the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Thursday, April 20, 2006

What I love about Japan

Last Thursday, I went out for sushi with my friends MW and EO to celebrate my new job. As we left, the waiter (who was American) wished us good night. He was standing next to the chef (who was Japanese). The chef and I made eye contact. Without even thinking, I bowed and uttered "ありがと ございます!(Arigato gozaimasu -> Thank you very much)". He replied with the same, "ありがと ございます!" And that is one of the many things I love about Japan.

For a small moment I returned back to a system where everything had it's place. Where you must say Thank you, and you must receive a reply. Some people would say that this system is authoritative, demeaning, or destroys freewill. And in some cultures it may be. I realize this is my first real cross-cultural experience, and I may be seeing everything with rose-colored glasses, but in this instance the structure is freeing.

It is freeing to know where your place is, and what you can and cannot say, to know the appropriate actions, and know that people before you have been doing the same for a very long time. The order of this system is freeing - at least right now.

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I'm going to try and go out for sushi every Thursday to get used to the tastes and the order I have forgotten. If you're in the SF area and want to come with me sometime, give me a call.

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