Essay Title: 

Culture Difference

March 24, 2016 | Author: | Posted in english, literature and language


I interviewed Janet Ogawa , age 43 and a friend of my family through the workplace . She was born in Los Angeles , California , to Japanese immigrant parents . Her father , Yoshio , arrived in the United States in 1951 to attend Oregon State University , where he studied chemistry After graduation , he found work in Los Angeles , where he met Janet ‘s mother , Reiko , who had arrived in the United States in 1955 and briefly attended Los Angeles City College . They married in 1958 , and Janet is the elder of their two children (their [banner_entry_middle]

son , Paul , was born eighteen months later . Though raised in California , she considers her upbringing at least as much Japanese as American and says , We were Japanese at home and American everywhere else

Janet ‘s family differed from mine in terms of its strict structure and attitudes toward age , rank , and authority . In Japanese culture families are much more cohesive by design , and age and family rank have a much deeper meaning . One is expected to practice respect for elders and keep a much tighter rein on one ‘s behavior than my own family and peers practiced as children . Modesty is emphasized , rather than calling attention to oneself , and discomfort is to be accepted stoically . She commented that , in her family , children were not indulged but expected to be docile and well-behaved – seen and not heard ‘ as she used the familiar saying

An amusing aspect of this is how the Japanese show respect even to animals when visiting one ‘s home . Janet recalled with some amusement how this was Buddhist tradition because the Buddha died alienated from society and surrounded only by animals , then animals deserve as much reverence and respect as people (Her own family had a series of dogs and cats , who were indulged ) When visiting another family ‘s home , she was taught to greet not only every family member formally but also the pets , treating dogs and cats with the same formality and courtesy usually reserved for people

She also recalled that male authority had much more meaning in Japanese culture . Her father was the undisputed head of the household , and her mother never forgot this , adhering to her role as his subordinate Yoshio never cooked or did housework because it was not part of his role , and Reiko was expected to accept his behavior as it was . By the same token , she raised her children not to complain (She occasionally attributes her tendency to repress her feelings to the strict upbringing she received

Janet was raised to be subordinate to males , even to her younger brother because of his gender . In her teens , she says , this made it difficult because she was raised with contradictory desires to both and be independent . Also , her mother occasionally told her negative things about whites because she was less assimilated than Janet ‘s father Reiko was less open with whites and had less contact with them

She recalls that her school and social life were normally happy , but she also had a sense of being conflicted . Raised in a primarily white suburb (where Asians were the only visible minority , she found most of her schoolmates tolerant , though in playground disputes she would hear racial epithets ( Jap ‘ was the most common , along with mentions of Pearl Harbor ) that white children seldom had to hear . Race was simply more of an issue with her than with white children , though they seldom discussed this with their parents

Her parents were concerned about her losing her heritage (which she has claimed she finds superior ) and she and her brother attended J-school ‘ or Japanese school , for several years from elementary through high school . Here , Japanese children attended in the late afternoon (after their normal schooling ) and were taught the Japanese language and culture , engaged in games and crafts , and generally socialized with each other on the basis of their shared ancestry . She recalls that this ethnic organization gave a feeling of security and belonging that she and her peers did not always enjoy at public schools or in society at large

Her Japanese background gave her an appreciation for hard work and attainment , which explains her immigrant family ‘s success . Her father was a successful chemist until his recent retirement , and he was a solid provider who encouraged his children ‘s success , so they would not only be materially comfortable but also better assimilate with American society

Her background differs substantially from mine . Though we shared some common experiences (like musical tastes , interest in sports , and liking for movies , I lacked the same sense of being a minority or having al alternative heritage to celebrate with others of the same race . I am an Anglo-American and was lived in entirely white neighborhoods until I enlisted in the navy at twenty-three (where I experienced ethnic diversity for the first time

Her attitudes toward respect and authority differ radically from mine as well . Though I was raised to treat others respectfully (and expected to obey authority in the Navy , but also to be outspoken when I felt wronged , instead of trying to maintain calm at my own expense . In my past , there was also much less protocol about how treat people of different ages and sexes , and the code of behavior was not quite as stringent . In addition , she was raised Buddhist while I have a Christian background her religious outlooks and ceremonies differ sharply from mine . Buddhism has much less emphasis on God and has more to do with dealing with suffering , and she claims that its peaceful teachings make the Japanese averse to conflict

Having been raised only around whites , learning about her Japanese background gave me more understanding about her culture ‘s view of respect , authority , gender roles , and especially about belonging to multiple cultures as a minority group

J . Ogawa , personal communication , 1 October 2006

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