This is my response to the last Cross Culture Question, glad I stopped calling it a bi-weekly question because I'm really late on putting out the next one. I will in the next 3-4 days!
As some of you know I live in Japan and I think this question may be a good opportunity for me to express why I not only came here the first time but why I came back after being away for 5 years. It's not a love for games or anime or Buddhism or Karate. And hey, it's not because I love Asian women, I love ALL women! It's not cause I want to live somewhere safe and stable or cause I love the food (yeah I do).
The main reason I'm attracted to Japan, the thing that makes all the other things just a bonus is that the mindset of the average Japanese person is almost the total opposite of an average American. While Americans tend to be go-getters, like to be at the center of things, spread their influence as far as they can and compete at everything they do, the exact opposite can be said of most Japanese people. Obviously there are always exceptions, but speaking generally, I think that's something most people can accept as truth.
I've always felt western people can be extremely aggressive. I even see it in myself sometimes. We always want to prove our point to others and show the world who we are. Japanese on the other hand are usually much better listeners but it can be more difficult to get some people to share their opinions. Rather than thinking about themselves and how good they are, they are more careful not to impose on other people. This is, of course, a simplification, and collective ideals can also be very imposing, but it's an opposite end of the spectrum.
This is not to say I dislike western culture. I think that both cultures are valuable and have an immense amount to learn from each other. I see a balance between these two different mindsets as vital for the healthy development of both sides of the ocean
The first time I lived here I became much more passive, less imposing, and willing to accept things as they are rather than trying to change them. Then when I spent some time away, I learned to balance these two aspects of my personality and to be confident in my ideas and perspective without feeling the need to impose them on others, and also able to give space for others to share and be themselves. I can find peace with what is and still strive for a vision of the future that is even more fulfilling.
I love that Japan helped me to find that balance, and I would love to share this feeling of balance with others. That's what I'm all about :-)
I feel as if Japan has changed a lot since the earthquake in 2011 and people are beginning to seek for their own balance, which makes it a very exciting place to be, even if daily life can be mundane and people still shy and reserved sometimes. I can't wait to see how this island changes as the mindset changes.
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