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I'm Going to japan for the first time 2008/6/16 18:09
I just transfered to a japanese university and I have never been in japan before, I don't even know anyone who has been there:))so there are some things I reallywant to know.

1.should I nod my head when I meet someone or just hand shake is better?

2.Do they like when they see a foreigner trying to speak japanese?

3.Are japanese people friendly? I know that people are different, but I'm talking about the majority

4.IS it really so hard to understand as people say it is?

4.I want to know if there are some specific dating rules.

If there are some additional that you think I haould know, I'll be mroe than glad to hear them.
by Pachulia  

These are my opinions 2008/6/17 13:34
There are my opinions/viewpoints on your questions:

1) You should bow and nod your head rather than shaking hands. (Not that shaking hands is a sin or anything).

2) I don't think people care if they see a foreigner speaking Japanese since it's so common now.

3) Japanese folks are usually friendly but get real nervous if you suddenly ask questions in a foreign language.

4) What is hard to understand?

5) Do you have any dating rules in mind? If you're referring to sex, Japanese folks do seem pretty liberal about it.
by Dan rate this post as useful

just enjoy 2008/6/17 15:45
where in Japan will you be ?

It will be fun for you !

It will also be tough , Try and learn at least survival Japanese .

Good luck . Enjoy
by EXPRESS rate this post as useful

Don't worry so much 2008/6/17 19:41
1. The only time I shook someone's hand while I was there is if they offered first. (Being a woman it was actually rude of them to offer first, but that's the beauty of cultural exchange!) It gets to be a habit. You'll nod/bow to anyone over anything.

2. I believe they appreciate the fact that you are making an effort to use their language. The only thing that annoys some people is if you are traveling with a person who is Asian, they will automatically look to them to translate, etc, even if you yourself are fluent.

3. The majority of the people I met were very friendly and welcoming. Of course they were very curious but overall it was a pleasant experience. If you really want to be given a welcome just find some school kids. They were on us like fleas on a dog. Bring lots of unopened candy from your home because man do those people eat sweets. It's really fun to trade candy if you meet a group on their way to school.

4. I do not speak Japanese, but the majority of the people I traveled with did and they really only had a problem when people spoke to fast. Just ask them to repeat themselves more slowly. If you don't speak Japanese then yes, it is difficult to get the meaning, but many people speak English. Just make sure you speak slowly and do not offer things by asking; It is polite to refuse help in Japan when it is offered.

5. I wasn't there long enough to date anyone, but I did see many non-Japanese with Japanese boyfriends/girlfriends. No one really stared at them so I guess it's socially acceptable.

Just a last word:

Don't stress too much about doing "what's right". No one in any country expects everyone to get everything right on their first try. Just maintain an air of politeness and you should be fine. Embarrassing situations (Like getting stuck in the little subway ticket acceptor thing or having to have someone come tell you there's no shoes in the dressing room after you've already tracked in mud and crap...) will happen, but don't freak out. It's no different than an embarrassing moment at home. Just relax and enjoy your time. If you put all of the nervousness over behaving perfectly out of your head, you'll have a much better time. Plus, you've got months and months to figure everything out.

Have fun!
by Becca rate this post as useful

Thanks 2008/6/18 06:50
Thank you very much everyone for your attention. I think your answers will help me a lot.
by Pachulia rate this post as useful

EXPRESS 2008/6/18 06:51
I'm going to a city called beppu in oita-prefecture.

Thanks for your comment:)
by Pachulia rate this post as useful

try to roll with it 2008/6/18 08:34
Japan can be difficult. But, not impossible.

No one has shaken my hand here. As a foreigner, one or two slight head nods is acceptable.

I'm ridiculously awful with my Japanese, but no one seems to mind. People will correct me if I pronounce a word wrong. I don't find that a bother.

'Friendly' varies. When I am at my work (also a university) no one really talks to me or anything. They really don't like speaking English. When we have department activities, however, (read: we drink a lot), they won't shut up.

When I am walking home though, random people will talk to me about my dog. (I have my dog walking with me.)

Japanese is a very difficult language to understand. Compared to English, Japanese is 'inverted,' in terms of grammar. I'd suggest first taking some type of language class where the focus is on listening and speaking, not worrying about writing right away.

Other things that are useful: If you'd like for people to call you by your first name, then when you first meet them, say 'please call me Bob,' or whatever your first name is. If not they'll call you by your last name.

Professionally, the people I've had to deal with are non confrontational to the extreme; meaning, they won't directly answer questions I have (job related). It takes a lot of work (for me) to find the right people to talk to, so I can do my job properly. This might be because I work in an academic environment, or it could be just bad luck.

Finally, I'd say it took me about a month to 6 weeks to really feel settled in. So, there might be a time when you first get here that you feel sort of like a zombie because of jet lag, being in a new place, etc.
by Bob rate this post as useful

honest opinions from J guy 2008/6/19 08:05
I'm Japanese, but don't live in Japan. Still, I am going to try and answer your questions honestly based on my opinions.

1) For business, most Japanese will shake hands with a westerner (though handshakes in Japan are not as firm, and firm handshakes can make some Japanese 'tense up'). I would say head nods are better, or a moderate bow is ok, but don't attempt actual bowing until you have been there for a while and know how to do it properly

2) This depends. These days, there are many foreigners in Japan who speak Japanese, some very well. Some people are used to this and you will have no problems. Others will be so uncomfortable, as in not used to it, that no matter how well you speak, a look of puzzlement will be on their face. In urban areas this may happen less, though expect some people to respond in English, or tell you how good your Japanese is, even if you only speak a few words. You will probably experience a few people who will just run away while waiving their hands, maybe if you ask directions on the street. Don't let this get to you. These are all the possibilities you may face

3) Hmmm. Friendly isn't really a Japanese concept. Most people are polite and considerate, but there is a difference. I think the vast majority of people you will meet will want you to think favorably of Japan, though

4) In many ways, Japanese is easy to learn, BASIC Japanese, that is. Most foreigners are taught a polite, standard kind of Japanese. It is not informal, nor is it keigo, which is very polite. If you want to stay for a while, you will then learn informal and more formal ways of speaking. So, I think it will be easy for you to learn basic Japanese, but the rest may be hard. Please note- informal Japanese, like the way 2 life long friends would speak to each other, should not be used with strangers, EVER. There are also big differences between the way men and women speak. Anyway, I'm probably scaring you at this point ;-) Long story short, if you have a good ear and a good teacher(s), it should be ok for BASIC Japanese

5) Dating rules? I don't know if you are male or femlae. I guess it's different, but you are foreign. This may attract some people to you, it will also make others nervous. You just have to accept that

Finally, there are some things I would like to add that you can study further yourself, whether online or in Japanese culture books.

A) In Japan, there is a concept of 'tatemae' and 'honne'. Many non Japanese have problems with this. Tatemae refers to being 'diplomatic', and maintaining the harmony of the group, which is the core of Japanese culture. It could mean that if you ask a Japanese person you don't know well a question about Japan, you may get an answer they want you to hear, rather than a true opinion. This may be frustrating for you, but it has to be accepted

'Honne' are real opinions, or true feelings. Once you make friends with a person, over time, they will express their 'honne', but don't expect this at first. In the beginning, take questions you have asked people about J culture with a grain of salt, as they will most likely be 'tatemae'

B) Individuality is not fundamentally imortant in Japan, unlike in the west. Among Japanese, the group consensus always comes first- ALWAYS. We have an exression 'the nail that sticks up gets hammered down', which is cliche, but true. However, as a foreigner, this doesn't really concern you directly in many ways. You will see it in action, though, if you are observant

C) Finally, it is common habit in Japan to nod and say 'yes', 'hai', 'eh', or 'un',(don't say 'un' since it is informal) all forms of agreement while listening to others speak. This 'yes' shows that the other person is listening only. For example, you may ask someone how to get somewhere using a certain train route. The person you are speaking to will frequently nod and say 'yes', as to show they are listening to and understanding what you are saying', but may then end with,' yes, it is not possible'. So don't let this confuse you
by Kazuyuki78 rate this post as useful

. 2008/6/19 08:33
I was rereading my post, and realized in trying to be helpful, it also sounds intimidating.

Bottom line is, you have nothing to worry about. People will know you are form another country, so just enjoy the experiences you have in Japan :-)

by Kazuyuki78 rate this post as useful

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