Japanese culture is different from American culture in many ways. I have always wanted to go to Japan, so I took this project as an opportunity to study the culture more in depth. Over spring break my friend came to visit from Washington and we went to Little Tokyo. We went to a couple of different stores and looked at some really cool things. We ended up getting lunch at a fantastic sushi restaurant. Unfortunately I wasn't able to interview anyone in Little Tokyo, but I was able to talk to one of my fathers co-worker about when he grew up there.
Earlier I talked about how much Japanese culture differs from American Culture. In the article "10 Customs You Must Know Before A Trip To Japan" by Turner Wright gives some examples. Bowing is what you do when you address someone. This is very important in Japan. Children are taught this at a very young age. Wright even goes in detail about the different degree someone may bow. For a friend you may only get a fast 30 degree bow. For a boss though, they may get a slow greater bow.
I instantly thought about our book when I read about the bowing. In chapter 3 there is a chart showing low power and high power distances. Japan is a high power distance. The bowing is one of the ways it shows that it is. I think about the relationships that someone has with their boss in American culture and at times it can be very relaxed and not a lot of respect is given all the time. I also connected about the article talking about how this is taught at a young age, this is obviously an important way of communication for the Japanese culture, it has been a pattern of teaching the next generation. It made me think of when are book describes culture, "Culture has been defined in many ways—from a pattern of perceptions that influence communication to a site of contestation and conflict" (p. 84).
Something I came across while studying about Japanese culture was about how shrines and temples are treated. It is something that I would really enjoy experiencing. These shrines and temples are scattered throughout Japan. Some even being in the middle of the cities. The man I interviewed (Aaron Tanaka), talked to me about how it is almost completely silent around a temple in the middle of Tokyo. On the website "japan-guide.com", it gives some rules on how these shrines and temples should be treated. When visiting a temple or shrine, you must behave quietly and be respectful. When entering a shrine, you will probably need to take off your shoes. Also you are not allowed to enter if you are sick, or have any open wounds.
As I was learning about the shrines and how sacred they are in Japan, I connected it to our book in chapter 4 and it talking about National Histories. These shrines and temples are very important to the history of Japan. In a way I compare these temples to what Arlington Cemetery and the Statue of Liberty are to Americans. We learn about these areas in school. Our book states "National history gives us a shared notion of who we are and solidifies our sense of nationhood. Although we may not fit into the national narrative, we are expected to be familiar with this particular telling of U.S. history so we can understand the many references used in communication" (p. 125)
The last thing that I thought was interesting about Japanese culture is their eating habits. In the article "10 Customs You Must Know Before A Trip To Japan" talked about some table manners. One of the main things that stuck out to me was slurping of noodles, or making loud nosies while you eat. This is a compliment and shows that you are enjoying it. This is way different than growing up. I was always told to be quite while I ate, but when I was done chewing I can make a comment after.
Even though there are sounds coming from people while they eat, I compared this to Nonverbal Communication. Our book says "The FSI emphasized the importance of nonverbal communication and applied linguistic frameworks to investigate nonverbal aspects of communication. These researchers concluded that, just like language, nonverbal communication varies from culture to culture" (pg. 46). The way this nonverbal communication is stating that they are happy.
My Interview: Aaron talked a lot about the things he missed in Japan. He said that it was like everyone was a lot closer and thought about each other. He said he misses the food and the busy city of Tokyo. He also talked about the differences between America and Japan with respect. It astonishes him sometimes because a lot of things that people get away with wouldn't slide in Japan.
"10 customs you must know before a trip to Japan." Matador Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2017.
Interview: Aaron Tanaka
Martin, Judith N., and Thomas K. Nakayama. Intercultural Communication in Contexts. New York: McGraw Hill, 2010. Web.
"Visiting Temples and Shrines. " Japan-guide.com. Wed. 06 Apr. 2017.