Why do the Japanese not give reasons when they apologise, refuse invitations and deal with complaints?

Countries tend to fall into two groups – ones like Britain and America where not giving excuses is seen as not being bothered to do so or being deliberately rude (like saying “I’m busy” to an unwanted date invitation), and ones like Japan where giving excuses is seen as not accepting responsibility (like saying “The dog ate my homework”).

Just added to my much expanded Japanese Etiquette and Manners Explained page.

Why are Japanese lampposts etc covered in bobbly plastic?

I’m pretty sure it’s to stop billposting, but I guess it would also save you a little if you walked into a lampost (as I had to be taken into hospital for when I was 11…)

Why do people think Japanese skin is yellow?

There was a fascinating discussion about this on the BBC Radio 4 sociology programme Thinking Allowed. Perhaps the most interesting thing was the story of a researcher who found convincing evidence that there was no particular yellow element to East Asian skin but ignored it because it was a racial assumption that he couldn’t change his mind about, despite the complete lack of scientific evidence behind it.

Apparently all early visitors to East Asia from Europe described the Japanese as white. The explanation for the later idea that they were yellow seems simply to be that yellow caused a nice round quartet with black, white and red.

Available to download on this page.

JapanExplained’s first ever review!

“All of those curious little things about Japan – from the size of fruit to the sight of men carrying handbags – investigated, mulled over, and explained. The explanations are often dubious or incomplete, but hey, at least the author’s daring to give it a shot!”

Not only is that a very fair review, that is, believe it or not, the effect I am aiming for!

From the ever fabulous Japanzine’s Top-Ten Japan Related Blogs.

Salaryman myth of the day

Lifetime employment is the Japanese way Read the rest of this entry »

Why is barber almost always written as two words?

Often with capitals to make the division even clearer – “Bar Ber”. The only possible suggestion my imagination offers is that they used to have the word on the turning red and white pole things so that half of it appeared at one time, and that eventually transferred to the normal shop fronts??

Sorry about the lack of recent posts

This was due to a general slump in interest about Japan linked to really getting into reading and writing about TEFL teaching (www.tefl.net/alexcase), followed by something really odd happening to my WordPress dashboard just when I wanted to start posting again. Anyone know what is up with WordPress? Yet another example of even them not understanding what having both categories and tags is supposed to achieve?