|Sometimes, making sounds is not the best option|
Other foreigners are not the only source of misinformation of course. Newcomers have a tendency to believe anything a Japanese person tells them about Japan. This may seem completely reasonable until you start to think about your own culture. How many questions could you answer accurately, and how many of your answers would be guesses? This is where Jesus enters the story. I was in a castle once (I don’t recall which one, but if you are reading CC Lemon I am sure you do!) with a bunch of tourists. I heard an American man explaining to a Japanese woman “in English we say ‘turn the other cheek’, because we believe everyone has a good side and a bad side. If I say ‘turn the other cheek’ I want you to show me your good side.” I am sure this made perfect sense to him. But now imagine that the Japanese woman later meets a Japanese man who correctly identifies “turn the other cheek” as a quote from Jesus, and the strongest statement of pacifism in the bible. THE BIBLE. Kind of a significant influence for all Western cultures. This man tries to explain the history of the Roman occupation of Jerusalem, the insistence of Jesus that his follows not mount a violent rebellion even in self-defense and the way that message has been completely ignored by virtually every Christian denomination since. This seems unlikely to the Japanese woman. After all, she heard a much simpler explanation from a real American. Of course he would be the most authoritative source on his own culture, right? You get the same thing going the other way. Ask a Japanese person a question about Japan and they will try to answer you, even if they don’t really know what they are talking about.
Anyway, back to credit cards. One of the most enduring beliefs among ex-pats is that Japanese credit cards are off-limits to foreigners. I was much surprised, therefore, to be offered a credit card out of the blue when I went to the post office bank to update my address after moving. A fee-free, rewards earning credit card no less. I thought that perhaps it was because I have had an account there for seven and a half years, but on Monday I took a new ALT in to help him open an account and he was also offered a card. In fact, he initially turned it down but the teller was quite insistent that he should get it even if he never used it (“because it is free after all”).
If I ever tell you, dear readers, that you can’t do/get anything in Japan… please do not take my word for it!