July 17, 2008

Behaviors and Cultures

With your cultural beliefs and values combined, how do you contribute to your community, or in a larger sense, to society, to the country, or to the world? We learn from your experiences to extend our understanding giving love to others. Thank you.

Posting rules:
  • Write in English only, please.
  • Please keep your post in non-judgmental, respectful language. Offensive or disrespectful posts will be deleted without notice.
  • Any questions, suggestions, please contact Extension Hokkaido.


Ruth said...

Head-on Collisions
Western Women Should Not Walk a Straight Path in Japan

Many years ago when I first came to Japan I kept having head-on collisions with Japanese men. When I lived in America this had never happened. All of a sudden I found myself bumping into Japanese men and they were hard bumps that nearly sent me sprawling. WHY was this happening all of a sudden? After about the twentieth collision (slow learner) it gradually occurred to me that Japan wasn’t the West. I FINALLY REALIZED that Western men get out of the way of women as they walk. Japanese men don’t.

Japan, being a male-oriented society, gives men the right-of-way and Japanese women graciously step aside. Western women in Japan must graciously step aside, too.

Ruth said...

On Mothers-in -Law and My Japanese Mother-in-Law

Throughout the world the mother-in-law-daughter-in-law relationship is full of horror stories and the butt of jokes. Japan certainly has its share of these as America does. However my life with my mother-in-law completely contradicted this negative tradition. From the beginning of our marriage in 1968, Okasan, (the Japanese word for mother) showed me every kindness. My husband’s parents lived in Shizuoka and we lived in Hokkaido. They came to visit us every summer and I remember one time early in our marriage she came to me with a notebook in her hand to learn from me about nutrition. Although I had been reading up on the subject I was still amazed by her humility to come to me to ask for information. Mothers-in-law usually don’t do that!
Because I am “American size” I always had difficulty in finding clothing in Japan that fit me. Okasan liked to sew so she made many many garments for me over the years. She even had a better sense of what colors looked good on me than my own mother. Just recently I had to go through a lot of boxes of old clothes and came across many of the things that she had made for me. I was amazed by all the hours that she had spent on my behalf.
Okasan spent the last six years of her life living with my family so I was able to return to her, in a little way, some of the kindness that she had extended to me for so many years. Even now I keep precious mementos of her because I appreciate her so much. I hope that in some small way I can extend similar kindnesses to my two daughters-in-law in the years to come.

Carmen in L.A. said...

I enjoyed your comments greatly. Your first one on "Head-on Collisions" reminded me that about 20 years ago I used to visit the Japanese Consulate in downtown Los Angeles quite often for educational work purposes and often felt quite uncomfortable. Every time I went into the Consulate building I felt I was walking too fast against the rhythm of all the men I encountered at the elevator or in the hall. Finally, one day, either at downtown L.A. or perhaps it was in my second trip to Japan, I realized I had to change my movement quality. I used to walk using either an undulating style (Latino model) or a sharp-straightforward style (German military type of movement still with a feminine style, sort of American business women's style.) Both styles collided with the more Asian style, constrained or restrained, that I used to lecture about in my classes in reference to movement styles in walking. How come I hadn’t realized this before in my uncomfortable moments?
But, I finally learned to walk more constrained or centered in my movements. What a difference it was! This allowed me to mingle or walk peacefully without colliding with the Japanese males. Once I was aware of it, my movements were natural and as a matter of fact felt quite comforting. I learned to sail with the tide! Nowadays, when I'm in the presence of what I consider traditional Asian men, I know I change my walking or moving style automatically and first of all, I'm the one that feels much better. To adapt to the styles of others and to adopt a different pace, work perfect for me!
Ruth, thanks for the reminder with your comment of my many awkward moments in the past that now make me laugh!

Carmen DeNeve