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Tales from Japan: Colour Blind Emporers
20-07-2006, 03:24 PM
Post: #1
Tales from Japan: Colour Blind Emporers

In learning the baffling Japanese language, there is a division between words that are classified as "traditional Japanese" (ie before Chinese influence), and "imported Chinese words".

Which is used seems pretty random, but the traffic lights are not called red light-green light, they are red light-blue light (but they are green). Seems the traditional Japanese is used for traffic lights, and that traditional Japanese has no word for green!

So you just know there was one of the living divine Emporers back then looking at green and saying "its blue"...and the rest of the country agreed (you get put to death for disagreeing with the emporer back then).

Then the Chinese arrived and identified the difference to the majority of the population who already knew there was a difference. So the only word for green is an imported Chinese one.

Don't know about you, but I find some humour in this.
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20-07-2006, 04:45 PM
Post: #2
Tales from Japan: Colour Blind Emporers
Aren't these the same movement of people who once thought it a splendid idea to fly their planes directly at American warships free from any consideration of landing the vehicle in the proper fashion??:wacko:

...I didn't quite see the humour in that.


Ladies and gentleman...the Japanese!! :good:

:sun: w o o d s t o c k:beer:
"I'm not a bird, I'm a festival!" :bored:
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21-07-2006, 03:20 PM
Post: #3
Tales from Japan: Colour Blind Emporers
The Kamikaze strategy was actually very effective militarily. At the time, the US didn't know how to deal with it - a bit like Hezbullah suicide bombers, but lets not digress...

Suicide bombing is a valid military tactic IF used against military targets.

But anyway, lots of people have been nasty in history. The Dutch were the "best" at slave trading, the Germans we know about, the Russians, the Chinese.

The Japanese were top of the brutal league in many incidents in history. Second world war Burma railroad we all know about, but the atrocities on China (rape of Nanking) are less known in the west, but equate in some respects to the holocaust.

But thats history. Now, I can only say the Japanese are the most welcoming people I have ever met. Whatever issues they have about re-writing history (you know, the history books softening their brutal history) I think has to do with their attempted denial of what they did. Could they do it again? Give them a Hitler and yes they could, but thats part of the denial, there is a dark side where they obey the group order - and they don't like it any more than we do in many respects.

But its changing generationally, and the young Japanese are no different than the young germans, except less likely to be member of a Nazi youth type group.

We are facing a 2 week vacation into the Japanese hinterland soon armed with our appaling Japanese, and its interesting that we have total faith that wherever we go, whatever we do, every Japanese person we meet will go out of their way to try an help us. Its guaranteed - thats the way they are.

It extends to knowing that noone will even try to rip us off in any way. Pay to much and they chase you down the street with the money. Can you imagine that anywhere in Europe?

I think my point is that the Japanese, whatever happened in history, are very nice people. I must admit many look at us as aliens from another planet, but they focus on giving a good impression of the planet earth.
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22-07-2006, 03:55 PM
Post: #4
Tales from Japan: Colour Blind Emporers
An afterthought. The Japanese are so focused on being nice and orderly that they are some of the most emotionally repressed people on the planet.

Its why the Japanese are so extreme when they express themselves. Getting drunk, bondage porn, etc.

But when I'm in a subway station where there is no elevator for the pram, as soon as I get to the stairs it is a matter of seconds before someone offers to help carry the pram up the stairs - I don't need to ask or look helpless, they are queuing up. You have to appreciate that.
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22-07-2006, 08:16 PM (This post was last modified: 22-07-2006 08:21 PM by Woodstock.)
Post: #5
Tales from Japan: Colour Blind Emporers
gatubela Wrote:The Kamikaze strategy was actually very effective militarily. At the time, the US didn't know how to deal with it - a bit like Hezbullah suicide bombers, but lets not digress...

Suicide bombing is a valid military tactic IF used against military targets.

I know, it was actually a light-hearted crack. The U.S. did know how to deal with it - their method was to (a) jump into the ocean and swim for the nearest neighbouring warship, (b) swim for shore, © not bother with the swimming and just die, or (d) go for the 1000/1 long shot and hope for dear life that they could shoot the plane down with their AA guns

I'm quite clued up militarilyilyily.

:sun: w o o d s t o c k:beer:
"I'm not a bird, I'm a festival!" :bored:
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22-07-2006, 08:19 PM
Post: #6
Tales from Japan: Colour Blind Emporers
gatubela Wrote:But anyway, lots of people have been nasty in history. The Dutch were the "best" at slave trading, the Germans we know about, the Russians, the Chinese.

...and us (the Brits - that includes you Scots too PJ, there's no getting away from it!)Huh

:sun: w o o d s t o c k:beer:
"I'm not a bird, I'm a festival!" :bored:
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26-07-2006, 03:36 PM (This post was last modified: 26-07-2006 03:40 PM by gatubela.)
Post: #7
Tales from Japan: Colour Blind Emporers
Yes the British had their moments. In having such a large empire, they tried quite a few tactics to stifle uprisings. One I found interesting (tragic historically, but aren't so many of these "solutions") was in Cape Breton in Canada. The British decided that rather than just fight the local French resistance, they would follow a tactic of dividing and re-settling families, primarilly to Louisiana, so that the families would spend their energies trying to stay connected with each other rather than fight. Its why the Cape Breton French and Louisiana French have all the same surnames!

It worked, and was recorded as a "military success". It has been used effectively by the Chinese too in numerous places.

Another Chinese one is the "resettlement and outbreeding" tactic, ie Mongolia. Theory being that you put up with a couple of generations of strife, but then the Chinese become a majority and it can democratise, with any minority complainants then being branded as terrorists.

But I think we are agreeing and just having fun thinking of examples where everyone has been the bad guy at some time or another (lets not start on the US: vietnam, Chile.....).

I was talking with someone today and they made the observation that the Japanese are very "unirritating". I quite like that comment. They are so concerned with not being impolite.

The Chinese are quite different in that they are more focused on their own space and can do a lot of things that can be perceived to be rude (best example being you walk down the street and someone walks in front of you....point is they do not have implied ownership of space, whoever gets their first owns it, whereas Western has a perceived idea that there is a right-of-way sometimes, and to walk across that right of way is rude. Try getting a Shanghai taxi and you see it first hand).

The Japanese in contrast, only think of others. It was funny that a Japanese friend had to give a speech the other day to introduce herself and she was unprepared and wasn't quite sure what to say - so the first thing she did was think of a reason to apologise for something. Random apologies go down very well in Japan, I've even been practicing apologising for things! "I am so sorry that my Japanese is so bad, I am sorry I do not know the subway system better, I am so sorry my baby cannot walk up the stairs at 5 months....etc).

Basically, always introduce yourself with an apology that you believe you are the rudest person on the planet, and you are in!
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26-07-2006, 04:25 PM
Post: #8
Tales from Japan: Colour Blind Emporers
gatubela Wrote:The Chinese are quite different in that they are more focused on their own space and can do a lot of things that can be perceived to be rude (best example being you walk down the street and someone walks in front of you....point is they do not have implied ownership of space, whoever gets their first owns it, whereas Western has a perceived idea that there is a right-of-way sometimes, and to walk across that right of way is rude. Try getting a Shanghai taxi and you see it first hand).

I've not had that feeling in Taipei - although I'd agree that in general Japanese people are politer and more decorous than Chinese. However on the Taipei Metro people form orderly queues on the platforms and wait for passengers to get off the trains before the people waiting get on. Awesome!

Mick Smile
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27-07-2006, 03:29 PM
Post: #9
Tales from Japan: Colour Blind Emporers
mikado Wrote:However on the Taipei Metro people form orderly queues on the platforms and wait for passengers to get off the trains before the people waiting get on. Awesome!

Wow. Haven't seen that. I can't imagine it in Shanghai, but then again thats China, not Taiwan. Hang on, china is Taiwan isn't it? No it isn't, yes it is, no it isn't .......can only think of Shanghai taxi drivers vs Taiwan. When I got a taxi in Taipei I wasn't thinking of my life insurance.... Shanghai, it was more immediate...will dying hurt?

The metros are interesting. Singapore is supposed to be orderly, HK too, but its still a scrum getting on and off. Japan is predictably orderly, but must admit to not having tried the Taipei one.

The picture of the white-gloved guys pushing people onto the train in Tokyo is real, but only on some lines in certain places. So its real...picture face pressed against the window, thats the Ginza line when it gets busy.
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