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"Doing Japan" after 5 years dedicated to "Doing China"

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xinoxanu
On 9/19/2020 at 5:38 PM, NinjaTurtle said:

This thread seems to be giving Japan a negative connotation.

 

I mean, not that you aren't correct on that regard, but from an evolutionary point of view it's easier for people to recall and talk about shocking and negative stuff... and post it in the internet (yep, evolution at it's finest)… rather than the good side of things.

 

Also: it wouldn't be wise to talk about Japan with only rose-tinted glasses. The bad stuff is there and going all-in without knowing about the negatives is just going to make them stand-out more and you'll dread going back or living there... which seems to be true considering how many foreigners in Japan are thrilled to go there but end up leaving after 2 years (and only 1 year when it comes to China).

 

Anyway, I don't think anybody in this thread had the intention to indiscriminately bash the country and some of the experiences felt more like a fun read rather than anything else.

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Takeshi
On 9/19/2020 at 11:38 PM, NinjaTurtle said:

This thread seems to be giving Japan a negative connotation. That may be all well and good, but there are westerners who actually enjoy living in Japan, and who actually prefer living in Japan than in China. There are a lot of good things about Japanese culture, and I hope everyone has a chance to experience them.

 

Yea, sorry, you're right. I have a bad habit of bashing Japan when I talk to people about Japan, but it's mainly because just too many people have an overly rosy and superficial view of Japan, and I want people to understand Japan in ways beyond that.

 

But actually, in the end it's because I love Japan too that I want people to understand it more. I don't actually hate Japan, and I feel I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to live there. It really changed my life.

 

Even with my rant about the strictness/rigidness of Japanese culture, I don't just want to say "oh it's horrible" (though it is), but more like want to say that, a lot of the good things in Japan come because of the strictness and rigidness. So, when you appreciate the good things, also appreciate the work behind it. When you enjoy the nice things in Japan, you also have an obligation to... be humble and reciprocate by playing your part as a cog in the machine (oftentimes this is just in very subtle little things and mannerisms, but it can be many things). This is Japanese culture. When you learn to do this, you'll get even more joy from Japan (but it is really really hard).

 

I'll try to think about more positive things to talk about Japan and post here...... sometime...... maybe. XD

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anonymoose
5 hours ago, Takeshi said:

Even with my rant about the strictness/rigidness of Japanese culture, I don't just want to say "oh it's horrible" (though it is), but more like want to say that, a lot of the good things in Japan come because of the strictness and rigidness. So, when you appreciate the good things, also appreciate the work behind it. When you enjoy the nice things in Japan, you also have an obligation to... be humble and reciprocate by playing your part as a cog in the machine (oftentimes this is just in very subtle little things and mannerisms, but it can be many things). This is Japanese culture. When you learn to do this, you'll get even more joy from Japan (but it is really really hard).

 

Could you give some specific examples of this. I understand what you mean about everyone having to play their part towards maintaining the good environment, but what is really really hard about it? I'm just curious because it is difficult to imagine what that means in practice.

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timseb

@Takeshi, most of the words you use to describe Japan is how the Scandinavian countries tend to be portrayed. Once again: most of this comes down to high living standards over broad groups of society. Japan looked vastly different in the early 19th century and even more so before that, and trust me, the "strictness" and "rigidness" certainly hasn't increased during that time period.

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realmayo

If the main factor was high living standards, why aren't the big cities in rich counties as tidy as Japanese ones? Seems to me it's clearly cultural.

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Lu
20 minutes ago, Takeshi said:

It sounds strange, because I kept talking about how breaking the rules will piss people off earlier, and yes, if you fail at amae you will piss people off, but if you succeed, actually everyone is happier somehow. Something about how the amae'd like the feeling of being relied upon, or taking care of someone etc.

This reminds me of the Buddhist monk in Rudyard Kipling's Kim, who 'allowed people to acquire merit' by giving him a blanket or a meal. Not sure how culturally accurate Kipling was with explaining that concept, but I liked the idea. People like to be helpful and useful, especially when it touches on something they're good at.

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Takeshi

I just remembered I saw this on douyin the other day. This is a hilarious and exaggerated example of how amae works, and more evidence that it is culture universal I guess. But for some reason there is only a word for it in Japanese.

 

爱情哪有什么命中注定,无非是有人刻意主动#我与711的小故事 #711情话  https://v.douyin.com/JDYjEwW/ 复制此链接,打开【抖音短视频】,直接观看视频!

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timseb
4 hours ago, realmayo said:

If the main factor was high living standards, why aren't the big cities in rich counties as tidy as Japanese ones? Seems to me it's clearly cultural.

 

There are several countries with clean cities, so I really don't know what you're hinting at here. And once again: do you think the collective pressure in Japan has increased or decreased in the last century?

 

@Takeshi, you write a lot about culture traits that are specific for Japan, no one argues such things don't exist. The point is that you're conflating it, once again, to being the cause of a high functioning society. You say you don't like the romanticism of Japan but this is precisely it. Other countries in the world have have less corruption, better functioning civil services and so on. Japan is one of the the better functioning countries in the world, so are many others. Most things you write are by the way applicable to my own country in the 20th century (supressing individualism, collectivism etc).

 

Iif "collectivism" is what makes Japan work so well according to you, and not letting people stand out, I don't know how on earth that's a good thing. You seem to argue that while it's tiresome, it's worth it in the end?

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timseb
1 hour ago, Takeshi said:

Chinese culture shares this part too, because it's also a collectivism culture or something.

 

Surely this strengthens my point about it being a lot about living standards, since China doesn't look at all like Japan, and not at all like it did in the 1960s. And why Taiwan looks a lot different from poorer parts of China.

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Takeshi

Marybe other high functioning developed countries win in terms of low corruption or good civil services, but at least the ki wo tsukau culture let's Japan have high functioning toilets.

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timseb
6 minutes ago, Takeshi said:

Marybe other high functioning developed countries win in terms of low corruption or good civil services, but at least the ki wo tsukau culture let's Japan have high functioning toilets.

 

I guess the reason Nokia exists is because Finnish people can't stand being in a room together. 😉

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timseb

Moving back to the topic of moving to Japan, I've always wondered what our (me and my boyfriend) first years are going to look like. Since the way Japanese culture is being described (not only here, but everywhere) reminds me a lot about how my own country (Sweden) is being described, I hope the transition will at least be easier than for, say, an American. Long term goal is to live in city of Swedish size (less than 100 000 inhabitants). It's certainly going to be interesting, even if it's still some years from today.

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realmayo
1 hour ago, timseb said:

There are several countries with clean cities, so I really don't know what you're hinting at here.

When Takeshi said one reason why Japan is so tidy is that people feel pressure to tidy it up, and that this pressure is a cultural thing, you suggested that Takeshi was wrong, and that this phenomenon of people feeling under pressure to keep their shared environment tidy was actually because of higher living standards.

 

It struck me that there are lots of cities around the world with high living standards but which can't compare with Japanese cities for tidiness. Therefore, it appears to me that you cannot be correct in ascribing this phenomenon to higher living standards.

 

Actually it seems pretty obvious to me that different cultures will encourage and enforce 'collectivist' thinking to greater or lesser degrees. There is a difference between a city having enough money to pay for an army of street cleaners, and a city where everyone regardless of income feels a responsibility to keep the shared environment clean.

 

Different cultures make people behave in different ways - isn't that part of why living in different places is such fun? And I must admit Takeshi 's posts are making me want to revisit Japan.

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timseb
24 minutes ago, realmayo said:

It struck me that there are lots of cities around the world with high living standards

 

What dirty cities in the world are comparable with Japanese ones when it comes to quality of life over the broad spectrum of society? I'm genuinely interested. I'm sure such cities exist, but I'm struggling to see how they are not outliers, rather than typical. Most cities I can think of that fit that description are very clean.

 

It goes the other way as well: most cities with a low quality of life that I've visited and seen are dirtier. I'm sure that's the case even within Japan, that some cities got cleaner way before others. Just like cities like Shanghai get cleaner way before a lot of poorer areas.

 

28 minutes ago, realmayo said:

Different cultures make people behave in different ways - isn't that part of why living in different places is such fun?

 

Once again, depends on what you mean by culture. It's a term that has no definition (like religion) and we all mean different things. Does culture change from year to year, or is it something that's much less fluid?

 

I would argue the opposite in general. Quality of life affects people's way of behaving much, much more. Sweden reminds me much more of other rich 21st century countries, than it reminds me of Sweden of several decades past. Hell, it's harder for me to keep the conversation going with my grandmother than it is with a university educated Japanese middle aged man.

 

32 minutes ago, realmayo said:

feel pressure to tidy it up, and that this pressure is a cultural thing

 

I would argue that you're vastly underestimating what education does to the human brain. Are there any Japanese people below 70 without at least 9 years of education? Most of them have more than that.

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timseb
38 minutes ago, realmayo said:

Different cultures make people behave in different ways - isn't that part of why living in different places is such fun?

 

The original discussion was about functioning of society and the state. I think most people who can chose between high standards and low standards, will chose high standards. If I move to Japan my standard of living will likely decrease, but not by much. So yes, one feels drawn by different socities, no one argued against that. Wether or not "culture makes people behave in a way" is such a huge statement this forum is not the place for such a discussion.

 

Which is also why I just an hour ago tried to turn the thread back to the main topic. 🙃

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NinjaTurtle
4 hours ago, timseb said:

"collectivism" is what makes Japan work so well according to you, and not letting people stand out, I don't know how on earth that's a good thing.

 

It's difficult to say which is better, Japan's "collectivism" or the way aggressive behavior is tolerated (and at times encouraged) in American society. It also should be mentioned how foreigners in Japan enjoy the way Japanese people have a "foreigner complex" towards foreigners, which makes life for foreigners in Japan a lot easier.

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timseb
7 minutes ago, NinjaTurtle said:

It's difficult to say which is better, Japan's "collectivism" or the way aggressive behavior is tolerated (and at times encouraged) in American society.

 

How fortunate then, that you don't have to chose between strict collectivism and tolerating aggressive behavior. Most things that "stand out" aren't aggressive behavior you know.

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Takeshi
6 hours ago, timseb said:

Moving back to the topic of moving to Japan, I've always wondered what our (me and my boyfriend) first years are going to look like.

 

I dunno man, I'm sure you'd have a fun time.

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timseb
35 minutes ago, Takeshi said:

I dunno man, I'm sure you'd have a fun time.

 

I guess I should have clarified we're talking about a permanent move.

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