Now Everybody Jumped, What Do You Say? | Japanese Culture Shock

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Have you heard of this phrase from your Japanese friend?

“I have to go to the dinner because all my classmates are going.”
“I have to stay in office because my boss hasn’t gone home, even though I’ve got nothing to do.”

Then I wonder,

“Do you have to marry Susan because your friend is marrying Susan?” -.-


time to clock in

Clock in on time or beforehand?

This morning I was texting with 1 Japanese gal, let’s call her S, about celebrating a surprise birthday party for the manager of our part time job.

This is the situation:

[note]S:” Let’s gather at 3:30pm, 3 of us (1 more co-worker, call her M) go to the office and give our manager the surprise birthday cake!”

Me:”OK, oh wait, but M has class till 4pm, can we make it at 4pm?”

S:”err…Sorry, my shift begins at 4:30pm, 4pm is hard for me because I have to be in shift 15 min beforehand.”

Me:” Wow, you’re very hardworking! But can’t you go to work on time like 4:25pm today? We just need to give the cake to the manager and it doesn’t take 10 min I suppose.”

S:”hmmm…..sorry no…I can’t do that because other workers usually clock in their shifts 15 min beforehand too…”[/note]

I tried hard to persuade her into believing that clocking in on time is still not a violation of her work, but I failed. She insisted on starting her shift 15 min beforehand because everybody else is doing so.

But, but think about it. Just giving the cake to the manager at 4pm, and you can go to the shift right after the cake. I think even though you may not be in the shift 15 min beforehand, you will still get to start your shift on time or even 5 min beforehand.

And the birthday is a special occasion, you are not late to your shift, and you get to celebrate the special surprise for the manager, 4pm should be a win-win solution.

But the answer is still….“No, because everybody else is keeping the 15min ‘rule’ (unspoken rule)”

As a result, we called it off because we couldn’t compromise with each other time schedule.

Related post: APU vs RU, culture shock! 

Japanese Collectivism Joke

It reminds me of a joke about Japanese collectivism:

A cruise is about to sink. The cruise captain is instructing his passengers to jump into the sea. He gives different instructions to different country passengers:

To American:”You jump, and you will be a hero”
American jumped with no hesitation.

To Italian:”You jump, you will make a hit with girls.”
Italian jumped.

To German:”According to rules, you should jump.”
German jumped with no question.

Lastly, the captain says to Japanese:”Now, everybody jumped. What do you say?” Japanese jumped with no doubt.


Japanese likes “telephone” game!

Naruhodo! OIC!

“Hey Shen, isn’t it common for human that we follow the rules in a society?”

Yes you are right. Human is a social animal, like any other animals, we influence each other, learn from each other, we live in a community that creates our worlds. None of us can talk about life without considering the influence of others. (unless you live in a mountain like a legendary wizard @@ Well I wonder you will still have social life with bears in the mountain lol)

Though every human being will be influenced by the social norm more or less as long as you live in a community, no matter you are from an individualism country like USA, or a collectivism country like Japan, however, Japan shows a stronger tendency on following what other people have done.

In a good way, we say they are hardworking, serious, obedient, etc; On the other hand, we can say they are inflexible. Believe me, they are hard to make a change because of what other people have done.

I think it’s a good thing to consider other people behavior before making a decision. It creates a discipline and safe society like Japan. However, sometimes don’t you think we need a little bit flexibility for life?

I think birthday surprise and being late a bit to the shift (still be on time) is not a bad suggestion. Why can’t you compromise?


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.