When you do not know where you are, you say “Where am I?” in English. In Japanese, you say “Koko ha doko desu ka?” (Where is here?). Also in English, if you are introducing your girlfriend, you would put the word “my” into the sentence, saying “She is my girlfriend.” This reflects a tendency to put oneself at the center of things. This idea can also be seen in people’s actions. For instance, some Western people are often late for meetings with friends without giving any notice. That is because some Westerners do not think too much about the inconvenience caused to the person waiting. When we have to discuss an important matter, sometimes we wait until all members are present. That means, an absent person is wasting everybody’s time. Moreover, if it is a meeting of specifically selected people, it would mean that others are deprived of the opportunity to take part. In Japan, punctuality is common practice. The fact that trains run on time is taken for granted. If people are late or trains are cancelled, this results in a loss of time for many people. Japanese people are taught not to cause other people any trouble from an early age. It can be said that the Japanese way of thinking shows an awareness of the importance of putting others before yourself.
Explore Japanese culture with Hiragana TimesSubscribe