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メインのテーマは英語。日本(日本人)と海外(外国人)の違いや英語の勉強方法について、これまでの経験から感じた事を記事にしています。

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英語化企画: Stereotypes of Japanese from a forigner's perspective

Do you know where Slovakia is? What about Slovenia? There are about 200 countries but honestly speaking, I wont be able to point to many of them in the Atlas.

Out of all the countires, I think Japan is a country recognized by the majority but I have noticed there is a lot of misunderstandings. This article is about the stereotypes of Japan I actually felt through my experiences. 

 

The stereotype of Japan from a foriegner's perspective

Although japan is recognized by the majority of the population, there are confusions. While I was in the United States, I actually met people that thought Samurais still existed in Japan.

From my personal experiences, people usually have positive images of Japan and Japanese people. Some stereotypes ive often heard are

  • Smart
  • Strong with electronics
  • Has Compassion
  • Good with delicate processes
  • Patriotic
  • Strong at manufacturing

These images probably come from electronics, animes, and games, which are all common places where a foreigner would see and recognize Japan.

But on the other hand, these influence of games and animes are also the same reasons why some have the misundertanding that samurais still exist in Japan.

Comparing this with how japanese poeple think of Foriegners

There a many games where Knights fight for Kings but many Japanese people probably dont know which culture this Knighthood actually existed in. Although some may slight insights that this is from the Middle Ages period, many probably think this is a culture of the United States.

Japanese people learn the history of Japan at school and not much of the history of Europe. Eventhough Japanese people are aware of the existance of Knights and Kings (through games and animes), they are uncertain of the history behind it. I think exactly the same reason why some foriegners think samurais still exist.

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Common characteristics of "Japanese" from a foreigner's view

These are some of the common characteristics of a Japanese character would have in games, anime, and movies.

  • less physical, more intellectual
  • Pacifist
  • Uses Katana (Japanese sword) at battles
  • short skinny but lean
  • appearance: cant differentiate the difference between Japanese, Korean, and Chinese
  • girls are cute

There are many movies where a Japanese character is acted by a Korean or a Chinese. This may look natural to a foreigners as long as it fits the above characteristics but a Japanese person always recognizes the difference.

 

Common characteristics of foriegners from a Japanese perspective.

This is obiously true visa versa. Each country has its own representative characterists.

A character of a american person would usually be

  • More physical than intellectual
  • muscles, and strength
  • Uses heavy artillery and weapons
  • power, power, and power

a chinese person would be something like

  • Small but strong
  • fast
  • Master of martial arts. All chinese are masters of KungFu
  • Never speaks english. Speaks chinese no matter when or who he talks to.

 

Sushi is somewhere you go to eat for a date

A white guy asks a girl out for a date and reserves a nice and fancy sushi restaurant. They eat their sushi with their inexperienced chopsticks skills while a romantic music plays in the background. This is a common scene you see in foreign movies.

To western people, Sushi restaurant is a place you go for a date. In japan, there are expensive sushi restaurants that align to this image but a typical image of a sushi restaurant is more local. The chef is usually friendly and the crowd is loud. 

Also, the menu at a western sushi restaurant is customized to suit western tastes, some which you would never see in Japan.

 

A bit of a sidetrack but I always imagine that I would succeed in openning a Sushi restaurant in the US just with the following steps.

  1. Be sure EVERYBODY knows that a Japanese guy (me) is the owner of the store
  2. Open the sushi restaurant in a club/bar area
  3. At early night, make the restaurant romantic. Play quiet BGMs and make the environment exotic with dim lgihts. Target couples that come for a date.
  4. Later at night, target customers that wants to have a light meal before they go home after drinking. Change the mood. Play loud music, make the environment more lively.

 

Anime as a hobby

In western countries, Anime is a common hobby for adults. Many of my friends watched western anime as a child and grew into watching japanese anime.

In Japan, anime is usually for kids. Although adults may read comic books, we tend to fade out of it as we grow older.  People who are into anime as an adult are often called an "Otaku." Otaku is a word that tends to be taken negatively. A close word to this in english would probably be "geek." 

I have never seen Anime recognized negatively in the US. Infact, japanese animation is popular for its story and graphics. Many say the girls are cuter in japanese animes.

No matter how anime is treated in japan, we should know that anime is one of the major source that creates the image of japan for western people.

 

Wrap up

I have been to many countries and actually felt the stereotype poeple have of "Japanese" people. Although many misunderstandings do exists, I believe the influence of animes, games, and movies have helped to create these stereotypes.

Luckilly for me, many of these stereotypes are positive and have helped me blend in to their environment.