Conversation 2/22/10: I should ask my wife pt. 2

After a three week hiatus, my private student came to our lesson prepared to resume our conversation on the good points of being Japanese…at least he said so.

At the same cafe in Yokohama…

Me: So, let’s get started…

Student: Wait! I want to answer your question from before…

Me: What question?

Student: About Japanese culture…

Me: Oh? You asked your wife?

Student: Well, un, demo  (student pulls out printouts of a book on Japanese culture written by a famous Japanese scholar) I have the answer here.

Me: That’s not your answer…that’s the scholar’s answer. I just wanted to know your opinion. Regular everyday people. Man on the street…you know?

Student: hai hai hai, demo…before I could give you my opinion I need to see other people’s opinions.

Me: That kind of defeats the purpose doesn’t it?

Student: ee?

Me: For example…if you had asked me…in my opinion, what is a good point of being American, I would say something like the majority of at least the voters in my country are able to see beyond skin color and elect a candidate for the content of his character…You follow me?

Student: I think so…

Me: And a bad point would be American self-righteousness. Too many Americans believe America is an unquestionable force for good in the world…when in many cases it’s just not true. This is my opinion!  A scholar might have a different opinion.

Student: Wakarimashita… (begins shoveling the printouts back into his briefcase) Muzukashii desu ne. (This is difficult)

Me: Sou desu yo ne (It sure is). Anyway, what did your wife say?

Student! Ee? Nan dakke (what was it she said?)…she says Japanese handle ladies rudely…

Me: This is not a good point, right?

Student: I don’t think so. (Scratches his head) We don’t have a ladies first culture.

Me: You don’t say.

Student: Honto ni! (really) We should to be like gentleman…she says.

Me: Why? That’s not traditional Japanese culture, is it? I mean, Samurai certainly weren’t ladies first. Chivalry is a European idea, isn’t it?

Student: Chivalry wa nan desuka?

Me: Chivalry is ladies first culture…

Student: Ah sou desuka.  Japanese feel European culture is more…nan darou… more advanced. Fashion toka, manners toka… My wife say so too.

Me: I see. Is cultural envy a good point?

Student: Good point Janai deshou…AHHHHH! (Scratches head vigorously)

Me: Anyway, let’s start the lesson.  It’s getting late.



5 Responses to “Conversation 2/22/10: I should ask my wife pt. 2”

  1. 1 T.Holms
    February 23, 2010 at 6:05 am

    The japanese obsession with western culture kind of turns my stomach to be honost. It seems to me that especially American culture is invading the entire world. We are all unique and we should embrace the beauty all of our cultures have to bring to the table. It could just be they are fascinated by what is different then themselves which is the reason I am interested in asian culture. I just hope the world becomes multicultured before one culture just overwhelms everything else…. Alright I’m done ranting… Keep it up Loco!

    • February 23, 2010 at 9:56 am

      T-Holms san, thanks a lot. Yeah ti turns mine too…big time!

  2. 3 Brewski_McChug
    February 23, 2010 at 9:50 am

    T.Holms –

    Don’t confuse Japanese “obsession” for western culture with the mistaken idea that Japanese want to adopt or live in western culture. Japanese sure are curious about western culture, but from a safe distance like movies, music, and luxury brands. Otherwise they prefer not to really have western culture invade their life. That’s why when japanese tour other countries, they overwhelmingly go with Japanese tour groups, who have a japanese tour guide, who bring them to japanese restaurants. Even go to NY, you’ll see the japanese who live there mainly associate ith other japanese. they don’t assimiliate.

    Please don’t confuse modern culture for being “western” as well. The stereotypical “Japanese culture” doesn’t exist. Japanese culture IS louis vuitton, gucci, bad j-pop, and chu-hi. Traditional Japanese culture is crowded, stuffed, ugly apartments, not scuplted rock gardens and zen.

    Japan has embraced its culture, and Japanese culture is the modern culture of development, technology, and capitalism. I think what you have in mind as the missing Japanese culture hasn’t existed for centuries.

    • February 23, 2010 at 9:54 am

      Well said McChug! The next Brews on me!
      thanks for the shout

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