Landa International Teen Blogger: Interview with Rubi from Japan

Landa 2013 International Teen Club Skype with Rubi

I have written about how technology in general has affected the ethnic cultures of the world. America was founded on settlement of another culture, English culture. Even though the people of our country find unity through patriotism and politics, culturally, we each hold individual ancestry that stretches back hundreds of years from immigrants. A country like Japan has cultural history that is shared by it inhabitants and therefore has promoted a sense of unity for it’s people that is more powerful than patriotism or politics.

Last week, I wrote about traditional Japanese kimonos and explained their design and place in the culture. About two weeks ago, I interviewed the president of the Landa International Teen Club, Rubi, who is currently living in Japan on a foreign exchange program.

Hopefully you’ve read Rubi’s blog post about her life in Japan as she learns the language and the people there. It’s so interesting! I was looking forward to her interview as I prepared the questions. The questions I wrote to ask Rubi were based on interest in how the culture of Japan has changed or stayed the same from the perspective of an American teen living in Japan. I tried my best to accurately write her responses from a voice recording I took of the interview!

Where in Japan are you staying?
Kumamoto, uekii

What are the big places to go?
For my host siblings along with my friends they always take me to this soka restaurant. It’s basically a thick noodle. The other place might be sushi.

Are American restaurants commonly seen on Japanese streets?
Yes, Starbucks, Mcdonalds and KFC, those are the main ones, everywhere

Size of the city you’re staying in?
Maybe the same size as San Antonio.

What differences have you seen in the cutlure? For Example the school or what clothes they wear.
It’s actually quite interesting. I know the uniform is different from ours.
The school life is way different as well.
You get there early. You have morning classes, study period, short homeroom, regular classes, lunch, cleaning time (you get to clean up the school). The students basically rule the entire school, the teachers just got to teach and leave, the students do everything else.

You normally eat most of the time with with chopsticks or with your hands.
I find it really interesting how you eat grapes on this side. You only eat the inside.

So you peel the grapes?
Yeah! You peel the grapes and eat it.

Is there a special tool for peeling the grapes?
Nope you just peel it.

It must take a long time!
It’s weird I know when I first ate grapes my host sister looked at me weird and said no Rubi you don’t eat it like that you eat it like this.

Are there any special holidays?
Today is sport festival where we celebrate sports. So no school. This week is Obon Week. It’s kind of like Dia de Los Muertos. You visit family and pay respects to the dead.
There’s respect of the elderly day.
Then there are alot more festivals.

Do most people drive cars or take the bus or ride bikes?
That one is a very interesting one. I bike and use the train most of the time. My family does have a car. Only my host parents use the car. My host mom drives the car to work. Mostly what I’ve seen is train, bike and thats basically it. I see alot of people at the trains.

Do you see any traditional things like a zen garden, or bowing when you meet someone or wearing kimonos?
People do bow. You don’t see a alot of people wearing kimonos now a days. People mostly wear regular clothes jeans and tshirts, blouses, stuff like that. You do see someone wearing a kimono every now and then. theyre probabrly going to a festival or a party. you see alot of kimonos or yukatas at festivals. But mostly you don’t see then every day.

Another one was that, in your host family do they do things like take of your shoes wen you get in tthe house or take off your shoes when you come into the house?
Yes, in both host familes I’ve had to take off my shoes when I enter the house. There’s a little area, or the size depends if you live in an apartment or a house. My first host familiy was living in a house. So I had a bigger area to take off my shoes then step up to the house and walk around. I could walk around without socks or with socks, depending however I felt like it. Right now, I live in an apartment so the area is smaller, but I still have to take off my shoes when I enter the house. That’s like the major rule.

Do you sit on the floor when you’re eating?
Well, there is a certain way, but I know when I went to visit family right now, the table was small, you have to kind of kneel. Of course now a days you can just sit however you want. It’s only when they ask you to sit a certain way. It’s uncomfortable sitting that way. Sitting in the same position for a long time. Or they have chairs and you can sit on the chairs. So there’s both.

And I just have one more. How important in religion to the general living? Does you family practice it?>
Im not entirely sure what religion they are.
Yes in both my host families Ive had, I had to take off my shoes before entering the house.

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