Good morning Professor
I was actually in Hiroshima just over a week ago on a business trip, although I didn't make it into any bookshops. However, I have no problem believing your account as the situation you describe seems pretty common to me right across Japan. Also, I regret that I did not have time to trouble you with a request to visit your dojo, but my three days did not coincide with the training schedule on your website. In any case I was also very busy helping take care of around a hundred students.
Peter A Goldsbury
PAG. I think it is difficult to make such a broad judgment. In Hiroshima, for example, there are several quite distinct foreign groups, with different needs. Nevertheless, all the ‘foreign' books are stacked together, they are all in English and, as I stated, are all about Japan. (This is Maruzen's store in central Hiroshima. The Junkudo store near the station has a larger selection of English-language books, especially fiction, but the proportion of books on Japan is large.)
Here you are also talking about long term residents, who should in theory, know Japanese and do not necessarily know English. Rightly or wrongly, Japan and other countries tend to use English as the common lingua franca
(although I've seen Portuguese for foreign residents when I lived in Hamamatsu) so for this post I would like to return to this section of the original article:
In the English-language section it is as if no other country in the world is of such interest to the foreigners who visit as Japan.
When I first visited Japan, just buying a vacuum-cleaner bag proved to be a major linguistic and cultural adventure despite my limited study of the language and customs before I came: I think I actually asked for a kaban
(satchel-type bag) for my shojiki
("honesty" instead of sojiki
meaning vacuum cleaner). In contrast other British guys going to the Netherlands get tied to lampposts, wear mankinis
or do other crazy things on stag nights in much the same way they would back home and I'd imagine they'd have a much easier time buying vacuum-cleaner bags if so inclined. I think the demand from English readers in Japan is different from English readers in the Netherlands, not least because as you mentioned, the locals are included in that category. This is just an opinion though.
If you think this part of your article is important as evidence of something, I think you could back it up with statistics pretty easily.
So for example, in 2009 the highest number of tourists to the Netherlands were holidaymakers, staying "overnight" from
- Germany (almost 3 million),
- The UK (about 1.5 million)
- The USA
In the same year Japan got...
- Korea (1.5 million)
- Taiwan (just under a million)
- The USA
...as its top tourists (who comprise 70% of visitors).
For all of these countries, there are also statistics on the English abilities (i.e. how many of the people are in the market for books in English and how easily they could get by in English without knowing Dutch/Japanese) as well as surveys on cultural awareness, reasons for travel etc. If indeed these articles will make it into a book, I think this kind of evidence, with this kind of backup, would help make the distinction between what could merely look like a long section of complaint alleging Japanese chauvinism in the Hombu and a more convincing critique of a social situation in Japan which could affect aikido.
And where will your book go if it is sold in English in Japan? Along with all the other books about Japan and Japanese culture in the English language section!