View from the bridge in Harumi, Tokyo
This morning, we saw the beginning of the technical part of our Bridge SE training here in Tokyo. This day, we talked about the differences of the Philippines and Japan and the factors to consider once you are working with each other.
While listening to my friends share realizations, observations and knowledge about the Japanese – culture, traditions and attitudes – it got me thinking. What is happening right now to us in this training is very fortunate. Trainees do get to learn things about this beautiful culture of Japan.
However, while I completely agree with every conclusion discussed in the class, I can’t help but think: In understanding the Japanese, not only do you need to read books about them but you need to be immersed in this country. Sure, there are many books about the language, culture and manners. Then we have several references like anime, jdrama and their movies and many more things.
But in order to really understand them,
you need to live like them,
you need to live WITH them.
You need to see how they see the world.
You need to realize how they see things from their point of view.
Take these as examples:
1. Notice how you need to learn their language if you want to enter their market? Because they are a group of very “intact” people. They don’t really feel the need to learn a new language because everything is translated for them. Diba when you go here, you see that everywhere and everything is in Japanese?
So, If I was a japanese student (how I wish), and I would be born to this world where everything is convenient and everything is translated for me, why would I need to learn another language?
The movies are translated or subtitled, the quality of service surpasses the services in other countries, the environment is safe, low crime rate and the lifestyle is easy. Even if it is expensive, you get paid generously anyway.
I used to say that if you grew up in Japan, and then you suddenly go to the Philippines, you will be utterly shocked. (yeah, this is a negative statement)
2. People are respectful and humble. If you try to learn Japanese Language Proficiency level 3, you will come to realize how these values are reflected in their language. Respect and humility are important to them. They have different levels of respectfulness in their language for cryin’ out loud. Look up 警護 (keigo) sometimes, will you? :)
3. They care so much on how others see them. They bow. They have different levels of respectfulness when apologizing. They are very punctual. … They are also sensitive to the needs of others, as how my friend Jenny has put it. They have a high-context communication.
Their word “sumimasen” which literally means “sorry” has several meaning depending on how you use it. When you bumped someone in the train, when someone holds the elevator door for you, when someone praises you … the meaning changes.
Japanese 1: “Ahh, tin-san is very good in nihongo!”
Tin-san: “Ahh, sumimasen.. but no, I’m not yet good .”
So, it is important and expected of you not to admit that you are good in something when they praise you.
Also, they used Aizuchi. This is useful, actually. This is the action done to show that you actually understand what they’re saying. When someone is speaking to you, you nod often, or say “un” to show agreement. If you don’t do that, they think you don’t understand what they’re saying… that or you’re just not listening :)) . haha
So when you get to Japan, you will realize that the “weird” things you see in the internet, in books, in TV … are not so weird after all. When you experience them for yourself, you will find that it’s perfectly normal.
… seriously, when I am here in Japan, I feel like I’m back in the Mothership.