Saturday, April 25, 2009

Frank Advice: Reader Discretion Advised

I was with a Japanese American friend today who had spent his childhood split between Tokyo and Upstate New York, constantly struggling to fit in and adapt to two vastly divergent cultures.

When I asked him about how to get people to help me out in this city, this was his frank response:

Dude, this is Japan. You scratch someone's back and give them a handjob, and they will scratch your back and give you a blowjob. People are constantly trying to one-up each other.

Sexual metaphors aside, what does he mean? Use the Japanese culture of humble respect to your advantage. Honor people and treat them as your superiors, always taking extra care to show your gratitude, and they will straight on hook you up. If someone does you a favor, you owe them big time. Keep the cycle alive, and you build relationships with people.

I constantly see this in my daily life here. If you meet Japanese people and give them a little, show them that you can see them beyond Western stereotypes, they will be more than eager to open up to you.

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