The Three Rs I Live By–Respect, Responsibility and Restraint

I try to live by the three Rs: Always be Respectful, often be Responsible and sometimes show Restraint.

The first R, the respect, comes from my belief that everyone on earth has the ability to contribute something for the betterment of society.

I suppose it’s my faith in the fundamental goodness of human kind that underlies this belief, but the “always” part in particular doesn’t come easy.

 

The Amazingly Different Remarkableness of Japanese and Americans

The Japanese excel in order and discipline.

My favorite example to illustrate this is the shugaku ryokou, which is like a field trip for an entire grade over a couple nights at some exotic location like the historical city of Kyoto or Tokyo Disneyland. There, the students are divided up into small groups of four to five who are told to explore the locale without adult supervision and return to their lodging by a certain hour.

If you`re an American, there are so many things that are remarkable about the shugaku ryokou. For starters, it’s hard to imagine four American high school teenagers collectively having enough maturity to study the travel guide and coming up with a two-day plan to explore the city.

But what is really mind-blowing is that the shugaku ryoko occurs every year in middle and high schools across Japan without a single incident that makes newspaper headlines. This means that unsupervised teenagers roaming the streets for an entire day manage to avoid having a brush with the police and return in time for dinner.

This is unthinkable in the United States, where the thinking would go “of course teenagers are going to be reckless and irresponsible and expecting them to act any other way would defy common sense.” Any American school that lets something like a shugaku ryoko happen will be rightfully sued for negligence.

 

Music and My Life Moments

My life consists of obsessions and it’s no different with music.  When I buy new music, I listen to it over and over (and over and over) again until it is playing in my head and driving me insane.  I then find the next music to obsess about.   Because of this, many of the songs I listen to bring back a particular memory–fond and not so fond–of different moments of my life.

 

Oh French

(Original in English) “Nothing is lower than the human race—except the French.” –Mark Twain A couple months ago, a Chinese person shared how she’s struggling with the Japanese counting system because it had different units for different things.  Counting two pencils is “ni-hon,” for example, but two books is “ni-satsu.”

 

Growing Up White And Dealing With an Identity Crises*

(Original in English) I grew up in a quintessential, middle class New Jersey suburb.  My parents, who went to college in America, were not typical Japanese expatriates.  They cared little for socializing with Japanese people or Japanese pop culture and thus, I grew up with very little Japanese around me.

 

Being “Bilingual”

The managing partner of my firm’s Tokyo office once said that he considered anyone who claimed to be bilingual to be a liar.  Bilingual himself, he was being facetious, but he had an underlying point that I completely shared:  bilingualism just means that you’re imperfect in two languages. I’ve documented

 
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