Saturday, June 01, 2013

うそだろ!Usodaro!  I will be damned!

"Invitations are often extended in Japan without meaning to invite anyone when (and because) the context of the invitation makes it obvious that an invitation is not really intended and the invited person is expected to politely decline… On the other hand, knowing my relationship to the hosts, something more than a bowl of rice with tea poured over it was definitely in order, although the meal might have been a trifle more elaborate than I had expected. I would have been indeed surprised had the hostess simply served a bowl of rice with tea over it. It would not have been far from the mark in interpreting the event to mean either that the friend’s luncheon invitation was actually pro forma… Now, did my hosts tell me a lie? Were they insincere? Or did they try to mislead me when they had agreed to treat me to ochazuke? If you assume that people always have to say what they mean literally, then the answer is yes. But an intriguing part of the cultural assumption operating in this context is that both hosts and guests are supposed to say what they do not mean, that they are supposed to know that they are supposed to say what they do not mean, and moreover that they each know what the others really meant to say but did not say without being told. Hosts and guests are thus in collusion, acting out their parts in the everyday drama of Japanese social life..."

I shall remember to be cautious before to accept an invitation from Japanese bureaucrats to follow some international events or fairy tale press conferences held in Japan. I'll look suspicious especially with invitations from those whose job is to act as host in need of popularity. There are rotten flowers in the corners.

Extracts from: "Ethnography of Dinner Entertainment in Japan"

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