Friday, October 22, 2010

Things I Learned In Japan 1: Yatte shimau koto

So here is my other series, so I'm not always writing about the same thing.
It's entitled "Things I Learned In Japan" and I'm not sure how many parts it'll be, but this way, when I think of something I learned, I can post it here instead of boring everyone I know about it.

So, without further delay, lets begin!

Yatte shimau koto(やってしまう事)
Yay for Japanese lesson!!
The -te verb ending "shimau" in Japanese means, literally, to do something so thoroughly it has a negative effect. In informal Japanese, it's the -chau ending.
The verb "yaru" means "to do", in a very colloquial sense.
And "koto" means "thing".
........Put it all together and you get: "Things that you do so thoroughly it has a negative effect".

In other words, "mistakes". (note: this is NOT the actual word or words for mistakes, but simply a way of expressing it.)

During my stay in Japan, I realized that there are different ways people deal with problems, particularly with how they react when people do things that upset or hurt them.

For example, your husband has an affair. Instead of accusing him of betraying you, some Japanese women will ask themselves what they could have done to cause him to want to have an affair. They may blame it on their lack of skill in cooking, housework, etc.
Now, to an American, this sounds kind of crazy, doesn't it? Well, true story, I was told that unless I learned how to cook fish and all the Japanese meals and "got better" at doing housework, if I married a Japanese man, he'd definitely leave me for another woman or cheat on me.

Also, when things go wrong with friends, it's a more Japanese way to think about what you could have done wrong rather than jump in blaming everything on your friend.

They also have a tendency to apologize for EVERYTHING first. You bump into someone on the train, within half a second, they will say "sumimasen" or "gomen nasai".

I think this is really an effective way to deal with things, personally, and I've started applying it to my own life. I've been told by many people that I'm much, much more considerate than I used to be and that I seem to be much more peaceful.

I now usually say sorry whenever I make a mistake doing ANYTHING, and since I've just started at Dunkin Donuts, I've been making a lot lately (just a fun fact, we put the flavor in first, sugar second, cream third, and THEN the coffee. If it's not in that order, we don't sell it.). I quickly respond "I'm so sorry" and everyone says, "no worries" or something like that, but I can tell they appreciate that.

They have a word that's often translated as "opponent" called "aite"(the kanji is 相手 "inter, mutual, together" and "hand"), but it literally is "the other person". My last host dad taught me a lot about Japanese culture and the way things are done in Japan. He always told me that I should always always always put aite no kimochi (the other person's feelings) first.

It's a deeper concept than karma, which is usually based out of a fear for the repercussions and a selfish desire to be treated fairly, but instead, based out of a mutual desire to maintain peace. If everyone considers others feelings when making decisions, the best decision for everyone can be made. It's also partially just "one of the things you do" in Japanese culture, which probably doesn't make much sense to most people.

HOWEVER, this desire to seem unselfish also can lead to company workers being bullied and not voicing their opinions for fear against repercussions for going against the grain. Oh Japan, there's just so much to talk about...

So, any questions? comments? I'd be happy to discuss more about this if asked. Let me know.
Next post in this series: For a country that wants everyone to be the same, they sure do like ranking themselves, and everything else.(maybe the title will actually be shorter, but you get the gist)

Side note: New photos post coming soon. My charger crapped out on me so I have to convince my dad to let me borrow his again.

Thanks to all the new commenters and everyone who views this!! I hope I can continue to post more interesting stuff in the future. If I haven't responded to you yet, don't fret! I will try to get on tomorrow :]

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