Hisami Kimura, Japanese teacher at the University of Amsterdam, was invited to give the workshop this morning in the Amphitheater in Vrijhof. She primarily spoke about the historic cultural values of Japanese society but also about how it is changing in the 21st century. Many of her examples of Japanese cultural behaviour led to laughs from the audience due to their perceived awkwardness, which illustrates all the more how different our cultures are.
When asked about how Japanese people view foreigners who visit their country, Kimura said: ‘If you don’t go out of your own country, you take the culture for granted. Foreigners typically ask lots of questions to Japanese people, and this also gives them a culture shock, as they realize that they cannot answer anything. This leads them to re-evaluate, and learn about, their own culture.’
Study association Proto, Inter-Actief, and Daedalus will be visiting both South Korea and Japan. ConcepT and Paradoks will focus on Japan. Here are five tips from the workshop that they might need.
Five tips for when you go to Japan according to Hisami Kimura
1) Bring stroopwafels or speculaas with you as a gift for companies that you visit or people whom you meet.
2) When you go out for a drink with a company and you are not sure if you should try and drink a lot, observe what Japanese people of similar age as you are doing. Or just always drink a lot. Can’t go wrong with that.
3) Try to avoid giving your opinion when no one has asked for it. This is also applicable but not always used in the Netherlands.
4) If you are interested in a personal opinion of someone, ask him or her in a casual setting, like at night after a couple of beers. Japanese people typically have a ‘public face’ and a ‘private face’ and behave differently depending on the social setting, so take that into account.
5) If you have a proposal or idea and a Japanese person tells you “we will consider it”, don’t get your hopes up. It’s possible that they will do nothing with it and they’re politely telling you to let it rest. If they tell you “thank you very much”, then you should probably stop pushing the issue. Finally, if they say “thank you”, then you better leave.