Communication in Japan Weblog











{November 28, 2008}   Religion in Japan

When I first get information about my host family, my mom said that she is atheist. I didn’t mind because I figured that people in Japan were either Buddhist, Shinto, or atheist. So, the first month when I was living with her, she didn’t do anything religious. I did notice that she has an alter of some sort, but she didn’t touch it, so I didn’t ask her about it. Then, one night, after making rice, she took a little bit of rice and brought it to the alter. She then rang the bell and started chanting. After she was done, I asked her if she is Buddhist. She insisted that she does not believe in anything. She was only chanting because her friend said that it is better if she chant and give offerings to the god.

I think this experience was interesting. I mean, rather than saying that she have some sort of faith or belief, she insisted that she does not believe in anything. She actually chanted more than once after that. Rather than religious, maybe my host mom is superstitious? saa… who knows… =P



{November 27, 2008}   Implied messages

One day when I was with my speaking partner, I think I asked him to translate what he said in Japanese to English without using the denshi jisho, but of course he had to take it out.  So, I called him a “cheater” while pointing my finger at him and making ‘tsk’-ing sound.  My poor speaking partner then said “chigau! no!” while shaking his head.  He then asked me, “Why do foreigners get ‘angry’ when people cheat?” … or something like that… 

I remember this incident because we talked about implied messages in one of our previous classes.  In the case with my speaking partner, I think that he just read way too much into my ‘accusation.’  I was just kidding around, and I think other foreigners who called him that did the same.  I think that when I called my friends a cheater in a playful situation, they would just brush it off or come back with some sort of retort.  Unlike my (other) friends though, I think that my speaking partner was really worried about this accusation.  I had to tell him that I was just kidding and that I wasn’t serious.

On another note, I think I made “genki” into a form of ‘hello’.  This morning, I said “Ohayou! Genki!” while passing by one of my friends.  My friend ended up responding, and I just continued on my way downstairs(he was talking up too).  I was a staircase below when I realized that my friend answered me, but I didn’t want to walk back up.  =(  I feel like a bad friend….



{November 26, 2008}   High Context Society?

So, I’ve learned in class that Japanese people tend to be more indirect.  Last night, my host mother and sister wanted to go meet my other host sister at Kuzuha.  My sister invited me to go, but I didn’t agree exactly; I didn’t really want to leave the comfort of the nice, warm living room. 

Maybe half an hour to an hour before they left, I decided that I wanted to go.  At that time, I didn’t know whether I should say, “Hey, I want to go with you,”  or be indirect.  So, using what I learned about the Japanese culture, I decided to be indirect and was like, “Okaasan, I don’t want to stay home by myself.”  Ok, I don’t know whether that was ‘indirect’ enough, but my mom had no clue what my decision was.  My host sister had to tell my mom directly that I wanted to go too.  

So, I guess that my mom got used to me being ‘direct’ while my sister, who studies in Kyushuu, understood me because she doesn’t live at home.  Either that or my mom couldn’t understand me. -_-

(…I’m not conciously aware if I was ever ‘direct’ to my mom when I speak, so I could have been indirect or direct… I just realize it yesterday because I had no idea what I should say to express my desire…)



{November 21, 2008}   Table manners

Ok, finally not a train experience! ^_^  Well、this afternoon was interesting.  My friends and I were studying together, and during our lunch break, the topic of our host families came up.  One of my friends was annoyed by the fact that her host dad keeps on making noises when he eats.  She felt disturbed by it, and just doesn’t want to eat with him.  My other friend didn’t really mind her host family.  When she first had dinner with them, her family told her that it was alright to make noises.  My host sister said the same thing for me while the first friend’s family said the same thing for her. 

Anyway, both of my friends said that even though they know that it is okay to make noises, they were trained ever since they were young to eat quietly, so it was hard for them to make noises.  They said that they really don’t know how even if they are allowed to.  I, too, was taught not make noises, but I guess I kind of adapted (???) to how the Japanese eat.  Well, I’m not sure if adapted is the right word here… see, the thing is, sometimes when I eat at home, I would accidentally make the slurping noises, and then get in trouble. -_-;;  Over here (in Japan) I try *not* to make noises, but it is kind of hard to do that when everyone else do it.  Besides, I don’t get in trouble here, so if I accidentally make slurping sounds, I just say it’s the Japanese way (that means that the food is yummy ^^)



{November 20, 2008}   And more train experiences

I don’t know why, but I keep on noticing things in the train lately…

Anyway, we all (well, at least I think we all) know that the Japanese girls (maybe guys??? who knows… it’s Japan, but so far I’ve only seen girls) can put on their make-up as the train is moving.  This one time, as the train was moving, a Japanese girl was standing without leaning on anything, and was putting on her make-up!!  I thought that was so cool!  I mean, putting on foundation, eye-liner, eye-shadow, lipstick, etc… like “Whoa!”  Well, foundation is ok, but still, eye-liner??!! Now I think that takes some skill.  (Well, I don’t often use make-up, so I don’t really know…)

Ok, guess what I found out Japanese guys do in trains this morning?  They SHAVE!!!!  (Well, not all guys shave in the train, just as not all girls put on make-up in the train… so yeah)  Whoa!!!  This guy had this automatic shaving thingy and was just rolling the machine around his chin.  Well, I didn’t ask him what he was doing because I don’t know that much Japanese (and wouldn’t it be strange to randomly approach someone sitting and shaving??)  But, it still looked like the guy was shaving.  I thought it was different, so I decided to share that bit of information ^_~.



{November 18, 2008}   More train experiences

Over the weekend, on the way back to Hirakatashi, these two Japanese girls entered the train with shopping bags and a luggage.  It was kind of late going back to Hirakatashi, and since we were in the sub-express, there were plenty of room.  Well, my friend was… how should I say… surprised (??) by the fact that the girls just opened the luggage to put in the items that they just bought.  I mean, it’s normal, I guess… maybe?? Well, I have to admit that it is a pretty smart way to go about carrying items…. but my friend told me that it is strange.  The luggage was empty, from what we can tell, and they *did* purchase a lot of items, so I thought stuffing the items in the luggage is pretty smart.  However, having to carry that empty luggage around while shopping must be annoying. 

On a reflective note, I didn’t pay attention to whether that luggage was new.  hmmm… it could be that the girls bought the luggage and wanted to stuff the items in so that it would be easier for them to carry later… o well, who knows, nee?



{November 12, 2008}   Dyed-hair

Whoa!!!  At the train ride home yesterday, I saw this old lady (50s-70s??) with her hair dyed purple (well, lavender-ish)!!!  Wowzer!!!  Many people in Japan, especially the younger generations, dye their hair.   It is mostly brown-ish though, so it is neutral, I guess.  My host sister said that the Japanese dye their hair so that it is easier for them to style it.  But wow, this lady, purple hair??? She could have been in a play or some sort of performance, but still… purple hair?  Imagine, old lady, between 50-70, with purple hair.  She had a hat on though, but we can still see her hair on the side, and the hair looked like it was attached to her head… I don’t know, I was *very* surprised. 

<<< This shade-ish



{November 10, 2008}   Train

Whoa, going back home last night was … I don’t know… strange???  Well, I had to ride the train back, and since the train just arrived, I get a seat ^__^ (ureshii).  Anyways, as I was waiting for the train to leave, this lady and her son came in (at least I think they were mother and son).  The boy was at least 15 or so, and the mom looks like she’s in her late 30s – mid-40s.  So, the mom (who is skinny -like a typical Japanese person) entered with all the grocery bags (2-3), and this boy (who is kind of on the heavy side) carried nothing.  I thought that was rude (yes, I was bored and had nothing to do so I just stared at the people coming his, with a book on my lap… but still…).  I mean, the son *should* be nice and help his mom, right?  Well, as they were walking right in front of me, the son turned around and said “dame” (“no”)with his hand right in front of his mom.   I was like “what?” but I didn’t say anything (well, I didn’t know the language… so yeah…).  He then walk onto the other side of the bench I was seating on.  What really surprised me was that the mom did exactly as told and stayed where she was at.  My gosh… I was like, “Are you serious.”  I wonder what that means….

There was this other incident where this mom and two baby boys were sitting in the train next to me.  I was also waiting for the train to depart at that time.  One of the boys looks like he was around 4-5 and the mom was carrying the other on her lap- that boy looks around 1-2.  Well, the 4yr old boy was causing a raucous in the train, and the mom couldn’t seem to quiet him down.  He calmed down as soon as the train moved though.  The mom and the boy started to talk in Japanese, but then the boy got annoyed or something, so he hit his 2yr old brother, and so the 2yr old started to cry.  The mom didn’t say anything to the 4yr old boy… and tried to calm the 2yr old one (like wowzer…)  Well, luckily, around that time, the boy turned to look at me, and so I just glared at him and he sat back on his sit and was quiet until I left… hehe… Well, he wasn’t exactly all quiet since he was talking to his friend, but he wasn’t loud ^__^



{November 7, 2008}   Non-service buses in Japan

Alrighty, I’m annoyed at those non-service buses in Japan!!  I seriously don’t get it… ok, I know that Japan is trying to say they don’t care much about money (or something like that), so they have these buses running, but 3 non-service buses in a row???!!!   It is *such* a waste… or at least that’s what I think….
Not only do they not get money, they are wasting gas, which is hurting the environment….

Besides, having to wait in a looooonnnnggg line to get home… totally not appealing… @_@



{November 4, 2008}   Halloween

Well, that was a fun Halloween weekend!  And an awesome school festival!  Wow, it is interesting how people over here do not mind the cross-dressing category for the Halloween costumes.   I don’t think I’ve ever seen guys willing to crossdress as girls before.  I’m also jealous.  Some of them looked better than I do in a skirt.  grr… >_< … Anyways, I just found that interesting, and was wondering if any of them will ever crossdress again when returning back to their own countries.



et cetera