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This afternoon I found an interesting scene at the pool when I tried to get some swimming in. (I drove about Kauai  to see other parts of the island and thus did not get to pool until around 5:00 pm when people started to leave.)  While I was soaking in jacuzzi to warm up after the brief swim in the pool, I saw young mother with a baby (probably 1 year old?) and the toddler (3 or 4 years?) and the couple.

The boy noticed something and told his mother about it. I figured (after a while,as I could not understand the original conversation between the boy and the mother) that the boy noticed the sign saying “No diving” and yet the man (of the couple) who was at the jacuzzi with us dived into the pool.

What was interesting was that mother encouraged him to say that “No diving”  directly to the man who actually dived and the girlfriend of the man (who was also at jacuzzi) encouraged him to do so, by saying “This is the man.”

The whole thing was rather casual with little tension.  I thought it was very significant in that the boy how young he might be has the right to tell the man (grown up) to follow the rules and that the mother as well as girlfriend of the man encouraged him to do so. This is a small incident but has significant meaning as the boy realized how important his view and opinion is and he has every right to say “The sign says No diving, but YOU did”  to the grown-ups whom he did not even know.

I thought this is a way that even small children realize that they have their own view and can express them. I  wonder whether this would happen in Japan… What do you think?

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  1. This is a very interesting story with insights into cultural differences. I don’t think this situation would ever happen in Japan, with its age and position hierarchies. Japan has changed so much in the past few decades, but some cultural artifacts seem very resistant to change. When I read this, I thought of the playground hierarchies that exist in some communities in Japan, where there is often a Queen Bee to whom the other mothers must show respect and try to win her approval. I wonder why this system is being perpetuated by even the victims of the system themselves. It’s a power game, of course, but why aren’t these women helping each other instead of playing the same games played in many Japanese companies?

    • yishikura
    • April 1st, 2014

    Linda, thanks for your comments. I agree that at almost any group in Japan (incl. the one you talk about), there seems to hierarchy forming (whether visible or not). Wonder how we can get out of this box of “sizing up people, putting them into some kind of box.” and let US feel free and act as individual.

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