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Japan Thru Non-Japanese Eyes

Alphons Metselaar

Culture Shock: Things may not seem what they are in Japan

-3/3-

After the concerts it was time to get a drink and unwind. I saw that some people, mostly girls, filling in some forms. I asked them what it was all about. I encountered the same conversation problems as in the music store, but because I was more or less part of the gang now, they did their best to explain it to me. At first I thought that they were groupies and that they had to present some sort of resume to entertain the bands backstage. But I finally I found out that it was a questionnaire to find out how the bands performed. I never saw something like this in Europe, but it all seemed quite normal to them. I bought a CD from the main act "The Stripper" because I liked them best from all the bands that night. The girl who sold the CD`s was very much flattered that a total stranger liked her band so much. When we spoke she took of her leather jacket and folded it neatly and stored it away with great care. I explained her that a leather Jacket should look well worn and a bit beaten. If she treated her jacket like that, she would never achieve that look. She listened patiently and smiled but I could tell that she thought that I was a crazy foreigner with uncivilized ideas. When we left everybody at the door was greeting us, people that walked our way also said goodbye as if we were old time friends. During our stay in Kyoto I met quite a lot of my newfound buddies downtown, because when they recognized us they never failed to greet us cordially, and at least for Japanese very outspoken. It is my personal theory that if you belong to a group in Japan then you’re really one of the boys. In Europe it would take more than one visit to a club to belong to a certain group.
It was a nice experience but we felt a bit sorry that we couldn`t get more contact because of the language barrier. Japanese is not your regular language that can be learnt just like English or, French. I still listen to The Stripper now and then, and fond memories return giving me a good feeling, still wondering what they are singing about.

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