even couples to let loose and cry out without worry of the neighbors taking note and giving you funny looks the next morning. lol thanks for the shout!

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