don't know a whole lot about japanese, but asian in general, tends to use lots of metaphor in their normal communication. reminded me of a star trek episode where capt picard and crew encountered an alien race whose language is pure metaphor. the translator couldn't translate.
if you look at the name of the taiji form sequence, then you have things like "Buddha's warrior pounds mortar", "Jade maiden working her loom", "white crane spread wings" and so on (why couldn't aikido techniques have names like that, since ikkyo, nikkyo,...etc are kinda boring). who would have thought those describe movements of a form?
>"Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra",
"Temba, his arms wide."
>"Shaka, when the walls fell."
phi, the walls won't fall.
Relavent to the discussion, too.
I had a long post typed, but lost it.
I believe westerners use methaphor in language alot more than we think, but it's masked by the common cultural context we share. I think almost any group with a common interest will develop a shorthand language to discuss their interest. Scientists are do this formally, but you see it in virtually any group with a common interest - from techies to trekies to Harry Potter fans to evangelical christians. In any of these situations, the specific meaning of terms is not transparent to those outside the group.
Former Governor Mike Huckabee's speeches may be a good parallel to the current discussion. I recall a poll where most people had only the most general understanding of what he was saying, but evangelicals heard a whole overlay of christian imagery in his speeches.