Despite the title, in this article we won’t talk about peculiarities of Japanese hieroglyphs and pronunciation. First of all, because there is a whole bunch of specialized literature and secondly, if you don’t study Japanese such knowledge may widen your horizons but will be of no use in practice whatsoever.
This article also isn’t for those who expect revelation of a great mystery of how to learn a foreign language, especially Japanese, in a month. Harrow and alas, other than long and persistent cramming, humans came up with nothing smarter to achieve that. However, this article will provide you with several pieces of advice on communication with the Japanese that you need to know not to get into an embarrassing situation.
We should probably start with getting rid of the myth that you’ll be all right in Japan knowing English. Despite seemingly all-penetrating globalization of Japanese society, merely 30% of citizens speak English. More to that, to one’s ear it seems that among those who actually possess this international language many possess Japanese with tiny speckles of familiar English sounds. Therefore people, who treat Romano-Germanic philology with respect and tenderness, will hardly be able to demonstrate all their talents there. In this country only two languages are in favor: Japanese that is rich for synonyms and as a last resort SIGN LANGUAGE is effective. You should of course be really careful with the latter one because what seems like innocents gesturing to us, too a Japanese may seem incomprehensible or sometimes even rude.Photo agoda.com
Thumb-up that we use for ‘everything’s fine’ is considered indecent in Japan. Just in case, I’ll mention that you also shouldn’t raise your little finger. Both gestures will add rude sexual context to everything you’re trying to communicate to your company in a manner that is hard enough already.
The Japanese may also misinterpret OK-gesture popular among divers when thumb and index finger connect. In Japan this means coins or money so it can be easily regarded as a request to borrow you some or pay for you.
There is an interesting story with nodding. The Japanese do it all the time during conversations more out of politeness and as a sign that they listen carefully rather than that they agree with everything. Such nods usually perplex Europeans during business negotiations. Japanese delegation would sit in front, listening carefully and nodding and the next day they would send a “polite denial” to an offer they seemed to have accepted the day before.
Another gesture popular with us that shouldn’t be used in Japan is a so-called satiation gesture when the sharp of a hand slides across one’s neck meaning “I’m full up till there”. For the Japanese this gesture means decapitation and is regarded a sign of aggression or of being fired and it’s an open question as to what’s worth for a Japanese. So, when you’re full and try to tell your waiter that, move the sharp of your hand over your head to express that you’ve had more than enough and can’t eat any more. This will save both your good impression of a restaurant and personnel’s nerves.
Among Japanese gestures that we don’t understand I’d mention touching nose with one’s index finger – it means “me” and is used very often when a person wants to ask “Is it me you are talking to?”
Good deal of misunderstanding is caused by salutary and farewell gestures that are directly opposite to the ones we use. Now, let’s remember: salutation: waving your hand back and forth; farewell: waving your hand from side to side. Should you be confused, best way out is to nod. Nodding in Japanese culture bears special form of politeness. The Japanese nod very often. With a nod they salute and bid goodbye, thank, apologize, congratulate and express tons of other things. I have to say that this tradition is so catching that when back from Japan one can be bringing Ukrainian citizens joy of nodding to them for about a month.Фото zablpedia.ru
Now, let’s sum it up.
Normally there aren’t many people who look into phrase books when going on a trip. Many rely on their knowledge of English or other languages. In Japan everything is very different – it is a country for people with imagination or for champions in Pantomime Game. But you can still be sure that even if you know neither Japanese nor English, incredible Japanese politeness and kindness won’t let you get lost in this totally unique and fantastically interesting world of subcultures, anime, technologies and minimalism.
Ice cream with a taste of horse meat, pickled insects, fish with deadly venom, etc – Japanese cuisine has things to surprise, amaze and shock you with. And truth be told, enumeration of these dishes doesn’t help my appetite at all. But we are not after exotic stuff. True culinary tourism is an attempt to comprehend mindset and feel national distinctive color through traditional cuisine – not try most exotic dishes.
The first thing every tourist shall learn in a country is a transport system. Very often it seems to be complicated and confusing, and it takes weeks or even months to make head or tail of it. OUTLOOK reader Natalia Usenko visited Japan and is sharing her impressions about the most comfortable and safest transport in the world.
Lighthouse - this word evokes beautiful associations: sea adventures, storms, huge ships. And we do not want to dispel these thoughts, but rather to add fuel to the fire. There is a great amount of them in the world, they are striking by their beauty and inimitable. Today we are sharing with you the quintet of amazing lighthouses!
In Japan there is a city with the citizens who trust each other. It seems that they drink water from one source that flows along their houses. As well, they wash hands after the meals in the same places. Satoyama in translation means an ideal place for life in harmony with the nature. It is situated in Northern prefecture Gifu that is isolated from the rest of the world with the mountain tops and rice fields.
Ice and snow has long been used by artists to create different figures and objects, and only 1960, this age-old skill became a new trend of a land art! The largest number of winter artworks is created during special festivals about which we will tell our readers.
Traditional Japanese kabuki theatre has always been a mystery to the European mentality: only an expert on the culture of the Land of the Rising Sun can understand a play without guide’s tips. The word kabuki is sometimes translated as "the art of singing and dancing". Why not an operetta? The essence of performance is not confined to musical presentation only...
There are hardly many travelers who would go somewhere further than city centre where their hotel is situated when on a short-term journey. And if location is a metropolis on top of everything else, such “outside” trips are sure to be put on hold till better occasions.
- Do you want to try some rice? - such a question is greeted by guests in China. And if the owners are also farmers, they can invite you on an unusual excursion and show you the masterpiece of natural art. The grass which we often eat without thinking about its aesthetics, at the time of growing resembles a blanket woven from multi-colored rags ...
Its sounds penetrate the heart, stop the flow of thoughts and cause the blood to move in some kind of magical rhythm. It's a roll of thunder. It gives the shivers. It's a secret. Japanese drums in their homeland are elevated to the rank of cult. Without them, not a single official event is possible, their melodies delight the hearing during joy and help to experience sadness.
Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius!, Nietzsche exclaimed in a prophetic ecstasy. Gloomy pathos of the philosopher could be hardly understood by the residents of the Japanese city of Kagoshima, located at the bottom of the caldera Aira resulting from the explosion about 22 thousand years ago. Farmers were hoeing edges of the hollow from the Bronze Age, as usual fending off the ashes scattered in the air.
So, to wash your hands, you have to leave indoor slippers before bathroom threshold, step into the bathroom, slip into the special footwear, wash hands, remove those special bathroom slippers, and switch for indoor slippers when re-entering the living area. Earlier, probably in jest, Oba-san warned me that if I step onto the living area in the toilet slippers, he will tell me about hara-kiri rules.
If what they show in cinematograph is true than a typical samurai appears to be austere, taciturn and even slightly unsociable person. But this image in actual fact doesn’t get in line with reality... You don’t believe it? Our journalist Elena Rasenko suggests you make sure of it for yourself.
It is just as hard to imagine a Japanese who doesn’t eat fish as to picture a Scott who doesn’t drink whiskey. OUTLOOK journalist Elena Rasenko will tell you about a unique place where successors of samurai purchase fine seafood for their tables.
OUTLOOK journalist Elena Rasenko came back from Japan and launches a special series of articles devoted to this country. Warning for very sensitive readers: Beware! After reading, you will get a keen desire to break away, buy a ticket and fly to such a marvelous and fascinating Land of the Rising Sun!
For 1 month spring has been reining our planet, now just watch warm coats to change for thin jackets, cold and mediocrity for the bright sun. And, of course, what sort of spring it could be without green trees and beautiful flowers? Well, in order to make your expectation of long-awaited colours and flavours less agonizing...
The Japanese are one of those peoples who zealously respect the ancient traditions. They respect old age, being interested in ancestors and often know the family ancestry by heart. With such a worldview, it is not surprising that a unique technique for the restoration of kintsugi appeared exactly there. Read about it in OUTLOOK.
Everyone knows that being in Scotland you should try whiskey, in France you should taste wine, and in Japan t is all about sake. But few people think about national soft drinks. They were created by peoples with far more practical intentions - refreshing and burning, repelling from the climate features, possessing nourishing properties.
In this day and age, it is difficult to surprise anyone, especially an urban resident, with some large department store or market, since nowadays one can buy everything from a humble convenience store next door. However, the iconic bazaars and flea markets are still operating across the globe, they are famous in legends and described with delight.
The well-known saying goes: east is a delicate matter. All-in-all, it is true as evidenced even by details. Due to specific climate, eastern women have similar type of appearance, and their nations are united by close cultures. Therefore, they prefer the same beauty standards. Women are supposed to be modest, to dress so as to completely or almost completely conceal figure.
What is it that characterizes any nation without much words and long explanations? Dances, of course, because it is these movements, refined over centuries, that can tell a foreigner about other peoples much more than thick history books. If you carefully watch and feel the way people dance in different countries, their mind set will become much more comprehensible. And these aren’t mere words.