Culture Clash?


Greeting people good morning, good afternoon etc , as far as I can remember usually just happened when class started and it is also another way to get the teacher to give good grades for right conduct.

The only NO-NO in my family was not to tell your mother or father where you are going or if you have arrived. Basically I just grab their hands and touch it to my forehead. For friends, a simple nod, a wave of the hand, a smile would suffice. Sometimes calling them by their names as you pass them by or meet them somewhere is good enough. But if they don’t answer back we just labelled them “SNOB” and that’s it. As far as I am concern it is not something to cause a ruckus or hurt somebody’s feeling.

 When I went to the university, Nobody cares. If you greet people then good,if you don’t want to then don’t. When I joined the work force in the Philippines, it was still the same thing. The only time we used extensive greetings was if we have some Japanese guest in our group.

Being in Japan and working for Japanese company, I had to learn and observe that the proper working etiquette. Saying “otsukaresama”, “ohayou gozaimasu”, “osaki ni shitsureishimasu” to your fellow workers. But when I am finished with work, I go back to being my Filipino self.

Moving to Tokyo, has given me new lesson in regards with cultures with different nationalities. I had shared a room with a very nice German girl who just likes me, loves anime but most of all someone who respect the little space that I want when I go home. She asked me my rule , I asked hers and we tried to respect and value those when we were sharing the room together. Sometimes, she comes home with a pout and even though I greet her she does not bother to answer I would just leave her alone, and vice versa and we still get along really well.

When I moved to my current guest house, there were just 2 male American and me living there. Just like the German girl, they leave me alone in my own little world. Along the way, more tenants came and house came alive. I liked it. We get along fine.

 Since there were more tenants now, the house started getting messy, noisy and rules were started. Unfortunately, work started getting busy, family got some problems back home, and then there were some stress from my work agency that getting back to the house was a pain. I did not mind the noise much as I mind the messy living room.

And then, bills just started rising up because of wasteful use. When I tried to express my sentiments, I am labelled as strict and scary so the best way was get back to my shell and ignore everybody until I can get my self sorted out. Unfortunately, this became a very big issue.

 Since I can’t be warm-hearted, cherry and give them a smile whenever they greeted me, I am not fit to live in a sharehouse. I really could not understand why me ignoring them is causing them grief. It is not like they are my bestfriend, they are my housemates and nothing more… for now.

When I talked to I-san about it, she said the same thing. She said that maybe the Koreans and Japanese are alike in a way that we take our greetings seriously. That if I did the same thing to her, she might feel the same way too. At that moment, I finally understood why. Again its a culture thing.

My main reason for living in a sharehouse, was not to find friends or anything like but to save some money. Japanese real-estate has a lot of different rules and not that foreign friendly. If you have lots of cash then by all means rent your very own apartment, but for me it is out of the question.

 Sharehouse was the answer. I get to rent my own little room without worrying about basic house necessities. If I can make friends that is good, if not then its good. Unfortunately, since we came from different culture somewhere along the way we are bound to offend someone one way or another. Being me, who is always misunderstood and misjudged trouble is far. Also I think I am not cut out to live together with lots of girls or girls who are really girly.

 So Lesson learned in Japense Culture 101, be sure to answer greetings or else you might cause someone grief. So samokan, be careful next time.

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