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Living in Japan as a foreigner - AMA

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I'm just pulling this out of my ass, but I imagine one of the reasons Japanese people are generally bad at English could be because it's probably almost as hard for them to learn as Japanese is for English speakers. I'm guessing most Japanese people aren't very interested in consuming English media or in living abroad, and it might feel like a waste of time to put so much effort into further developing their English if all they're going to use it for is the occasional vacation.
That's pretty much how I see the French language nowadays, after studying it for four years. I never have any use for it in my home country, and that has ultimately made me forget most of what I've learned. I now wish I'd spent those four years studying Japanese instead, since that is such a big part of my life today.

Anyway, here's a question for you:
Do you, as a foreigner, make sure to use the appropriate level of politeness in terms of bowing, using name suffixes and whatnot? I've heard that Japanese people generally are more accepting of casual speak from foreigners, but I have no idea to what degree. I imagine casual speak wouldn't be very well received in job interviews and such, even if you're a foreigner.

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52 minutes ago, Seraphim88 said:

I'm just pulling this out of my ass, but I imagine one of the reasons Japanese people are generally bad at English could be because it's probably almost as hard for them to learn as Japanese is for English speakers. I'm guessing most Japanese people aren't very interested in consuming English media or in living abroad, and it might feel like a waste of time to put so much effort into further developing their English if all they're going to use it for is the occasional vacation.
That's pretty much how I see the French language nowadays, after studying it for four years. I never have any use for it in my home country, and that has ultimately made me forget most of what I've learned. I now wish I'd spent those four years studying Japanese instead, since that is such a big part of my life today.

Anyway, here's a question for you:
Do you, as a foreigner, make sure to use the appropriate level of politeness in terms of bowing, using name suffixes and whatnot? I've heard that Japanese people generally are more accepting of casual speak from foreigners, but I have no idea to what degree. I imagine casual speak wouldn't be very well received in job interviews and such, even if you're a foreigner.

Definitely. It’s very hard for them to learn, and they have much less motivation compared to some of us, who learn Japanese because we’re super into Japanese media. There are some "Western media otakus" in Japan too though, ofc, which is always fun to see. A friend of mine is like that, and hearing her go on about western stuff like it’s the most amazing shit ever is so funny. We’re not the only otakus out there, guys! 

 

Right. So, when it comes to polite forms in the Japanese language in general, there’s been a pretty big decline in the usage of "keigo" and such in general in the past few years. Our professor at the university I went to in Japan told us that we probably know keigo better than native speakers our age, as they simply don’t care as much anymore. 

To be safe, just stick with "teineigo", which is the general polite forms people use when speaking to strangers. You don’t need any higher level of polieteness than that, unless you’re going to be in some serious job related situations. (So, your standard desu/masu endings is plenty.) And tbh, I’d think just using teineigo would be enough for a foreigner, even at job interviews, as long as you make a generally good impression. 

For honorifics, you’re really only going to need -san. I’ve never had anyone look at me weird when using first name-san, as with young people nowadays, that level of "closeness" tends to be quite normal, with the internet and what not bringing people closer. If you want to be safe, though, you can use last name-san, especially for people who are older etc. Though, tbh, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about this stuff. Just sticking to teineigo and using -san for people you don’t know, will be more than enough. 

That’s what I personally do, at least. 

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I appreciate the input! I've been in Japan two times before, but I didn't understand the language at all back then and thus never interacted with people in Japanese. On my next trip, I'm expecting my Japanese to be at a level where everyday conversation is actually possible, so I'm looking forward to seeing what that's like!

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On 29/04/2019 at 5:36 PM, kokoro said:

What do Japanese people know about Norwegian fellas? Vikings, Thor, Loki and stuff?

That has to be a lot. Lots of Japanese tourists here during the summer.

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On 5/3/2019 at 6:27 PM, Dergonu said:

I have mainly been talking with younger people in Japan, and haven't been introduced to anyone's family or anything yet, so I haven't actually spoken much with older Japanese people at all, beyond just very short conversations in passing etc. I must admit, I'm more of a fan of the current generation in Japan, as they are more modern and open to western ideas, compared to the rather conservative older generation.

As I haven't talked much with the elderly in Japan, I honestly can't give a good answer to this, I'm afraid.

 

About keigo, you generally don't need more than teineigo in Japan to have normal conversations with people. Keigo is normally reserved for business talk, or when you're speaking with someone above you in rank, which won't always be all that relevant to a foreign person, as you're kind of... "outside" of Japanese social rankings. (Unless you work there.)
Knowing keigo is a great way to impress older people though, I'm sure. But, if you're just planning on traveling and speaking casually with people, you'll be fine with teineigo. In fact, using overly formal Japanese with someone you're close with will just have the opposite effect, and can sound strange. Once you've befriended someone, you usually switch to more casual styles, either a casual form of teineigo, or just futsuutai altogether.

I'm planning to stay in various home stays of Japan (Couchsurfing) for at least a month in 田舎 (countryside) of Japan. Meeting various people and having meaningful conversation with them to become friends, ultimately depends on one's Japanese skill. I'm interested in discussing about Old Japan for which i need lots of practice which thankfully, has become comparatively easier with Anime/Manga/Visual Novels. 

Casual Japanese can be easily learned with subbed Anime for instance. Though there was a suggestion i read somewhere about avoiding Japanese terms/slangs used in Anime n stuff as study material but, if one properly knows (or researches prior to usage) of what they r going to speak to other person then it shouldn't be a problem (i learned to talk about weather, hobbies N activities related to after school club life just from reading untranslated Visual Novels). Thus I've been sort of gathering lots of casual topics one after another N practicing to speak on them online so i can finally get "casual" with younger Japanese when i finally visit Japan (Reminds me again why I've never have been able to use the term "Chan", even in online chat.... coz it's impolite to use randomly (>v<;)) 

Keigo (敬語) is basically more than sufficient for first time introduction (自己紹介) or while meeting a Senpai type or elder person. First impression IS the last impression after all, especially since there is already a lot of online discussion on how to represent yourself in front of Japanese people while introducing oneself. Thus, the form of language usage depends solely on situation or age of people, more or less~

Is Meetup website a good choice to have single or group conversation with japanese people ? 

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On 5.5.2019 at 8:35 PM, vizualfan said:

Is Meetup website a good choice to have single or group conversation with japanese people ? 

I have not used any of these sites/ apps myself, but my friends tell me they are pretty good for meeting people in Japan, yeah. Even apps like Tinder apparently has several people just looking for friends/ conversational partners, specifically Japanese speakers wanting someone to speak English with and vice versa. The app can be used for something other than sex, who knew!

I don't know how many old people you'll find on those apps, though, lol. Not a lot of elderly people who are good with technology over there. :P

Good luck on your trip.

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On 5/5/2019 at 2:35 PM, vizualfan said:

Is Meetup website a good choice to have single or group conversation with japanese people ? 

Meetup works best in big cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. There are many Meetup events, but in my experience it is the more low key ones that tend to be most fun and interesting (for unrelated reasons I was personal friends with a host for a smaller Meetup event and those were the most fun for me). Most of the bigger, more well known or established Meetup events are honestly just an excuse for foreigners interested in hooking up with Japanese, and Japanese interested in hooking up with foreigners to meet. In fact, I would say a good 70% of Meetup events at their very core are really just an excuse to try to meet someone for a sexual or romantic relationship. Which depending on your perspective could be great or not. 

Basically Meetup in Japan is like the irl version of the app HelloTalk. There is a pretense of "language exchange", but its really used for flirting. So if you want to meet a cute Japanese girl or guy, definitely try Meetup and HelloTalk. If you want to meet people who could become actual friends, then I would recommend attending Meetup events that do events that are most specific and hobby focused, and not just "language exchange".  

Quote

Even apps like Tinder apparently has several people just looking for friends/ conversational partners, specifically Japanese speakers wanting someone to speak English with and vice versa. The app can be used for something other than sex, who knew!

Its more that women on Tinder will say that as a precaution in case if they aren't actually attracted to the guy they meet up with on the first date. This way she can reject him more gently/indirectly by saying "No, I'm just looking for friends". Which if you think about Japanese culture, it makes a lot of sense why they would prefer to do that. But if she is attracted, well lets just say she won't have any problem accepting advances for something more sensual/romantic. 

 

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On 5/7/2019 at 2:53 AM, Dergonu said:

Even apps like Tinder apparently has several people just looking for friends/ conversational partners, specifically Japanese speakers wanting someone to speak English with and vice versa. The app can be used for something other than sex, who knew!

Why risk STD's when you've yet to deal with that mountain of Eroge stockpiled in dat hard disk:D

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On 5/9/2019 at 8:58 AM, Zalor said:

There is a pretense of "language exchange", but its really used for flirting. So if you want to meet a cute Japanese girl or guy, definitely try Meetup and HelloTalk.

That i did (partially). Never thought i'd be texting my in-depth Shojo Manga analysis with a J-girl on Hello talk though. She likes Toradora Anime N freely throws her own guidelines on Tsundere or whatever-dere there R~

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25 minutes ago, Hakunon said:

I wish I could go there but seriously the only thing that's stopping me from going there is my height. I'm tall as a female and going there would make me feel like I'm a freak. 

You shouldn't worry about that at all! Sure, the average height for women in Japan isn't that tall, but that doesn't mean they look at tall people as freaks! Many of the girls in my class are fairly tall for women, and they fit in just fine.
You might have people mention that you are tall now and then, but that's the case for pretty much any foreigners in Japan. Heck, if you're traveling in big cities like Tokyo and Kyoto, you're gonig to be seeing lots of other tall foreigners. You shouldn't let something so trivial stop you from going there!

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1 minute ago, Dergonu said:

You shouldn't worry about that at all! Sure, the average height for women in Japan isn't that tall, but that doesn't mean they look at tall people as freaks! Many of the girls in my class are fairly tall for women, and they fit in just fine.
You might have people mention that you are tall now and then, but that's the case for pretty much any foreigners in Japan. Heck, if you're traveling in big cities like Tokyo and Kyoto, you're gonig to be seeing lots of other tall foreigners. You shouldn't let something so trivial stop you from going there!

Well I'm taller than the average man there haha but you're right, I hope someday I'll be strong and confident enough.

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On 21/06/2019 at 3:06 AM, onorub said:

Please play Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome. Sorry for the thread derailment, but those posts pretty much make you the perfect person for recommending this. 

lol. Has bitch face, is unhappy with having bitch face cause it makes her hard to approach, yet acts like a bitch. I mean, this is pretty common irl as well, but i can't get my head around the stupidity of it all. Behave like an arrogant bitch, be treated like an arrogant bitch. I get the suggestion, but the one above is more lacking in confidence. Go out and get laid is my suggestion to a girl having confidence issues :lol:

Edited by Stormwolf

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