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Too Nice

By Deems Tsutakawa
For The North American Post

Unbeknownst to many people are the cultural differences between Japanese and Chinese both here and abroad. On the one hand, most Asian Americans have a lot in common and generally tend to hang out in various groups of folks from predominantly similar ancestries. On occasion, I have to admit to being guilty of this type of social activity as most of my golf and tennis pals are AA’s. I have always enjoyed the comradery of fellowship after our weekly tennis matches and hanging out with the guys for a beer and fries was the bomb. It was really good to get the laughs, stories, and perspectives in while having fun. It was also an education of sorts and the cultural values of the various players were always present.

One of my friends named Hiroko who is from Japan but has lived in the USA for several decades told me that upon visiting New York City with her girlfriend, they had a somewhat unfortunate experience trying to purchase a battery. Her friend who was also Nihonjin and not familiar with American culture needed a replacement battery for her camera. They found a camera shop that carried her brand and it was listed at $19.95. When she went to the counter to pay for the new equipment the cashier told her it will be $35.00 plus tax. My friend pointed out the actual price but the clerk insisted on the inflated amount. The store clerk knew that most Japanese will not argue over the price of an item. Hiroko made a big deal about it but her Japanese friend paid the over-inflated price anyway.

There are many Chinese that think it is unwise to pay full price and will tell you so at the drop of a hat. There are also many Japanese who do not like, to discuss money matters especially in public. By and large it is generally good to be polite and nice; however, I always say ‘fair is fair’ and will not hesitate to get a good deal.

Deems Tsutakawa is a local Sansei musician. He can be reached at deemst@deemsmusic.com.