Friday, January 29, 2010

If you know one Japanese, you know them all

No, it was not a statement made by the Imperial Wizard of the KKK in an address to the semi-annual international conference of simple-minded bigots, but something said by a Japanese in a "international culture course" conducted by a very large and well-known Japanese corporation.

I wasn't there to hear it, but I naively stepped in this cow-pie because I was not quick enough in switching the subject when an acquaintance who had attended began to explain just how different the Japanese really are. Apparently, they are even more different than he, a Japanese, had realized.

He rattled off a few other things that he had "learned." Most were not new to me: Foreigners (If you know one foreign culture, you know them all?) communicate verbally while the Japanese are a non-verbal society. (Hell, anyone who has ever been to an izakaya knows that.) Japan is a consensus society and as such Japanese bosses "never make a top down decision."

Being one who never learns, I would throw things back like: "My wife is Japanese, does that mean I know all Japanese?"; "When my wife has friends over, there seems to be a lot of verbal communicating"; "The boss at my old company sure seemed to make top down decisions", and so on. He would laugh a bit after each and say something like "That's what I learned." Being a bit slow at Japanese verbal communication myself, I didn't think to ask, "If I had known the fellow who went on a murderous rampage in Akihabara a few years ago, would I have known all Japanese?"

It sorta seems to me that these sort of "international/intercultural" courses tend to be more about Japan than about any other country. I like the way they work too: If you find that a foreign country and Japan are similar in some area, then switch to another country which is "different" to show Japan's unique uniqueness. Say you are talking about pickles and find that Germans eat pickles too. You could either point out that German and Japanese pickles are different in some way, or just switch to North Niklebania where nobody eats pickles and compare that to Japan. Foreign countries/cultures/people are generally interchangeable anyway with slightly less interchangeability between Western and Asian countries. (Think gaijin vs Chinese, Koreans, Indians, etc.)

One who lives in this country should not be any more surprised to repeatedly hear this sort of thing from nearly every source (including goofy overseas sources) than he/she should be surprised at going to a tent revival and hearing religion preached. After all, they are both, for the most part, a religion. And religion is based on faith, and faith is belief without evidence, although in many cases "evidence" is contrived or manufactured to strengthen the faith.

Well, that's enough ranting. Gotta be ready for the lady next door, henceforth known as Ol' Buffalo Mouth, to come home and start her 3-4 hour monologue (usually beginning at about 1130 pm) without pausing for a single second. I assume that she is actually talking to another person, although all I can hear is her muzzle blast through the walls of my well-insulated, Manhattan-priced "mansion." Thank goodness that she is a non-verbal communicator.

Now to find something worthwhile to post, if that is even possible anymore.

Tweaked at 1504



    Know one know them all?

    N.B. Photo link above unrelated to comment ;-)

  2. Well, there is a big---let's say metal-making--- company that thinks so.