Polite Fictions:
The Real Reasons Foreigners
Can’t Seem To Fit In Japan
By Todd Fong
                 Photo by Danny Choo ...
Polite Fictions
Why Japanese and Americans
Seem Rude To Each Other

Nancy Sakamoto
Reiko Naotsuka
Photo by Shihchun Yen/Flickr


To the foreigner,

   JAPAN            can seem like
                    a world apart…
Extraordinarily
     MODERN       yet steeped
                  in tradition…
…a beautiful
but alien culture.
外人




     JAPAN
In                                                   Photo by schwong/Flickr


     every non-Japanese p...
Perhaps it’s because the Japanese see their culture as

                                     Unique.


                   ...
Every culture has its “polite fictions”, a set of
culturally-centric beliefs of how people should interact.




Many of th...
日本人
AMERICAN



“You and I are equal.”   “I am your inferior.”
Obviously, Japanese people are not actually
inferior, but Japanese culture dictates that
it is polite for them to act as i...
The Japanese greet one another with a bow:
 Little eye contact
 Submissive posture
 Unassuming
While Americans greet one
another with a handshake:
 Direct eye contact
 Firm vigorous grip
 Assuming friendship
日本人
AMERICAN


    :-(           orz
              (I have failed you)
    (Sorry)
“My wife is an excellent cook.”

The
AMERICAN
         Thinks…


                             “My wife is a better cook
“P...
SENPAI
  先輩
  後輩
KOUHAI
Junior / Senior relationship
The
is nurtured in the education system, but can last a lifetime.
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Polite Fictions - The Real Reasons Foreigners Can't Seem To Fit In Japan (Draft - Part 1)

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No two cultures differ quite as much as American and Japanese culture. But why do Americans have such a difficult time adapting to Japanese culture? This presentation, based on a brilliant but not widely known book, attempts to explain the root of the issue.

My Powerpoint notes are missing - I thought they would be there when I uploaded the file. I'm going to have to figure out where I went wrong...sorry if some things don't make perfect sense without the notes.

This is my first draft and incomplete work. There are other "polite fictions" that I want to illustrate but I wanted to get what I had out there to get feedback from my peers. Finding the right images to use has been tedious - we need more Creative Commons users on Flickr! Thanks to the great photographers I did find on Flickr who are willing to share their photos with others. I can't say how much I appreciate you folks!

Please give me some creative feedback and I hope you enjoy my slideshow.

Todd

Published in: Travel, Education, News & Politics
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Notes
  • Nice job. I'm now teaching a cross-cultural communication class at Chukyo University in Nagoya, and I'm using Sakamoto's book as our text. I'm searching for projects I can do with my students, and I came across your presentation. If you have any ideas for how to teach with this book, I'm all ears! I have 11 students, and 8 of them are non-Japanese, so it's an interesting opportunity...
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  • Todd,

    Very nice slides. I would love to hear or read your notes for this presentation. Is the whole talk based on Sakamoto's book? Is that book still available?

    Leigh
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  • sorry folks, this presentation makes a lot more sense with slide notes. I did not know at the time that the Notes functionality in Slideshare is broken and there is no way to post the slide notes until they fix the bug. As soon as it gets fixed, I'll re-upload the deck with notes. Thanks for your patience.
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Polite Fictions - The Real Reasons Foreigners Can't Seem To Fit In Japan (Draft - Part 1)

  1. 1. Polite Fictions: The Real Reasons Foreigners Can’t Seem To Fit In Japan By Todd Fong Photo by Danny Choo /Flickr
  2. 2. Polite Fictions Why Japanese and Americans Seem Rude To Each Other Nancy Sakamoto Reiko Naotsuka
  3. 3. Photo by Shihchun Yen/Flickr To the foreigner, JAPAN can seem like a world apart…
  4. 4. Extraordinarily MODERN yet steeped in tradition…
  5. 5. …a beautiful but alien culture.
  6. 6. 外人 JAPAN In Photo by schwong/Flickr every non-Japanese person is a “gaijin”: a foreigner. 外人
  7. 7. Perhaps it’s because the Japanese see their culture as Unique. In many ways, it is. Photo by zero_point/Flickr
  8. 8. Every culture has its “polite fictions”, a set of culturally-centric beliefs of how people should interact. Many of the Polite Fictions of American culture are in direct opposition to the Polite Fictions of Japanese culture.
  9. 9. 日本人 AMERICAN “You and I are equal.” “I am your inferior.”
  10. 10. Obviously, Japanese people are not actually inferior, but Japanese culture dictates that it is polite for them to act as if they are. Not all Americans believe everyone else is their equal, but it would be perceived as impolite to treat others as inferior. By now, you’re starting to see the problem.
  11. 11. The Japanese greet one another with a bow:  Little eye contact  Submissive posture  Unassuming
  12. 12. While Americans greet one another with a handshake:  Direct eye contact  Firm vigorous grip  Assuming friendship
  13. 13. 日本人 AMERICAN :-( orz (I have failed you) (Sorry)
  14. 14. “My wife is an excellent cook.” The AMERICAN Thinks… “My wife is a better cook “Please come over and my than yours.” wife will make us dinner.” The JAPANESE Hears…
  15. 15. SENPAI 先輩 後輩 KOUHAI
  16. 16. Junior / Senior relationship The is nurtured in the education system, but can last a lifetime.

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