Saturday, March 13, 2010

When in Japan, Do You Do as the Japanese Do?

Hello readers!

As a visitor in Japan, I quickly embraced how they did things. Naturally, I had a lot of blunders at first. But the Japanese were very understanding when it comes to honest mistakes. I was surprised at how they value social grace, respect and etiquette.

One of the things that I like among them was how they take a closer look at details. For example, when the new method of segregating garbage was implemented, the Japanese had to study how to dispose of their trash. The government's campaign was so massive that the people were handed out several books, pamphlets, and news articles on how to follow properly do it.

For sure, this is one good thing that Filipinos can learn from the Japanese.

Colleges teach good manners / Students get pointers on how to behave, separate garbage, obey law
The Yomiuri Shimbun, 4 Mar 2010

A growing number of universities and colleges have started providing information on good manners to their students, especially freshmen, including how to behave as they travel to and from university, how to separate garbage for disposal and recycling, and why they should not break the law.

Most of the advice might seem like common sense, but many university officials say they have had to train their students in good manners because many do not seem to have much awareness of what behavior is considered socially acceptable.

Students at Tokyo Women's College and Junior College of Physical Education in Kunitachi, western Tokyo, are to be posted at 10 spots along the 800-meter-long route from JR Nishi-Kunitachi Station to their campus for a week in April to watch whether fellow students, especially freshmen, behave appropriately.

According to officials of the university, some students have been seen behaving badly in the past, such as cycling while using a cell phone or eating cup noodles while walking.

About a year ago, after receiving a number of complaints from people who live between the station and campus, the school decided to place student representatives along the route to monitor the behavior of the other students at the beginning of the academic year and other occasions.

"It's effective because the message sinks in when you receive advice from your peers," sophomore Saki Mikawa, 20, said.

Kyoto University, where in recent years some students have been arrested for cannabis possession and other crimes, holds a special lecture in April to inform students of the importance of complying with laws.

The lecture, which includes a video on the hazards of taking illegal drugs, is going to be counted for credit from the next school year.

At Kanazawa University, Prof. Toru Furuhata teaches freshmen such things as how to take notes and how to separate garbage in a course that addresses social and university life.

"Some students asked me why I teach such basic things," Furuhata said. "But we have received complaints about the way some students put out their trash. I want them learn such commonsense skills before going out into the real world."

A lack of good manners among university students is behind such moves.

At International Christian University in Mitaka, western Tokyo, many students do not return library books before the end of lending periods. The university decided to charge 10 yen per day as a late fee and does not allow students to graduate if they have outstanding late fees. One student owed 70,000 yen in late fees as of Tuesday, officials of the university said.

In 2008, three Kyoto Sangyo University students were found to have written their names and other messages on a column of a World Heritage-listed cathedral in Florence. The university's guidebook now tells freshmen not to litter, grafitti or use drugs.

At North Asia University in Akita, some staffers regularly walk around the campus to check if students have dyed hair or are wearing piercings, both of which the university forbids in principle.

Snowboarder Kazuhiro Kokubo, who participated in last month's Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, is a student of Tokai University. Unfortunately for the university, Kokubo became famous for wearing the Japanese Olympic uniform in a manner deemed inappropriate and for his subsequent nonchalant apology for doing so at a press conference.

The university released a statement apologizing for Kokubo's actions. Though it does not have a dress code, it said it would take steps to improve the behavior and clothing of its students via instruction from teachers or varsity sports club coaches.

Prof. Motohisa Kaneko of Tokyo University, an expert in higher education and a member of the Central Council for Education, said: "Many universities are seeking ways to help students act in a more mature way. One of the reasons they have begun focusing on good manners and morality is the tight employment situation in recent years. Students who lack common sense likely will fail to find a job."

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