Jun 5, 2009

My Thoughts to Japanese Storytelling

Japanese eat eel, cow’s tongue and exotic row meats. We bow to each other to show respect, even to our rice ball, and my mother bows to her emails. Japan is a very crowded country, ten times as crowded as the USA, which creates bad traffic and everybody seems in a hurry. At the traffic light we say that green light is to walk, yellow light is to walk!? and red light is to walk…..carefully.

Communication can be different. In the USA saying yes and no is very clear like black and white. Japanese way of saying yes or no is very tricky because Japanese feels that saying no is disrespectful and negative. Therefore we try not to say the word no. For example at the hotel if you ask, “ Do you have a room for tonight? – and if they don’t have one, Americans would just say no. But Japanese would say…yes, we had it yesterday.”

No wonder American and Japanese misunderstand each other sometimes. Japanese myth and folktales come with that baggage. They can be hard to understand or easy to misinterpret.

If I can tell it like it is, one goes like this...
Once there was a rabbit that tricked alligators for his cause. In return alligators skinned his fur and threw him into the ocean…. ouch. When I tell this story, American audience crunch their whole face while Japanese laugh. I guess we Japanese are laughing at the rabbit’s arrogance to trick alligators. Or perhaps because most Japanese tales are ancient from thousands of years ago when the planet was the world of deities, filled with illusions beyond our reality, then we place ourselves away from serious-mindedness.

I’m not sure if my analysis is a good one but I’m quite sure about one thing, my feeling toward Japanese storytelling. It’s fun. I find American audience eager to drop their jaw, crunch their face and enjoy surprises. I find myself eager to be delightful so that my storytelling is more than crunching face moments. It takes two. And it takes two to find out more about who we are.

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