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Old 10-05-2007, 11:04 AM
 
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Have any of you been to both Georgia (the state) and Japan? I thought I'd post this since I grew up in Georgia, and I visited Japan in the summers growing up. Although Japan is like my second home from visitng relatives there, it is completely different from Georgia. In fact, they are opposite in many ways. Some who was born and raised in Georgia and never visited a foreign country will experience greater culture shock than someone from California or New York.

Here's how the two compare/contrast:

- Japan has a low crime rate/Georgia, especially Atlanta, has a high crime rate
- Japan is densely poplulated/Georgia is sparsely populated
- Japan has a high cost of living/Georgia has a low cost of living
- Atlanta does have a traffic problem, but not as bad as Tokyo
- The climate is one thing similar (humid subtropical), which also results in similar vegetation and wildlife
- Culture and people are obviously different
- Japan's technology is advanced/Atlanta is one of the most technologically advanced cities in the U.S., believe it or not
- Japan has a reputation of high education, while Georgia has a bad reputation judging by the test scores
- Although people are different, both cultures are known for not accepting towards outsiders/foreigners, which tend to make some visitors/transplants feel uncomfortable and unwelcome, even though not all the people there like that
- Japan has a rugged, mountainous coastline like California, which is one reason why it's densely populated
- Japan has earthquakes, like California
- Georgia has mansions, most houses in Japan are small

Looking at the list above, Japan has more similarities with California, especially with the cost of living and dense population. Therefore, that is why someone from California would have less of a culture shock in Japan than someone from Georgia.
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Old 10-05-2007, 11:48 AM
 
Location: Tokyo, Japan
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It really depends on where in Japan you wish to compare to Georgia. I think many of your points are specific to Tokyo or Osaka.

A large city like Tokyo tends to be expensive and crowded, yes. However rural Japan has a problem with depopulation due to emigration to the cities and prices there tend to be comparable to certain areas of rural US.

Japan has mansions too, a few in Tokyo (I live about 3 blocks from one). Though, Japanese consider a house as large as a typical 1500sqft American house somewhat troublesome ("What a pain to have to heat a house that large!", I hear all the time).

The people are the biggest difference I think. You are dead-on correct about the lack of crime in Japan. Why so little crime compared to the states? The reason is completely cultural.

It's very easy to say the culture and people are different, but the reality is a huge chasm of difference-- the way people approach and solve problems, the way people organize themselves, the way people seem themselves --and it's the people and the culture of an area which really shape a person's experience there. Not so much the geology or the climate.

I would think the experience of living in California and Georgia would probably have more in common than a comparison of Japan and Georgia or even Japan and California.

Just my 2yen from living here the last four years.
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Old 10-05-2007, 12:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jamesh View Post
The people are the biggest difference I think. You are dead-on correct about the lack of crime in Japan. Why so little crime compared to the states? The reason is completely cultural.
One thing I notice about the Japanese (generally speaking, of course, not meaning to sound stereotypical) is that they tend to be more passive and try to avoid confrontation with others, while Americans tend to be more aggressive or assertive. The people of Japan are used to a peaceful society and want to keep it that way, and some view Americans as violent and causing trouble because of occasional incidents caused by a few bad apples abroad. Unfortunately, those bad apples ruin it for the good Americans as well and that is why some establishments (mainly nightclubs and bars) don't allow Americans to enter. Another reason why Japan has a low murder rate is because guns are illegal there. I know people who are anti gun control would disagree, but I think that is one factor combined with the peaceful culture.
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Old 10-05-2007, 11:58 PM
 
Location: Tokyo, Japan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEAandATL View Post
One thing I notice about the Japanese (generally speaking, of course, not meaning to sound stereotypical) is that they tend to be more passive and try to avoid confrontation with others, while Americans tend to be more aggressive or assertive. The people of Japan are used to a peaceful society and want to keep it that way, and some view Americans as violent and causing trouble because of occasional incidents caused by a few bad apples abroad. Unfortunately, those bad apples ruin it for the good Americans as well and that is why some establishments (mainly nightclubs and bars) don't allow Americans to enter. Another reason why Japan has a low murder rate is because guns are illegal there. I know people who are anti gun control would disagree, but I think that is one factor combined with the peaceful culture.
I don't think your observation is stereotypical at all. The Japanese do tend, as a whole, to try to avoid confrontation. They just approach a problem (such as a potential conflict) in a different way than westerners (westerners in general, not just Americans). Resorting to something like violence is generally a last resort, but "all options are not taken off the table". If you push someone too far here, he'll deck ya, like anywhere else. He just might make it a point to apologize to you later after he's cooled off though.

I think one of the biggest differences between Westerners and Japanese people is the concepts of tatemae and honne-- the inner self and the outer façade (respectively). Westerners simply don't bother with such things. We tend to wear our hearts on our sleeve, whereas the Japanese cultivate an outward politeness but they could feel 180deg differently about a person inside. I can always tell, more or less, what an American is thinking by reading his face-- certainly by reading his eyes. Japanese are harder to read. I think that's an advantage to them in business. In conflict, the Japanese regard it as a failure on their part if the other person gets angry. They take failure quite seriously and therefore try to avoid shame. Long story short: Japan has some really excellent customer service.

Japanese are also incredibly competitive. They emphasize it from preschool-age on up. I can't speak for experience in the US (my kid has yet to do US school), but I've heard stories of US schools attempting to de-emphasize competition in order to stem hurt feelings of losers. In the process they end up producing kids who can't handle failure as they've never had to deal with it. IMO, if that's really happening, that's going to hurt America when those kids become producing adults.

A lot of people claim the Japanese are racist, but I don't think that's entirely fair. Sure you are going to have some people who think in terms of race and superiority-- just like in pretty much every country on earth. But the vast majority of people are rather keen on foreigners although perhaps culturally ignorant and not nearly as culturally sensitive as Americans tend to be. Japanese very much dislike cultural ignorance and they try very hard to be personal experts on the cultural trivialities of various countries. Sometimes they are so successful it suprises me. Sometimes they get it wrong so badly I have to laugh. The lack of cultural sensitivity is to be expected: Japan is a very homogenous culture, and has been for a very long time.

Japanese culture also revolves around the "small village" mentality. Everyone, and I do mean *everyone*-- even in the deepest, darkest parts of Central Tokyo --is part of a community. If you buy a house in Japan, you are expected to contribute a bit of time and interest into your community, including but not limited to: donating money for matsuri (festivals); attending community meetings; helping out with needed community maintenance; etc. It's like being part of a HOA in a condo situation. If you don't contribute, you can quickly find yourself on the outside of the neighborhood clique, and that is disadvantageous in the long run.

This "small village" culture has it's pros and cons. Pros include a decrease in crime as people keep their hands to themselves for the most part and neighbors look out for each other (how much they look out for you is subjective depending on where you live and who your neighbors are...).
A con to the small village approach is that it's hard to get into a group (especially as a foreigner), but once you are in, you are in. Japanese are therefore big on group-think. This is a huge difference between them and Americans who're conditioned to emphasize independent thinking. Japanese in contrast are conditioned through culture and school to always strive to be part of a group. Don't make decisions without running them past the group. Always make sure your actions are synchronized with those of the rest of the group. It's very very very important here. A Japanese who feels cut out of a group can become depressed and even suicidal.

I personally am pro-gun control, but I don't credit a lack of guns for the lack of crime in Japan: the gangs absolutely do have guns. They shoot each other here all the time. They get them illegally just like in the US. As far as spontaneous crimes like "crimes of passion", etc. Japanese seem to be very adept at using knives. Pretty violent stabbings do happen here on occasion. Thefts? They happen. Robberies? They happen. My mother-in-law was purse-snatched on a west Tokyo street by a teenager on a motor-scooter. People are people, and people do crime. There's not as much crime as the US, but in the US there's also not as much neighborhood surveillance as in Japan, and I think Japanese tend to hold a sense of personal morality in a higher regard than Americans. I can already see myself getting flamed for saying this, and maybe I am being too general (for which I apologize), but let me give an example:

I can't tell you how many Americans I know who'd think "I should swipe _____ since it's just laying there unguarded and it's relatively cheap. Nobody will care."

In my experience, a Japanese person would instead think "Oh, someone left _______ just lying on the ground. Somebody should be more careful. I will leave it there so they can find it when they come back."

I don't mean to sound like I am dissing on Americans, and am not anti-American by any means. I think the above example Japanese mentality was much more common in the US when I was a kid. But I am shocked sometimes when I hear people of my generation (Gen X) brag about how they got something for a "five-finger discount". Like being morally bankrupt is something to brag about.

As far as thinking Americans are violent hooligans that just cause trouble (i.e. English Football fans, j/k! Go Liverpool!), nothing could be further from the truth. Out of the foreigners in Japan, I would say that Americans, Australians, and Europeans have the easiest time getting things done here. The people who arguably get harrassed the most are Africans, Persians/Arabs, and other Asians. These three groups also cause the lions-share of crimes committed by a foreigner. An American or European might on occasion get busted for drugs, but for violent crime or theft? If it happens, it's literally front-page news it's so rare.

Americans especially get a lot of slack. For instance, I am an American married to a Japanese national living in Tokyo, therefore I need a spousal visa. When we got mine, I was literally fast-tracked through the system. No need for interview. No need for a lot of background data. I've heard horror stories in comparison from a few friends about getting visas for their Chinese wife or Filipino husband.

When you hear about a place that doesn't allow foreigners (i.e. signs that say "No Americans") it's usually either around a US military base or it's a yakuza-run joint that you don't want to go to anyway. I know there are some onsens in remote sections of Hokkaido that have problems with visiting Russian sailors not following the bath rules and so they've occasionally taken a knee-jerk reaction and made a "no foreigners" policy. Since usually the only foreigners they see are Russian sailors, you can see why they might just use a blanket policy-- to them it's the same thing as being specific.

Sorry so long a post. The subject has a lot of ground to cover.

Last edited by jamesh; 10-05-2007 at 11:59 PM.. Reason: I fixed the word "façade". It was bugging me.
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Old 10-07-2007, 10:31 AM
 
Location: Land of 10000 Lakes + some
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No apologies necessary. An extremely informative post. Thanks much!
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Old 10-10-2007, 09:52 AM
 
3,668 posts, read 8,838,693 times
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Yeah, same here. I took time out to read every world and that post was very interesting and informative!
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Old 10-11-2007, 07:02 AM
 
Location: Tokyo, Japan
59 posts, read 324,007 times
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Wow, thanks SEAandATL and Lillietta! I appreciate the warm response. If you ever need me to fill up a full page on Japanese culture and mannerisms again, just let me know.

Seriously though, a lot of this has come to my mind recently as my family is preparing to move back to the US. You just happened to ask your question at an opportune moment for me to do a brain dump.
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Old 03-22-2008, 01:22 PM
 
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Wink So that means....

My name is Katlynn Cross & I Live in Georgia and Japan has been my dream home scence I was four I am now only 13 but I am a very organized typed girl I like to have every thing planned out!
But on to the topic by reading what you said that means that if I wanted to move to Japan for about say four or five years for collage....then no one would accept me? I am also very socialble and this would be VERY hard for me! But, I do plan on becoming an foreign exchange student in High School! Would that be very hard to?
What would an apartment go for in Okinawa? Tokyo seems to busy and all clubs! (I personally love the beach!) I also am very horse crazy and would need my four-legged compainion with me...What city would be ok to have enough space for a horses (counting me and my friends horse) not to mention our dogs! *sigh*

Please help and educate me!!!! I want to learn as much as I can!!
Katlynn
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Old 03-22-2008, 04:29 PM
 
Location: Kauai, HI
1,041 posts, read 4,034,659 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Koneko View Post
My name is Katlynn Cross & I Live in Georgia and Japan has been my dream home scence I was four I am now only 13 but I am a very organized typed girl I like to have every thing planned out!
But on to the topic by reading what you said that means that if I wanted to move to Japan for about say four or five years for collage....then no one would accept me? I am also very socialble and this would be VERY hard for me! But, I do plan on becoming an foreign exchange student in High School! Would that be very hard to?
What would an apartment go for in Okinawa? Tokyo seems to busy and all clubs! (I personally love the beach!) I also am very horse crazy and would need my four-legged compainion with me...What city would be ok to have enough space for a horses (counting me and my friends horse) not to mention our dogs! *sigh*

Please help and educate me!!!! I want to learn as much as I can!!
Katlynn

If you go to Japan as an exchange student, you will most likely be able to live with a host family. Doing so will really help you understand the culture and improve your language skills. I was able to study abroad in Saitama (an hour or so from Tokyo) when I was 13 and then I studied there in college (this time in Chiba, near Tokyo Disney). The Japanese are wonderful people and are very eager to learn about your life and customs (that was my experience at least). As long as you go in with an open mind, you will be accepted! Finding a place for a horse (and shipping one to Japan!) will be hard and expensive. Plus, the more rural an area you go to (which would offer you more space) the more difficulty you would have in adjusting. Okinawa is a beautiful place but is very secluded. It reminds me more of Hawaii (where I live now). Perhaps you would be interested in an area near Kyoto. Kyoto is more traditional and smaller than Tokyo but has a LOT to offer culturally. Its great you are interested at a young age!
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Old 04-05-2008, 12:08 AM
 
3,668 posts, read 8,838,693 times
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Default Atlanta vs. Tokyo (pics)

Now that I've lived in Japan for about 2 months, and visited Tokyo frequently, I do see some similarities between Atlanta and Tokyo. One similarity is the architecture, a mix of modern and postmodern hi-rises and skyscrapers. Another similarity is that they are both sprawling cities with more than just one skyline. Also, both cities can be divided into a variety of unique districts of neighborhoods, and a paticular area of Atlanta can share some similar characteristics of an area in Tokyo. Here are some examples:

-Midtown Atlanta is much like Shinjuku in Tokyo. Both are business/financial districts with many tall skyscrapers.

-Buckhead in Atlanta is like Roppongi in Tokyo. Both are entertainment/nightlife districts. However, Roppongi is considered Tokyo's Midtown due to it's location between Shinjuku and Central Tokyo.

-Unlike Atlanta, Tokyo doesn't really have a defined downtown area, but Marunoichi, the area around Tokyo Station, can be unofficially considered Central Tokyo, since that is where the rail hub is. Also, the Imperial Palace and Parliament are nearby.

- Virginia-Highlands and Little Five Points are like Atlanta's equivalent to Harajuku and Shibuya in Tokyo. They are all trendy areas that are popular among young people, and are known for shopping, dining, and nightlife. VaHi is located adjacent to Piedmont Park, and on the other side of the park is Midtown. Harajuku is adjacent to Yoyogi Park, and on the other side of that park is Yoyogi/Shinjuku.

- Grant Park is equivalent to Ueno Park, both have the zoo.

- Colleges/universities - Atlanta has Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, and Emory University. Tokyo has Univ. of Tokyo, Tokyo Tech, and Waseda Univ.

Now for the pics (taken by the same camera):

Here is a view from the Westin Peachtree in Atlanta looking north. Midtown is in the immediate foreground, and Buckhead is in the further background.


and here is a few from Tokyo Tower looking northwest. Roppongi is in the immediate foreground, and Shinjuku is in the further background.



Here is a pic of Midtown Atlanta


and here is this pic of Shinjuku, Tokyo.



Here is a pic of the Bank of America Plaza and the AT&T Bldg. from the Midtown station


and here is a pic of Takashimaya Times Square and the NTT DoCoMo Tower from Shinjuku Station.



Here is Buckhead


and here is Roppongi



Here is a view of the Atlanta Skyline from Centennial Park


and here is a view of the skyline and Tokyo Station at the bottom, as seen from near Hibiya Park



Here is a view facing Midtown Atlanta from Centennial Park


and here is a view facing Midtown Tokyo from Hibiya Park. You can see Tokyo Tower in the center.
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