West Meets East: An American in Japan | All Blogs


Common Japanese Misconceptions About the US

By Josiah Lebowitz

It’s only natural that people develop stereotypes and misconceptions about other countries. Especially countries that they’ve never visited. In the US, we even have a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions about other states. Even if you really take the time to study and learn about a place (which people often don’t), you can’t truly understand its culture, lifestyle, etc until you’ve spent a decent amount of time there yourself. Since we generally lack that experience, we tend to form opinions based on what we see on TV, read in the news, hear from others, and the like, regardless of how accurate all that information is.

Now, imagine taking someone who has never visited or studied the US and sitting him down to watch some episodes of The Simpsons, Friends, CSI, and 24. What kind of opinions would shows like that give him about American values, manners, family life, crime, and the like? Probably not anything very positive.

Basically, I’m just trying to say that you can’t really fault Japan for the things I’m about to talk about since it’s an unfortunate fact that people do the same thing everywhere. And they actually have a much more positive opinion on the US than many other countries. So, with that said, here’s a look at some of the Japanese peoples’ more common misconceptions about the US.

#1: Manners

My mom and I dressed up old Japan style

This one applies to non-Japanese in general, not just Americans. Anyway, the belief is that foreigners are loud, rude, and not very neat, at least when compared to Japanese people. To some extent, that’s true.

When it comes to being loud, it’s true that many foreign languages are naturally spoken a bit more loudly than Japanese. Then there’s the tourists who tend to think that they’ll be better understood if they speak louder (which is occasionally true, but often isn’t). Finally, English teachers in public schools (who are the only foreigners many Japanese people have any real interaction with) are encouraged to talk loudly to help students pick up on the proper sound of the words.

On the subject of politeness, Japanese people tend to be extremely careful not to bother or inconvenience others (sometimes to rather ridiculous extremes). Plus, Japan and the Japanese language have an enormous number of rules and mannerisms related to politeness. Unfortunately, there are some foreigners who simply couldn’t care less about proper Japanese etiquette and just do what they want, which tends to reflect badly on their home country as a whole. But, even when you try to be polite and conscientious, it can take years to master all the facets of Japanese etiquette. Some are easy enough to pick up (like bowing and not wearing your shoes where you’re not supposed to) but others are extremely complex (such as speaking with the proper level of respect to people who are socially above or below you).

As for neatness, while I myself tend to keep things pretty neat and clean, I know lots of people in the US who, though not really slobs, rarely both to clean or straighten up. There are some Japanese people like that too but, as a whole, the Japanese do tend to be a bit more obsessive about order and cleanliness than your average American.

While Japanese people are generally too polite to act on any of these beliefs, there are some landlords who won’t rent apartments to foreigners because they’re afraid that they’ll trash the room or bother other tenants. Though that’s only a problem if you plan on staying in Japan for a very long time.

#2: Crimes
Once again, this applies to all foreigners, not just Americans. And, once again, there is some truth to it. Crime is Japan is very low and violent crime is almost non-existent. You can walk the streets and alleys of downtown Tokyo in the middle of the night with a wallet full of cash with nothing to fear. For that matter, you could drop said wallet on the ground and, when you come back to look for it the next day, you’ll likely find it either right where you left it or waiting for you at the nearest police box. I’ll get into the reasons behind Japan’s lack of crime another day and I won’t deny that things do get stolen occasionally, but when it comes down to it, Japan is one of the safest and most crime free countries in the world. So, while I’m not sure if foreigners in Japan actually commit many crimes, it’s easy to see why the Japanese can be a bit weary of people from other countries.

#3: Guns

Despite it's warrior past, Japan is now one of the safest countries in the world.

Quite a lot of people in Japan assume that everyone in the US walks around carrying a gun and are very surprised to hear that many Americans have never even touched a real gun, much less bought one. Naturally, this belief makes them feel that the US isn’t a very safe place, especially compared to Japan which, despite its history of samurai and territory wars now has a near total lack of violent crime and very strict anti-gun laws (the only people in Japan with guns are military, some policemen, and hardcore criminals). And yeah, the US isn’t anywhere near as safe as Japan, though not that many people carry guns around and shootings really aren’t all that common.

So how did this belief come about? Well, first off, Hollywood action movies and shows like 24 are pretty popular in Japan. And, in stuff like that, it seems like just about every character keeps at least one gun handy. And hey, if it’s like that in the movies it must be true (just like Jackie Chan taught us that all Asians are martial arts masters). But Hollywood isn’t entirely to blame. See, a while back there was a Japanese college student who went on a trip to the US. Problem is, he didn’t really know much English and ended up missing some warnings and trespassing on someone’s property. Unfortunately, the owner was a bit of a nutcase and shot him. The Japanese press had a field day with the story and it was blown way out of proportion. And the regular US news doesn’t help either since most of the “big” stories (which are the ones most likely to get reported in other countries) are about something horrible happening. Since, when it comes down to it, “everything today is just fine and dandy” makes for pretty boring news.

So there you have the three biggest Japanese misconceptions about the US. A bit ridiculous? Maybe, though there is a hint of truth to most of them. As the world grows more and more connected, maybe people will learn more about other countries and these types of misconceptions will clear up. Then again, the way things are going now, everyone will just watch more foreign TV shows and weird youtube videos and makes things worse…

COMMENTS

Please Login or Register to leave a comment.

There is so much in this article that I would never have thought of on my own.  Your content gives readers things to think about in an interesting way.  Thank you for your clear information.  steampunkartifacts.com

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info.  hammaste valgendamine

Thanks for posting this info. I just want to let you know that I just check out your site and I find it very interesting and informative. I can’t wait to read lots of your posts.  NDR reviews

sub bot youtube  Merely a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw outstanding style.  get more youtube views free

Thanks for posting this info. I just want to let you know that I just check out your site and I find it very interesting and informative. I can’t wait to read lots of your posts.  virus removal delray beach

I really loved reading your blog. It was very well authored and easy to understand. Unlike other blogs I have read which are really not that good.Thanks alot!  cccam server

Thanks for posting this info. I just want to let you know that I just check out your site and I find it very interesting and informative. I can’t wait to read lots of your posts.  san diego wedding photographer

Whether you are transitioning residency between Canada and the U.S. or you have already made the move, it is important to understand the benefits of a cross-border financial plan. Learn how Cardinal Point can help when holding investment assets or financial interests in the U.S. or Canada.  tax and estate planning for canadians

Thankyou for this wondrous post, I am glad I observed this website   on yahoo.  maines future

An fascinating discussion is value comment. I think that it is best to write extra on this matter, it won’t be a taboo topic however generally people are not enough to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers   TV Box

It’s always equally an exceptional write-up it’s my job to undeniably appreciated checking out. It is far from conclusively day-to-day it’s my job to improve the way to determine just about anything.  eyelash studio

get free subscribers on youtube  Your website is really cool and this is a great inspiring article.  how to increase youtube views fast

I am trusting the same best exertion from you later on too. Truth be told your experimental writing abilities has roused me. tile stores marietta ga

The main reason why it’s always a lot better that one can significant researching preceding doing. You’ll be able to share improved page using this method.  yoump3

subscriber list  Below is enjoy no doubt fabulous. Every one of these mild elements are designed by applying lots of basic foundation focus. I enjoy them all greatly.  bot views youtube

I adore the articles and reviews, I must say i dearly loved, I would like advise about it, because life-style decent., Many thanks meant for looking at.  http://christomlin-tours.com/

I recommend any content. It’s always wonderful to work out you will explain in words from middle and additionally picture quality using this valuable content is quite simply recognized.  wow gold sale

I need this article content, Create much-loved, I’d personally like additional information employing this, great deal of thought is specially interesting., Bless anyone suitable for producing.  Temp Agency London

This appears undeniably remarkable. All of these very small facts are constructed choosing large selection about qualifying measures know-how. Document gift a good deal quite a lot.  Buy phentermine online

This is exactly likewise a terrific print which we honestly dearly loved looking through. It’s not actually day by day that we include the risk to figure out an item.  embroidery digitizing




Recent Posts
KNOWING BIRDERS…AND PHOTOGRAPHERS…AND OWL PROWLS
By Nic.Korte
Saturday, June 3, 2017

LOUDY-SIMPSON MIGRANT TRAP
By Nic.Korte
Sunday, May 14, 2017

TIME FOR A CHAT (A DOUBLE ENTENDRE FOR EARTH DAY)
By Nic.Korte
Sunday, April 23, 2017

WISDOM’S WISDOM OR HUMAN WISDOM?
By Nic.Korte
Friday, April 7, 2017

Tech Education a Must for Tech-Starved Mesa County
By David Goe
Friday, March 31, 2017


TOP JOBS




THE DAILY SENTINEL
734 S. Seventh St.
Grand Junction, CO 81501
970-242-5050; M-F 8:00 - 5:00
Editions
Subscribe to print edition
E-edition
Advertisers
eTear Sheets/ePayments
Information

© 2017 Grand Junction Media, Inc.
By using this site you agree to the Visitor Agreement and the Privacy Policy