Japanese Language

Some of the things that Japanese people say to each other in the course of their daily lives sound very strange to foreigners. For instance, when we run into an acquaintance on the street, we often say, “Where are you going?” Foreigners may well want to answer such a question with “What difference does it make to you where I am going? Stay out of my private life!”

A Japanese who asks such a question is expressing surprise at meeting his friend in such an unexpected place, inquiring as to whether or not something is wrong, and offering sympathy and concern. So all the other person has to say is “Oh, I am just going a little bit further on.”

When the person who asked the question hears this answer, he is relieved and says, “Well then, take care of yourself.” And then the two part. In such a case, there is no need at all for the person being questioned to explain with such details as “My child’s grades are so bad that I have been asked to go to his school and talk with his teacher.” In fact, the questioner would feel very uncomfortable if you were to answer with such personal details.

Japanese people carry on their daily lives with feelings of concern for each other’s welfare.
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