The "Living In" Series:

Living In JAPAN - Table of Contents and Excerpt
by: Craig Sower & Mitsuko Tsuda
Copyright © 1997

Chapter 1

First Steps 1
Money 11
Food and Restaurants 3
Hotels and Accommodations 4
Telephones 6
Postal Services 7
Transportation 7
Entertainment and Sports 8
Shopping 10
Health and Medical Care 11
Immigration and Employment 13
Electricity, Conversion Tables,
and Miscellaneous 15
Publications 18

Chapter 2
Country Facts 19
People 19
Geography and Climate 19
Map 20
History 21
Religion 26
Economy 27
Government 28
Holidays and Festivals 29

Chapter 3
Culture, Values, and Customs 32
High- and Low-Context Cultures: Confirmation
vs. Information 32
Communication: Honne/Tatemae 34
The Group: Village Society and Wa 35
The Individual: Sympathy, Fairness,
Self-Control, Duty 37
Relationships and Hierarchy: Soto/Uchi 38
Time 40
Space 40
Privacy and Personal Contact 41
Education 42
The Arts 43
Family Life 45

Chapter 4
Manners 46
Politeness 46
Bowing and Handshaking 46
Shoes 47
Dress 48
Bathing 48
Gift-Giving and Thank-Yous 50
Invitations 50
Eating and Drinking 51
Tea 51
Houses 52

Chapter 5
The Japanese Language 53
Some Basic Information 53
Pronunciation Guide 54
Daily Phrases and Restaurants 55
Daily Essentials 55
General Phrases for Restaurants 55
Drinks 56
Izakaya Food 56
Sushi and Sashimi 58
Yakiniku Restaurants 59
Chinese Restaurants 59
Cafés and Family Restaurants 60
Fast Food Restaurants 61
Transportation 62
Signs 62
Money 62
Glossary 64
Addresses and Phone Numbers 66
Detailed Regional Map of Japan 68
Bibliography and Suggested Reading 70

Like many who have chosen to make Japan their home for a short time or longer, we have watched in dismay as some of our foreign friends have gone home bewildered or confused. Apparently, one of the reasons they have grown frustrated with their stay and have left is that Japan has not met their expectations. And so, this book was written for people who are planning to work in or visit Japan, as well as those who have recently arrived in Japan, in the hope that if they have a more realistic idea of what to expect, they will get more out of their stay.

We think Japan is a great place to live in, but we also recognize that adjusting to Japan can be difficult, especially for visitors who are outside of their country for the first time. We believe that visitors to Japan will enjoy things more if, right from the start, they are able to laugh at themselves and learn from the "culture bumps" that they will inevitably encounter. Culture bumps occur when one feels uncomfortable when coming into contact with the values or assumptions of a different culture. This could include anything from driving on the opposite side of the road , to giving students passing grades regardless of their performance in school. In these circumstances the visitor may think, "Gee, this is different; there must be some mistake." Well, yes and no. Yes, it is different. No, it is not a mistake. Some things are obviously different-highways and toilets, for example-but so are political, educational, and social practices and institutions. So, if your knuckles go white, your face turns red, and you start grinding your teeth when confronted with differences, you are probably experiencing a culture bump.

Culture bumps are the result of false expectations. We have noticed that some newcomers arrive predisposed to putting Japan on a pedestal, others to dismissing Japanese culture out of hand. Both expectations oversimplify things, and when reality sets in, disappointment follows.

From the outset we want to state clearly that when we discuss Japan and the Japanese we do not mean to imply that Japanese culture is superior to others or vice versa. We are presenting the common features of Japan and some of the issues that can cause miscommunication between Japanese and foreigners. We are not attempting to characterize these features as right or wrong; we are trying to describe them, not evaluate them. We also recognize that they do not apply to all members of society.

There are a lot of good, in-depth books about Japan on the market. Although we can help you by introducing you to some basic information about Japan, we encourage you to use the sources in the back for further study. In this book, the chapters do not need to be read in order, so you may take a look at the table of contents, see which areas interest you most, and read those first. The first two chapters are very concrete and deal with getting around and facts about the country. Chapters 3 and 4 are about culture and manners and hence more open to interpretation. Chapter 5 is a brief introduction to survival Japanese. Chapter 6 contains a glossary of important terms and Japanese words. Finally, addresses, phone numbers, and suggested readings are in Chapters 7 and 9. "Chapter" 8 is a somewhat more detailed map of Japan that the one given in Chapter 2. It gives the names of many of the important cities and towns and shows all of the islands of Japan in relation to the other countries in the region.

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