July 4, 2007

建前

So I got a lecture from the powers that be today, and it basically boiled down to one thing: my lack of tatemae, or putting up the correct front. It still grates on my nerves, coming from the culture that I do. We mostly reserve such behavior for the service industry where I come from. It even feels downright dishonest to me at times to do tatemae. But as my bosses put it, I have to act Japanese when I am in Japan, whether or not it makes sense. しょうがない, they say. It can't be helped.
But I am a little irritated at the teachers who reported me for the stark crime of laying on my side to watch a comedy show in the gym on a hot and humid day. They want me to act according to rules I have no way of knowing, to play along, to be a chatty person (in Japanese?), to pretend to be as busy as them, and yet they don't really let me into their group nor try to understand why I am doing things in a way they aren't used to, and they never will.
Clay, quit your bitching and put on a happy face. That's tatemae.