Sep 12, 2018
Every time I'm in a conversation with friends who are here for a visit, they would always tell me how impressed they are with Japan - both the country and the people. They love the punctuality of public transportation and the politeness of the people, among others. And while I would agree with them on most of the points they raised, I sometimes find myself having to burst their bubble, especially when talking about Japanese people.
Differences in opinion are common in friendships, I suppose. But if such differences lead to one's opinion being invalidated, then that's rather sad.
I must admit that in my recent conversations with my friends, I felt that my opinions about Japanese culture and people are often being invalidated. Sometimes, this invalidation is even worsened by how they gawk at the beauty and greatness of this country - at the expense of lambasting our country of birth. Truth be told, I feel like I'm being discredited every time I talk about my experiences in this country - and by the people who I treasure, love, and miss terribly, no less. Yes, I'm hurt.
Whenever I would tell them something that is not so nice about the things they have come to admire about this country, they would tell me something that goes along the line of "You're just being jaded." But to me, I was simply trying to keep it real. Also, if they can talk about Japan filled with praises and compliments, then how come they could not do the same about their home country?
This has led me to thinking: am I already being disillusioned, or perhaps this is just brought about by my lack of Japanese language comprehension?
How about you? Have you ever experienced being discredited and/or invalidated for what you have come to know about Japan?
A teacher by profession, yet always a student of life. Currently living in Kanto, but in love with Kyushu.
Interesting points. Actually, one of the things I like about people from back home coming to visit me in Japan is that through their, generally, wonderful impressions the country I am kind of reminded about how great Japan is, where otherwise I am taking some aspects of the country for granted. It's sort of refreshing. You're right though, I often find myself responding to some of their remarks and observations something along the lines of, "Yea, but actually ..... ." I think, in the end, if you spend enough time in a place, it just becomes the place that you live. Like anywhere. And maybe it becomes easier to point out those things that are negative about it simply because there are so few of these compared to the positives. I don't know, but you've raised an interesting point. Looking forward to the opinions of others.
Non-Japanese who live here for an extended period go through ups and downs of culture shock and adjustment. On top of the culture shock, a lot of people come here young, while they're still learning about adult life and the world of work. Of course, they will grumble and find some aspects of Japanese society frustrating until they understand it, and either adapt or reject the aspects they encounter. I spend time with first timers and others who have visited many times. When they marvel at some new Japan experience - natural beauty, historical treasure, or cultural tradition - they are so excited. They remind me to take pleasure in Japan's good things. I try not to get stuck on the pathological parts of Japanese culture. It's also a relief to collect my thoughts about what frustrates me about Japan, and think carefully how I am going to talk about it with visitors. Often, they sympathize. Every country and culture has its problems, right?