The way people interact with each other. This includes ways of communcation, how people share physical space, and what they do in the presnse of others.
The Continuity of Relationships in Japan
Japanese people tend to perceive that once a relationship has been established, it will continue on forever. Relationships that end are considered to be failed relationships.
The Japanese tend to be very cautious to not create disharmonies in relationships, and this is connected to the implicit, non-verbal, high-context atmosphere present in Japanese society.
This can be very stressful to foreigners who come from low-context based cultures, where little is implicit and there is no hestation in being direct. For example, Californians tend to make friends easily, and have no concern at all about weather or not the relationship will continue.
Spaces for Social Interaction
The way in which Japanese people and foreigners spend time with each other varies greatly depending on their environment. Because ICU is located in the metropolis of Tokyo, ICU students' main choice of locations for hanging out are city locations. This means going to bars, karaoke, izakayas or to clubs. Japanese people live in tiny apartments, and because houses in Tokyo are so rare, it is uncommon for people to gather in someone's home. This is of great surprise to many of the OYR's, who have spent their college years going to house or dorm parties. Many foreigners become frustrated at the lack of "things to do" despite the fact that they live in Tokyo. Living in a large city is also a new experience for many of the OYRs, who find they have conflicting intrests with their Japanese friends who have already adjusted to city life.
Ways of Spending Time
ICU students's priorities are completely different from those of their foreign counterparts! While foreign college students place a huge emphasis on partying or just having fun, ICU students place a much greater and more time-consuming emphasis on their studies.
ICU students do not have the time to get in touch with one another because of time constraints.
From the American's point of view, ICU students tend to use their lack of time as an excuse to
avoid certain social situations. College students in America also condsider themselves busy, but rather than use this as an exuse to not go, it encourages them to work harder to make time to play, even if they dont actually have that time.
Lack of transportation causes problems for ICU students. Since the last train for the Chuo line comes earlier than that of Yamanote line and also the last bus from ICU leaves before 12pm, people cannot hold parties until midnight.
In addition, because ICU is in an urban area, ICU students are not allowed to come to school by car. Therefore, the train and bus scheudles are of great importance to those who do not live close enough to come by bike.
However, in most of the American universities, students have cars or live on campus/near enough to campus to simply walk home after parties or other activities that may run late.
Commuting from home
There are many peple who commute from their home to ICU everyday. Almost half of the students at ICU
are from the Tokyo area; therefore, lots of students live with their parents. Not only does this cause physical difficuties related to distance but also the issue of where to eat dinner. Sharing meals is a key component when it comes to informal social interaction, especially at the college level. Those who live at home always have dinner waiting for them if they chose not to go out, and this causes a conflict between
Curfews are very common in Japan, for those in dorms and those living at home. While the curfew may be at a reasonable time, because of commute time, many students have to leave activities earlier than what most OYR students consider normal. The dorm curfews also mean that dorm parties are definitely not possible.
The Japanse way of making friends is stressful, however, this is the Japanese style.
This style and society are based on the Japanese sense of values. Young Japanese people who are aware of this have a choice to make when they are in a situation to create new friends, They can follow the traditional Japanese relationship values, or take on a new perspective more in tune with that of most OYRs at ICU.
ICU students may not be able to change into this style. If ICU students change their style
of making new friends, then they leave behind much of their Japanese identity, and this will probably cause tension when trying to make friends with other Japanese people.
The important fact is to know one's own style and to be aware that someone else's style may be different.
For example, when a Japanese person meets an American person for the first time, the Japanese
person may think that "She must have come from the US, so her style may be making friends more directly" At the same time, the American person may think that "She is Japanese, so she might get to know me in the maainotsumekata (間合いの詰め方) approach style." By knowing each others style, it is possible to prevent misunderstandings. Thinking about another style in this way is truely international communication.
However, instead of saying that Japanese people "should change the style," it is better to
say that people should not deny the different styles: Denying would lead to opposition.
Good intercultural communication cannot be established if one side denies the other culture.
Mutual understanding of each other's culture is the most important thing. The ways to make friends are different for each person, so to accept variety is necessary.