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Top things I Love about Japan – #1 Social Interactions

Have you ever felt love and affection for someone you never met?

I feel this way towards Japan! Yeah, I’m aware that Japan is not a person but a country..sigh.

Everything in the Japanese culture simply makes me want to shout out “Tsuugoooooi!!”

Last night I was reading this passage from the Pimsleur book:

 You may often hear the Japanese speak ill of their own family members. A mother may say, for example, “My son is dumb, and he’s doing so poorly in school. Your son seems really smart and you have nothing to worry about. I am embarrassed.” The other person will, of course, respond by saying something like, “Please stop joking. My son only spends a lot of time in his room, pretending to study so hard. But I have no idea what he is doing. Maybe he’s listening to his stereo, or reading comic books.” The two mothers clearly do not mean what they say to each other.

Ok, I have to admit at first I just cracked up reading the previous paragraph! I kept imagining these two middle aged women meeting at a park and starting a conversation you would probably never hear in any other part of the globe.

The Japanese manner of expressing politeness is complicated by their notion of modesty. They show their deference to others by not only symbolically heightening the others status, but also by lowering their own.

While such an interaction may appear to be overly condescending and insincere to people from the U.S. culture, it is an important aspect of social interaction in Japan.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I was fascinated by this costume.
It’s such a clever and sensible way to cut short from the very beginning any potential conflict that may stem from envy and arrogance. I mean, if instead of boasting about your family, your genius child or perfect spouse, you talk about them in an excessively humbled tone, you create no need in the other part to compete with you.

Envy, jealousy and even hatred are given no fuel to burn on, instead, the listener is more likely to sympathize with you and your relatives and maybe even say something positive about your family.

So, I’ll go a step further in my flash observation, and- out of no research nor field expertise whatsoever – I’d say that Japanese were the pioneers of a technique we commonly call reverse psychology.


(Re-blogged and updated from my old site )


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