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sharing culture, is there a line? 2009/3/10 17:56
someone said in here that non-samurai should sustain from wearing a top knot. most of us know that at one time japan did cut itself off from the rest of the world to protect it's traditions from foreign influence. this is why i ask the question here. but do you feel all or some traditions, practices, and if i so may put it, ''fashion'', should excluded from foreigners?

looking for answers from any culture, especially those who are living in their native land.

thank you. -joshua
by janicholas  

No 2009/3/11 00:41
Do you mean now? Not at all. But then, I'm not sure if I understand the question.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

hope this is more clearer 2009/3/11 01:36

i do mean now.

i'm asking, are people afraid of someone outside, who may not understand everything about a particular item, fashion, or celebration, and use it out of its context. perhaps others will look upon this individual and get a false idea about the particular culture he is emulating.

or do you feel it's quit the opposite and perhaps individuals who even may be faslely using something is at least preserving it to some extent. every culture has youths who are not interested in the traditions of ancestors

this is especially true in america where so many different people live around each other. often times we may feel we like different things in other peoples culture and want to incorporate it in our own lives. but, not living heavily with our own kind, there is no pressure to keep traditions going. i think people come here for opportunity for sure, but i think some people come here to get away from the social pressures of their own society. japan is a scary place for me after coming to these forums. you have a high level of etiquette over there. we westerns, especially americans, are very lax about our public behaviors. i'm not going to say one is better than the other, i guess it depends on your personality and what you believe is more important.
by janicholas rate this post as useful

.. 2009/3/11 02:16
Most Japanese are trying to be Western and forgetting Japanese culture. My wife went to kimono class because I knew more about kimono and dressing than she did (I learned about it in my job). This embarrassed her that a gaijin knew more about it.
I see the Japanese are becoming more interested in relearning their culture. It would be a great loss to the world if these beautiful traditions died out.
by . (guest) rate this post as useful

Culture 2009/3/11 06:41
Janicholas you must be a very young person who has not travelled very much outside the USA! ( if you are from there as you English is unusual). All Western countries, even the USA, but of course especially European countries, whose culture go back to thousands of years, have kept many aspects of their traditional culture. Young people in many places, including North America where I now live, do treat older people, or strangers, with respect. As for you original question, anyone has the right to learn about the culture of another country. There is nothing people from that country can do about it. Some foreign people will misunderstand many aspects in a culture ( movies often present a foreign culture falsely and tend to make fun of the natives) but not much can be done. I see Japanese stores, restaurants etc. who misunderstand parts of my (non American) Western culture but it doesn't bother me. At least they are interested in my culture. Many foreign restaurants in the USA and Canada don't get the Japanese, French, Italian etc. cuisines right at all but the North Americans who are interested in the authentic cultures of these countries and have learned about it still like these flawed places as a reminder of their travels . I am not afraid to write to my local papers to point out that the newly open so-called "brasserie" they rave about is just a plain small restaurant, not a true brasserie by a long shot, in the hope that it spur other people to find out what I mean. So again, even a bad take on a culture can be a cultural lesson
for others. There are no more Samourai in Japan by the way but some young Japanese men wear their long hair in a style inspired by the informal style worn by Samourai and this look very good.
by Monkey see (guest) rate this post as useful

culture museum 2009/3/11 12:25
Monkey See,
you are correct to say that i am young and not traveled. it's just that sometimes i run into these comments like the one in my first post, and i at times feel as though other cultures are like museums. you are welcome to come in and look, but you are not allowed to touch. you are not allowed to be a participant.

i was wondering how common place this feeling is. whether these people are just a few, or it is the mindset of the majority.

there is a term here in america, perhaps other countries have it to, but a person can be referred to as a "poser". a person who dresses goth but is not artsy or depressed is considered a poser. a white male dressed like a black urban male is a poser. this is a stigma within my own country that people dressed a certain way should act a certain way or belong to a certain race. and yet people strongly believe in individual freedom here. a person should be able to wear what he or she likes without people assuming they are trying to be someone or something.
by janicholas rate this post as useful

same 2009/3/11 12:43
I've lived in the U.S. as a child and visted there as an adult, and I had my fair share of people coming up to me to correct my manners, just as they do or do not in Japan. It's the same everywhere. You have your local manners, and some people don't bother to correct foreigners while others do. I appreciate both.

But I do understand what you mean. Some of the posts on the internet including those on this forum may scare people off. But long story short, foreign visitors are quite tolerated about any cultural mistakes they may make, and even if they don't you're not going to have stones or tomatoes thrown at you. Plus, if you have ever seen photos from the Paris Collection, you will know how innovating the Japanese fashion industry is. Also, the worldwide fad of anime "cos-play" comes from Japan. Modern Japan can be pretty wild.

Anyway, I don't really understand why you brought up samurai knots. Wrong century. Have fun if you ever come to Japan.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2009/3/11 22:01
as far as I can understand your question, I would say you are right about it.

Foreigners in Japan will always be referred to as gaijin-san. You may be living there for decades, but as long as you don't look Japanese, you will always be an outsider. Japanese people will welcome you and you are sure to join any cultural events, but you can't ever be Japanese. That's your fate.

There is not a line though I guess.
Perhaps Japanese aren't aware about that. It's a part of their language. Like they say omawari-san (Mr. Policeman), oisha-san (doctor) and so on, you play the role of the gaijin-san (Mr. Foreigner). You are stuck in that role, whether you dress Japanese, speak Japanese or whatever.

So although Japanese share their culture with you, you might not feel fully accepted or integrated.

Perhaps Japanese are somewhat worldly innocent. They are geographically isolated on an island. I guess most Japanese haven't ever been outside their country and due to a wrong education (or whatever, I just assume) they put overseas on a level with the United States. Like there are only Japan and the USA. That hasn't much to do with the topic, but I'm trying to explain (rather to myself) why Japanese always treat foreigners like they do. Japanese don't meet westerners that often. Of course there are a lot at all that sightseeing-spots throughout the country, but those are in most cases tourists. The majority of westerners in Japan are tourists. So when they see a westerner anywhere, they consequentially assume him to be a tourist. That's why it's very difficult to live in Japan as a foreigner. And that's why you will never feel yourself fully accepted by the Japanese.

I guess if they know you, they won't see any problems in teaching you their culture. The only problem is that YOU might see it from a western point of view and therefore feel treated like an outsider.

Well that's how I'd explain it.

Hope it makes sense at all, since I'm not sure what your initial question was. There rather seem to be at least 3 different questions?!
by Georg 87 rate this post as useful

.. 2009/3/13 02:22
janicholas, as an American myself I just have to say its lack of life experience or exposure to different things or travel. Because I would honestly have to disagree with how you describe some aspects of American society (as an American myself), especially about "American Culture" because there is no one American culture, so I'm not sure what there is to preserve or keep with our own kind?, America is a melting pot of all cultures. But that's a whole another story...

Even Japanese people themselves have trouble with kimonos and "traditional" clothes. If a Westerner wanted to wear a Kimono for a special event, I don't think it would be a big deal, in that no one would be "offended" by it, nor is it prohibited. Japan's fashion is modern and on the cutting edge sometimes in the big city, trust me I've seen silly things.

I really can't think of anything that is "Japanese" that you would want to "block" or "prevent" non Japanese from doing.

This is from an American living in Japan.
by ExpressTrain rate this post as useful

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