Americans May have more Manners than the Japanese?

One of the more common adjectives associated with Japanese people seems to be “polite.” However, I have seen the dark side.

Yes, I have seen- and heard- Japanese like slurp their noodles at the table. Of course, these experiences happened 13 years ago. Some things may have changed.

Perhaps not as ferociously as this girl eats down below…

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That is NOT polite in the west. We actually find it a bit rude to slurp.

When I witnessed this as a child, I was very confused. Of course I asked questions. How come my mother told me to always excuse myself if I did such a thing, but in Japan, people were congratulated? Why?

Well, it maybe rude in the United States but in Japan, this is a technic that actually helps the noodles cool as they travel to your  mouth. Women also slurp. Men aren’t the only one’s who get to have the fun. Any you know what? It’s perfectly fine within Japanese etiquette.

Last week, when I visited my regional Japanese consulate to complete paperwork, a young Japanese father repeatedly said “sumimasen” (excuse me) when addressing the clerk. It was almost like he was apologizing to her for bothering her, even though her job was to serve him.

The image of the girl slurping her noodles at the table and and a guy repeatedly saying “excuse me” to a clerk may seem to be on the opposite ends of the courtesy spectrum. But in reality, even something considered rude in the west is still a show of courtesy and gratitude in Japan.

 

Go figure.

 

 

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こんにちわー!The Culmination of 6 Intense Weeks

Can you read that?

Those strange characters say, “Konnichiwa.” That is a rough Japanese translation of, “Hello!” But you probably already knew that since the mispronunciation of this greeting could be heard on the radio. “Don’t Mind” by Kent Jones uses this phrase with a variety of others from other languages to make his point about his preference of women- or the lack of pickiness.

That is neither here nor there.

Right, the culmination. I use this term because the month of June has truly been a brutal month for me between starting a new job AND taking a six-week intensive Japanese language class. Hence, why I have not posted much of anything during that month. This past Friday was THEE last day for that class. Let me tell you: a three-hour class with three hours of homework that is scheduled Monday-Friday is NOT the business. Not with a job anyway. I was even asked to continue with the second half, which of course started the following week after the first one ended, but honestly I was just too tired at the end of each day.

However, with the sense of relief of finishing this class came a sense of sadness. I had truly enjoyed being in a classroom again. With the dream of one day traveling to Japan once more to live, there were days when I would come into class so excited- especially when I began to learn Kanji.

I had taken Japanese for two years in high school and a semester in college before. But I have never, never, NEVER learned all three writing systems.

For those who do not know, these are the three writing systems: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Hiragana and Katakana are more like phonetic systems. Katakana is generally used for foreign words and Kanji is a borrowed writing system from the Chinese language with different meanings. Before this class, I had only been trained to all of the first two previously.

My instructor had said that the reason for this is because of the complexity of Kanji. Americans are not considered smart enough to learn this right away. I am paraphrasing this but there you go.

I am about 50-60 Kanji characters in so far out of the hundreds of combinations out there, but it is a start.

All of the practice and frustration I had to endure are all the things I will honestly miss. The structure was exactly what I needed to hunker down and immerse myself int the language. Now I have to discipline myself in order to retain what I learned until I am ready to take another class. I will definitely let you all know how that works out.

Until then, しゃまたあね。 (See you later!)

 

 

I’m terrible at Communication and I’m paying the Price.

I like people. I really do. But that doesn’t mean that I have much of an easy time starting, and nurturing relationships- well the starting part.

You see, I’m an awkward human being, which seems like a redundant statement considering how many people claim “awkwardness” or any level of “weirdness.” Which I don’t think at all. I’m perfectly  normal no matter what anyone says.

But when I first meet people and for some time after, it takes me a while to be comfortable. I’m ‘quiet’ and ‘nice’; the complete opposite of what my close friends tell me. Except the nice part. Maybe.

Getting to the point: I fail to communicate.

Years ago- fifteen years to be exact- my sister and I moved internationally for the first time to Osaka, Japan. The second time, when I was ten, we moved to Okinawa Japan so that my mother could teach English. Homesick, of course, but we made friends, visited places- had a life.

Now, we never completed a full year for family reasons, but to make a long story short, we moved back to the states only after eight months. Complete severance of communication from the friends we had made there either time.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: That’s very rude to not stay in contact with people I called my friends. Basically pushed them to the back-burner.

Imagine my surprise when my younger sister was able to connect with an old Japanese classmate/friend on Facebook. My sister, the self-initiator.

There were many different things that I felt when this development occurred: surprise, excitement, nervousness, guilt. But there is a few things I want to clear up.

  1. As my younger sister and I have gotten older, she has been the self-initiator between the two of us. I’m learning.
  2. Neither of us had consistently studied Japanese. Consequently, I felt embarrassed that a few of our childhood friends’ English was much better than my Japanese. Consistency and persistence is key apparently.
  3. I’ve never been that great at keeping up with communication.

Reasons Why You Should Go to the NEXT Cleveland Asian Festival

So this past weekend  I had the opportunity to volunteer for this amazing annual event that started in 2010 known as the  Cleveland Asian Festival; celebrating different cultures originating from the other side of the world. Every year, more and more people come to enjoy their time and learn more about another culture.

Scope:  First year 2010 = 10,000 Attendees

Last  year 2015=   45,000 Attendees

You guys….that’s 35,000 more people! The data for this year has not been released yet, but I’m sure it was a lot more people. It sure felt like it.

Want to know why? Well here are just a few reason I enjoyed myself so much.

1)Food

Now, from every great country, comes great food…and there was so much of it! Indian curry with samosas, Korean bbq, bubble tea, sushi….ugh. I was in a heaven where I definitely indulged in my fattening eating habits. I’m not a picky eater but I do have my favorites….and a lot of them are a part of the Asian persuasion.

(sesame mochi w/ red bean paste)

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2) Performances

There were so many different performances and other scheduled entertainment between the 21st and 22nd. The lion dance, dragon dance, sword demonstration, Tradition Vietnamese dance, Egg roll eating contest, K-pop dance competition…and etc, etc.

I caught a few clips of different things. But most of the time that I attended, I volunteered in a different area that was nowhere near the entertainment. Kinda bummed about that, but I did get some footage of my experience there. I will post my Youtube video on my channel soon if you guys are interested.

3) Cosplay

Then there is cosplay. If you don’t know what this is, it is a form of pop-culture where people basically dress up like their favorite character, typically from comic books, anime characters, TV shows and more. However, this is not exclusive to those forms of media nor to just people who are of or are interested in Asian pop culture. ( Very recently I’ve seen Instagram posts of a couple of girls dressed as character from the Outlander series on Netflix).

I can’t say that I would ever participate in Cosplay, but I did enjoy meeting people who embodied some of my favorite characters ( I LOVED Inuyasha!). They made the event more festive.

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4) Organizations/ Merchandise Booths

One of my goals for volunteering for this event was to meet other people who were interested in Asian culture, of course- especially Japanese.  Therefore, I knew that there HAD to be groups that had something to do with Japan or its culture in some form. Unfortunately, the Japanese community isn’t so large in this city, so there were very few choices. There is The Cleveland Japanese Meetup group, which was sort of cool ( except the white guy who spoke to me automatically assumed that I knew nothing of the culture, but, when he mistakenly spouted out a few wrong things as facts I kept my mouth shut.)

There were shops, study abroad booths, crafts and so much more. One thing I do regret, is never getting henna. InstagramCapture_64632800-14c1-4b20-8b2d-56b30ef96e9f

 

 

Are you jealous yet? Well don’t be because this annual event shows no signs of slowing down. You can come on down to good ole’ Cleveland next year in May to be a part of it all.

 

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This J-Pop song!

So, I decided to look up some Japanese pop groups. Thinking perhaps this will help me with my Japanese study.

But now I’m OBSESSED with this J-Pop group.

FAKY.  Especially this song, CANDY.

Their music video can be found here on YouTube:

CANDY ~ by FAKY

Even if pop music isn’t your thing, you have to admit that this song could easily become addictive.

But, whatever language you’re learning, music is a great way to learn Japanese in a passive way. It’s always exciting to me when I start to recognize words in the song and able to translate them.