It is my pleasure to meet these people who are attracted by Japan and talk enthusiastically about what they like about Japan, as a Japanese born. Many of them talk about Japanese people as well. 90% of these people like Japanese people, too. They say that Japanese are polite, courteous, kind, calm, generous, and so on. Once in a while, however, I come across non-Japanese people who are either puzzled, confused, or disturbed by Japanese behavior.
Quite unfortunately, these puzzled and disturbed non-Japanese people are the ones who are closer to Japanese livings and Japanese people. Those are men and women who married Japanese. Others are ones work for Japanese company. I see problems with foreigner child who attend Japanese school, some times.
A Korean national woman once told me that she feels that Japanese tends to have double personality. She said to me that her mother-in-law invited her to her husband mother's home one time. Her husband's mother asked her relax, ask anything, eat anything, and be at home anyway she wanted. Her mother-in-law even told her feel home like her own. She was glad her mother-in-law is this much kind. She thanked her mother-in-law. Basically she spent relaxed time in her mother-in-law's home.
After she came back home, she was shocked to learn that her husband's mother is upset about her behaviors in his mother's home. Her husband told that his mother upset because she does not follow basic rules in somebody else's home. Her mother-in-law thinks she is rude, does not know how to greet, and not polite enough.
You may think that this kind of thing can happen to any culture to any people. It may be usual in-law problem. But, the worst was, when this Korean lady visited her mother-in-law again, her mother-in-law's attitude toward her was nothing changed and nothing unpleasant. She was smiling, asking her to relax and be at home. This Korean lady was totally confused by her mother-in-law. She started to think that her mother-in-law has double personality.
It may not be as serious as her case, one time my American boss expressed his frustration about Japanese management saying that they speak about long-term business strategy, but all they care is profit of that month.
You might have heard "Public and Private Concept" in Japanese culture. Original Japanese is "Hon-ne-to-Tate-mae". Every culture in the world has this concept. You do not wear pajamas to go to public place. You need to wear suits and tie going to office. But Japanese tends to separate public and private very strictly. This confuses non-Japanese people. Bad attitude in side of Japanese is that they tend not to tell to the person, they hide the feeling and keep smiling.
But, please do not worry. It is nothing difficult to cope with this kind of Japanese mentality. Whatever you hear from Japanese, if you keep your politeness and courteous attitude and stay inside of common sense rule in front of them, they will be amazed how good you are. They are not double character. They are a little more rule oriented than the rest of the world is.
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