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Japanese etiquette etc.... HELP!!!

Japanese etiquette etc.... HELP!!!

Old Nov 15th 2011, 2:54 am
  #1  
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Default Japanese etiquette etc.... HELP!!!

Our Japanese neighbours have invited us to their housewarming party. The guy speaks no English whatsoever. I get on with lady quite well in a combination of her broken English (she's learning English bless her) and sign language. I know absolutely no Japanese. Not one word. And clueless about etiquette. So help me out folks.

Maybe a couple of little easy phrases. What to do. What not to do.
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Old Nov 15th 2011, 3:27 am
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Default Re: Japanese etiquette etc.... HELP!!!

http://japanese.about.com/od/simplej...es/a/sjp14.htm Good starting point.

The thing about the alphabet, it's pretty phonetic -

A (aah), I (ee) U (ooh) E (eh) O
Ka, Ki, Ku, Ke, Ko

etc, etc...the rest of the alphabet, pretty easy to pronounce, paired up letters said quickly, except Shi (sheei), Chi (chhhe), Tsu (teezu)....so when you google phases and see the romanji English form of the words, you'll know how to pronounce them, anything with a dash beside the letter means to stress out and extend the letter.

When you enter someones gaff, shoes off, no exceptions. You don't have to wear the offered slippers if you don't want to.

When you bow, it's a light dip of the head, eyes kept level on the person if you don't know them. You only bow your head lower than the person if they are much older.

Phases you see that might have two words for the meaning, one will be the more formal use of the word, use that when speaking to a stranger, the first time you meet someone, or someone much older than you are. It sounds weird, but it really isn't, the whole language is basically implied sentence structure, so you don't really need to worry about the grammar, because they don't really have a tense/gender structure, so it sounds weird especially if you think you are mangling a sentence up, but if you generally pronounce the words they will understand you.

When you eat food, wait until the host says "Itadakimasu", it's means "let's eat", but it's more of a blessing. Don't leave chopsticks on the table, they either rest on the holder, or across the bowl when you are done or drinking. If there isn't a serving pair of chopsticks, you flip your pair over and use the handle side to pick up food to serve your plate from the platter. Slurping is perfectly okay when eating noodles, the more noise shows more appreciation to the cook.

Should get you going
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Old Nov 15th 2011, 3:37 am
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Default Re: Japanese etiquette etc.... HELP!!!

Thanks Bob. Crikey

Well the shoes thing is just the same all over south east Asia. But anyhow the party is at the Pool area so I guess it'll be "feet on". Chopsticks? Don't. Just imagining noodles flying and landing in swimming pool I'm not good at chopsticks.

I've been following her lead with the little bowed head when I meet her in the lift lobby. Low bow would be difficult anyhow as she's only about 4 foot nothing.

Boy... this is going to be fun huh? I'll report back. It's not till the 26th.
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Old Nov 15th 2011, 3:01 pm
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Default Re: Japanese etiquette etc.... HELP!!!

Good luck!

If it's a pool party, it'll be a lot less formal anyway, so much easier, so enjoy it
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Old Nov 15th 2011, 7:27 pm
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Default Re: Japanese etiquette etc.... HELP!!!

Ask on the other place. There is at least one Japanese member and one married to a Japanese person, possibly more of the latter.
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Old Nov 16th 2011, 3:30 am
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Default Re: Japanese etiquette etc.... HELP!!!

Is that the um place? Mind you, sounds like it's going to be informal by the pool. Think it might be because they have a dog in the condo unit (not allowed of course). Not sure if they know we know. He's a quiet dog anyway.
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Old Nov 16th 2011, 4:00 am
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Default Re: Japanese etiquette etc.... HELP!!!

Originally Posted by bakedbean View Post
Thanks Bob. Crikey

Well the shoes thing is just the same all over south east Asia. But anyhow the party is at the Pool area so I guess it'll be "feet on". Chopsticks? Don't. Just imagining noodles flying and landing in swimming pool I'm not good at chopsticks.

I've been following her lead with the little bowed head when I meet her in the lift lobby. Low bow would be difficult anyhow as she's only about 4 foot nothing.

Boy... this is going to be fun huh? I'll report back. It's not till the 26th.
Konnichi wa!

I wouldn't overdo the imitating the bow bit. Not necessary. The light disposible chopsticks they have are so easy to use - sounds like an informal do so it won't be an issue probably. They'll still make an effort though I guarantee. We had people round from the office the other week and her indoors had me preparing no end of food/dishes (Spanish theme in our case as I have Latin America previous) while she did even more, needless to say the apartment got the full treatment.

The first thing Japanese people do upon visiting is praise the place to high heaven (using o-seiji - which one could cynically term giving groundless 'compliments') "Ii osumai desu ne" (you have a very nice home) even if you lived in the most modest tiny abode imaginable, but I'd not do that either if I were you lest it seem so obviously put on. Just be your normal polite self and don't speak in too loud a voice.

Let me think about useful little phrases. What do you have in common with them if anything? What were you thinking of taking them?
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Old Nov 16th 2011, 8:32 am
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Default Re: Japanese etiquette etc.... HELP!!!

Originally Posted by General Tojo View Post

Let me think about useful little phrases. What do you have in common with them if anything? What were you thinking of taking them?
Cheers General.

In common? Err we're all MM2Hers (that's the Malaysian retirement visa), live on the same floor. Apart from that No Idea. We just see them in the lift lobby usually and try and chit-chat. I doubt we'll be invited to their apartment (cause of the dog). Aaah I should explain this is a new building. We were the first ones to move into our floor. They were the second. So it's still a bit of a building site.

What to take? Not sure. I have asked a Japanese friend (whose English is slightly better than our neighbours) and she said probably anything would do... flowers, potplant, cookies. She said (at least I think she said) that if it was Japan it should be liquor or cash, but not here in Penang. She's learning English too I'm leaning towards cookies at the moment. Any thoughts?
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Old Nov 16th 2011, 9:02 am
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Default Re: Japanese etiquette etc.... HELP!!!

Originally Posted by bakedbean View Post
Cheers General.

In common? Err we're all MM2Hers (that's the Malaysian retirement visa), live on the same floor. Apart from that No Idea. We just see them in the lift lobby usually and try and chit-chat. I doubt we'll be invited to their apartment (cause of the dog). Aaah I should explain this is a new building. We were the first ones to move into our floor. They were the second. So it's still a bit of a building site.

What to take? Not sure. I have asked a Japanese friend (whose English is slightly better than our neighbours) and she said probably anything would do... flowers, potplant, cookies. She said (at least I think she said) that if it was Japan it should be liquor or cash, but not here in Penang. She's learning English too I'm leaning towards cookies at the moment. Any thoughts?

They love new yes, whether it be houses, apartments, cars whatever.

Flowers & liquor are possible choices but as you don't yet know what kind of booze they like I'd stick with the safe cookies suggestion. Hand them over with a simple "Cookie, dozo".

Cash - NO, that's only for weddings & funerals here

Did they bring the dog ("inu" in Japanese) over or acquire it in Penang?
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Old Nov 16th 2011, 4:49 pm
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Default Re: Japanese etiquette etc.... HELP!!!

Originally Posted by General Tojo View Post

Cash - NO, that's only for weddings & funerals here
And births
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Old Nov 17th 2011, 7:10 am
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Default Re: Japanese etiquette etc.... HELP!!!

Originally Posted by General Tojo View Post
T a simple "Cookie, dozo".

Cash - NO, that's only for weddings & funerals here

Did they bring the dog ("inu" in Japanese) over or acquire it in Penang?
I don't know about the dog. They've actually been living elsewhere in Penang for a while.

So... what is Dozo?
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Old Nov 17th 2011, 10:58 am
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Default Re: Japanese etiquette etc.... HELP!!!

Originally Posted by bakedbean View Post
I don't know about the dog. They've actually been living elsewhere in Penang for a while.

So... what is Dozo?

Here you are, (please receive this (gift))

Can also mean 'go ahead and start' (at table etc)

My name is baked bean, nice to meet you. (baked bean desu. dozo yoroshiku)
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Old Nov 18th 2011, 2:02 am
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Default Re: Japanese etiquette etc.... HELP!!!

Ta very much
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Old Nov 18th 2011, 5:34 am
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Default Re: Japanese etiquette etc.... HELP!!!

Originally Posted by bakedbean View Post
Ta very much

Do itashimashite.
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Old Nov 22nd 2011, 8:04 am
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Default Re: Japanese etiquette etc.... HELP!!!

Definitely shoes off. If you were taking me, check that I didn't have any holes in my socks before we left home.

Chopsticks. Worst possible thing is to leave them sticking up out of your rice bowl--never, ever do that. If you're not using them (and they're only to be used for eating, not pointing with or catching flies), place them on their rest. Equally worst thing is to pass a piece of food from your chopsticks to someone else's. Both actions associated with death. And unlike in China, food is to be taken from the serving plates to your own plate (in small quantities), and then eaten from your own plate: don't eat directly from the serving plates. And don't be fazed by everyone taking food from the serving plates with their own chopsticks (you can use the blunt end to do so, but it always comes across a bit twee), its just how its done. I was recently in China with colleagues and the rest of the non-Chinese contingent insisted on serving spoons, rather than follow the lead of their Chinese hosts and just dig in. Don't know if our hosts took offence, but it did seem a bit insensitive.

Don't be surprised if your host (or anyone else) lights up a cigarette mid-meal.

Burping's ok, farting isn't. Chewing with your mouth open is not unusual.

Being drunk isn't frowned upon like it is in the west, although behaving like a complete arse is.

"This is delicious" = o'ishii desu (oh ish ee dess)
"That was delicious" = o'ishikatta (oh ish e katta)
"Nice to meet you (for the first time)" = hajimemashite (haj e me(t) mash te)

All in all, just try to follow the lead of your hosts and any Japanese guests, but don't worry--they know we're uncouth barbarians and they make allowances

As to a present: Definitely not money. A cake or biscuits is often best, especially if you can get something typically English. But whatever you take, make sure its gift-wrapped exquisitely, and preferably then in a pretty bag. I'd advise against booze--few Japanese really appreciate good wine, sake is very individual, and with whisky or brandy the Japanese love expensive stuff to drown with ice and water, which really shouldn't be encouraged.

Ganbatte!

Last edited by Bahtatboy; Nov 22nd 2011 at 8:10 am.
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