Smile! :)Many foreigners in Japan will be surprised/shocked eventually by some aspect of Japanese culture. No matter how much you'll study, you will eventually get surprised - and usually this surprise will come from somewhere unexpected. I have discovered an ultimate method how to get over this surprise, and turn it in your advantage. Read on..
There is one thing what Japanese love to watch foreigners doing most. That is smiling. When you smile, Japanese might feel "maybe our country isn't such a bad country afterall". See a foreigner smiling makes them relax and probably smile too. Smile can be a fantastic tool to make friends. But it can also serve another purpose - if you get cornered, and find no escape, just smile and you'll be always ok. The magic of smile can save lives and solve impossible knots of human conflicts.
Once, my ex girlfriend invited me to stay at their house. However, when we were having coffee with her and her mother, the mother said to her that I kind of.. smelled bad. Well, I realized that it's probably true, and I apologized her. After all I had been having this 39C fever, and we foreigners tend to have a stronger scent of sweat when we cannot take a shower. Whether the reason is that I stay in guest house which shower is indescribably evil place (too dirty to explain!), or I'm just lazy, it makes no difference. I knew it, I smelled bad. Really sorry..
First I was little shocked because the mother knew I had been having this fever, and still she made such a remark of me. Nonetheless, soon I thought, well, I should just smile. Because if her mother says such thing about me, she thinks I'm part of the family, part of the inside, "uchi" group. Japanese people never say such comment to someone who they consider as outsider to their social circle. That time I couldn't quite smile, but I should have. It was not end of the world.
If the girl cancels the dates you've been expecting, or shows up late into the bar where you were supposed to meet, instead of getting depressed, how about just smile to her? She might give it a second thought if she sees you smiling. "Afterall, he is smiling.. he must be a good person, even I just cancelled a date with him.." Ofcourse, if the person is a used car salesman, a smile makes no difference maybe..
Japanese women enjoy to talk with people who seem cheerful and gentle. This is a problem I've encountered in Japan. We Finnish tend to be so damn heavy people. We take things too seriously. A woman friend of mine told me last month in Japan "I think your expression is like you are thinking things deeply all the time. That can make woman a bit uncomfortable."
I realized soon that she does have a point. When watching Japanese people, I get this special feeling how strong they must be. I met this girl who lost her job and she was just smiling and laughing, even though the disappointment occasionally flashed in her eyes. Japanese have saying "don't think too much". My friends have told me that zillion times.
When we smile and laugh with friends, soon we forget about that, and after a while we get some perspective to the difficult things we are encountering. I mean, maybe afterall, it isn't so bad.
Still, I have to say how much I respect the ability of Japanese. With their smile, they turn the difficult atmosphere into a gentle one. Japanese have realized that smile requires almost no effort, but still it has such a big impact.
And when you smile, do smile so that your teeth show. Even if you are missing one. (But don't show a smile like that to cats, because cats think that you are attacking them when they see white tooth, same goes to dogs.) If you don't know what I mean, see the smile of the baseball player Shinjou! His smile is what I mean. And you don't need to get million dollar tooth fix. That doesn't matter.
Be happy! :)
Smile, you\’re on god\’s candid camera!
a.e. - 30 07 07 - 23:32