Friday, December 22, 2006


Recently, I've been frequently asked about my impression of the country.
This might be some of my answer.

Few country make such conflicting claims on the imagination as Japan. The mere mention of the word Japan is enough to set off a cascade of contrary images: ancient temples and futuristic cities; mist-shrouded hillsa nd lightning-fast bullet trains; kimono-clad geisha and suit-clad businessmen; quaint thatch-roofed villages and pulsating neon urban jungles.
Amazingly, all of these images are correct.

Meeting the Japanese
In general, it is quite easy for you to meet with Japanese people. At least on a superficial basis. Japanese are very curious about other countries and people and are keenly interested in how Japan is perceived by outsiders.
By far, the best place to meet the Japanese is in an izakaya (Japanese pub-eatery). After a few drinks, you'll find people just about queuing up to talk to you. Indeed, you might even find the attention cloying after a while.

The Japanese are a relatively shy lot, especially when it comes to deal with foreigners. I believe there are two reasons behind this: first, most Japanese speak limited English, and are afraid of making mistakes. Second, most Japanese have had precious little interaction with foreigners and simply aren't sure how to handle the situation. So, when talking to a Japanese, you'd better speak slowly and clearly and always approach with a smile on your face.


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