Why are Chinese people so much friendlier than Japanese?

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Alienboy
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22 Jan 2012, 11:24 am

I am currently studying Chinese Mandarin and Japanese. I used to only study Japanese because my ex gf was from Osaka, Japan. Ever since we broke up, I have kind of stopped studying Japanese, but I have been getting back into it. I have learned a lot Chinese Mandarin while I was teaching English in China for a few years. I did a little social experiment last night to test whether on average, Chinese or Japanese girls are friendlier to strangers. I sent invitation messages to 20 Japanese girls and only sent messages to 2 Chinese girls, with the assumption that I would sooner hear from one of the few Chinese girls I messaged (because I think they are friendlier)....and that is exactly what happened! My message was nothing creepy or perverted. I was basically introducing myself and asking about a possible language exchange in a polite and friendly manner. Heard nothing from any of the Japanese girls (gee what a surprise) nor did they add me to skype, but of the 2 Chinese girls I messaged, one of them not only messaged me and added me as a skype friend...we also had a long chat last night. It is frustrating because I am interested in Japan and China and I start to like Japanese people less because they constantly prove to be so rude and apathetic to people they don't know...regardless of how friendly they are! I know it is part of their culture...but it is just one of those things about Japan that is a real bummer. Even my ex gf (Japanese girl) was kind of a b***h and my ex Chinese gfs were a lot nicer. Why is this? I'm posting this because I'm so sick of hearing about people raving how nice Japanese people are when they actually aren't. I lived in Japan and China...and I know that Chinese people are way way more friendly to strangers, foreigners and strangers who happen to be foreigners than Japanese people.

Excuse my run-on sentences...this is kind of a rant due to achieving expected results from my little skype friendship test. Can anyone share with me some thoughts?



Venger
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22 Jan 2012, 11:37 am

I know oriental people will freak out on you quite easily over something very minor that slightly annoys them. Maybe Japanese do this the most?



Alienboy
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22 Jan 2012, 11:52 am

Venger wrote:
I know oriental people will freak out on you quite easily over something very minor that slightly annoys them. Maybe Japanese do this the most?


I read this book called "Shutting Out the Sun" and it is mainly focused on hikikomori, which are like hermits who literally "shut out the sun" and keep themselves locked away from the rest of Japanese society. It seems as if even the Japanese who are not classified as hikikomori within Japanese culture...it seems like they all act like hikikomori towards foreigners in a sense. It is strange because they are a super advanced culture and regardless of their long history of being an isolated culture...it doesn't really excuse such common rude behavior I have experienced from them. It is like they usually don't have an interest in truly knowing foreigners. During my time in China...this rarely happened and Chinese people actually seemed excited to know me. China has also always been an isolated and traditional culture that has only recently opened up to the ideals of the western world. There are only a few reasons for common rudeness and cold attitudes I get from Japanese people that really make sense in my mind. One is that the foreigner card has been played out in that Japan is now flooded with foreigners, which might have caused some sort of resentment towards foreigners. The other reason might be that Japanese people are trying to hold onto their culture, which is difficult to do in the modern world, as the younger generation is more global and open to outside cultures. The strange thing is I am being ignored and treated bad by young Japanese people...so another issue could be that young Japanese people are spoiled in that they have been brought up in such a modern society...they pretty much have everything over there. How can one not get a big head you know? Anyway, it is just depressing because I really try to like Japan and its people, but I keep getting let down. Makes me wonder why I continue to study Japanese at all...maybe I should devote all my attention to Mandarin Chinese or just drop Japanese and pick up another language altogether.



CaptainTrips222
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22 Jan 2012, 12:17 pm

Alienboy wrote:
Makes me wonder why I continue to study Japanese at all...maybe I should devote all my attention to Mandarin Chinese or just drop Japanese and pick up another language altogether.


If it's to the point you don't want to study their language, you must be having a really negative experience. The people I know who teach English over there say they're really friendly, so I'm kinda surprised to hear about this. I thought the whole 'foreigner devil' attitude was a myth, or an exaggeration. I guess not.



Alienboy
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22 Jan 2012, 1:36 pm

Well I have met friendly Japanese people that I met while I was in Japan, but not as often as I did with Chinese people. The skype situation is different because that is a situation where I am meeting strangers online...which I guess is just not really as accepted by Japanese people and more accepted by Chinese people...I really have no idea. Maybe my experience would be different if I taught English in Japan and met more people in person instead. I was living in Japan before with a friend and I was participating in the WWOOF program, which was alright. I have a few friends that are teaching in China, South Korea and Japan, so I hear the good and the bad of all 3 places. I heard the South Korean people are a lot less friendly than even the Japanese are towards foreigners. It is frustrating because the teaching jobs pay highest there and Japan would be cool, but I guess the competition is crazy in Japan when it comes to English teachers. I guess I will just be back in China for a while and if I grow tired of China...maybe I can teach in Dubai, Mongolia, Thailand or Indonesia...I still have plenty of other options.



Alienboy
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22 Jan 2012, 1:37 pm

By the way...Captain Trips...sweet a hats off to Stephen King's The Stand. Great novel by a great author. I have read a ton of his books! I love his writing style!



Fnord
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22 Jan 2012, 3:38 pm

I've never noticed the difference. However, I have noticed that not only will Filipinos greet you warmly, they will also feed you if they invite you into their homes. And by "feed", I do not mean a treat or two out of a candy tray, but an entire multicourse, sit-down meal at the family table!

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

:D

(PS: Sorry for the derail.)



The_Face_of_Boo
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22 Jan 2012, 4:37 pm

Fnord wrote:
I've never noticed the difference. However, I have noticed that not only will Filipinos greet you warmly, they will also feed you if they invite you into their homes. And by "feed", I do not mean a treat or two out of a candy tray, but an entire multicourse, sit-down meal at the family table!

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

:D

(PS: Sorry for the derail.)



Same here in the Middle-east, if we ever have guests we usually feed them a whole set of fruits, a coffee or tea are must-given.

If they ever come before lunch, we insist them to join, same for dinner- but I tought this one is common sense among most cultures (no? correct me if I am mistaken here).


The female guests usually help the hosts in dish-washing and cleaning after the lunch/dinner. Tribal traditions, I know. :roll:

I think my culture can relate to the southern (ie.India) and Far east more than to the West when it comes to greeting and hospitality; the Japs sound more different than the rest though.



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22 Jan 2012, 6:57 pm

In my opinion, the issue depends both on foreign language literacy and on the "self-sufficiency" attitude of a population. I have been both in China and Japan and I have met lots of people from both countries by now, and I have noticed the same pattern as you have. I don't believe it's about being rude - it's more about being curious to talk to a foreigner in another language.

Of course this is based on my personal experience only... but comparing people with the same level of education as me, Chinese people tend to be more fluent in English than the Japanese, and have less trouble with pronounciation. It might be that the teaching of English is pushed more in developing countries (those with a decent education system), because there is higher reliance on foreign trade and tourism. Once, a high-school senior Japanese guy showed me his English coursebook, and the stuff in there was the same I had learnt in *middle school* as non-native English speaker myself. Of course, if a person doesn't speak very well, that can be a major deterrent for a conversation (it's frustrating).

Regarding the "self sufficiency" attitude, I believe there is a different degree in the intrinsic motivation of students to learn English (or other languages) and to be curious about foreign countries, depending on whether they live in a developed or developing country. Again based on my personal experience, I saw people from less developed countries be more curious towards the culture of more developed ones, and eager to speak a foreign language, than the others. I saw the same "I don't care" attitude in North American and Australian people, for instance. It is annoying to me but I know it is not intentional.
If you don't think that your survival will depend on the knowledge of a foreign language, it is likely that you won't care about practicing it - it will be just another boring subject that you have to study in school. Same goes for the ability to blend in a foreign environment.

My suggestion would be to look for the right people - those who express interest in the rest of the world, maybe in some groups or message boards - rather than texting random people :)


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DeadOperaStar
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22 Jan 2012, 11:58 pm

i've never been to japan, myself. studied the language for a little little bit, but never went there. i live in china right now (happy new year to everybody, btw). i dunno.. from my experience, there's more of a hospitality thing going on here, so i can see what you mean kinda.
but i also think there's a difference between being reserved and downright unfriendly. since i'm kind of a reserved person myself, i feel i can say with reserved people, there's definitely rules of engagement. which might mean not wanting to talk to strangers so much, for one thing. if you got a chance to know each other, those 20 girls could turn out to be very friendly people.
i guess i just take issue with friendliness and being outgoing being regarded as mutually necessary. i feel that i'm a friendly person most of the time, but at the same time, i'm very reserved.
and also stuff has to be taken into account like how our culture(s) has interacted with theirs. not saying anything about you, but there's a whole set of people from the west who have sort of a creepy fixation on japan and some shallow pop culture things from japan like anime and pornography (not that there's anything wrong with LIKING them, i'm saying being fixated on them) and such. really some strange people. so it's possible that japanese girls have learned to be really cautious around strange foreign guys. again, not you, as i'm sure you were perfectly respectful and normal in your messages to them, but once an idea like that takes hold, it could be hard to shake loose, know what i mean? hope i didn't offend you by anything i've said, as i meant nothing negative about you.



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23 Jan 2012, 12:51 am

In China, many Westerners are treated respectfully because they're something of a novelty or curiosity. A Westerner in China is comparatively rare to a Westerner in Japan. The Chinese also have a number of traditional cultural values that prompt them to be more receptive to others, foreigners included, and not just simply respectful to them.

The Japanese, on the other hand, do not see Westerners as a novelty, but as an aspect of everyday life in a globalized country. They also come from a much more martial culture, where respect and conformity are highly valued, even over receptiveness to others. The Japanese have a very strict, rigid set of social rules for interacting with others in all sorts of situations, regardless of nationality. Anyone who doesn't follow that code is usually perceived as rude and insensitive, and will be responded to appropriately by Japanese social standards.

In short:

Chinese = Receptivity over respect.
Japanese = Respect over receptivity.


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Alienboy
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23 Jan 2012, 5:07 pm

Fnord wrote:
I've never noticed the difference. However, I have noticed that not only will Filipinos greet you warmly, they will also feed you if they invite you into their homes. And by "feed", I do not mean a treat or two out of a candy tray, but an entire multicourse, sit-down meal at the family table!

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

:D

(PS: Sorry for the derail.)


I have never been to the Philippines, but I know many of them because my brother's gf is from there and they really are some of the sweetest people on earth. Also, people from Thailand (I was on a vacation there for about a month and a half).



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23 Jan 2012, 9:15 pm

Well in Korea and Japan, it's a norm to study abroad in English speaking countries and people are used to traveling abroad. Studying abroad is like a rite of passage for people who have money in Korea. All my cousins from my mom's side are currently studying in America. Koreans and Japanese are used to interacting with "foreigners" and they may be less curious to interact with someone whose of different race/ethnicity. In China, it's more difficult to study abroad unless you're super rich or gifted.



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14 Sep 2016, 7:23 am

Heh Japanese don't like strangers that much. I heard that many of them roll with the "I don't know anything" mentality which is the mindset where people don't tell anything because they don't wanna get involved :P



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14 Sep 2016, 8:28 am

Speaking as a Chinese-descended person, I'm puzzled as to why a social experiment that's meant to test the 'friendliness' of Chinese vs Japanese people only involves contacting girls.

Am I the only one who finds this problematic?


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16 Sep 2016, 7:22 am

Where I am from (London UK) we could tell you which side of the street is more friendly, but there will be exceptions to the rule.

London has many areas & many cultures and dialects. As for who is friendly, hard to say. Some act friendly and really aren't. Others act standoffish but are actually quite nice.

The Japanese have a very different modern culture, over a century ahead of china's industrialisation.

The "hikkomori" phenomenon is really related to Internet cafes post the 1993 Japanese credit crunch which the economy has still not recovered from. What is even more concerning is that it was the *same 20 or so execs* who graduated from the Japanese crisis, and were the architects behind the global "credit crunch". All related to fairly untraceable inter-bank assets called "credit default swaps". Certainly since 2007 London has become *much less friendly*.

Would not recommend seeing China as anything other than a continent, and there are a *lot* of Chinese people.

I highly recommend visiting. You will not have met the diverse multi-cultural nature of China without visiting.

This is also probably why people are so keen to befriend foreigners.

China is a police state. People have to apply for permits to travel from one district to another let alone internationally. The only way for a Chinese citizen to get a VISA out of China is to have a written invite from a westerner, and that is in the back of everybody's mind. Huge curiosity about the west, it is hardly in the Chinese (state censored) media.

However, on a basic average I would certainly say that a lot of the Chinese styles of interaction and expected social conduct are rather less reserved and more gregarious than the traditional Japanese, but they have all sorts of hypermodern radical youth subcultures which break all the conventions, have done since the '60s and '70s, so it really depends where you look what you will find.

However, I would say that as with everywhere, once you get to know people they are all different. Some are benevolent, and some are not.

Certainly China is not one country, it is a continent, with a lot of history and a hell of a lot of people. Would take a lifetime to even scratch the surface of the different regional cultures.

Certainly China has its share of mean / rude people and behaviour. As does Japan.

However both cultures have for the most part impeccable and charming manners, just a different style.

The actual economic and technological situations are *hugely* different, especially considering china's more rural areas.