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Shiiba Village Japan

Shiiba Village


A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of California State University, ChicoIn Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts in Anthropology

by Erik Anthony Kassebaum Fall 1990


  1. Chapter I - INTRODUCTION
  3. Chapter III - METHODOLOGY
  5. Chapter V - COMMUNICATION
  10. Chapter X - SPORTS, GUNS AND GOLF
  11. Chapter XI - CONCLUSION
  12. References Cited
  13. Appendix A - Communication Student Interview
  14. Appendix B - Autobiographical Sketch of the Author

Chapter I


The Japanese have a long history of education and a great desire to acquire useful knowledge. Knowledge of other cultures and what they have to offer has been of interest to the Japanese for a long time. Along these lines comes the tradition of sending students abroad. The Japanese have sent students abroad since 587 A.D. (Bennett, Passin, and McKnight 1958:27). The first Japanese students were nuns that had been sent to Korea in 587 A.D. by the Great Chancellor of Japan, Soga no Umako (Bennett, Passin, and McKnight 1958:27). A few years later, Japan had established diplomatic relations with China and "for the next several hundred years there was a steady flow of students from Japan to China, and a return flow of ecclesiastics, teachers, artists, craftsmen, art objects, and books" (Bennett, Passin, and McKnight 1958:27).

From 1640 to 1867, Japan was effectively cut off from the rest of the world by the Tokugawa Shogunate, a hereditary dictatorship within the Tokugawa family (Bennett, Passin, and McKnight 1958:13). During this time of isolation there was limited contact with other countries. Contact with the West, and the practice of sending students abroad for the purpose of acquiring useful knowledge began to increase some fifty years prior to the beginning of the Meiji Restoration (Bennett, Passin, and McKnight 1958: 13-20). With the opening of Japan, a great many Japanese went abroad to study so as to help modernize Japan (Bennett, Passin, and Mc Knight 1958:11-21).

The evolution of modern Japan is closely linked with its long tradition of sending students abroad. The first students came to be known as ryugakusei , meaning "overseas students" (Bennett, Passin, and McKnight 1958:27). Contemporary Japanese students who study overseas are still called ryugakusei . Japan's development and relations with the United States have been affected by the experiences of the ryugakusei (Bennett, Passin, McKnight 1958).

There are many differences between Japan and the United States. Some of these differences have led to problems, while most have led to exciting innovations and revelations. One of the current goals of the Japanese as well as most other countries that send students abroad is that their students will come back with an expanded worldview and will be better able to lead their country into a future that will have fewer boundaries. Since the United States acts as a host country to a great number of international students, it is this author's belief that this country's educational system bears a very big responsibility to these students. Therefore, the importance of knowing what happens to these students and how they react to what they see, and what they do in response, is of great importance to all.

At present there is a trend towards the cultural heterogeneity of American educational systems at all levels. Because of this change, it is not only important to learn about how students from diverse backgrounds do in class, it is also important to know what their lives are like during that majority of time when they are not in class. Looking for the "tip of the iceberg has been the past means of study -- few have, so to speak ,"put on a wet suit" and checked out the lifestyles of students from different cultural backgrounds outside of school. Those things that are not seen at school have usually been ignored, even though it is likely that they manifest themselves at school. This ethnography is based upon participant observation and it is hoped that some light will be shed on the adaptive practices and lifestyles of Japanese College students living in the United States.


Contemporary ethnographic data concerning how Japanese, or any other foreign students adapt to life while in the United States is sparse.

Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study is to describe the coping strategies utilized by a group of Japanese college students who have been living in in the U.S. between 2 to 5 years.

Theoretical Bases and Organization

The term sojourner refers to many types of travelers including students, trainees, and businesspersons who are relatively short term visitors to new cultures (Brein and David 1971:215; Church 1982:540). Permanent settlement in the host culture is not the aim or intent of sojourners (Church 1982:540). According to Church, the emphasis of sojourner studies in the literature is on the adjustment of foreign students to their host culture (1982:540).

This group is one of temporary sojourners. Japanese cultural practices will dominate, though American cultural practices will often be observed when correct, useful, and possibly interesting. This fieldworker used data gathered from participant observation over a period of one year as a basis for writing the ethnographic report concerning the adaptive strategies employed by the members of this group.

Limitations of Study

This fieldworker has limited Japanese language skills. Most of the data is based upon event analysis. All activities and behaviors that this fieldworker believed would be relevant to the subject were recorded. The fieldworker began his study with a very limited knowledge of Japanese culture and history. These acknowledged deficiencies are a double edged sword in that they may in fact have been an advantage in that they allowed the fieldworker to look at the actions of the group from a fresh perspective. Discussions relating to ethnographer bias and the representation of bias in the ethnography has been the subject of debate for well over fifty years (Marcus and Fischer 1986).

About the Author

A short autobiographical sketch will be provided by the author in the appendix B. In addition to the autobiographical sketch, Chapter VIII, entitled "The Reflective Gaijin " will focus on how the author adapted to life with the group.


Chapter II


The Bennett, Passin, and McKnight (1958) study of Japanese sojourners is the most comprehensive work available. This study has three major segments: a historical review of Japanese sojourning; a study of between 16 and 30 Japanese students and scholars who were interviewed over the course of one year; and a separate study of approximately 50 Japanese students who had returned home to Japan after studying in the United States (Bennett, Passin, and McKnight 1958:277-278). The authors acknowledged that participant observation was limited, and that most of the non-historical data came from interviews and psychological tests (Bennett, Passin, and McKnight 1958:276-306). Much of the work was used to establish personality profiles for Japanese sojourner adjustment. Though the work is very well integrated and yields much valuable information, much has changed in the three decades since this study was published.

In reviews of sojourner studies, investigations that tried to establish types or patterns of sojourner adjustment such as the one performed by Bennett, Passin, and McKnight (1958) were seen as being "post hoc rather than predictive" (Church 1983:543) and "...little more than hypotheses based on limited data and general impressions" (Brein and David 1971:222). The lack of participant observation in this study as well as the majority of sojourner studies was seen by Church as being a serious methodological issue that needed attention (1982:561-563). Spaulding and Flack state in the recommendation section of their comprehensive review of foreign student studies that "Foreign student research abounds with attitude studies but lacks studies of actual behavior, during and after the sojourn" (1976:298). Spaulding and Flack go on to state that in the field of "educational exchange", ethnographic techniques have not been utilized and that they "could add significantly to the knowledge of the subject" (1976:299).


Chapter III


Design of Investigation

Participant observation was based upon one year's residence with three Japanese College students attending school in Butte County California, and interaction with the many other people who were a part of their social group. I was involved with all aspects of daily life around the apartment and many activities outside the confines of the apartment complex.


This group should not be thought of as a representative sample of all groups of Japanese students living in the U.S., or even in Chico. The adaptive strategies as identified by this observer should be viewed as examples, and not as the complete range of adaptive strategies employed by all such groups. It should be emphasized that all of the informants names have been changed, and that composite characters have been created so as to ensure the anonymity of the participants of this study. This anthropologist believes that his responsibility to the group is greater than his responsibility to anthropology. Data which could possibly have negative effects on the subjects, were they to be linked with it, has been edited out of this report and destroyed.

The Groups

The term "group" denotes the population of Japanese students that was studied. For certain tasks, it was necessary to distinguish between members of the residential household, and members of the primary group. The division of the group as a whole across the sexes was another division that was occasionally necessary and can be seen throughout this work. Please do not be led to believe that these groupings are as clearly defined in real life as they are on paper.

Aside from my girlfriend Laurie, no gaijin (gaijin refers to someone who is not Japanese) are members of these interconnected groups. Although the members of this population know and are friends with many gaijin (Americans as well as people of other nationalities), few have come to the apartment.

There are other ways to divide the group: age, income, frequency of visits, where in Japan they are from, education, English language skills, popularity, Golf handicap, charisma, frequency of contact with gaijin, etc. To do so is interesting, and could probably make for some interesting charts, but in light of the fact that composite characters are being used, little useful information would be imparted to the reader. The following profiles are of composite characters.

Residential core group. The residential core group is the term used to denote the group of males who I lived with. In the text that follows they may also be referred to as being my "roommates."

Erik Kassebaum is a 24 year old graduate student in Anthropology. He has a degree in Anthropology from CSUC and has lived in Chico for two and a half years. For more information, please see Chapter VIII, and appendix B.

Yoshio is a quiet 22 year old student who has been attending Butte College since he turned 18. Yoshio is considering the Social Science major offered at CSUC. If asked Yoshio will tell you he would like to major in golf. Yoshio's English language capabilities are very well developed, it is just that he does not talk a lot, unless he has something to say.

Haruo is a 23 year old social science major who has been attending Butte College for two years. Haruo has an Associate of Arts degree from a small Japanese Junior College. Haruo was recently accepted to CSUC. Haruo's stubbornness is often commented on by the other members of the group.

Kenji is a 29 year old computer science graduate student. Kenji graduated eight years ago with a Bachelor of Science in business from a major Japanese university. After working in business for a few years, Kenji decided that his career was not progressing in the ways that he wanted it to. With support from his family, Kenji has been studying computer science at CSUC for the last four years. Kenji is very outgoing and well known in the international student community.

Primary group. The primary group is the term used to denote the group of males and females who socialize with the members of the residential core group.

Iku is a 26 year old student who has been attending Butte College for the last three years. She is more outgoing than most of the males. Iku is the premiere traveler of the group, and is very adventuresome. Iku is an art major and will graduate this year.

Masao is a 30 year old graduate of a major Japanese University. Masao has been in the United States for two years trying to improve his English language skills, play as much golf as he can, and create a new import/export business. With respect to the others, Masao's English language skills are the least well developed. Masao is very friendly and a lot of fun to be around. Masao is considered the "Playboy" of the group. Masao is least likely to be found cooking a meal, even though he knows how to prepare a few dishes.

Reiko is 21 and has been a student at Butte College for two years. At present she has not decided upon a major, is primarily taking General Education classes, and intends to transfer to CSUC. Reiko is generally quiet around strangers unless she has something to say. While with the members of the group, she is much more vocal.

Tetsuya is a 25 year old graduate of a Japanese Junior College. Tetsuya has been in Butte County attending Butte College for three of the last four years. Tetsuya spent one year attending a junior college in Southern California. Tetsuya is the best cook in the group. At present, Tetsuya is trying to decide whether he wants to transfer to CSUC as a communication major or as a psychology major. Tetsuya's English language skills are very well developed. Tetsuya is a very outgoing and personable.

Kyoko is a 21 year old student who has been attending Butte College for the last two years. Kyoko is more outgoing than Reiko is and likes to flirt. Kyoko has yet to pick a major, but is considering either business or psychology.

Laurie is a 23 year old graduate teaching assistant for the CSUC department of Human Communication. She is a very articulate and outgoing person who is usually quite well informed. Her relationship with the author is often commented on by the members of the group, for it is very different from what they are used to in that she does not play a subordinate role while in public, or private.

Homeless Gakusei . The "homeless gakusei " (gakusei means student in Japanese) refers to the two Japanese students who were forced to seek alternative lodging for winter break in the residence of the primary group because the CSUC Residence Halls that they were living in close for winter and spring breaks.

Hiro is a 23 year old student who has just transferred to CSUC from a major Japanese university. Hiro has been living on campus in the residence halls since his arrival. Hiro will not live on campus again. Hiro is very friendly, soft-spoken, and will greet friends very warmly. Hiro is a business major and hopes to graduate in three years.

Wakana is a 20 year old student who has come to study at CSUC for one year. She is usually very quiet and keeps to herself. She is very thankful that there were other Japanese students in the area from whom she could talk to and seek assistance. With regards to spending winter break in our apartment, Wakana was very appreciative of the hospitality and extended invitations to all of us to come stay with her when we are in Japan.


Behaviors and cultural practices that seemed interesting were written down in a shorthand that is only intelligible to the fieldworker. This was done for convenience and security purposes. The selection of data had an intuitive bias peculiar to this observer. Exact duplication of methods is not possible, nor is it likely to be possible owing to the nature of observer bias. Traditional means of interviewing that utilize tape recorders and notepads were eschewed because they made the members of the group visibly uncomfortable and reticent to share information. The technique I used was to ask questions, and let them tell me about things that I did not know or understand. As a member of the group, I tried to ask questions in a manner that was similar to how they asked questions of me when they needed to know about aspects of American culture.


Chapter IV


America is huge as compared with Japan. Though California and Japan are roughly the same size, the population of Japan is about half that of the entire United States. Yoshio believed that Tokyo, with a population about equal to the population of the state of California, could probably fit inside of Butte county.

If one accepts the premise that most learning takes place outside of the classroom, then it would be reasonable to link a person's mobility with the ability to learn about their surroundings, and deal with those surroundings. If you, the reader, can accept this premise, then what follows will make sense.


Getting about in Butte County is not easy, especially when compared with Japan with its highly efficient system of mass transit. My informants tell me that in the United States, you need a car, and that in Japan,"you don't need one so much." I happen to believe think that they are right, and this is especially true when the buses aren't running. Most of the Japanese students that I have met either want or have a car here in Butte County. With respect to the group that I work with, only the males have cars. This is a peculiarity of this particular group of Japanese students, for in other groups of Japanese students that I have worked with the ratio is more even. It should be noted that all of the females have driver's licenses, and will occasionally borrow a car to go shopping.

Only one of the cars owned by the members of this group was new when purchased. Yoshio told me about how he picked his father up at the airport in a 1957 Buick, complete with tail fins, and how his father reacted. According to Yoshio, his father thought that the car was unsafe, so one of the first stops they made after arriving back in Chico was to the local Nissan dealer. Yoshio's father bought Yoshio a new Nissan Maxima. Yoshio then parked the big Buick and has been driving the Nissan since.

It should be mentioned that although the Buick needed some cosmetic work, that it was in fine running condition because shortly after buying the car, Yoshio had the engine and transmission rebuilt, among other things. Yoshio still has the Buick and is trying to decide whether or not he should restore it and ship it back to Japan. Sometimes Yoshio takes devilish delight, especially after a few beers, in telling people who ask about his car, that he is going to ship it back home so he can drive it. In order to understand this, you must be aware that his car would be considered a huge extravagance because it is so big, uses so much gas, and to top it off is old and American.

Not long ago, on a very rainy Saturday morning, Yoshio had to politely turn down an unsolicited offer for his car. It seems that the buyer was a professional automobile restoration specialist who had come to Chico looking for older classic cars to restore. It was interesting to watch and hear how Yoshio talked to this fellow. Though the conversation lasted about twenty minutes, I knew that there would not be a sale shortly after Yoshio began to talk. It wasn't what he said, so much as how he said things.

Though sounding polite and interested, I knew that Yoshio wouldn't sell. I wish I could be more explicit as to how I knew. What was interesting to me was that the entire dialog could have been answered with a simple "I'm sorry but I'm not interested in selling." Instead of doing this, Yoshio talked about the car, and of other cars with this fellow and managed to get quite a bit of information relating to who this guy was, why he was in Chico, and what he does with the cars.

After witnessing this scene, I was better able to understand what George Fields was talking about in From Banzai to Levis (1983). The incident matched up with Fields' comments regarding how the Japanese gather information, saying "no" ambiguously so as to not be offensive, all the while creating a possible connection for the future (1983).

That big Buick can be looked at in a great many ways. Such a car would be difficult to drive in Japan due to its size, and the location of its steering wheel. As compared to the United States people in Japan drive on the opposite side of the road, and the steering wheel for cars made in Japan for domestic is located on the right side instead of the left side. Additionally, gasoline costs at least three times as much in Japan as it does here. I'll leave the symbolism of a young Japanese owning and operating such a beast to the poets. However, I bet that the rewards of driving such a vehicle in Japan would more than make up for any difficulties encountered when doing such things as parallel parking or buying gas. One time Yoshio told me, with a big grin, that "it's about 6.9 meter's long." I think that it's going home with him when he finishes his degree. Yoshio's Nissan is in great shape and has run without any problems since his father bought it. Kenji, otherwise known as Ken, owns a 1967 mustang with a big V-8 engine. The car has sat rusting for four months because Ken claims that he has no time to work on it due to the amount of time that it is taking him to finish his Master's Project. When asked what the problem with the car is, Ken says that the battery is dead and that it needs a new battery cable. Ken has the mechanical skills needed to fix the car, and the money to have someone else do it for him. When the car did run, Ken had a lot of fun. Well, that last speeding ticket wasn't very much fun. He posted it on his wall over his desk as a reminder for eight months.

The real problem with the car is that it is the car is in need of a lot of work and has a tendency to break quite regularly. I can empathize with Ken's reasons for not fixing his car, for my MGB has sat three parking spaces away from his for about the same length of time due to an equally irritating yet simple matter to remedy.

We've talked about ways to sell our cars over the past few months, but haven't really done much. At times Ken has said that he wants to put an ad in the paper with a very low price so that it will sell within a day or two. This is motivated by the fact that his stay in the United States is almost up and that he will soon be flying home for good.

When I first saw Masao drive up, I wondered about how well off he was for he had a faded and very badly worn blue Audi. The interior was filthy and in worse shape than most of the interiors I have seen in cars pilled up in junkyards. Two of the windows, which could not be opened or closed manually, were perpetually stuck open, while the other two were permanently closed. According to Masao, the electrical circuit that operates the windows was broken. It was not long after this, that I found out from my roommates that Masao was, as my roommates put it "VERY RICH!". The resident "playboy" of the group, Masao had come to the United States to improve his English, create a new business, and play as much golf as is possible.

Masao told me that his father started each of his sons off with cars and that each of his sons owns a business that deals with cars. Though each son is the majority stockholder of his own business, the father controls the rest of the stock. Masao happened to own an auto repair shop, even though he has no mechanical skills. One brother owns a Mitsubishi dealership, while another owns a Taxi company. A fourth brother owns an automobile body shop. I found it interesting when Masao told me that all of the taxis were Mitsubishi's sold by one brother to the other, that they would be repaired in his shop, and that any necessary body work would be done in the other brother's shop. As I got to know Masao better, I found out that he did not like running his company, and that he was not very happy with his father's wish that he come back in six months and start working again.

Prior to the earthquake that rocked the Bay Area in October of 1989, Masao told me he was thinking about buying a commercial property somewhere in the Bay Area for between one and two million dollars. It took me a while to get used to the fact that one of my friends and informants was a multimillionaire. None of the ethnographies I've read had prepared me for such an odd feeling. In most of the ethnographies that I've read, if you'll allow me to act as informant on my own subject area, the anthropologist is usually the one with the best access to modern goods and resources. Masao in particular, and the other members of the residential core group in general, were much better off financially than I was. I thought this to be an ironic twist.

Masao told me of his plans the day he drove up to the apartment in a Fiat X-19 that he had just paid $2000 for. Masao had surprised everyone with the purchase of the Fiat, because he had been looking for a Ford Bronco for quite some time. About six weeks later, he showed up one day with a 1984 Mercedes that he bought in Southern California for $10,000.

He told me that he had given the Audi away, and that a friend was trying to sell the Fiat for him at a used car lot in town. After six months on the lot, Masao got a little frustrated and took his car out of the car lot where it had been sitting. It only took him a couple weeks to sell it on his own.

Everyone in the group prefers the Mercedes to the other cars that Masao had. For the first month or so, they would comment on how much more the same car would have cost had he bought it in Japan. According to them, having a Mercedes in Japan is a very conspicuous sign of success.

Haruo owns a Nissan that has been nothing but trouble since I moved into the apartment. Haruo bought the car from his old roommates. They had taken very bad care of the car. Around the apartment, many jokes are made about Haruo's car and how often it breaks. For minor problems Haruo will attempt repairs. It took a good deal of time for me to convince him that he should not take his car to Greatland Auto for repairs. The last time he took it there, it was for a simple problem. It took three trips for the mechanics at Greatland Auto to say that they couldn't fix the problem.

After this, Haruo asked me to go with him to a repair shop that a friend had recommended so as to ensure that he would not be taken advantage of. The operators of the shop were very cheerful, and in a relaxed manner asked where Haruo was from, mentioned that a friend was hosting a Japanese student, and quoted what it would cost to fix the problem and how long it would take. The work was done and Haruo has been a loyal customer since.

When a problem developed with one of the parts used to repair his car, the owner of the shop apologized for the inconvenience and fixed it immediately, and without charge. The shop next door to where Haruo was getting such good treatment lost my business for selling me a part that they acknowledged after the fact, would probably be faulty. I had to return the same part three times before I got one that worked. Rather than being apologetic about the matter, the people at the store were rather rude about the whole affair. My roommates thought that this was a very bad way to do business. When I told them that I would never go back to that store, the said that I shouldn't for I had been treated very badly.

Tetsuya owns a 1977 Sunbird that is broken almost as often as Haruo car is. Tetsuya loves his car and can't bear with the thought of selling it even though he knows that he is spending more on repairs than the car is worth. The fondness Tetsuya has for his Sunbird is probably not that different from the fondness that I have for the economic disaster of an M.G. that I happen to own.

Those who have cars that run will drive their cars everywhere. Haruo will even drive to school even though we live less than a mile away. Aside from the miles round trip driven to Butte College by those who attend it, I think that most of the mileage put on the cars comes from two types of journeys. The first is to one of the large warehouse style food stores in town, while the second is to one of the golf courses located within 30 minutes of Chico.

I'm told that getting a driver's license in the United States is very easy compared with Japan. As I said at the beginning of this chapter, all of the females in the group have California Driver's Licenses. One of the reasons that they gave me for this is that such a license can be easily turned into an International Driver's License, and such a license is valid in Japan for about a year. By getting such a license, they will be able to drive when they go home, and will not have to go to an expensive driving school.

In terms of driving, they all like Chico's lack of traffic. One time while we were watching a videotape of a Japanese television program there was a segment that showed people out for a drive in the country. My roommates all commented on how crowded the roads are in Japan. The scene that elicited these comments showed a long line of cars, all close together, moving very slowly down a country road. All made it clear that it is very nice to drive in the country here and to not be in such long lines.

Of the 10 parking spaces that are in front of the apartment, at least half are being used at any given time by people either visiting our apartment, or by those who live in it. Three months before he was to even leave for Japan, Ken told me that he was already trying to arrange for a parking space so that he could buy a new car from Masao's brother. Ken told me that in order for him to be able to buy a car in Japan, he had to prove to the police that he had a legal place to park his car, and that arranging for a parking space can often be difficult. Tokyo residents often need to have their cars registered to relatives who live in rural areas where they could legally be parked.

In all of the cars, one can find a small Shinto Omamori scripture enclosed in plastic. Yoshio and Haruo were both given a handful of Omamori by their mother's at the end of their last trip home to Japan. After asking how I knew what the purpose of the scripture was, and that it cannot be opened, or else its power to protect will be nullified, my roommates asked if there was anything from my culture that was similar. I told them that my father is Catholic, and that he used to wear a St. Christopher Medal so as to protect him while he was traveling. My roommates are often surprised by the number and type of things that I know with respect to Japan. I shared this anecdote with my mentor, Dr. Thomas Johnson, and he said something along the lines of: " But of course, you're an anthropologist ...".

At present, owning a car or having a close friend who does is almost a necessity in this area, for the mass transportation system that is in effect is not very good. Few of the members of the group have used the local bus system, and those that have were not happy with the service. The primary reasons that they gave for their dissatisfaction were the long waits for buses, and the limited number of hours that bus lines operated each day. In general, the local mass transportation system is the last choice when it comes to transportation. This contrasts greatly with what they have told me about with regards to the Japanese mass transportation system.

This need for an automobile provides these students with some interesting experiences, for they get to do things here that they wouldn't ordinarily be able to do when back home in Japan. Buying a rusting Mustang, or a 33 year old Buick and driving such American gas guzzlers would simply not be possible in Japan, especially for college students. Getting a driver's license without having to go to an expensive special driving school for three months was also something that was seen as a plus. Though I have asked about what it will be like in terms of driving when they go home for good, I really have not been able to get a good solid answer (or have I?). In general, this question is met with a very vague statement regarding how it will be different.

The Tourist Factor

The members of this group are great tourists, and go on trips with more regularity than most of the American students that I have known. Trips range in length from flights across the Pacific to Japan for winter break to flights to Chicago for the U.S. Open Golf Tournament. Planes are not the only means of transportation that the members of this group utilize. While some of the trips are solo, most include between two and eight people.

Due to a lack of funds and free time I was not able to go on most of the trips that the members of this group did, though I was usually invited. Often there was a reason for a trip, such as to give a tour for a relative visiting from Japan, or to participate in some sort of recreational activity at the destination site. Most of the destination sites had golf courses, while others had gambling facilities, or Japanese food restaurants with Karaoke Bars .

My roommates have told me what a Karaoke Bar is and have also shown me videotapes of people at Karaoke Bars . A Karaoke bar is a type of bar that requires all of the members of the audience to stand up by themselves and sing a song that is accompanied by a cassette tape or compact disk. Lyrics are usually provided in English and Japanese. From what my roommates tell me, no one really cares if you sing badly, but they do care if you decline to sing when it is your turn. Yoshio has already told me that he is going to take me to a Karaoke Bar when we are in Japan.

What I did see though were the preparations that were made prior to a trip. Many of the trips seemed to be rather spontaneous, especially when the guys decide to go golfing at a course several hours away, or to drive to Reno so as to gamble, and drink free cocktails.

Shortly after I moved into the apartment, the guys made a series of "roadtrips" to Reno. They really liked to gamble and drink, among other things. One time after they came back from such a trip they created the "cocktail ritual" which lasted for about eight weeks. While in the apartment during summer, we did a lot of drinking. If someone was in need of a drink and they saw someone else in the kitchen area, they would hold up a hand and yell "Cocktail, Cocktail". Whoever would respond would usually ask what type of cocktail, if they were drinking more than one type on that day. This person would then mix the drink and bring it over to the "customer", who would thank then the "waiter", and would often give him a token tip. There was often a lot of theatrics that went into this ritual with respect to the giving of the tip and complaints if the tip was either too small or nonexistent. Often after the "customer" had been served, the "waiter" would hold out a hand for the tip, and say "Tip Please". One of the better responses to this line was "its in my pants". The connotation was clearly sexual in nature and understood by all. After seeing this ritual a few times I asked what it was about, and was told about the free drinks that gamblers get when they are at the gaming tables, and that they thought that this was great. They also liked being served by the attractive cocktail waitresses.

In addition, to seeing the preparations, I would get to see the exhausted travelers return and hear them tell stories of their trips to each other and anyone else who would listen. At least one camera would be taken along with every trip, and a few days or weeks later, everyone would get a chance to look at the pictures and comment on the trip once again.

One of the trips that I was able to go on was a ski trip during Thanksgiving break. We went to a small ski park by Lake Tahoe and skied on Thanksgiving Day. One of the interesting things that the members of this group do on a regular basis when going on either a long trip with a lot of people, or are flying home for a vacation in Japan is that they will often rent a van or a large automobile depending upon the need rather than carpool.

For the Ski trip, we rented a van, and eight of us piled in. My roommates had been waiting for the chance to ski for quite some time, and spent a good deal of time making preparations. A reservation for a room was made, and the guys had to get their skis worked on and buy some new gear. Neither of the two females who went with us had any ski equipment, and neither had been skiing before. I told them, as well as the others of my only experience skiing, how I broke a molar, what the dentist said when he asked me how I did such an unlikely thing, and my response to him that I had gone skiing for the first time at Squaw and that I had fallen down approximately 100 times. They liked the story, especially when I told them of how my friends were barely able to control their laughter.

When we got to the slopes, the women and I rented skis, and bought the beginner package because it included a ski lesson. The men, one of whom had seriously thought of racing for the Japanese Olympic team when he was younger went off after we all had some coffee to which Yoshio added a little alcohol from the flask he had purchased a few weeks earlier. We agreed to meet after the lessons were over.

One of the things that I noticed, and that my friends commented on, was the number of Japanese tourists who were there. They were quite amazed by the number of Japanese present. I believe that between 15 and 20 percent of the people who were skiing there were Japanese tourists. In some of the lift lines, I wondered where I was. The women I was with would say "There's so many Japanese here...How come?".

I wasn't really able to answer, and I don't think I was supposed to. The ski lessons went well, and my second experience was much less painful and much more fun than my first. The women who also took the lessons with me agreed that taking the lessons was a good idea. At first they weren't so sure. I think that they changed their minds after I said that I was going to take them, told my horror story once again, and noticed the fact that the price for the beginner package (equipment rental, lesson, and lift ticket) was significantly less than it would have been otherwise. They too were on a tight budget for this trip, and so the reduced price was a factor in their decision.

Everyone complimented the women and me on how well we were skiing, and made sure to ask if we had enjoyed ourselves. After this we drove to our hotel in Reno. We checked in, rested for a bit, and went to dinner in one of the hotel's restaurants. This was the first time that I had Thanksgiving dinner away from my family. The others were interested in what Thanksgiving was, so I tried to add to what they already knew about the American holiday.

I felt a bit odd eating Thanksgiving Dinner in Reno with six Japanese friends, and not my family. They all had Prime Rib. After dinner, we went back to the room for a bit, and then it was time to gamble.

My money lasted about five minutes. The others were out all night. Shortly after running out of money, I also ran out of energy. I was too tired and sore to be envious of their stamina and funding.

While on the way back home we stopped by lake Tahoe a number of times to take pictures, and have snowball fights. Some of the pictures were of beautiful scenery, others were of individuals posed in front of very beautiful settings, while yet others were of the entire group. Whenever there was a group picture, there would usually be two versions of the same shot, for in the second version the photographer would be included, and someone from the first shot would act as photographer. Some months later, I heard someone say that the Japanese liked to take postcard pictures. This made sense to me for many of the pictures that they took looked like they were postcard scenes.

The trip ended after a long drive, and we all sort of fell asleep wherever we landed back at the apartment. A few days later, the photos came back, and we all took turns looking at them, and passing them around.

Another type of trip that I need to comment on was the obligatory role of tour guide for family members visiting the United States. During the year I was working with this group all of the members of the residential core group had a chance to play tour guide. Haruo told me of driving his parents about 3000 miles within the span of a week. Ken took his cousin on a two day tour that included San Francisco, Yosemite, and Lake Tahoe. Ken's tour took place but a few days before he was to fly back to Japan to start his new job. Yoshio took his younger brother on a more leisurely tour of California and Nevada that lasted about a week.

Iku was the fearless traveler. She was often going on trips to New York, and Oregon among other places. For trips of less than a thousand miles, she would generally take the bus, while for longer trips she would fly. I have been on enough bus trips to know that I am not fond of them. She never seemed to be too concerned about the fact that she would be traveling alone for long distances. The only time she ever expressed concern about riding on the bus was one time when she said that she did not like the bus stop in Redding at all.

For those who were returning from a long trip, it was customary to bring back a small gift for each person in the group. Key chains and postcards seemed to be the most popular gifts. I have tried to adopt this practice too, in that when I leave the apartment for few days to go on a trip, I try to bring back something for everyone. As this is sometimes difficult to do, I sometimes modify the practice by bringing back a group gift (bottles of wine from Sonoma or Napa, or Sake from the Hakusan Brewery in Napa).

Traveling in the United States was something that all of the members of the group liked to do, and did on a very regular basis. The males in the group did more traveling than almost all of the females, Iku being the premier traveler of the group. Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, and San Francisco were the destinations that people in the group went to most frequently. It must be kept in mind though that little time would usually be spent at any one place. Usually after trips, information about what was seen heard, and done would be shared with the others. This sharing would often occur at least twice. The first time would be shortly after the return home from the trip, and the second time would usually coincide with the return of the pictures that had been taken while on the trip.

Though Chico often seems like an island (with no good fish for sushi), the members of this group are quite capable of escaping to catch glimpses of the rest of the country. Travel is used for both recreational and educational purposes by the members of this group.

Homeless Gakusei

Not all gakusei (Gakusei means student in Japanese.) can afford to travel home for winter break or travel throughout the United States for such an extended period of time, consequently many have to stay in the area where they are going to school. The temporary group refers to the two Japanese students who stayed with us over winter break because the CSUC Residence Halls that they were living in close for winter and spring breaks.

All students living in the CSUC Residence Halls must move out of their dormitory rooms for winter break and also for spring break. The temporary winter exile from the dorms begins on the Friday afternoon of finals week and ends about a month later in January on the first day of arena registration for the spring semester. Spring break lasts about a week and is usually held the week before Easter. There are no exceptions to this official policy.

Hiro and Wakana lived in the dorms on campus and were acquaintances of Haruo and Kenji. About a week before finals began, Haruo asked everybody it would be alright for these two Japanese students to stay in the apartment over break because they were being forced to temporarily move out of the campus dormitories. Kenji and I had been forced out of the dorms when we lived on campus because of this policy and did not feel that it was a fair policy. Kenji reminded me that for foreign students, making arrangements for food and shelter during these times can be very stressful and awkward. He also told me that such exiles were also periods of stress for parents, for they were often uncertain as to their children's whereabouts and well being. We both thought that the Residential Halls should make special arrangements to house those students who cannot return home for financial or personal reasons.

Hiro and Wakana stayed in the apartment during winter break. They too had very strong feelings about this policy and called it "stupid", "fucking inconvenient", and "very unfair." During their stay in the apartment, they were made to feel at home, and were regular participants in the activities around the house. Neither will live on campus again, nor will they recommend living on campus to their friends.


Chapter V


The number and varieties of communication strategies employed by the members of this group are quite interesting, therefore these strategies will be the subject of this chapter. Please keep in mind that all of the members of this group learned English as a second language. Japanese is the native language of these students, and is the primary language used for communication by the members of this group. The following topics relating to communication are examined in this chapter: telephone, computer, television, videocassette recorder, motion pictures, language.


The first topic relates to how the members of this group use telephones. From examining the phone bills, and talking with the members of this group, and members of other Japanese student groups, it would seem that the phone is extremely important to these students for it allows them to maintain contact with friends and family in Japan. Phone bills generally average $100 per month per person with a range that extends from $40 to $400. During what I would call "bad" months, phone bills average $150. Bad months are months in which an individual may have a greater than average number of stressful things to deal with (a speeding ticket, a bad grade on a midterm, trying to cope with an instructor who talks too fast, pressure from parents, homesickness,etc.).

When I checked with my informants to confirm my observations regarding their phone bills and the averages for good, and bad months, I would often be asked "How did you know that?". The tone and facial expressions, as well as the actual answers confirmed that my numbers were very close.

It is rare for the members of this group to have a telephone conversation with each other entirely in English. If the caller starts off in Japanese with Moshi Moshi, then the rest of the conversation will primarily be in Japanese. After I figured out what Moshi Moshi was used for, I started to answer the phone by saying "Moshi Moshi ." This worked well enough when the person on the other end of the line knew English, but often it would be assumed that I was Japanese, and it would take me a moment to apologize and to make it clear that I did not speak much Japanese.

When the conversation is with a member of the group, the amount of English used will increase dramatically. Based on this, it is often easy to surmise when someone is talking to another person who is in Japan. I found the ritual language and gestures used in phone conversations with other Japanese to be quite interesting. Though my knowledge of Japanese was very limited, a typical sequence of responses made by a person who was listening would go as follows: "hai hai...hai,hai....hai, hai...wakarimasu,...hai". Sometimes, we would take turns imitating the person who was speaking on the phone so as to tease and distract them.

The style of a Japanese phone conversation is very interesting to observe, especially when the person on the other end of the line is being treated with polite respect. For the person listening, in addition to uttering a sequence of responses that indicate that the listener is following along, the listener will also use the body language that would be appropriate were they in the same room talking to one another. This use of body language includes a number of bows and all other gestures such as nodding head, waving arms, etc - none of which are actually seen by the person on the other end of the phone line.

The styles of language used varies with who is being spoken to. Among friends, the cadence seems more relaxed, and more like an English conversation, sans English. With older family members, the polite style becomes more evident, yet this is not as strict as is the style used for business calls between strangers. The "hai..hai " that I mentioned earlier is especially indicative of a business call.

Kenji, who was finishing his Master's Degree, received a number of calls from prospective employers. Often times, I would be the one who would initially answer the phone. Kenji and I often discussed the calls and the offers that he was receiving from various companies.

Towards the end of Ken's hunt for a job, he had narrowed his choice's down to two companies that were operating in Tokyo. Though Ken selected to work for a large American Telecommunications Company, the recruiter from the other company that wanted to hire him called on a weekly basis for two months. With each call, the recruiter tried to convince Ken that the American company was no good. Additionally, with every other call, Ken's potential salary seemed to rise a slight bit.

Tactics that the recruiter utilized including criticizing the American company down, sending copies of newspaper articles that had negative comments about the company, and then asking to talk about the articles that he had sent. Ken, not wanting to be direct with his refusal, let this go on. In some ways I think that he liked the attention, but the doubts that it caused in his own mind were often very great. Usually, Ken and I would talk about the whole process of recruiting that he was going through sometime well after midnight, for we were both often up at that time trying to get our work done. We both agreed that the recruiter who had been calling him must be quite good at what he does, and we both thought it would be interesting to meet with him for drinks.

About two months prior to the end of his sojourn, Ken had a polite conversation with the recruiter and gently told him that he was going to work for the other company, but would like to stay in touch - just in case. Additionally, there was an invitation extended to meet socially for drinks at some future date.

Another member of the group was receiving pressure from his grandparents to finish up his studies and find an acceptable wife, for they wanted to see a grandchild before they died. Yoshio asked me if Americans ever get this type of pressure, and I told him of how my father's mother had said the same thing to him, and how she was now pressuring me to get married so she can see her first great-grandchild before she dies. We both smiled and agreed not to rush into things. I think that he will probably get married and have a child before I do.

Another type of pressure that is often exerted over the phone is for certain members of the group to come home for winter and or spring break. Usually these trips are looked forward to with great anticipation, and yet there is an element of refusal. It is acknowledged that when they go back they will not be as free and independent as they have become accustomed to in the United States. Tetsuya told me after returning from a month at home of the "culture shock" he experienced, and how it took him quite a while to get used to living with his parents and dealing with the rest of Japanese culture.


In the apartment where I live, all three of my roommates (informants) had very sophisticated International Business Machine (IBM) compatible computers with hard disk drives, color monitors, and 80286 microprocessors. All of the members of the group use these computers for scholastic, recreational, and business purposes. By contrast, I owned a cheap Laser 128 with a single floppy disk drive and was able to view text on a used monitor that was only capable of producing green characters. There were times when I wished that I didn't have a computer so that I could borrow one of their computers more often.

The usage of these computers was beyond a doubt a great advantage for these students. Each computer had a copy of Microsoft Word Version 4.0 installed. This word processing program is quite sophisticated and allows users to manipulate text in a great many ways with considerable ease. In addition to the text editing capabilities of this program, there was also a spelling checker, and a thesaurus.

The members of this group took advantage of the editing and formatting capabilities of this program so as to produce documents that looked good and read well. By using the computer's editing capabilities, these students were able to make mistakes while at the keyboard and correct them instantly, print out rough drafts to be proof read, and later make the necessary changes quickly and efficiently. This allowed them to spend less time on the mundane aspects of typing, and allow them to spend more time actually writing. I believe that the time saved by using these computers as text editors allowed more time for recreational activities, and lessened the stress associated with writing papers in English that are to be graded as if written by a native speaker.

Unfortunately, no one has a program which will allow their computer to write with Japanese characters. When I asked why they did not buy Macintosh computers, they said that their friends, who were computer science majors, did not recommend Macintosh computers.

In addition to the word processing programs, my roommates (the other three members of the residential core group) had two computer based golf games, a banner maker, and a program for drawing. Ken also has a number of more sophisticated programs for use while writing advanced computer programs. Haruo has expressed much interest in buying a grammar checking program that can be used in conjunction with his word processing program. Such a program could act as an editor by spotting some grammatical errors and suggesting alternatives. Haruo told me that according to his friends, some of these programs are quite good and reasonably priced ($70-$80).

Haruo's interest in acquiring a grammar checker became more intense after he was accepted to CSUC as a Social Science major. He told me that he hoped it would improve the quality of his writing and also save him a little time.

Most of the members of the group have asked me to proof read rough drafts of documents. I would usually be asked, very politely, if I could check a paper. I would then be handed a printout to proof, and would be told to do so at my convenience. I usually tried to proof papers as soon as I could. I had to overcome a tendency that I have to rewrite other people's papers so as to make them sound as if I had written them. I also decided to leave a few imperfections in papers so that they would not appear as though someone else had written them.

I noticed that the females would usually give me a week to look over a paper, while the males would often wait until the night before it was due to ask for my help. Though part of this may have been due to the fact that the females didn't own computers and thus had to borrow computer time, I think that something else was going on, and that this something relates to the difference in sex roles for Japanese males and females of.

Kenji was the resident computer expert, and would be consulted whenever there was a problem or question. In addition to the standard manuals that came with the Microsoft Word program, Yoshio, Haruo, and Kenji had also each bought third party instruction books that specifically deal with Microsoft Word. When I asked why they had done this, they all said that these third party manuals are much easier to follow than the factory manuals.


The television is usually on if someone in the apartment is in the living room or kitchen area. We subscribe to commercial cable programming and receive about 30 channels. The cable converter box comes with a remote control which often gets lost - usually in the bowels of one of the couches. Two of the cable television channels are premium movie channels. Cable service costs about $48 per month, and the bill, like almost all of the other bills is split four ways.

Much of the time, the television serves as a background for other activities (cooking, conversation, playing cards, reading Manga (Japanese comic book novels), homework, drinking and eating). Music videos, and movies are the most popular programs for the entire group, while sports shows, especially those that deal with golf, get the most attention from the male members of the group. Surprisingly, an Italian cooking show entitled Pasquale's Kitchen Express caught the attention of the male members of the residential core group.

The chef was Italian, and his English had an Italian accent. In addition to cooking tips, which were usually quite good, Pasquale would offer advice regarding life, how to treat people, and how to be happy. On one episode, Pasquale made a mistake and put a white sauce on a pork dish that was supposed to get a red sauce. Kenji thought that such a combination would taste good, so he memorized the recipe. Later that same day, he went to the store and bought the needed ingredients, and cooked the dish for everyone who came into the apartment.

In terms of regular television shows, there was much excitement when Alien Nation debuted on the Fox television network. This series was based upon a movie with the same title and involved life in California in the middle of the 1990's, five years after an alien ship with several hundred thousand people lands in the California desert. The aliens look similar to, but are slightly different from humans, are very intelligent, and are trying to learn how to deal with American culture.

The excitement died over a relatively short period of time, for the scripts were often poor, and the network cancelled the series. Another program that was watched on a semi-regular basis was Cheers. This show involves a group of bar patrons at a Boston bar, and their comic struggles with relationships and life in general. The scripts are often witty, and poke fun at relationships between men and women. The main character is a good looking ex-baseball pitcher who is very much like Don Juan. His principal foil is usually an attractive female who also works at the bar. Most of the supporting cast members are males who sit around the bar and drink a lot.

Alien Nation, Pasquale's Kitchen Express, and Cheers have a unique appeal to this group in part due to the similarities between the structure of these shows and the experiences of this unique set of viewers. It should be kept in mind that this is primarily a Japanese household. Alien Nation plays with American culture in a number of ways due to the aliens fresh perspective on it. Though the experiences of these students is quite different from what happens on each episode of this show, the flavor of the program is appropriate in regards to its highlighting the difficulties involved with acculturation.

Pasquale's Kitchen Express operates on a number of levels. On the first and most basic level it is a cooking show. If one keeps in mind that most Japanese males do not ordinarily know how to boil water for tea, let alone make curried rice, the viewership of this program takes on new significance. That Pasquale is a male is not lost on this group. Pasquale's English is accented and has a softer tone, and the vowel sounds are closer to the vowels sounds of Japanese. The sentences he uses are not very complex in construction, and he does not use a lot of specialized jargon.

Perhaps Pasquale is seen in some ways as an acceptable role model who these guys can identify with and understand. Pasquale's humor and comments regarding how to enjoy life are not lost on this group.

The humor of Cheers, in regards to the portrayal of its main characters and their social interactions is not lost. However, some of the word play, and references to American culture is not always understood. The social drinking aspects of this show, while different from the social aspects of Japanese social drinking, are still recognizable.

Videocassette Recorder

In addition to a large color television hooked up to a cable system with about 30 channels, the television is also hooked up to a videocassette recorder (VCR). The VCR gets a fair amount of usage. Programs are either rented from a local shop, taped off of the air in the apartment, or are sent from Japan by friends and family.

The members of this group make usage of the local video tape rental shops that are within one half mile of the apartment. All types of movies are rented, and range from classics that star Humphrey Bogart to critical disasters that star Sylvester Stallone. It would be difficult to say anything about the variety of films watched other than that it reflects a very eclectic set of tastes.

I probably rented more films than anyone else in the apartment. Before leaving for the video store, I would often ask what type of movie to get. Popular movies made within the last few years usually played well with this group. If after playing for a while, if a movie does not appeal to one or more of the people watching it, they will go into another room and play games, read manga, listen to the stereo, or talk.

One of the advantages of watching movies on tape is that the tape can be rewound quickly so as to replay a scene in case someone found the dialog unclear. In addition, it is easier to ask questions about what is going on at home than it is to ask questions at the theater. I often found myself explaining idiomatic expressions, and clarifying references made in the movie to things that they did not understand.

Tapes from Japan

About once every two or three weeks, a special package will arrive from Japan and in it will be either one or two videocassetes. Most of the cassettes are sent to Haruo by his friends, although Tetsuya also gets a fair number of cassettes from friends back home in Japan. The programming on these cassettes is entirely Japanese, and usually includes a game show, comedy program, soap opera, and either a baseball game or a golf game.

Over the last year the collection of tapes in the apartment has grown from 30 to 80. Most of these tapes have Japanese language programming on them. When a new tape arrives, Haruo usually will preview the tape, and create and index its contents, and their position on the tape.

As it is more common for the group to come together on the weekend, that is usually when the tape will be played. For the first few months while I was living in the apartment, when one person or a group was watching Japanese language programs, they would stop watching them when I would come into the living room. After telling them on a number of occasions that I did not want them to stop watching when I came in and that I was very interested in watching the tapes with them, they stopped switching off the programs that they were watching.

Usually, someone would use the remote control to fast forward commercials. I would often say that I liked the commercials and wanted to watch them. Occasionally I would get to watch them, but in general I do not.

While watching the tapes, the young women are much better at volunteering information about what is going on than the men are. The male answers are usually quite short. I usually didn't ask too many questions, but when I did it would usually be to ensure that I was following along with the plot correctly.

One of the reasons Haruo was able to get so many tapes was that he was taping American television programs and sending them back to some of the friends who were sending him Japanese tapes. With the exception of Haruo sister, family members would also send tapes to almost everyone who lived in the group, but these would not come as frequently

Motion Pictures

In regards to going to movie theaters and the selection of movies, group consensus is often a factor. Because the movie theaters in Chico are not of very high quality (poor sound, uncomfortable chairs, too many extraneous noises, and poor print quality) we often wait until movies come out on videotape. Aside from saving quite a bit of money, there are a few other advantages that the members of the group recognize with respect to waiting for a movie to be released on videotape. Drinking beer, sitting on comfortable sofas while eating dinner are some of the more common reasons given to wait.

During the period of this study, two movies entitled Black Rain came out. One was about an American cop trying to deal with the Yakuza (Yakuza is a type of Japanese organized crime syndicate), and the other was about the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Japan.

My informants were very excited about the Yakuza oriented Black Rain and asked me what I knew about the film for two months prior to its release. I saw the movie the day before they did and said that I liked it. I made a point of going with them on the night that they went to see it. I wanted to watch and hear their reactions to this movie as it was playing.

There were a number of scenes in which the actors spoke in Japanese and subtitles were not provided. Iku and Reiko sat on one side of me, and during the scenes in which there were no subtitles they made a point of telling me "this should have been translated", and would go on to translate the dialog for me. For those scenes that did have subtitles, they would often tell me that they were incomplete.

A couple of months after watching the film in the theater, my roommates told me that they heard that the actor who had played the lead Yakuza figure had died of testicular cancer. They were momentarily saddened by his passing and made a point of asking me again, after the movie was released on videotape if I had heard of his passing. We all agreed that he was a very talented young actor and that his loss was unfortunate.

Almost everyone in the group that I worked with was able to remember the first movie that they saw while in the United States, and how many times they had to watch it before it made any sense to them. My informants told me that American movies are often shown in Japan with Japanese subtitles. According to my informants, watching an American movie in Japan is quite an interesting experience. They went on to tell me of how some people who were native speakers of English, or who had spent a long time studying English abroad, would hear comic dialog and laugh immediately, while the rest of the Japanese audience would laugh a little while later because they had to read the dialog and figure out what was comic about it. They also told me how strange it was to now be laughing with the first group, and how silly the must have seemed before.


As I have mentioned earlier in this text, Japanese was the primary language spoken at the apartment. If someone wanted to talk with me, they had to speak in English because I did not begin studying Japanese until after I had lived with this group for three months. Often times the amount of English that was spoken depended upon the person speaking and the subject. It took a while for me to become a good listener.

Having a conversation with people whose English language skills are limited can sometimes prove to be frustrating, especially when you really want to talk with them. By becoming a good listener, I had to adjust my interpretation of what people would say, and how they would say it. There was often a lot of guesswork involved, and I would often restate what I thought I had heard so as to seek confirmation that I was on the right track. I believe that this active listening not only acted to facilitate communication, but also to instruct whoever I was talking with on how they could better put their thoughts forth in English.

This was not the first time I have lived in a multicultural household. The first time was when I lived in the graduate house of Konkow Hall CSUC. Half of the people living in my house were from Asia (Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, and the Philippines). I did not often hear English while I was in the kitchen and dinning area. After a couple months, I got used to listening to people talk in languages that I did not understand.

I believe that this first multicultural living experience was beneficial to me for it allowed me to adjust to living and working with people who did not necessarily speak English very well, but who did want to be friends. The person who moved out of the room that I moved into at the apartment was a computer science major from Thailand. He had just finished his graduate degree and was returning home.

Before I moved into the house, the Japanese and Thai students who were living there had to use English as a common language for communication. I think that this was to my benefit, and also to all of their benefit, for it forced everyone to speak English on a regular basis for an extended period of time. I do believe that having people who are non-Japanese living in the apartment has been beneficial to all concerned, for to a certain extent the Japanese students have been forced to use English, and I, as well as the Thai students, have learned a little Japanese. But it goes beyond learning a few words, or drinking toasts in each other's language, and I hope that you, the reader, understand this point.

Iku and Reiko were quite good friends and had lived together in Chico for about a year before they decided to move apart. They are still very close friends, but they realized that their English was not improving very much because whenever they were together they would speak to each other in Japanese. Both ended up finding roommates who were native speakers of English. In the time since they moved apart, their proficiency in English has increased dramatically. I do believe that their move was a contributing factor, but do not feel that it was the only factor.

Many of the questions that I would be asked referred to the English language. I would often be asked to explain idiomatic expressions, pronounce words, and to define words. One of the things that I told my roommates as I was beginning Japanese was that I couldn't wait to start butchering their language. They thought that my attempts at Japanese were sometimes pretty funny, but were occasionally surprised by how much I could understand.

One of the things that I learned about in my Japanese class was that you add the word "san " to the end of either people's first or last names when you are trying to be polite in Japanese. Although I heard the ending used a few times while around the house, the ending that I heard more often was "chan ". I thought that this was some minor variation, for it wasn't in any of the Japanese language textbooks that I was using. Towards the end of my study, I mentioned this ending to Dr. Thomas Johnson (Professor of Anthropology, CSUC) for another reason which I will tell you about in a moment. He told me that the ending "chan " is used primarily with children and girls, not adult males, unless it is being used between males who became friends while children. Remember what I said earlier about how it had been added to everyone's name. Say Erik-chan out loud a couple times. To me, especially when this is said by someone who is Japanese, it sounds like the word "erection."

After hearing this for a couple months I shared it with Dr. Johnson, for it seemed like an amusing piece suitable for use in a class I was about to teach. He told me that the groups usage of the term was not normal.

With the knowledge as to the terms proper usage, when I asked about why they were using it, they just said it was for fun. They also got quite a few laughs when I told them what it sounded like when they added "chan " to my first name. Although the ending is not used much anymore, every once in a while, one of the guys will tease me by saying Erik-chan. Tetsuya would often ask to borrow my peanut butter by saying "Erik, can I have some of your peanut butter?". The only problem is that his pronunciation of the "t" in peanut, sounded more like an "s". After hearing this a few times, I decided to tell Tetsuya what his "peanut butter" sounded like to me. When I told him that his "peanut butter" sounded like "penis butter" he laughed a lot and had me tell everyone else in the room of this great mispronunciation. Although Tetsuya has gotten a lot better with respect to pronouncing consonants that fall at the end of a word, he still likes to joke with me when he asks for peanut butter by mispronouncing it on purpose, and smiling.

Masao, whose English skills are probably the least well developed, told me of his first experience in a fast food restaurant in Chico. Masao said that he went up to the counter, studied the menu for a few minutes and decided to order a hamburger. Masao said the cashier asked him what he wanted, and he replied "a hamburger". Unfortunately, the cashier misunderstood what Masao had said and brought Masao eight hamburgers. Masao told me that he didn't say anything and that he paid for his eight hamburgers and left.

The last anecdote is still fresh in mind, and probably will be for quite some time. Iku's parents paid her a visit last summer. As it was a special occasion, we all went out to dinner at a local Chinese Food Restaurant. Iku's father was a businessman, and was fairly comfortable with English. Her mother on the other hand would only speak in Japanese. At some point during the dinner, Tetsuya was talking about how his English was still very bad, and on particular he was commenting on one incident that happened at work. Tetsuya works at a cafeteria as a cook. As the story goes, Tetsuya was trying to get his assistant to prepare some grilled onions. The only problem was that the assistant didn't know what Tetsuya was talking about, for grilled onions came out something along the lines of "greierd ernyuns". One thing led to another and everyone at the table was soon trying to outdo each other with their pronunciation of grilled onions. I was the judge of this rather unique contest. It went on for literally 15 minutes. By the time it was over, I was sick of grilled onions but realized that I had a lot of fun hearing them.

All of the males in the group know how to swear in English and use such morsels as "god damn it", "fuck", "shit", and "Jesus Christ". Their repertoire does not go much further with respect to performance, but I do believe that they understand quite a bit more. I haven't heard any of the females use profanity, and the males will only use it sparingly, and usually to mark emphasis or to draw attention to themselves, but not to direct an insult at someone else, or to directly promote hostile feelings.

Reading Materials

Aside from materials required for class, the members of this group spend a considerable amount of time reading. Golf, and Men's magazines, as well as Manga are the items most frequently read for leisure by the male members of this group. They will read both English and Japanese Golf and Men's magazines, and the Japanese language Manga ( Japanese comic book novels). The women don't particularly like the golf magazines, and generally do not look at the American men's magazines. All however read manga . In the apartment, there are approximately 120 editions of several different manga series. Whenever someone gets a new set of manga from Japan, they will read them and then bring them out so the others can get a chance to read them.

Those who don't live in the apartment also have collections of manga , and will frequently bring them by the bagful to the apartment for others to read. When time permits, it is not uncommon for five or six people to be sitting down in different locations around the apartment reading Manga . These manga sessions sometimes last three hours or more.

Mail from home is always nice. Everyone in the apartment would get mail from friends and family on a regular basis. In addition to letters, there is often times a photograph or two. In addition to letters, the members of the group would receive birthday presents, and if they were staying in the U.S. for Christmas, they would receive some sort of Christmas present. My roommates told me that celebrating Christmas is something relatively new to the Japanese, but that they like it.

Mothers and sisters often send care packages with a few special food items that can't be obtained in the U.S., perhaps a newspaper clipping if a friend did something notable like win an important baseball game, and a videocassette of their favorite television shows. In terms of acting as a morale booster, I've seen Yoshio go from being slightly depressed and lethargic to bouncing off of the walls after the arrival of a package at a time when he needed something that he couldn't get here. The same goes for everyone else who lives at the apartment - myself included.

The last item is one of the more interesting items in that it is a newsletter that deals with the members of the group and the residents (former and current) of the apartment. The newsletter was created by one of the members of the group who started work in Japan shortly after I moved into the apartment. In the newsletter, which is written in English, updates have been written about everyone in the group. Addresses are provided, and future responses are encouraged. In the first issue of the newspaper was an article about the marriage of the Thai student whose room I moved into. The young lady he married was also from Thailand, had also just earned her Master's Degree in Computer Science from CSUC, and did not meet the man who was to become her future husband socially until a week after they graduated. They meet while on a trip with a group of other foreign students that took place shortly after graduation. My roommates, who were amazed by how quickly events unfolded, were even more so when I told them that she lived in the Graduate House of Konkow Hall while I was living there. I too was pretty amazed by the whole thing.


Chapter VI


This study is primarily an ethnography of a group of Japanese college students attending college in Butte county. This chapter is basically an ethnography of their adaptation to American academia.

One of the first topics that needs to be addressed with respect to the subject of adaptation relates to the differences in the American and Japanese educational systems. The material which I will present is primarily based upon the information that my informants provided.

According to my informants, life before college can be quite difficult. This is because there is a great deal of pressure put on children by their parents (mothers in particular) to perform well on the standardized tests that are given each year throughout Japan. These tests are very difficult and require many hours of study. Coupled with the difficulty of the tests is a great fear of the consequences of doing poorly on a test. It is said that the scores on these tests can influence one's entire life, for a low score could disqualify one from getting a higher education, or getting into a good college or university. Not getting into a good university would put a severe limit on career choices and possible marriage partners.

On one occasion, I told a group of my informants that I had heard someone say that the average Japanese High School senior has about the same degree of knowledge as the average American college graduate. They agreed with that statement. When I followed up by asking about whether college in Japan was as easy as I had heard, they not only agreed, but told me stories of their exploits. It should be mentioned that my rapport with the group was quite strong, and that this information would not have been provided to an outsider.

They said that although it is very difficult to get into a good University, that it is very difficult to fail to get a degree once accepted. One of my informants told me of how he would often skip class for weeks at a time so he could play golf. Another informant said that on a number of occasions he had other people take tests for him. Yet another said that on a day on which he was to have turned a senior paper in, he went to the box where the other papers that had been turned in was, took one that looked good, tore off the title page with the other student's name on it, attached a title page with his own name on it, and submitted it as if it were his own.

College life in Japan is generally a lot of fun, for few demands have to be met in order for success to be achieved. This contrasts greatly with the American educational system. In many respects, the pressures to succeed are opposite with respect to American and Japanese students. In the United States, there is not much pressure on children to do well. College is seen as being much more difficult to get though, and generally is. For the Japanese College student coming to the United States, there is a great difference with respect to their their expectations of Academia.

None of the members of this group are native speakers of English. All of the members of this group had between six and eight years of English before coming to the United States for college. Everyone in the group acknowledged that knowledge of English is key to a successful stay in the United States. Mastery of English is also seen by the Japanese as being key to success in business due to the number of people throughout the world who are able to speak English.

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is a major hurdle for Japanese students to pass over, for without a high enough score, admission to college will be denied. At California State University, a 500 is required of students who are non-native speakers of English. The TOEFL is a subject that causes a great deal of tension around the house.

The test is only offered a few times per year and is quite difficult. Whenever someone in the group would be getting ready to take the TOEFL, others in the group would often tell stories that they had heard regarding how native speakers of English who had been allowed to take the test, and how they often failed. This would usually be followed with a dialog that revolved around their belief that it is unreasonable for them to take a test they feel does not adequately assess their true English Language abilities.

It is very common for the members of the group, especially the female members of the group, to have special study sessions prior to a TOEFL test date. Though I would often be asked to edit papers or explain idiomatic expressions, I was never asked to help out with one of these TOEFL study sessions. Usually, one of the veterans of the group who had passed the TOEFL would lead these sessions.

Normally, scores for tests are available a couple days after the test. When scores come in, they are generally shared with the rest of the group. Everyone has a good idea of where they stand with respect to the TOEFL as compared to everyone else in the group.

I'm not sure which is worse, missing by twenty points or missing by two. Haruo had taken the test about six times and his score improved dramatically on each of the first three times he took the test. For the next three times, Haruo averaged a 498. This score was two points short of what he needed for admission to CSUC. The test was especially frustrating to Haruo for he had come so close, so many times, and was yet so far away.

Whenever someone gets a 500 or higher, a small party is held and the person(s) who passed the last test are presented with bottles of champagne to open and share with the group. These parties are generally a lot of fun and have special meaning for those they serve to honor. In general, once a 500 is achieved, acceptance to CSUC is relatively easy.

Butte College has played a major role in the education of most of the members of the group, for almost all of the members of the group have taken classes at Butte College while waiting until they earned a passing TOEFL score.

In general, Butte College classes are treated with less respect than CSUC classes. It is felt that the Butte classes are not as good, and therefore not worth as much effort. In addition, these students will take classes at Butte, and drop them late in the semester if they feel that they will not do well in them. This contrasts with the attitude that is associated with classes taught at CSUC. One of the reasons for the difference is that it is much more difficult to drop a class a CSUC than it is at Butte College.

The Writing Effectiveness Screening Test (WEST) is another test that is of great concern to those members of the group who are CSUC students, for without a passing WEST score, it is not possible to take the Writing Proficiency (WP) courses that are required in every major. You cannot fulfill the requirements for a major without taking and passing a WP course with a grade higher than C. One of the reasons that this test is feared is that so much can ride on it due to the way classes are often scheduled.

The members of this group, for the most part, will spend as much time on an assignment as is needed to complete it. As mentioned in the chapter on Communication, the members of this group utilize the computers owned by the members of the core group as much as is practical. While I was a member of the group, I often found myself in the role of proof-reader. Something that I think should be noted is that it is common to find members of the residential core group doing what is known as an "all nighter" on a regular basis so as to keep up with their studies. As I too often had to stay up on many a late night to keep up with my studies as well as to collect data for this ethnography, I found myself making quick checks of papers that were to be turned in five hours later that morning, and talking about things like the differences between college in Japan and the U.S., and those unknown things that lie beyond graduation.

Important papers would often be given to me for correction. Because I was regarded as a successful graduate student and a helpful native speaker of English my skills were in demand, but not as much as I had expected. I believe that this was in part due to their usage of advanced word processing programs. I expect that as the members of this group begin to use more advanced Word-Processing programs in conjunction with grammar checkers, that their writing will improve greatly.

My girlfriend, who was a graduate teaching assistant for the CSUC Department of Human Communication was much in demand by those who were taking public speaking courses, or who had to make class presentations. She was also asked on a number of occasions to proof papers. Her advice was usually heeded, and most of the presentations went well. No one ever mentioned having a bad experience while speaking in class.

Yoshio and Kenji commented on a number of occasions that they preferred taking math classes to other classes because they were easier to understand. Dealing with English was the primary reason for this preference and will be discussed shortly. The secondary reason for this was in part due to the fact that they had covered much of the material while in High School, back in Japan.

Dealing with English, for many classes, was often like dealing with a long debilitating illness. Oral comprehension of lectures was often difficult. Some of the more irritating problems that my informants brought forth involved teachers who talked too fast, who would not repeat things, and those who would not explain what they meant when they used idiomatic expressions.

In some cases, my informants told me that they would record lectures, but that this was only for instructors who were very difficult. Though all of the members of the group are aware that in the United States, students are encouraged to ask questions in class, especially if they don't understand what is going on, they said that they usually don't say anything. Haruo and Tetsuya proved to be the exceptions in that they both would regularly recount how they had asked their teachers particularly difficult questions.

Another thing that caused problems was the fact that most instructors have a fairly large vocabulary and like to pepper their speech with odd little lexical units so as to do any number of things. Unfortunately, one of the things that this does, is to confuse non-native speakers. Aside from owning one or two English dictionaries, each person in the group is in possession of two or three English-Japanese dictionaries, and at least one book on English Grammar. Though these dictionaries are not of much practical use during a lecture, the members of this group more than make up for this with their usage of dictionaries while doing homework. In addition to whatever text they may have to be dealing with they will have at least one dictionary within ready grasp. Words that are unclear are looked up, not passed over.

Another problem with English that directly relates to instructors is testing. Although the members of this group are used to multiple choice tests, my informants said that many of the multiple choice tests that they have taken here were too difficult and that they didn't feel good about their performance because questions were often ambiguous, or the instructor used lexicon that they did not understand. Time limitations placed on tests were also difficult to deal with. My informants thought that for most classes they should be allowed to use a bilingual dictionary while taking a test. They gave high praise to those instructors who recognized that their standard testing procedures should be modified somewhat so as not to be an added negative factor in the evaluation of their foreign students mastery of the subject matter.

Aside from ambiguous multiple choice tests, essay exams were seen as major problems. At home, a one page essay written on the computer might take between one and three hours, and still contain a number of grammatical problems. Having only twenty minutes and no access to a dictionary or possibility of asking a quick question was viewed as being more stressful than reasonable. Coupled with the frustration of not being able to fully understand a question, and respond to it adequately was something even more frustrating - understanding the subject matter and not being allowed to demonstrate that understanding.

Although almost everyone wanted to get A's all of the time, there was a realization that such was not going to be the case. Although higher grades were preferred, C's did not cause any problems. The group had an average grade point of 2.99. There was a certain amount of competition for grades, especially when a number of individuals were taking the same subject at the same time.

One of the techniques employed by the members of this group was to repeat courses that they had taken at Butte College and dropped late in the semester. This often enabled them to get a better grasp of the material being covered.

Kenji, who was finishing up work on his Master's Degree in Computer Science was often frustrated by the amount of attention that was paid to the grammatical mistakes that he made on the written portion of his master's project. The level of writing proficiency that his department required was several steps above Kenji's ability. I spent a lot of time working with Kenji on producing a rough draft for his committee to examine. At times it would take him six hours to produce 600 words of text.

Many of the mistakes that Kenji made involved problems with correct tense, and awkward sentence structures. Though sometimes difficult to read at first, I could usually figure out what he was trying to convey. For short sessions when I worked on Kenji's paper, I would sit at the computer with him and make changes on the screen, while for reviews of longer passages I would edit printouts of his paper, and then give the edited copy to him. He would then make the changes that I suggested, and clarify sections that I was unable to understand.

We spent a lot of time on his paper, trying to get it ready for his committee to accept it. Though neither of us really said much about the subject, we both realized that the extreme number of hours that I spent working with him had prevented me from completing my Master's thesis on time.

Kenji said that this was the toughest writing assignment that he had ever attempted, and often had doubts as to whether he would be able to complete it. Although he had done exceptionally well in his class work, especially the projects that involved mathematics, statistics, and computer programming, his writing was never really subject to critical review and development. He felt that the demands that were being put on him were too difficult, and that he should have had more help with respect to his writing.

I met with Kenji's graduate committee chair once, and he commented on how tough it was to read Kenji's paper and that his writing was so bad. He also said he wasn't sure why so many of the foreign students asked him to be on their committees. Though I could empathize with his position, I felt that he had not worked with Kenji enough with respect to developing his ability to write about topics within his field. Kenji's graduate committee was put together at the beginning of the semester he was to graduate. In addition, he had not really worked on an individual basis with a faculty mentor though he was known by most of the faculty in his department.

The actual computer program that Kenji had to create worked well, and after his committee received a complete draft of his written component they allowed him to hold his presentation (project defense). It was at about this time that the $500 class ring that he had ordered arrived. Though a very talkative and open person, the thought of having to present his project and defend its merit worried Kenji a lot. Kenji sought my girlfriend's advice regarding presentations and followed it very closely.

One of the interesting things about Kenji's presentation was the fact that almost everyone in the group was there to watch it. The two members who weren't there were out of town at the U.S. Open Golf Tournament. After the presentation, Kenji's chair congratulated him, and we went outside for some pictures. Twenty minutes later, Kenji was on his way to golf.

College Majors

Of those who had chosen a major and were taking courses beyond those for general education, Computer Science, Social Science, Psychology, and Graphic Design were the majors that the members of the group had decided upon and were actively pursuing. In terms of finances, almost all of the members of the group came from families that were very well off. With three exceptions, jobs in a business or corporation that their family owned was assured.

Kenji, who had a degree in business and a Master's degree in Computer Science, and Iku the graphic artist were the only two members of the group who would actually have to spend a little time looking for a job because their families couldn't create one for them. Kenji's search for a job lasted approximately three months and was highly rewarding. I worked with Kenji and helped him write his resume and the cover letters that he sent to different companies.

Although not much happened during the first month of his search, by the time he had stopped looking because he had been offered a very good position in Japan for a large American corporation that was expanding its market, he had been flown to Texas, Chicago, and Boston at the expense of companies that were trying to recruit him. One of the companies that tried to recruit him was a Japanese computer firm. The representative from the firm would call Kenji weekly, from Japan, and attempt to get Kenji to join his company. The Japanese recruiter did not stop his calls after Kenji told him of his decision to work for the American company that was expanding its business in Japan.

As of the time that this report was written, Iku was still on vacationing after her graduation and had yet to make any bona fide efforts to obtain a job. From what the others in the group have told me, she will not have any problems getting a good job doing what she likes because there is a great demand for talented graphic artists in Japan.

Summer School

For Haruo and Tetsuya, there exists a good deal of pressure to come home to Japan for summer vacation to work in the family business. One of the reasons they are sometimes hesitant about doing such is that it is much cheaper for them as foreign students to take summer school classes than it is for them to take classes during the regular session. At Butte College, summer school classes cost approximately $5 per unit plus a nominal fee. This contrasts with the $100 per unit fee that is charged during regular sessions. Though taking summer school class at CSUC costs about $90 per unit, this is still much cheaper than having to pay $190 per unit in addition to the regular fees that students who are regularly admitted residents of California have to pay. A foreign student taking 12 units during a regular session at CSUC would pay approximately $2730 in fees. Therefore, many foreign students try to to take as many summer school classes as they can so as to save money.

Personal Finances

As mentioned earlier, most of the members of the group are very well off and do not have to worry about expenses. From what my informants have told me, in order for them to get a student visa, they had to show proof that they had about $12,000 in the bank so as to cover a years worth of expenses (educational and personal). One of the reasons for this is that the government makes it very difficult for them to work while they are in the U.S. as students.

In terms of the members of the core group, each would receive approximately $3000 every three months from their parents. I received on average $675 every three months from my parents. I had to work full time during the summer and part-time during the school year to cover my expenses.

This is not to say that getting work in Butte county is impossible, just that it is quite difficult. According to my informants, half of whom have worked in the area, they can only work for government institutions such as CSUC or Butte College. All of those who have worked have spent a fair amount of time working in the cafeterias for the schools they were attending.

There were a few stories about how food used to find its way out of the cafeteria kitchens into the apartments of other foreign students but these stories stopped short of this group's front door. I remember eating a few bowls of ice cream that was supposedly given out to all of the kitchen staff prior to the major cleaning of a large freezer, and its subsequent restocking with fresh foodstuffs. As I remember, it was pretty good ice cream.


Chapter VII


You don't need a degree in anthropology to realize that something special has been created in this apartment. Residents of the apartment, members of the primary group, and those who come by often comment on the messiness of the apartment and how much fun it is to be there. This chapter is about the apartment and the domestic activities that occur within it.

As mentioned earlier, I lived in the apartment with Yoshio, Kenji, and Haruo for over a year. We each had our own room. There were two bathrooms, and each had a combination bathtub/shower. We also had a washing machine and a clothes dryer in the apartment. The kitchen area was next to the living room and was separated by a waist high counter.

There were four couches in the living room and a brown Naugahyde chair. All of the furniture was used. Stains, rips, and loose strings could be found on all of the the couches. I've mentioned in other places the types of things that could have found their way into the couches. Because of all of the couches, it is easy to seat a dozen people in the living room and to not feel too cramped.

Aside from providing places for people to sit while socializing, watching television, and or reading, the couches are frequently used by both members of the apartment as well as the male members of the primary group as a place to nap or sleep. It is quite common for Masao to spend several nights in a row on one of the couches. Oftentimes when he does this, he will borrow some sweat pants from Kenji to sleep in. It is rare for one of the women in the group to nap or sleep on the couches unless there is to be a special trip early the next morning. Female guests from out of town will either be offered a bed to sleep in, or they will be offered a couch to sleep on. If offered a bed, the regular occupant of the bed will sleep in the living room on a couch.

The living room is the center of activity in the apartment. There are many reasons why this is true. The only television in the apartment is in the living room, the kitchen is directly attached to the living room, there is a phone in the living room, the door to the backyard is in the living room, and there is plenty of room for everyone to gather for various types of activities in the living room.

With respect to Masao and Tetsuya, I would have to classify them as being honorary members of the residential core group. Yoshio and I often joke with Masao about the couch that he prefers to sleep on and have told him that we are going to put a sign above it that reads "Masao's Couch". Actually, the couch is now known and referred to as "Masao's Couch". Masao usually smiles when we say this for he knows that he is always welcome.

I believe that almost all of the carpeted area of the apartment will have to be ripped out and replaced after this group decides to move out. I have been told on numerous occasions by Yoshio and Kenji that the rugs were dirty and ripped a little when they moved in a few years earlier. I know that it was in much better shape when they moved in than they try to make it seem.

One of the few things that I knew about Japanese culture prior to moving into the apartment was that it was customary to remove one's shoes before entering someone's house. For the first six months this rule was not practiced by anyone in the group for reasons other than comfort. Shoes would only come off if you wanted to take them off. One of the reasons for this is that the carpets would rarely be vacuumed, let alone cleaned. Walking in the apartment with a pair of white socks on for a half hour would produce stains equal in intensity to those that would be produced were you to walk in the parking lot for the same length of time. Laurie would not walk around the apartment barefoot because the floors were "gross and disgusting".

When I moved into the apartment, Kenji told me that they (he, Yoshio, and Haruo) would rent a steam cleaner and clean the rugs after everything got settled. Six months later, I walked into the apartment after a long day at school to find Yoshio, Haruo, Kenji, and a steam cleaner in the living room. They were almost done with the apartment. I was surprised and pleased with the unexpected cleaning event. No explanation was given as to why on that particular day they had decided to clean the rugs.

After the rugs were cleaned, it was agreed that the shoes off policy would go into effect. Everyone complied with this for a while. Perhaps if the vacuum had been used more frequently, drinks and food were not spilled on the floor so often, and golf clubs were not cleaned in the living room, the rugs would have stayed fairly clean. As the level of grime that stained the floor increased the frequency of not wearing shoes decreased. After about two months of transition, shoes were worn wherever and whenever people wanted to wear them.

In terms of the overall condition of the apartment, all I can say is that I would not want to be the one to have to clean it prior to its being rented to another group of students. All of the walls will need to be primed and repainted. I filled in almost all of the 500 or so dart holes in the living room. By now you probably can't forget the carpet. The linoleum in the kitchen will also have to be pulled up and replaced due to the holes that have been worn into it. The reasons for all of this wear and tear are simple. This apartment is a very busy place because this is where the group meets and does a significant part of its socializing. Aside from the wear and attributable to usage, there is also wear that is directly attributable to neglect and abuse.

All of the rooms have a similar style in that we all have our beds on the floor without a frame, have used furniture, a desk with a computer on top, and cement block bookshelves. On the walls we have posters of various people, places, and things. Yoshio, Haruo, and Kenji also have pictures of family and friends in Japan as well as various pictures of the group and its members. They thought that I was a little strange because the only picture that I had on display was a picture of my parents pug dog "Bugsy."

The pictures and posters that they (Yoshio, Haruo, and Kenji) have on their bedroom walls are mostly of American and Japanese media figures. Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and Jumbo Ozaki are but a few of the figures that grace their bedroom walls.

Kenji and Haruo have stereo's with compact disk players. They each have about 30 compact disks, and many more cassette tapes. Aside from Rock and Roll music, the range of musical styles in both of their collections includes jazz, classical, and meditation.

I let dirty clothes pile up in my room until I can't find anything to wear. Yoshio, Haruo, and to a lesser extent Kenji will wash their clothes as soon as they have enough for a small load of one color. I was amazed that they actually separate their clothes according to color. I have only recently considered doing this, and have yet to really practice this on a consistent basis.

Whenever someone moves out of the apartment it is usually the case that they will not be taking a lot of their clothes and furniture back with them. One of the traditions associated with moving out is the giving away of these items to the members of the group. The person who is moving out will usually first ask those who live in the apartment if they want any of the items to be left behind. For the items that remain, members of the primary group are then asked if there is anything that they would like to have. It is common for everyone to take at least one item. If no one in the group wants the items that are left, efforts are often made to locate friends outside of the group who may be interested in them before the items are given to charity or are discarded.


With respect to the residential core group, bills for rent and various utilities (cable television, phone company, energy, etc.) are split evenly four ways. Haruo was in charge of handling the bills when I moved in, and was still doing it after I moved out. He tried to be as exact as possible when it came to figuring out what everybody owed. Usually Haruo would pay all of the bills as soon as he could and would later tell each of us how much we owed him. Because of this, Yoshio, Kenji and I would only have to write two checks per month: one for rent, and the other to Haruo for the various utilities.

The only bills that were not split evenly were for long distance telephone charges. For these charges, everybody would be responsible for the calls that they made. Members of the primary group who used the phone to make long distance calls would also be asked to pay for their calls. It is not uncommon for Masao, Iku, or Tetsuya to reimburse Haruo $20 for a long distance phone call.

Although Haruo keeps very good records, he sometimes forgets to send in the check for a bill. This will happen about once every two months. No one seems to mind when this happens. The only time that this raises some concern is when the phone company calls because we didn't pay off an $800 balance.


I learned how to cook as a child because my mother and father had careers, and were often too tired at the end of the day to come home and cook. Masao, Yoshio, Haruo, and Kenji each told me that they didn't know how to cook when they arrived in the United States. Tetsuya, who is the best cook in the group, told me that his mother had taught him how to cook.

Tetsuya told me that his mother wanted him to be able to take care of himself while he was away going to school. He also said that in some ways his mother is very progressive, while in others she is not. When I asked the other males (Yoshio, Masao, Kenji, and Haruo) if it was true that most Japanese men are not even expected to know how to boil water for tea, let alone cook a full meal, they all said that such was the case. Some went on to tell me hilarious stories of what their father's had done when their mother's were away (visiting relatives, or giving birth).

In the time that these males have been in the United States they have to varying extents learned how to cook. Those who like to cook do, and those who don't watch television, talk, read, and drink beer while waiting for food to be fixed for them. The average dinner at the house is more like an American college student dinner party than anything else. Shopping, cooking, and eating are group activities, and the food is usually quite good.

It is most common for all of the males to cook and eat together. The females, though frequent visitors to the apartment, don't spend as much time there as do Masao and Tetsuya. Perhaps if they liked to play golf things would be different.

Haruo and Tetsuya do most of the grocery shopping. This usually entails a daily trip to one of the local discount food warehouses and an occasional trip to one of the local Asian food markets in town. Haruo likes to shop for bargains and will often buy non-perishable items that he feels are well priced in large quantities.

The dishes that are prepared are usually Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Italian, and American. Kenji told me that they (the Japanese males in this group) learned how to cook Thai food from their Thai friends and roommates. Tetsuya and Kenji also got quite a lot of experience as cooks in the Cafeteria's of Butte College and CSUC. They said that at first the Thai food was too spicy for them, but that they now loved hot and spicy Thai and Chinese cuisine.

If Reiko or Iku are around the apartment before a meal they will usually help with the cooking and cleaning. Kyoko does not normally help with the cooking although she will occasionally bring homemade cookies or pie to the apartment. Oftentimes, Reiko and or either Tetsuya or Haruo will do most of the cooking. For meals that have more dishes, it is not uncommon for almost everyone to help prepare at least one dish. Even Masao has ventured into the kitchen and tried to help out on occasion.

For some meals, preparations start at six or seven at night, and food won't be ready until nine or ten that night. I can assure you that it's well worth the wait.

Because the kitchen stove is electric it is not possible to use a regular wok. There are two rice cookers in the apartment. One has a digital readout and has Japanese characters on the control panel. The other is much simpler and only has an on/off switch. The fancy rice cooker is usually on, and people will take rice from it as needed throughout the day and the night. The other rice cooker is usually kept in storage unless it is needed for a special occasion.

The kitchen itself is a filthy mess. Many of the dishes prepared are fried in oil, and oil splatter is everywhere. If the kitchen is cleaned up after a meal, it is usually done by one of the females in the group. Sometimes even I get lazy and sit down with the guys on the couches and watch television while Reiko, Iku, and or possibly Kyoko does the dishes.

Leftovers are usually left out in the pots that they were cooked in or on the dishes that they were served on. I was the only one to consistently wrap up leftover food. If something was left out and on the next day it still looked edible, then it would be re-heated and eaten. If not it would usually sit until someone threw it away because they needed the dish or pan that it was in. Throwing out leftovers because they looked disgusting and or smelled was not always a high priority activity. Most leftovers ended up in the garbage.

The new forms of invertebrate life evolving in the showers was usually a darker shade of brownish green than the stuff growing in the refrigerator. Usually, the life forms in the refrigerator had either a reddish brown hue or were green with white spots. Looking at the refrigerator with the doors opened was much like looking at a stratigraphic cross section of a rich archaeological dump site. Evidence of past meals and shifting dietary preferences abounded. The refrigerator was not cleaned during the year that I did fieldwork.

At mealtime, plates with rice would often be prepared for everyone. The exact proportions of the other dishes that went on one's plate was an individual decision. It would be common for Tetsuya to say "itadakimasu " (In this context itadakimasu means thank you for the meal that I am about to eat.) at the beginning of a meal. If he (or someone else) said this, then everyone else would say it too. If it was not said, eating would still continue. At the end of meals, Tetsuya would also say "thank you" before putting his plate in the sink. Again, if he said this, then everyone else would join in and say "thank you". The thanks were not directed at any individual, but rather towards the group.

I have to admit that I am a fussy eater and that my informants took notice of this. During the course of the year I tried a great many dishes and now eat things that in years past I would have simply refused to touch. I wasn't the only one who was fussy though. Only Haruo and Tetsuya liked root beer. Everyone else thought that it was gross and that it tasted like medicine. Only Tetsuya liked peanut butter, and who could forget his famous mispronunciation? Most also thought that mint tasted bad.

Sometimes when Kenji saw me making a peanut butter sandwich he would ask me how I could eat such a thing. Sometimes, Tetsuya, upon hearing this, would ask if he could make a peanut butter sandwich. He did this to tease Kenji about his ethnocentrically rooted fussiness. From time to time, I would remind Kenji that I wasn't the only one in the apartment who was fussy.

If members of the group went out to eat lunch or dinner, it was usually to one of the Chinese restaurants in town. However, much interest had developed in a new "Brew Pub" in town, and it was becoming a regular lunch stop. With the exception of meals eaten at school, it was not very common for members of the residential core group to eat out more than twice a week.

It would be unusual for a group of young Japanese males to posses let alone practice all of the domestic skills that the male members of this group have to. The adoption of duties and responsibilities traditionally assumed by women in Japanese society is significant. Though far from egalitarian with respect to sex roles, the males in this group are far more egalitarian than their peers back home in Japan are.

That the males can and do cook well is a fact that is not lost by the female members of this group. Rather than being allowed to come into the apartment in exchange for their domestic services, they come as friends and confidants. It will be interesting to see these people, my friends and informants, after their sojourn is over, and they have started their families and careers.


Chapter VIII


As Marcus and Fischer (1986) point out, the role of the ethnographer in the ethnography is an important feature and should not be neglected . It is for this reason that I have chosen to write a chapter that centers around how I as a Gaijin came to be a member of this group, and relate some of the activities and interactions that I had with this group. In addition, I have provided additional autobiographical material in Appendix B.

Most Japanese dictionaries define a gaijin as being a foreigner. This has not always been the case, for according to my informants, in older dictionaries, gaijin means barbarian. Foreigner is the most polite way to describe what gaijin denotes for most Japanese, the connotation, however, is still closer to barbarian. I was never referred to as a gaijin , nor was the term ever used in my presence unless it was while I was asking about its usage.

As mentioned earlier, this ethnography is based upon a years participant observation with a group of Japanese College students who were living and going to school in Butte County. My study began towards the end of May in 1989, and with respect to this ethnography, ended approximately one year later. Like many other anthropologists, I have a story to tell.

I did not originally set out to live with a group of Japanese college students for the purpose of doing ethnographic research. I happened to get lucky and found myself in a rather interesting situation that I made the most of. My friends are often envious the the great opportunities that I often find myself involved in. To be blunt, I needed to find a new place to live in Chico, and after checking out a few other notices for "Roommates wanted", I found a rather plain looking notice posted on the outside bulletin board for the CSUC Housing Department. The notice was basically one of the preprinted blue cards that the housing office uses and there was nothing denoting anything special or unique about the room for rent or the people who were to become my roommates, friends, and informants.

Perhaps that is not entirely true, for I recognized that all of the names that had been listed sounded Asian. In particular I thought that they were probably Japanese. This caught my interest, so I wrote the number down and called. Haruo answered the phone and after a few questions regarding rent and that type of thing, I was invited to come over to look at the room.

The apartment was about a mile from CSUC, and was a part of a small multi-unit apartment building. I drove to the apartment and got there at about 7:30pm. I still remember quite vividly what I saw and how I was treated.

The apartment was a filthy mess! Boxes of things that were being sent back to Thailand littered the apartment because the person whose room I was moving into had just finished his master's degree and was about to return home. In addition to his boxes were boxes from two other former Thai roommates who too had just finished their Master's degrees, and were about to return home to Thailand.

The walls had stains all over them, and cobwebs could be found wherever walls met at right angles or ceilings met walls. The carpet looked like it had not been vacuumed, let alone steam cleaned in about six months. Areas where traffic was heavy was easy to determine by the wear and tear on the carpet. When I checked the bathrooms, I thought that new forms of invertebrate life were evolving in the showers.

I was welcomed into the apartment by Haruo, and introduced to everyone. Everyone had a beer, and I was immediately offered one and a place to sit. I accepted the beer and sat down in a brown Naugahyde arm chair that had clear tape covering the multitude of large rips that were on its surface. Something that I noticed right away was the number of golf clubs in the apartment. I believe that there was at least two sets of clubs for each male in the apartment.

We asked each other about majors and stuff like that. They became very interested in me when I said that I was interested in teaching English in Japan after I finished my Master's Degree. They said that they could probably get on the phone and arrange a job for me if I wanted.

A little while latter, an international beauty contest came on television, and I stayed to watch it with them, for I had already made up my mind that this was the place that I wanted to live in for the next year. We all commented on the relative attributes of the various contestants. On this night, none of the women who are a part of the primary group came by.

We also played darts for a little while. The dart board was held up on a living room wall by a dart. There were at least 500 holes in the wall from darts that missed the board.

All of the Thai roommates had left by the middle of June, and the apartment looked much better, though in need of several hundred hours of repair work.

For the first few weeks, the women who were a part of the group were very quiet while I was around, and would only speak to me when spoken to. I believe that this change was hastened by another fortuitous event in my life.

The event that I am referring to is my being hired as the Interim Director of the Chico Museum, two weeks before two major exhibits were to open. During those two weeks I worked an average of 17 hours a day. Everyone was quite excited about my job, and offered to help.

At first I was hesitant to ask them for help, because I had never been in a situation where I needed that much help, and did not have the resources to pay them. Most of the work that I was able to have them help me with involved preparing surfaces for painting, painting exhibit panels, and moving large exhibit cases.

One of the first things that I found out was that no one in the group had ever used a roller and paintbrush, so I had to teach them how to paint. There were times when I found myself watching them paint and thinking about how different it was from the painting styles that I was accustomed to. In general they were very meticulous about their painting and would often consult with one another after painting a wall or panel. There were a few times when people who were painting surfaces with different colors that met in a corner, would purposely put dabs of paint onto the wall of the other person so as to tease them. This would be met with a retaliatory dab on the aggressor's wall.

People who were considered slow would be teased by the others. In general, everyone liked using darker colors when painting white was because they liked the dramatic change that it made. A portable radio that had been brought over from Japan, was left in the museum, and we listened to it while we worked. The choice of stations was limited because the FM radio broadcast band in Japan has but a slight overlap with the FM broadcast band in the United States.

The women who during the previous week would not speak very much in English or Japanese while I was around, were now asking me questions, talking with me and speaking in Japanese to the other members of the group. As the members of the group continued their work as best they could given their school schedules, I began to realize that I was not just a roommate, that I was now a part of the group and that I had a sense of obligation and indebtedness to the group. Because of their great effort, the exhibits opened and were well received.

After the museum opened, I took the funds that had been provided to me to get assistance with the construction of the exhibits, and took everyone who helped to see Batman, and then used the remaining funds to put on a large barbecue with lots of beer, yakitori , rice, and corn barbecued with soy sauce. It was a lot of fun. However, no one in the group concurred with Dr. James Myers', a noted anthropologist who teaches at CSUC, opinion that I resembled the actor who played Batman, Michael Keaton.


Chapter IX


This chapter is about how the members of this group drink alcohol and celebrate special occasions. According to my informants, one of the many duties of a salaryman (A salaryman is a Japanese white collar worker.) is being able to drink socially and entertain one's business associates and clients after work. Masao and Kenji told me that while they were attending college in Japan, they did a lot of partying. They saw this partying as being an important part of their college experience, and knew that it would help them with their careers when they graduated.

While in Chico, beer was the alcoholic beverage consumed the most. Nothing else even came close. During the summer months, we would usually consume at least a 12 pack of beer a night. This dropped to a little more than a 12 pack per week during the regular school year. These figures however do not include beer consumed on special occasions.

When I moved into the apartment, Miller High Life was what everyone who drank drank. The women would not normally drink beer or wine coolers unless we were having a party. Though I preferred Henry Wineharts Premium Ale, I usually bought and drank Miller High Life.

As the months wore on, I tired of the beer that they were drinking and would only purchase the ale that I liked. On occasion, Yoshio and Kenji would have some, but they never bought any. I only bought the ale for two months. I had hoped that they might learn to like it and would buy it rather than the other stuff that they were buying and drinking.

Wineharts Ale never caught on with my roommates so I reverted to buying Miller High Life. Shortly after I gave up on my attempts to convert them, they discovered Michelobe Dry beer while on the way home from golfing on a day that was about 104 degrees outside.

Michelobe Dry became an instant hit. They told me that this was very much like Japanese beer. As this beer was about the same price as the Miller High Life, it became the new beer of choice for about six weeks.

Shortly after it became apparent that Michelobe Dry was selling rather well, a number of other beer companies launched their own versions of dry beer. One of these new competitors was Bud Dry. To make a long story short, it was decided by consensus that Bud Dry tasted better than the other beers that they had been drinking on a regular basis so it became he beer of choice. By consensus I don't mean that they had a formal vote, or an open forum, the subject just naturally came up on a number of occasions while everyone was drinking and it became apparent that the majority preferred Bud Dry. Although Japanese beers are available locally, and the beer drinkers in the group can afford to pay for them, they are purchased on an extremely infrequent basis. One of the reasons given is that "back home I can drink them anytime".

Almost all of this beer that I've been talking about was consumed in the apartment. In general, no one went to any of the fraternity type parties held nearby, and it was rare for members of the group to go out drinking in Chico.

I was told by Masao that "most of the bars in Chico are racist" save for Lollipops. This came out after Yoshio, Masao, and Kenji had gone to Lollipops a few times. Lollipops is located in the Almond Orchard shopping Center and is aimed at a segment of the population that is older than that which peruses the student bars in downtown Chico.

It seems that while at Lollipops, women asked them to dance. They were pleased with this and yet shocked because it was the first time that this had ever happened to any of them while in Chico. Keep in mind the fact that these three have been in Chico for between two and five years. They did not mind that women had asked them to dance, they minded that they had never been asked while at the student bars in downtown Chico.

I found myself in an odd and uncomfortable position in that I felt guilty for what my peers had done, or as the case may be, not done. I remember telling them of how difficult I found it to compete at the bars, and that many feel the same way. I went on to tell them about the time when I witnessed my former roommate ask thirty-three women to dance during the course of an evening and how he was turned down by all of them. This seemed to please Masao and Yoshio, but I'll never know if what I said made any difference. I also asked them to try and picture me in a student bar in Japan and how difficult things might be for me. Shortly thereafter I began to hear plans for the bars that I was to be taken to when we were all in Japan.

I do feel that if the student body of California State University Chico was more ethnically diverse and that the diversity approximated the relative proportions of the different ethnic populations in California, then these guys would not have felt the same degree of isolation and prejudice.


In general, when this group decides to have a party one should be prepared to eat a lot, drink a lot, sing a little, and have a lot of fun. In addition to this, one should be prepared for a lot of picture taking. Birthday, Christmas, and goodbye parties are usually the biggest parties. Smaller parties are held to mark when people pass the TOEFL, or to celebrate certain occasions in Japan such as Valentines day and White day. Some sort of activity is occasionally engaged in on American holidays such as Independence Day, and Thanksgiving.

Cooking for a party usually starts in the afternoon and it takes between four and six hours to prepare a meal. The effort is always coed, and even Masao will try to do something to help out in the kitchen. While this is going on, the others are usually in the living room talking and drinking. Iku, Reiko, and Kyoko will drink one or two wine coolers apiece, but it is rare for them to become socially drunk while at such an occasion.

Most of the dishes cooked are Asian (Japanese, Thai, Chinese) with the exception of the pork with white sauce that Kenji learned how to cook while watching an Italian cooking show.

What happens after dinner often depends upon what is being celebrated. One of the traditions that I found myself involved with is for those who are about to leave Chico for good so as to start a career and a future family. The tradition that I am talking about only applies for the male members of the group. The female members who have been in such a position have politely made it clear that they did not want such a send off. Not wanting to tease you about this tradition any more, I am now going to tell you what it is that I am talking about. The tradition that I am talking about involves the hiring of a female stripper to perform after dinner for the honored guest of the party.

Shortly after moving into the apartment, Haruo and Kenji approached me and asked if I knew anything about strippers. I told them that I had seen one perform at a bachelor party and that when I lived on campus one of the women who lived in another dorm was a stripper. After telling them this they asked if I knew how to hire a stripper. I told them to look in the phone book and also in the back of the News and Review.

Within three weeks of giving Haruo and Kenji this information, we had three going away parties for former roommates and friends who were leaving the country. The strippers would usually be paid about $60 and would perform for two songs. The guys would hoot and holler, and make sounds that I can't represent with letters or words. Reiko, Iku, and Kyoko would usually be in attendance during the performance. After the shows the strippers would usually tell me, as I walked them and their escorts to their cars, that this was a fun group to perform for.

After this series of performances it became known that the strippers also worked for one of the local discount food warehouses. For the next two months there would be a "stripper report" if one was seen during one of the daily trips to the store. The last performance was for Kenji and was held almost a year after the first in the series.

I saw the young lady who performed at Kenji's party a few days later while I was at a coffee shop in downtown Chico. I was with Dr. Jim Myers, a distinguished Anthropologist on staff in the CSUC Department of Anthropology. He noticed that I had drifted away from our conversation and had starred at this attractive young lady for a moment. Not wanting to seem rude, I told Dr. Myers about this groups traditional going away party and said that the young lady whom I had recognized had performed at the last such going away party. Later that day, I gave my "stripper report" to the guys and it was well received. Masao especially liked the fact that one of my professors was there when I saw the stripper and that I had told him of the tradition.

Birthday parties are a little more sedate in that no one removes their clothes. Whenever someone has a birthday, Haruo will use his computer to make special banners. These banners will be stapled to the walls of the entrance hall and living room. Birthdays have a pair of unique rituals that involves a masked figure. For both, Kenji will don a red and white Japanese mask, and a long overcoat.

For the first of these masked rituals, Kenji will usually try to sneak around the apartment unnoticed, and assume a frozen position close to someone who is unaware of his presence. People who notice him as he is moving into position will normally ignore him so as to not give any warning. He will remain frozen until noticed. Often this will frighten his victim and they will shriek a little as they jump.

The other masked ritual takes place after the cake is decorated and the candles are lit. The cake will be brought to Kenji and one of two possible things will happen. Either the lights in the apartment will be dimmed and he will walk down the hall or the lights will remain on and he will walk out the front door with the cake and walk around to the back of the apartment. Once he is near a window, he will wait until his glowing figure catches the attention of someone who was not in on giving him the cake. After everybody notices him, he will bring the cake in, unmask, and then go into his room to remove the rest of the costume. When asked as to the origin of this ritual, the only response I was able to get was that "it is something that we do", and that the "we" pertains to this group.

The birthday cards that the members of this group exchange are very interesting. They are usually commercially produced cards. Inside of the card will be a statement from the person giving the card to the person receiving the card. The statement will have to do with aspects of their friendship, and hope for the future. In addition, a picture of the person who gave the card will be glued to the inside of the card.

It should be noted that the celebration of birthdays is something new to the Japanese and that it, like Christmas, and Valentines Day, has only become popular within the lifetime of my informants.

We held our Christmas party a few days after the fall semester ended. Other than the banners that Haruo made with his computer, we didn't really have any decorations. A few gifts were exchanged but they were not to specific individuals. Bottles of wine for the apartment, and the velcro golf game were meant to be enjoyed by everyone in the group. The party was also a few days before Yoshio, Haruo, Masao, and Reiko were to fly home to spend vacation in Japan with their friends and family.

Tetsuya told me that he remembers when the Valentines Day tradition began in Japan. He said that he was about five or six years old when it started and that the occasion had been brought to Japan by a chocolate company as a marketing device. The sole purpose was to sell more candy. Two decades latter, the tradition is still going strong in Japan.

I have got to admit that I felt like a cad when Reiko and Kyoko gave me chocolates on Valentines day. I felt like a cad because I had not thought to give them anything. Later that night I learned from my roommates that I had not done anything improper, for on Valentines day, women were supposed to give their male friends chocolates, and that one month later on White day, the young men who received candies would have to give white chocolate to the women who gave them chocolate on Valentines day.

When White day came, I was, as is usually the case, unprepared. At the last moment Yoshio and I left the apartment in search of white chocolate candies that would make for suitable gifts. We were successful. Yoshio and I each gave Iku, and Kyoko our wrapped gifts of white chocolate. Haruo, Masao, Tetsuya, and Kenji did not give anyone anything on White day. The women teased and chastised them for forgetting, and made a special point of mentioning that I had taken part in the tradition correctly. The chastising wasn't severe, and to be honest it had no effect on the guys.

Throughout a party it is common for someone to offer a toast such as "kam pai ". When this is said, everyone else will stop what they are doing, raise their glasses and clink them together while repeating the toast "kam pai ". After everyone's glasses have touched everyone else's, everyone takes a drink from their own glass. Yoshio, Haruo, and Tetsuya took a semester of Spanish at Butte College and said that one of the toasts they learned in class was "ching ching " . They especially liked this toast and made a point of using it on a number of occasions. Whenever it was used, Reiko and Iku would usually blush and giggle a little. The reason for this is that this Spanish toast sounds like the word for "penis" in Japanese.

Drinking and parties are a very important part of this groups lifestyle. One might think that with so much drinking, problems are sure to arise. If you think that this is true then you are on track.

On a couple of occasions, Tetsuya had a little too much to drink and acted more arrogantly and aggressively than the group could tolerate. After these indiscretions it was agreed that Tetsuya would give up drinking. Tetsuya went so far as to tell everyone that if someone saw him drinking alcohol that he would pay them $100. This period of enforced sobriety lasted about two months. During this time Tetsuya would drink mineral water while the others drank beer. The ban on alcohol was lifted on Tetsuya's birthday.

Reiko and Kyoko gave Tetsuya a "Beer and Pretzel" picture puzzle. Their gift was a deliberate reminder that his previous drunken behavior, especially towards them, had gone beyond what is allowed under the norms of Japanese social drinking. According to my informants, one is considered socially drunk in Japan after the consumption of one drink. Being socially drunk allows one a great degree of freedom with respect to behavior. Tetsuya had gone past what was allowed and had to serve a period of penance. Tetsuya's was the only real indiscretion that merited action.

The parties that this group throws are special times that allow the members of this group to get together and celebrate. In general, only the members of the group attend these parties, though friends are welcome. It should be mentioned that most of the conversations and jokes are in Japanese. Even with the language barrier one can tell that these parties are not held by a bunch of drunkards who want to swill beer, but that they are held by a group of close friends who want to celebrate their friendships with one another. I can only hope that someone will give a "ching ching" toast in my honor after I've gone on.


Chapter X


As can be gathered from the previous chapters, play plays a significant role in the adaptive lifestyle of this group. I was tempted to write a chapter about sports in general, and another on golf in particular, but thought that this would probably do too much to highlight this group's extraordinary (Kyoko and Iku asked me to say that this only applies to the male members of the group) addiction, compulsion, fascination, and dedication to whacking a little dimpled ball with a club. With respect to this chapter, we'll look at some of the other sports, and recreational activities that the members of this group participate in, and then return back to the main course.

Tubing on the Sacramento River is a Chico tradition that this group occasionally participates in. I thought that I should set the stage with an overview of tubing Japanese Style. Japanese style tubing involves beer, wine coolers, more beer, suntan lotion, skimpy clothing and people watching. According to my informants people do not tube in Japan because most of the rivers are too fast and too cold to tube in.

Although the women have accompanied us on these trips before, it is uncommon for more than one to go with us. After reflecting on the "male bonding" conversations that we've had while tubing, there is little left to wonder as to why this is true. On one occasion in particular, an occasion which will be discussed shortly, I found that my ease with the Japanese language increased significantly after Masao and I finished a two liter bottle of Sapporo. A typical tubing outing would include myself, Yoshio, Kenji, Masao, either Haruo or Tetsuya, and sometimes either Iku or Reiko, but seldom both.

We would usually take either two or three cars, bring approximately 10 cans of beer per person, two bags of potato chips, and a bottle of sunscreen. Tubes would be rented in town and stuffed into trunks, tied on roofs, or crammed inside cars already filled with people. Getting to and from the river can be somewhat uncomfortable, especially if too few cars are taken.

Tubing is not a strenuous sport, involves no real skills, and allows one to drink and float downstream for between two and four hours. Tubing season ranges from late spring until early fall. Tubing is most popular when it is over 95 degrees Fahrenheit outside. As body parts are often in the water, both males and females wear swimsuits or other items of similarly skimpy clothing.

One of the other activities of tubing involves amateur anthropology in that there is a lot of participant observation. Many of the observations, and comments are focused on the opposite sex. As a warning, what follows may be seen by many as being insensitive, and overly sexist - to those who may be offended by the sexism that follows, I am sorry. Please do not be too quick to judge the members of this group by your own standards.

Every now and then one of my roommates will point at an attractive young lady on the street or on television, and say to me "Erik-chan, are wa ikura desu ka ?" This basically translates to a question asking how much I would be willing to pay this young lady to have sex with me. My roommates say this to me to tease me, and to remind me of the fact that this was one of the first jokes that I ever made in Japanese.

We were tubing when I uttered that wonderful phrase. By doing so, my status as a male member of the group rose a lot. Not only was my statement in Japanese, it was overtly sexist and meant to be interpreted by the male members of the group as a joke. Originally, I only told the item to Masao for I wanted to get his reaction to my attempt at Japanese male humor. He not only liked it, after he stopped laughing and climbed back into the tube he fell out of because he was laughing so hard, he told the others who were with us what I had said. I don't think that my status rose with Reiko, but I'm not sure that it fell either. She tried to be pretty oblivious to the whole thing. The other guys thought that it was great, and over the course of that trip, my proficiency with Japanese numbers increased.

Bowling is another of those wonderful sports type activities that involves, or at least allows for the consumption of alcohol. Bowling is seen as an activity that everyone in the group can participate in, and is often a substitute for going to the movies. A typical bowling excursion will include Reiko and Iku, and almost all of the guys. Though I said that alcohol is allowed and served in the bowling alley, not much is consumed during games. Although Yoshio, Kenji, and Masao are quite good at golf, their skill level does not cross over as much as their intensity does. Reiko and Iku do not bowl very well, though they often better my scores. While at the alley, it is likely that all may make gutter balls, or other faux pas such as stepping over the line, or dropping a ball.

Usually, the competition between the males is evident but low key. What is interesting to watch is the change from joking behavior to intense concentration that takes place when it is time for one of the males to bowl. From the time they go to pick up their ball, until they are finished with their follow-through, they act like professional bowlers. Their movements seem as though they had been broken down into smaller segments of motion and that these segments had been analyzed, modified, practiced , and later re-integrated (with more practice). If these guys went bowling more than once a month, they could be quite good for they pay very close attention to form.

This attention to form contrasts greatly with how the women and I bowl. For us, we usually go out and try to get the ball down the lane without falling down, dropping the ball or sending it into the gutter right off. Luckily the actual bowling comes in second to the joking and socializing that is going on during the game. While the guys are happy when they can get strikes, spares, and the turkey, Reiko and I are happy if we can knock down a couple pins on our own lane. The turkey is not a standard bowling term and refers to the turkey that appears on the electronic scoreboard when someone gets three strikes in a row. I think that Kenji is the only one who can get a turkey on a regular basis..

Usually bowling outings occur on either a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night after the group goes out to dinner. Although beer will be present, it is uncommon for someone to have more than two or three beers while bowling. I've noticed that a lot of foreign students go bowling, and though this group will often say hello to friends that the see at the alley, they do not go there to meet them.

Only one person in the group has a bowling ball and it was purchased on sale at a discount department store. As bowling is seen as an occasional social activity there is not much interest in acquiring the best equipment, or practicing a lot. Luckily for me, the members of this group have shown absolutely no interest in televised bowling tournaments.

More time, however, is spent watching tennis than actually playing tennis. Tennis is only popular with about half of the group, and is only played on an infrequent basis during the warmer months of the year. Those who do play tennis have good rackets, and fairly good court shoes, but that is it as far as equipment goes. No one wears the specialized tennis clothing, rather they wear either a sweatsuit, or shorts and a tee-shirt.

After a match, it is uncommon to hear who beat whom. It is more common to hear about how hard the game was, and how tired they now were. Tennis is one of the few sports that the members of this group participate in that actually has any aerobic benefits. Though a televised tennis match will loose out to a televised golf tournament, it will prevail over all other programming with the exception of Giants Baseball games, and this only happens when Haruo is watching. It is not uncommon to find the videotape recorder on early in the morning recording a live tennis match being played elsewhere in the world. The tapes will usually be played later in the day after school and or a round of golf.


When my roommates were living with the Thai students, they would occasionally play a game known as "Laser Tag". This electronic game was popular towards the end of the 1980's. Players wore a special sensor on their chest and were equipped with a gun that emitted a beam of light when fired. If the beam of light hit a sensor, then a sound would be emitted, and the person who had been hit would be considered dead. The Thai students were also officers in the Thai Army and had extensive military training. According to my roommates, they would form two teams: Japan, and Thailand. My roommates told me that the Thai team would zigzag while running, and would utilize all sorts of maneuvers during games. I was also told that the Thai team always won.

According to my roommates, it is very difficult to get a gun in Japan, because for the most part they are illegal. I think that we were watching some sort of action movie with lots of gunplay when I was asked if I'd ever fired a gun before. I told them that my father had taken me shooting a couple times and that I had also gone shooting while I was in the Boy Scouts, but that I hadn't been in ten years. Later they asked me if I knew anything about the indoor shooting range that had just opened in Chico. I told them that I didn't know much about that range, but told them that my father practices at an indoor range in Cotate so as to remain qualified for duty as a Reserve Police Officer. I told them that according to my father, the experience is interesting, but that it can be expensive.

After asking me about this on a few more occasions, Yoshio, Masao, Kenji and I went to the indoor target range in Chico. We had to read several pages of instructions and sign a couple forms before we were allowed to rent our guns and buy ammunition for them. They went for the biggest handguns that they could find (357 magnum, 9 mm, and 44 caliber), while I went for one of the smallest (22 caliber). I know that their choice of guns was influenced by the movies because they talked about which movie characters would use the guns that they each choose and how these characters would refer to the guns that they used.

Everyone took home their target silhouettes. After we got home, we looked at each others targets and compared our experiences. Yoshio posted his target on his door. He really liked shooting the 44 caliber handgun and thought that it was very powerful. Everyone thought that target shooting was a lot of fun, but that it was pretty expensive. With respect to frequency, they go shooting about once every four months. I said "they go" because I could only afford to go the one time.


If you want to get ahead with this group, then show genuine interest in golf. Evidence of an obsession with golf permeates the apartment even when the golfers and some of their clubs are away. There are various golf posters on many of the walls and pieces of equipment lying all about the apartment. In Yoshio's car, you can hear a dozen golf balls roll with every turn the car makes. You can find golf tees, and short pencils used for scoring everywhere in the apartment. All of the males in this group play golf a lot, talk about golf a lot, read about golf a lot, and watch golf games on television a lot. That's a lot of golf.

One other thing about golf, they get teased about it a lot, by myself and the women in the group. Though I will tease them directly, the women prefer a more indirect route. When we had an Christmas party, Reiko and Iku bought the apartment a golf practice game that involves hitting a ball covered with velcro onto a 4'x6' green piece of fabric that has the outline of a fairway on it. The game was very popular, and has remained on the wall in the living room for eight months. Reiko and Iku make it known that they don't understand the guys compulsion to play golf, and that they are just going along with it.

With respect to television programming, golf reigns supreme. Nothing else compares with respect to popularity and devotion. One of the things that these guys will do is to record a match while they are out playing a round of golf, and come back and watch it when they are done. Before I moved into this apartment I didn't really believe that golf was on television much anymore. I was wrong. Yoshio in particular can find golf games on television at almost any time of the day. It is not uncommon for the guys to watch a tape of a golf game that they have already seen a number of times. In fact, there are about ten videotapes with just old golf games on them.

Golf is played throughout the year but most of the rounds are played from the middle of spring to the beginning of Winter. Unless the temperature is over 105 degrees Fahrenheit, heat does not generally stop these guys from playing a round of golf. Unless it is too cold and windy, rain will not halt them from finishing the back nine of a game either.

As I said earlier, you can find golf paraphernalia all around the house. There are six sets of clubs in the house, and none of them are mine. One can find golf balls, score cards, tees, spikes, and on occasion even a putter hiding under the cushions in the living room couches. More of the same objects can also be found on the floor in the living room. There are rips in the carpet and stains on the ceiling from practice swings made before I moved into the apartment. However, now the practice swings are better controlled, and the ceilings are relatively safe. It is too late for the carpets. I have joked about getting artificial turf for the apartment.

After I moved into the apartment, I noticed that there was a spot of dirt about three feet wide and six feet long approximately two paces out from our back door. The spot was in a grassy area that ran in back of the building. Ours was the only apartment to have such a spot. It took me a couple weeks to figure out the mystery behind the spot.

It turns out that the spot was being used for practice swings, and that all of the grass had been uprooted as divots. One of the reasons for the divots is that no one had much time to go golfing during the last half of May due to school. It would be common for individuals to take a break from studying for a few minutes, pick up a club and go out back for a couple practice swings. As I had moved in after school ended, they were now able to go to the golf courses and play as much as they wanted. It is for this reason, that I wasn't able to immediately figure out what caused the spot.

With respect to equipment, Ping is the brand of clubs that is preferred. A set of these clubs costs about $500. Everyone also has two golf bags, one which is lightweight and easy to carry, and the other which is neither light nor easy to carry. The heavy bags are meant to be used with electric golf carts. Shoes and gloves are also important pieces of equipment that everyone has. After a game, it is not unusual to see three or four guys in our living room scrubbing the heads of their golf clubs with toothbrushes, and polishing their shoes. One of my toothbrushes accidentally found its way into the living room and was being used to clean golf clubs.

When Haruo's parents came out for a visit, one of the things that his father did while in Chico was to go play a round of golf. Haruo's father bought himself a set of Ping golf clubs, and said that they would cost between two and three times as much if he were to have tried to buy them in Japan.

When I have talked with other Japanese students about golf, they often say that they too don't fully understand the popularity of golf in Japan. If these students happen to know my roommates, they will often say something about how much golf my roommates play, and they will say it in a joking manner..

For the most part, the guys will play either at Bidwell Park or at Table Mountain. The cost of a round of golf at these places is $10. Though Bidwell is only a few minutes away, most of the rounds played are at Table Mountain, which is 30 minutes away. In general, getting a tee time is fairly easy at either of these courses. This contrasts greatly with what happens if you want to golf in Japan. My roommates have told me on a number of occasions that it can take three weeks to get a tee-time at a Japanese golf course, and that a round of golf can cost about $300. They also told me that memberships at Japanese golf courses often cost more than a million dollars.

In addition, they told me that in Japan they have three story driving ranges, and that it costs about $10 to shoot a bucket of balls at one of these ranges. During the movie "Black Rain" there is a scene that takes place at a three story driving range. My roommates pointed it out and commented on it while we were watching it at home on television.

With respect to actually playing golf, though all had practiced a few times while in Japan before coming to school in the United States, they all told me that they really did not really learn how to play until they got to the United States. Although they are fairly well off, they cannot afford to play golf in Japan with the same frequency that they do in the United States. Because all of the guys are being groomed for important professional jobs, knowledge and skill of golf is an important aspect of their training. I suspect that this group of Japanese males is able to get in more rounds of golf per annum than most wealthy Japanese golfers are able to.

It is common for the guys to bet small amounts of money on games, and to tease the losers afterwards. One of the ways that that this is accomplished involves the winner asking everyone in the apartment if they would like a beer. The winner will then go on to tell that the beer was paid for out of the winnings from the days game, and if one person in general did worse than the others, that person will get most of the thanks for buying he beer.

On occasion, a camera is taken along on for a round of golf, and when this happens some pretty interesting photographs get taken. "Dangerous Photo's" as they are known around the apartment are all sexual in nature and involve either posed or unposed shots. Some of the shots involve people bending over, others are of people with portions of golf clubs between their legs, and yet others which are posed involve people who have assumed positions which make it appear that they could be having some type of sexual contact with one of the other golfers. Some of the better photos have been posted in the living room.

My favorite golf story that involves this group came about shortly after I moved into the apartment. Yoshio, Masao, Kenji, and their Thai friend Pete were playing golf on a very hot Friday in June. They had all been drinking, and were moving from one hole to another very slowly. Just as they were to Tee off for the 18th and final hole, someone in the group behind them yelled out "Do you mind if we play through?" As this was the last hole, they thought that it would be silly for them to let this other group play through, so someone replied (I say someone, for with each version of the story that I've heard, the reply is from a different member of the foursome.) "Sorry Asshole". It is said that after this reply, the nameless man in the group behind them got a funny look on his face and said nothing more. Actually, no one meant to say sorry asshole. "Sorry last hole" was the line that was spoken, but when it came out, the speaker's pronunciation was a bit off, and what came out could certainly pass for either "asshole" or "last hole". This piece of dangerous English, like many others was shared with everyone else for entertainment, and also educational purposes


Chapter XI



Sending students abroad for education is a tradition that has been a part of Japanese culture for at least 14 centuries (Bennett, Passin, and McKnight 1958). Japanese students studying abroad have played a major role in the evolution of Japan (Bennett, Passin, and McKnight 1958).

Sojourner studies involves the study of travelers who are short term visitors to new cultures (Brein and David 1971:215). The emphasis of sojourner studies has been on the adjustment of foreign students to their host culture (Church 1982:540). Reviews of sojourner studies show that too much emphasis has been put on surveys, questionnaires, and other data gathering techniques that do not involve participant observation, and that there is a need for ethnographic data based upon participant observation (Brein and David 1971; Spaulding and Flack 1976:298; and Church 1982:561-563).

This study is based upon one year's participant observation with a group of Japanese sojourners (students) living in Butte County California.

Travel and The Great Open Roads

Mobility within Butte County California and also the region was seen as being a key adaptive practice. Automobiles were used as both a convenient form of transportation within town on a daily basis and a convenient mode of transportation to nearby recreational and tourist destinations. Many of the members of the group went trips throughout the United States on a regular basis. Planes and buses were frequently used for longer trips.

The CSUC Residence Hall policy which forces students to move out during winter and spring breaks was seen as a major inconvenience and also an unreasonable act. This policy does not take into account the fact that many students cannot readily travel home due to financial or personal reasons.


The members of this group utilize a wide variety of communication strategies. The usage of electronic media (phone, computer, television, and videotape recorder) to facilitate intercultural communication as well as intracultural communication was very significant. With respect to spoken language, Japanese is the language that is used the most by the members of this group for communication with other native speakers of Japanese. English is not used regularly unless it is to allow people who do not understand Japanese to follow along and participate in conversations.

People who want to work with or be friends with non-native speakers of English need to be patient and learn how to listen more actively. Non-native speakers of English are not the only people who have difficulty with intercultural communication. Written materials (letters, books, and magazines) in English and Japanese are utilized quite frequently.

College and Career

The academic expectations of college students in the United States is much higher than in Japan due to the differing nature of these two educational systems. However, this group of Japanese students will do whatever it takes to keep up with their studies - even if it means going without sleep on a regular basis.

Formal tests of the English language such as the TOEFL (test of English as a foreign language) and WEST (writing effectiveness screening test) are seen as being more stressful than they ought to be due to their pass/fail nature, and the consequences of failing.

With respect to college courses, language is seen as being the biggest hurdle to overcome. Instructors whose rate of speech is fast, who pepper their speech with odd lexical units, and who use too many idiomatic expressions are often seen as being difficult to understand. Instructors who make minor allowances for non-native speakers of English by doing things such as allowing extra time to complete exams, and also allowing the usage of dictionaries during exams were viewed very favorably. With respect to term papers and Graduate written assignments, not enough attention was paid by instructors to the development of these vital skills. In general, instructors would comment on problems after the fact.

Taking summer school classes to save money was a practice that nearly everyone in the group engaged in.

Most of the informants in the group came from wealthy families. Careers can be arranged after graduation regardless of the major. Informants had a great deal of freedom with respect to their choice of majors.

Domestic Issues

To a certain extent the members of this group have engaged in sex role related activities that their peers in Japan have not engaged in. The males in particular have had to make the greatest adjustments with respect to learning how to shop, cook, clean, and pay for their bills.

Aesthetically, the apartment is in very bad shape, but is the focal point for the social activity of this group.

With respect to food, most meals are Asian dishes and are prepared in the apartment. Access to Asian foods in the area is viewed as being limited.

Reflective Gaijin

I was a member of this group and acted as a native informant with respect to American language and culture. My adaptation to being a member of this group took time and conscious effort. Not understanding much Japanese was often at the root of many of the problems that I had.

Drinking and Celebrations

The celebrations that this group engaged in promoted group harmony. There were a number of rituals associated with these celebrations. Celebrations were held on a number of Japanese and American holidays or special occasions.

The consumption of alcohol during celebrations, and on a daily basis was in line with Japanese student cultural practices. Drinking indiscretions were rare, and were dealt with by the entire group.

The male members of the group felt that many of the patrons of the bars in the downtown area of Chico were racist.

Sports, Guns and Golf

Play is a very significant part of this group's adaptation. The males participate in a number of sports and sports type activities. Female involvement in sports was not as great as was male involvement. For the males, golf was the premier recreational activity.

Significance of Study and Conclusions

This group can be thought of as an enclave. Japanese language and cultural practices were dominant within the structure of this enclave. As the real incentive for sending students abroad is to expose them to a new culture, excessive reliance on the enclave is a factor that warrants mitigation.

One of the adaptive practices that this group engages in involves the incorporation of gaijin (non-Japanese) into the group. This practice should be encouraged. Non-Japanese seeking to become a part of this type of group should have an interest and some knowledge of Japanese language and culture. Patience and understanding are also virtues which potential gaijin members of this type of group should have.

With respect to adjustment, sojourners such as these should be introduced to the basic concepts and practices of cultural anthropology, for these sojourners are in effect doing anthropological research while they are in the United States. These sojourners make observations, ask questions, and formulate their own personal theories as to the nature of American culture.

Instructors should make minor allowances for students who are non-native speakers of English. Eliminating potential linguistic ambiguities on tests, allowing extra time for tests to be completed, permitting the usage of a dictionary during an exam are but a some of the things instructors can do so as to more accurately ascertain their foreign students knowledge and mastery of a particular subject. Instructors also need to engage foreign students in dialogs both in and out of class. With respect to written assignments, instructors need to encourage foreign students to compose assignments on computer based word processors, and to submit rough drafts for preliminary review.

It is this author's belief that the sojourners in this group have created an enclave that allows them to experience American culture while remaining in touch with their own culture. A balance between Japanese and American culture is key to a successful sojourn. Given the nature of Japanese society, balance is most readily obtained while in a group. Knowing how to access and work within the structure of groups such as this is of importance to those who want to improve the quality of the sojourning experience.

Implications for Future Research

Sojourner studies needs to focus more upon what happens at the homes of students than on what happens while they are at school. There is much to be said for studying the holistic nature of events and not just single aspects that can be easily defined, and lend themselves to numerical quantification. Real life is messy, and numbers are just too neat to deal with the infinite improbability that drives human logic.

Ethnographies such as this will provide the basis for the generation of new information and theories regarding the role, treatment, and adaptations of sojourners worldwide. In a world that is becoming smaller everyday due to technological advances in transportation, the lessening of political tensions between the "Super-powers", and the rises in the standard of living that will come from a new world economy that is no longer dominated by the International Arms trade, it would seem likely that more people will become sojourner's.

Limitations and Weaknesses

Due to the observer's lack of Japanese language skills, a good deal of information was lost. However, much can be understood when you don't understand the sounds that are used to make the words and sentences if you pay attention to the language people really use for communication. A greater understanding of Japanese culture, especially its educational system, and the lifestyles of college and university students in Japan would have been helpful in regards to identifying behavioral practices that are unique to students who do study abroad, and to those who don't.

The data that I collected is not from a newly arrived group, but rather from one whose members have been in the U.S. for between 2 and 5 years. Had more finances been available to the researcher, he would have been able to participate in more of the social activities that took place outside of the primary groups residence (examples of which include: golfing, gambling in Nevada, going back to Japan for winter, and summer vacation, etc).


Other student groups need to be studied in this way by anthropologists, and the results published. Japanese language texts relating to this subject need to be translated and widely distributed. This text should be distributed to students in Japan who are considering studying in the United States.

Follow-up studies of the members of the group should be pursued in terms of the adjustments that they go through when they return home to Japan after their sojourn is over. Of what influence will the experiences of the young men and women who came to the U.S. be in regards to the societal roles that they are expected to fit into and observe when they return home? One item of particular interest would be to observe how the sojourner's experiences with American sex roles are dealt with once back in Japan. How will the women, who have been exposed to a more liberal atmosphere, adapt to the roles that await them when they return? How will the men, who have learned to do what is traditionally thought of as women's work (cooking, cleaning, shopping for food, keeping track of income and household expenses, etc) adapt to life back home?

There is almost a limitless number of questions that can be asked in regards to the impact that the sojourners will have on their own culture. Another ethnographic focus for a study of sojourner's who have returned would be to examine how their family reacts and adapts to their return and the American cultural practices and attitudes that have been adopted, either consciously, or unconsciously.

As a summation to the subject of further research in sojourner studies there are three basic areas of study in great need of further research. The first is in regards to the ways in which people are prepared for sojourns; the second is a description of their lives during the entirety of their stay abroad; and third, what happens when they go back?


References Cited

Bennett, John W., Herbert Passin, and Robert K. McKnight

1958 In Search of Identity: the Japanese overseas scholar in America and Japan. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press.

Brein, Michael and Kenneth H. David

1971 Intercultural Communication and the Adjustment of the Sojourner. Psychology Bulletin 76(3):215-230.

Church, Austin

1982 Sojourner Adjustment. Psychology Bulletin 91(3):540-572.

Fields, George

1983 From Bonsai to Levis - When West Meets East: An Insider's Surprising Account of How the Japanese Live. Chicago: Mentor.

Hull, William Frank

1978 Foreign Students in the United States of America: Coping Behavior within the Educational Environment. New York: Praeger Publishers.

Marcus, George E., and Michael M. J. Fischer

1986 Anthropology as Cultural Critique: an experimental moment in the human sciences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Spaulding, Seth, and Michael J. Flack

1976 The World's Students in the United States: A Review and Evaluation of Research on Foreign Students. New York: Praeger Publishers.


Appendix A

Communication Student Interview

Towards the end of my year long study of this group, a neighbor of ours who was communication student doing research for a class came by to ask my roommates questions about verbal and non-verbal communication. At first, only one of my roommates was in the living room answering questions. Within a few minutes, my other two roommates were in the living room responding to the questions. Answers were usually arrived at by consensus. They seemed quite willing to answer all questions that were asked of them. For example, answers to questions relating to proxemics were answered by demonstrations, in that one of my roommates would get up and show the appropriate distances for standing and sitting (etc.), and then mention how they don't hug or kiss like the French. Unfortunately, the researcher was being shown American distances, for the space that the members of the group actually use as witnessed over the course of a year would fit into our (American) intimate range of proximity. It is not uncommon for two of the guys to lie lengthwise on the same couch, or for them to share a bed with an friend from out of town when the couches are occupied by other visitors. For a number of questions I needed to explain what was being asked, and to give prompts as to the type of behavior that would answer the student researcher's questionnaire.

Though the student researcher meant well, and tried to do as he had been instructed to, the information he was given was not correct. That he was given distances that are more along the lines of those used by Americans and not the members of this group probably didn't occur to him for his interview was over in about a half hour. How would he know what distances the Japanese use unless he's actually observed how Japanese people utilize space? How would he deal with answers reached by group consensus? How would he know that his questions were understood?


Appendix B


The author, Erik Anthony Kassebaum is a twenty-four year old Graduate student at California State University Chico. The author has many interests, ranging from British sports car restoration to computer technology. In terms of interpersonal relationships, the author is usually quiet, calm, and reserved. He prefers to deal with a small group of intimates rather than a large group of acquaintances. The author is not particularly religious, though he has some interest in Zen.

In terms of anthropology, the author did not really know much about this field until his third year of college. It was at this late date that he decided that he liked anthropology and that it was broad enough to let him do what he wanted. The author has a very strong independent streak, and will often utilize this to get things done.

The author's first exposure to Japanese culture was during his childhood. The mother of one of his friends, a neighbor who lived across the street, was Japanese. It took over a decade for the author to correctly pronounce the name of his friend's mother. Leiko always came out Reiko.

The author's life in college dormitories was a major factor in his development as an anthropologist. It was in the dorms that the author learned how to keep track of the behavior, beliefs, and personalities of dozens of people who lived in close proximity to one-another. As an afterthought, the time spent in various symphonic, marching, and brass bands (12 years) also served as a contributing factor to the authors ability to keep track of a multitude of things at one time.