Japan Culture Shock | Japanese likes “telephone” game!

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Since I moved to Kyoto, my Japanese-culture-shock instinct has been awakened. lol It’s ironic that I have lived in Japan for 4 years in total, but never felt this much culture shock back in my home university APU.

Today, I realized that Japanese people like to play “telephone” game, which is a game that A whispers to B so that the msg will be transmitted to C.

In short, they don’t directly ask me questions, even though I’m standing right in front of them. Instead, they ask questions to another person who introduced me to them.

So today I met a very lovely Japanese girl. 🙂 I like her very much because she is very Genki and cute.

Situation :

[note]A: “hey Shen, this is Kana.”
Me: “Hi Kana! How are you? wow, you look like a Korean!”

Kana: “eh?! (Japanese expression of surprise) are you Korean?”
A: “No! He is….Oh yeah you guess!”

Kana: “Korea!” (A just said no dear-.-)
Me: “No”
Kana: “errr..Philippines!”
Me: “No”
Kana: “Myanmmar!”
Me: “That’s pretty close! In Southeast asia, start with Ma.”

Kana:” Ma….Ma…. Maradona!”[/note]

That cracks me up! hahaha. For the 1st time in my life I heard others guess my nationality as Maradona! A soccer player lol

[note]Kana: “Ma….Madagascar!!!”

Haha, it’s a pretty new guess for me, but I said Southeast Asia lol. (check my previous post about the Japanese lack of geography knowledge)
Shen: ” Malaysia!”

Kana:”ahh!!” and she turns to my friend A and asked “Is Malaysia the country which has many transexual?”[/note]

I heard it so I answered directly to her. “No, that’s Thailand. They even have toilet for transexual ppl.”

[note]Kana: “heeeeeee!! (Japanese expression of surprise)” and she turns to my friend A again and asked “How old is he?”[/note]

And I heard it again. -.- I answered “well…I’m 24.”

[note]Kana: “heeeeeee!! He is quite older than me!”. Then she asked my friend A again. “How did you guys meet?”[/note]

WELL….I HEARD it AGAIN. so I answered “We met in APU. My university.”


I have experienced this kind of situation for many times. Have you?

WHY Japanese ppl don’t ask directly to me, when I’m standing right in front of them? @@

This can be rude in some other countries culture. I don’t think they did it on purpose so i’m fine with that. Just feel interesting that they actually have the culture of “telephone” game. If you haven’t noticed it, try to pay attention on the next conversation when your friend introduce you to a Japanese. 😉


In my opinion,

Although it can be rude that playing “telephone” game in a conversation, I think there must be some cultural reason on this habit.

Maybe it would be rude for them talking too aggressively to a new friend because it might make the friend A who connected us feel ignored? Or maybe they have a culture that the one who is introduced tend to be quiet to show respect to the one who introduces?

I have seen many times in business or daily situation that, the Japanese who is being introduced tend to be quiet and passive. Most of the times the one who introduces will make a warm-up conversation first so that the introduced one will feel easier to speak. So you see this could be the way how they build their social relationship. It’s not about respect or disrespect.

In conclusion, I will say this:
There is no good or bad about culture. It’s all about understanding. 🙂

A Chinese Malaysian, Blogger, Vlogger on YouTube, Tour Guide in Japan. He believes 1 day his videos can bring Japan and Malaysia together. マレーシア華人、ブロガー、YouTubeクリエイター、日本にいるツアーガイドです。いつか自分の動画は日本とマレーシアを繋げる架け橋になると信じています。 Read more ABOUT him.