The population of foreigners in Japan is growing and I watched some TV programs interviewing them about impression of Japan. They often mentioned our good manners and cleanness of cities. And some of them know Japanese culture very well, may be more than Japanese… That made me really happy and I could feel proud that I am Japanese. But in other hand, I also feed some strangeness. Are we really such wonderful people?
That’s true that we care of keeping clean, trying to be good member of society. But it may be just our nationality and sometimes it made us very stressful.
The nationality has built by many elements and I believe the environment must be major one.
Imagine that the population of Japan is 120,000,000, and the land is 377,930 km2. In short, with simple calculation and comparing to California, 300% people are living in 90% space. Moreover, 70% of the land is mountains, woods and rivers and not appropriate for residence.You can imagine the congestion easily.
And it is well-known that Japan was very closed to other countries until 150 years ago. But it is not story only Japan itself. Within Japan, people were restricted to go to other prefecture without approval from government. Only merchant and specific people were allow to travel in the country (The icing on the cake, that’s reason that each prefecture has their own culture even though Japan is small island itself).
What I mean is people were living in very small society for long years (over 1500 years) and if we would be rejected by the community, we couldn’t survive. We had been educated to care of others and to be a good member of the society.
It is said that Japanese like harmony. But for us, harmony is what to keep.
I can show interesting example.
A teen-aged boy mother scold her son because he drank alcohol. What boy will talk to his mother in your country? He would excuse with the reason. But in Japan, they used to say “Why not? Nobody suffer from that.” He cares not to interrupt others unconsciously instead of insisting his thought.
Or you may have experience to be irritated by Japanese murky feedback. Japanese tend to think the receiver’s feeling to the feedback first and avoid to strictly saying. Since it has been standard way to work at 1 company for life, we have to keep good relations with co-workers or clients. Or the life can be miserable…
With interviews to foreigners, I wonder they are much wonderful. Because they tried to be polite and do good manners with their own intention and without any duties…