Culture Shock

Proud to be an American

Last year, I did not feel so depressed about being in Japan on the 4th of July, but this year it actually bothers me. This is probably because I have been feeling homesick, but I think it also has to do with me being in a country that is pretty un-patriotic. Sure, during the World Cup the fans went nuts for their country…until they lost. After Japan was out of the tournament, there was no more talk about the national team and any sort of Japanese flag hung outside a store to support the team was taken down. The Japanese flag itself is something that, at least in my experience, Japanese people do not take as seriously as Americans do. In my elementary school, I talked a little about the 4th of July and how important it is to Americans. Most of the kids thought it was stupid that Americans only have fireworks on this day. They all kind of missed the point. Then again, Japan never had to drive a conquering country out of its land. Apparently, Japan does have an Independence Day, but no one knows about it, nor does anyone celebrate it.

I guess I am just missing my homeland right now and my thoughts are not really coming out the way I want them to, but I miss the feeling of warmth and excitement that came with the 4th of July and I miss it.


5 thoughts on “Proud to be an American

  1. July 4th has never been a big holiday for me or my family, so I don’t have strong feelings for it. But I’m sorry to hear you are feeling homesick and missing the 4th. Take care!

  2. It is part of being American to feel an attachment to the 4th of July and our flag and a certain sadness about our Civil War and the reasons for it. If one has roots in the South, there are still intense feeling about the destruction of a pastoral way of life in favor of the program promoted by an industrialized north (the slavery issue being separate thing that all must now feel was an unjust institution).

    An aside: Remember that the Civil War started as a difference in opinion about State Rights versus those of the Federal Government (an issue that is as yet not completely resolved to this day). Lincoln injected slavery into the discussion (rightly so perhaps and after saying it was not the issue) because his re election was coming up and the country was turning against the war. End of aside.

    I am sure that the Japanese are also intensely patriotic but in a different way. They have their traditions and rich cultural heritage that stretches back for many years. To me they seem to be a proud people in terms of their culture and heritage. That must be rooted, at least in part, in feelings of patriotism for their country.

    Each culture brings with it a set of feelings and experiences that cannot be fully appreciated by an individual who has not experienced them. An underlying issue in any attempt to create global coorperation for a common good.

    How can two communities get together cooperatively if each cannot fully appreciate the feelings and intentions of the other? Imposition of one’s views and culture on another’s way of life (as the North did to the South) can’t be the answer. One hopes that communication and understanding gained through cross cultural activities may assist to open a path for success.

    Smart Japanese for providing strong support to those types of opportunites. Hooray for those Americans who choose to take part in such activities.

    I like your picture for today – Happy fourth! The cats are looking forward to all the fireworks noises tonight I am sure.

    1. Thanks Dad for kind of putting things back in perspective for me. It was probably just stress talking about Japanese being unpatriotic. They are very proud of their culture and ways, but it is to the point where they believe it is “impossible for foreign people to understand it.” That is why people are so surprised when I can speak Japanese. It’s like, “Hey, you aren’t Japanese…how come you can speak our language?!” Then again, there are people, like my host family, who do not share this view. Guess that is part of my job as an ALT – especially in elementary school.

  3. When I was a kid this was never an important holiday, mostly because I was never in America to celebrate it. Now that I’ve had a few 4th of July’s, including my first one as an American Citizen last year, I feel like it’s a more important holiday than I initially anticipated. It does give a sense of pride: I think people feel like it’s ‘cool’ not to care, but honestly what’s not to be proud of? The USA broke free from what they considered an oppressive regime. It’s really easy to brush that aside because of current world politics, but I feel like being proud of what your country’s done is pretty damn great.

    I miss home too. Honestly it was worse during Thanksgiving but everyone resonates a little differently, I think. There’s something special about holidays that make them easy to become nostalgia point – the idea of putting aside everything for a day and celebrating with family and friends. From what I remember in Japan, it doesn’t feel like, beyond New Years, there are a lot of holidays that focus on that sort of thing there, not in the same way the west does, with parties and celebrations.

    Happy 4th of July, Kyasa. Maybe in a few years you’ll be able to take the time off to go and celebrate it in the USA again!

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