Tag Archives: Japanese politeness


Why are you Still in Japan?

People routinely ask, “Why are you still in Japan?” and I guess the answer depends upon which phase of Japanese life we’re talking about. Because first there’s 1. Amazement Living in Japan’s like being born again. Everything’s filled with wonder, nothing makes any sense, and you’re insanely pleased by the simplest stuff. Look!—-I’m riding the...
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The New Japanese Etiquette

Even ten years ago, the world seemed bigger. Japan still had a bit of that “Oriental” mystique, and visitors to its shores sent reports home of an exotic land populated by simple, if slightly daft, inhabitants: “The Japanese are so friendly and polite!” (Actually, the folks who just gave you directions were Taiwanese tourists) “Japan’s...
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Japanese Customs

“Stop that,” she said. “Sit still. You want people to think you’re a better person, don’t you?” This is me, learning not to do sewing machine leg from Yasuko, my girlfriend. “Better than whom?” I asked. Well, Yasuko was crazy, so whatever. But she was also right. Not moving one’s limbs is actually a thing...
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How Japan Killed my Vegetarianism

“Okay, how ‘bout a sheep. Would you have sex with a sheep?” I asked. “Mmm,” Ryan replied. “Boy sheep or girl? “Like it matters? “If it’s a boy sheep, that’s gay. Okay, let’s say I bought a hamburger, would you eat it? “Nope,” I said, “No way. “For a hundred dollars?” This was twelve years...
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Japan’s a Scam

I was drinking with Sandy in the park recently. It was dark and naturally we were on the swing set. “I’ll just never be happy here,” she said. “Congratulations,” I replied, “you’re finally Japanese. Here, have a chu-hi. It’s got real lemon flavor.” Then we kampai-ed as our swings passed, which is hard to do...
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Why Japanese People Lie

A reader named Furansujin recently described his stay with a Japanese host family: “They showed complete hysteria when I told them I loved curry or could eat takoyaki . . . the only reason i can think of for so many grins, laughs, and exclamations is acting. Like people were overly polite because they felt...
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Crime in Japan

You never know what the day will bring—that’s the exciting thing about waking up. So this morning, just as I was heading out for a fresh can of coffee at the corner 7-11, I noticed somebody’d pasted a scary Japanese note to the windshield of my car. “Contract parking place!!” it said in large, crimson...
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One Japanese Book You Must Read

You should think twice about taking any advice Ken Seeroi’s got to give. I mean, we’re talking a guy who ditched a sensible life in a first-world country for a freezing, tiny apartment, sleeping on the floor, and eating rice with sticks. So, really? Well, it’s not so bad once I move the shochu boxes...
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Is Speaking English in Japan Unavoidable?

A reader named mintyroll recently commented: The “Japanese People Don’t Want you to Speak Japanese” part is one of those minor things I’ve always been afraid of whenever I think of how my first trip to Japan will be . . . Consequently, it’s made me want to reach at least fluent level of Japanese...
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Taking a Japanese Bus Tour. Rule #1: Beer Helps

So I went on this Japanese bus tour last weekend. I don’t really know why. Apparently Japanese people are wild about the bus for some reason, and so I figured eh, maybe it’d be cool. The whole thing started when my iPhone vibrated and The Tanuki was on the other end shouting in rough Japanese,...
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