What is a friend?
The meaning of friendship was described in the most extraordinary manner by Hiroo Onoda.
“If you have some thorns in your back, someone needs to pull them out for you.
We need friends.”
He takes this to the next logical step.
“The sense of belonging is born in the family, and later includes friends, neighbours, community, and country.
That is why the idea of a nation is really important.”
Language is a concept encompassing social constructs, cultural protocols, and DNA code, which formulate diverse cultures and societies throughout the globe.
A somewhat enigmatic society, the Japanese are often viewed by the casual observer as cold, distant, and even unfriendly.
Why is this so?
The Japanese evolved through the suppression of virtually all intellectual, emotional, and spiritual freedom to the extent the Japanese were unable to develop a well-rounded sense of self or individualism.
Any deviation from the mandated protocol of Form, Order, and Process was met with swift punishment, often collectively.
Moreover, even now in modern Japan, it is always prudent to observe each situation and behave appropriately, lest the hammer of Japanese society pounds the pesky little nail down into the ground.
The Japanese exist in an unforgiving tate shakai, and generally they do not describe those surrounding them as “friends.”
Take a group of high school student—they certainly could be regarded as “friends,” but these relationships embody a more culturally significant protocol, such as kohai and senpai relations.
In all likelihood, most Japanese would consider those whom they went to kindergarten or primary school together with as “friends.”
An interesting “friend” dynamic in Japan are the relationships among the foreign community.
Coming from all points of the globe, this community encompasses the full spectrum of humanity.
Some of have successfully integrated into their communities by adding magnificent characteristics to create multi-dimensional micro-societies.
Alas, many others are trapped in limbo between what was once their own culture, and Japanese culture, with all its quirky nooks, and crannies.
They congregate with other foreigners, befriending other which perhaps they would not consider to be a “friend” at all in their country of origin.
They call each other friend—sadly—just as the way “love” is used loosley in English, this friendship-of-convenience is mostly superficial and vapid.
Alway the optimist, there is still hope of making new Japanese friends.
These friends will last a lifetime, as you facilitate each other’s growth into diverse and meaningful lives.
Having a daily practice of Japanese language skills opens up endless possibilities for meaningful friendly relationships with Japanese people.
The lessons are free, and there are many eager teachers (shhhh…they don’t know they are teaching), helping one along their Japanese journey way, and into a wholly worthwhile experience in Japan.
Understanding what friendship means to the Japanese is a truly a significant milestone to develop ones own sense of belonging to the Japanese community regardless of race, creed, or religion.
Know that true friendship is like a precious flower garden, and must be carefully nurtured with honest and open communication, mutual respect, and, yes, a health dose of love.