Loved both countries for different reasons. I have always
been facinated with Asia and Asian culture since I was
very young so that and a very open mind willing to learn
and ignore pre-concieved notions helped. Also getting away
from the big cities you can see folks for who they are
and not the face they put on for tourists.
Japan is a country where by and large folks have a bad
impression of Americans and I am ashamed to say it but
they have damn good reason to be. Folks from the US are
not very sensitive by and large to cultural differences and
IMHO seem to think that the world is an extension of the
good 'ole USA. But enough sermonizing.
Once you can convince someone in Japan that you are not
the typical "Ugly American" they will warm up
to you slowly at first but once you make a friend they are
a friend for life.
In many ways Japanese pop culture (and my info is
slightly dated, I was there last in 1981) is similar to
the 1950's culture in the US. I kid you not, you will see
youth riding scooters and motorcycles wearing leather
jackets and combing back their "DAs" and
young ladies in poodle sweaters and bobby socks.
Bars in Japan have an intersting gig. You do not buy
shots of whiskey there, you buy the bottle. The bottle
then has your name printed on it and is stored at the bar
where the bartender will dispense from that bottle
when you are there. When it runs out you buy another
bottle. I participated in this in Sasebo and shared
the contents with some fellows I befriended while I was
there. I would not be the least bit surprised if I went
back to that bar (assuming it is still there) to find
my bottle on the top shelf waiting for me.
Koreans are among the most friendly people I have ever
met in my life. They are especially so with Americans.
During my stay in Pusan (pronounced Busan by they way...
I'm told there is no "P" in the Korean
alphabet) I was latched onto by a young man who wanted
an American to practice his English on. He was planning
on going to school in the US and didn't want to "
sound like a foreigner" while he was in the US. Hmmm..
Some Americans could take a lesson here... (OK! I'll
stop that!) In return he was my tour guide during the
daylight hours and showed me a lot of Korea I would not
have otherwise seen.
Nighttime was another story. I met up with these three
nefarious individuals who wanted to attempt to drink this
Yankee under the table. Lots of luck! I'm German/Scottish
in my heritage and in those days had quite a capacity
and could hold my liquor and maintain control of myself
even when blotto!
Unfortunately, this incident became famous as the one
and only time I got so wasted that I couldn't find my
way back to the ship. The three gentlemen in question
ended up in taxi cabs that their wives sent for them (!)
with the cab drivers delivering the message from their
wives that it was time to come home. Hmmm... some things
never change no matter what country you are from.
Other than the drunken debauchery described above I learned
an awful lot from the folks from both countries about
their respective cultures. Not to mention the fact that
I talked my way into more resturaunt kitchens to learn
first hand how to prepare some of the food indigenous to
the countries in question. I'm an avid gourmet cook so
this aspect was worth the trip all by itself.
The one common theme that I found all over Asia and
I would imagine is very true everwhere in the world.
The individual people themselves don't give a rat's a**
about Communists vs. Democracy vs. Ayatollas or anything
else in the political arena. They just want to be left
alone and allowed to raise their families and pass their
customs, traditions and Grandma's Kimchee recipe down
to their kids.
One thing: if you start snapping pictures in Japan
you are likely to be accosted by school children who
want you very much to take their picture. Another thing:
As much as the Koreans dote on their children it amazes
me that they tend to be the most polite children in the
world. Even more so than the Japanese children I met.
I could go on and on with this topic, but it don't
have a thing to do with Perl... ;-)
First off, thanks for taking the time to explain.. even if it's an OT question of mine. :)
I'm curious about Japan, I know a few Japanese.. my husband is Japanese/Danish.. so I've learned a few things. He's 3rd generation. He'd like to go to Japan and see the country - we have some other friends that go there once every few years due to their relatives being over there. We've heard great things about Japan!!
Korea, I'd like to go back. I was born over there.. somewhere (I assume by Seoul).. so I'd like to go see the area.. the culture and whatnot. I think it'd be quite an experience.
So, anyways - thanks for explaining to me a bit more insight!! I really appreciate it.
Yes. I really enjoyed reading your write-up. I had the opportunity to live in the Philippines for a few months. I became fluent in Tagalog. I had to come home because I got sick there (I was on a mission for my church). I ended up finishing in Texas.
The experience that I encountered in the PI is one that will never be forgotten. I realized more how Americans take so much for granted. It was an amazing experience. They were very nice folks! I'd love to go back and visit sometime. I'd love to visit Japan, though. There is something about that country that is nastalgic (sp?). Someday....someday.