日本人の迷惑をかけない、踏み込まない文化 

~その美徳と潜む危険~

JAPANESE CULTURE THAT DOESN’T TROUBLE OTHERS 

~ ITS BEAUTY AND HIDDEN DANGER ~

May 27, 2021 | Cross-Cultural Living

*この記事は日本語のあとに英語でも書いてあります。

This article is written in Japanese followed by English.

迷惑をかけない文化の美しさ

思えば人生の半分がシンガポール暮らしになった。外での暮らしが長くなると、日本にずっと暮らしていたら気が付かない日本人の思考回路に気づくことがある。その一つが他人に迷惑をかけない文化。看板の表現一つをとってみても、公園や図書館に行くと「他の方の迷惑になりますので、大きな声を出さぬようお願いします」とか、駐車場には「短時間でも駐停車はご近所の迷惑になりますのでエンジンを止めてください」などと書いてあるのに気づく。とにかく人様に迷惑をかけないことが生活の隅々まで行き届いている。周りに迷惑をかけない文化のおかげで、静かな環境が保たれてお互いに気持ちよく公共の場で過ごせる。お互いの空間を尊重する気配りの美しさがそこにはある。

シンガポールの大らかさ

シンガポールでは、どうか。トイレで隣りの人が手を洗って振り払う水しぶきを浴びてしまうことがある。コロナ渦の今、飛沫に神経質になっているのに、スーパーでパパイヤを選んでいたら、隣りのおばちゃんが大きな咳を「ゴッホ、ゴッホ」、しかもマスクから咳を逃がしているではないか。信じられん!思わず、パパイヤ二つを両手に握りしめたまま、できる限り遠くに逃げた。我が家のご近所さんは、と言えば、クラスター発生を受けて規制強化が発表された、よりにもよってこんな日に大掃除を始めた。我が家の前の通路にモノをどっさり積み上げ、マスクなしで作業を始める。「迷惑です!」の合図に、目で圧をかけてみたが、日本じゃないので通用しない。しかたがない。気温34度だけどドアを閉めきるか(;^ω^)。周囲が気にならない。これは悪いことなのかというと、必ずしもそうではない、と私は思う。逆にこちらが迷惑かなと思えることをしていても、気にしてないから楽なのである。我が家も昨夜は夜中まで、ユーチューブで懐メロの聖子ちゃんメドレーをしてたけど、誰の苦情も気にせず楽しめた。

日本文化の隠されたストレス要因

確かに日本の周囲への配慮は素晴らしい。だけど、知らぬ間に自分が迷惑を発してしまったらどうなるのだろう。いつだか電車に乗っていて消音を忘れていた携帯が突然鳴ってしまった。冷や汗💦、周りの人が即、無言の圧をかけてきた。この目力で無言の圧を送って「迷惑です!」っていうメッセージを送るのは日本人の得意技だと思う。99%迷惑をかけない人たちの中で、仮に迷惑を迂闊にも発してしまった折には、周囲の厳しい目を覚悟しなくてはならない。迷惑をかけない配慮は日本人の奥深くしみ込んでいる。が、しかし外国暮らしが長くなって、その注意力がいつの間にか緩んでしまった自分には、東京に1週間滞在しただけでも、見えないストレスが肩に蓄積されてしまう。それで日本人の友だちと異口同音に「シンガポールはやっぱ楽だよね」とうなずいてしまう。お互いの空間を尊重する日本文化の美徳と、多少の迷惑には動じないシンガポール文化の懐の広さ、その間に立っている自分に気づく。

お互いの領域を尊重するあまりに生じる危険も

ある衝撃的なニュース

Ms Obayashi at 24

そんな文化の違いについて考えていたある日、衝撃的なニュースを目にした。

去年11月、都内のバス停で路上生活者の60代の女性、大林さんが男に突然殴られ、死亡した事件がニュース にあった。ホームレスの大林さんは誰にも迷惑にならないよう、終バスの時刻を過ぎてから毎晩バス停のベンチで座ったまま寝ていた。その彼女を男が「邪魔だった。痛い思いをさせればいなくなると思った」という理由で殴って死なせてしまった。非情さに憤りを感じた。間違いなく犯人は殴り殺した人。だけど、周りの人の姿勢にも考えさせられた。

殺された近所の飲食店の人「人様に迷惑をかけない時間帯にここにいるのかな、と思っていた」

現場を通りかかったある人「心配になって友人に知らせようと、大林さんの姿をスマホで遠くから撮影したが、そのままだった。声をかけようとおもったが、行動できなかった」

近所の大学生「優しさが助けになるのかどうか分からなかったので、声はかけませんでした

大林さんと一緒に働いたことのある女性も、昼休みにごはんを食べない大林さんに声はかけたけど、それ以上踏み込まなかった。実の弟も、大林さんから連絡が途絶えたとき「強い姉のことだから心配ない」と踏み込まなかった。

誰にも迷惑をかけたくなかった大林さんと、優しさや配慮で彼女の生活に踏み込まかった家族や周囲の人たち。互いの空間を尊重することは、時に密かに苦しんでいる人を見落とす危険もはらんでいるのではないか。

だからこそ、相手に迷惑だと言われても、誤解されたり面倒なことに巻き込まれるリスクがあっても、他人の生活に一歩踏み込むべき場面というのがある気がしてならない。

「心配だ」「危ない」「かわいそう」その思いを誰かが形にしていたら、何か変わっていたんじゃないか。

自分自身も、近くにいる「大林さん」を見て見ぬふりをして通り過ぎてきたのではないか。

聖書の中の、親切なサマリア人の話を思い出した。迷惑をかけないのが愛なのではない、その人のことを思っただけで愛なのでもない、アクションを起こして初めて愛なんだ、と思う。

The Beauty Of A Culture That Doesn’t Trouble Others

I have lived half of my life in Singapore. After being overseas for a few decades, I have observed certain Japanese mindsets that I wouldn’t have noticed if I had still remained in Japan.  One of these mindsets that strikes me is a strong sense of not to disturb others.

You will notice how often such values are expressed just by looking at the expressions on the signboard in the park or library, “Please do not make a loud voice because it will be a nuisance to other people.” or “Please stop the engine as it will be a nuisance to your neighborhood. ” This cultural mindset is in every corner of daily living in Japan. Thanks to this beautiful culture, Japan is known as a country with good manners. In fact, I really enjoy a quiet environment maintained by the attentiveness of people who respect each other’s space.  We can spend time comfortably in public space without being disturbed. 

Singapore Beauty? Easy-going! 

This is very different from Singapore culture. It is not uncommon that we get splashed in the public toilet with water by someone next to you who is washing their hands. Even during the pandemic, people are supposed to be more conscious of respiratory droplets, but not all are that mindful.  

The other day when I was choosing papaya at the supermarket, someone next to me coughed violently, and intentionally removed the mask. This was so inconsiderate! So I quickly ran away as far as I could, with two papayas still in my hands. 

Another incident was with my neighbor. They started to clear their unwanted stuff on the very day when Singapore returned to Phase 2 in response to the cluster outbreak. They piled up many boxes in front of my flat and started sorting out things without wearing a mask! I tried to signal her with my body language, but it didn’t work.  I realized this is not Japan. I had no choice. In spite of the hot weather, I had to close all my windows (; ^ ω ^) I have encountered many locals who are not so mindful of their surroundings. But is that a bad thing? No, it’s not always the case. In fact, they can be more forgiving even if I do something that can be annoying to others.  I should recognise the good side of easy-going culture here. That’s why even last night my husband and I enjoyed You-tube Karaoke without worrying about causing noise to neighbours until late at night. We know that this level of noise is acceptable to our generous neighbours.

Hidden Stress Factors In Japanese Culture

No doubt, being considerate to others in Japanese society is a wonderful characteristic. But this has also created hidden stress in the society. I remember when I was in Japan taking a train, and my mobile phone rang as I had forgotten to put it into silent mode.  I was so embarrassed as everybody in the cabin was looking at me and giving me an annoying look. 

This is how we can be treated when we accidentally break the rules of how we are supposed to behave in public. One must be prepared for the harsh eyes from those around us.  Being considerate to others is deeply ingrained in the Japanese people. Perhaps after spending many years abroad, my mindfulness to others has somehow diluted.  I feel some kind of stress coming from the high standard of mindfulness whenever I go back to Japan. Thus, very often my Japanese friends living in Singapore and I will remark, “Singapore is easier to live, isn’t it?”

 

I am in between the virtues of Japanese culture that respect each other’s space, and the broad-mindedness of Singaporean culture that does not bother with insignificant issues.

My Personal Observation And Thoughts Over A Recent Shocking News


[Ms Obayashi in younger days]
Source: NHK News

In times of thinking about such cultural differences, I came across one shocking news that happened in Tokyo last November. Ms. Obayashi, a homeless woman in her 60s, slept on the bench at the bus stop every night. But then one night a man beat her to death.  After the police arrested the man, they questioned his motive in killing her, he answered, “She was a nuisance. So I beat her to chase her away.”  What an outrageous crime!  But what makes think about this issue are the testimonies of those who knew Ms. Obayashi.

a restaurant staff in the neighborhood/Source: NHK News

 

A person working in a nearby restaurant saw the deceased every night at the bus stop, but she did not want to disturb her, so she never approached her.

Another man who regularly passed by the bus stop testified, “I took a picture of her from a distance with my smartphone, thinking to alert my friend.  But in the end, I didn’t take any action. I’ve also thought of talking to her, but didn’t do anything after all”.

A student in a nearby university shared “I didn’t know if kindness would help, so I didn’t approach her”.

Then an ex-colleague of the victim had observed that she had never taken her lunch during lunch break. But she didn’t want to interfere with her privacy. 

Even her younger brother did not call her when she had stopped contacting him, because he thought that she could take care of herself as her sister was a strong woman.

 

The police discovered that she refused to ask for help even though only 8 yen was left in her wallet. On the other hand, her family or the people around her did not step into her life to find out her condition. This is the potential danger of being over-considerate of others. I can’t help feeling that at times respecting other’s space too much may run the risk of overlooking those who are suffering in silence.

That’s why, even if the other person might say it’s annoying, or even if we risk being misunderstood or get into a troublesome situation, there are times that we should step in to check out how others are doing and offer help.

People around her had thoughts like “I’m worried about her”, “She may be in danger” or “I feel for her”.  If only someone had put that thought into action, things would have been different.

Perhaps many times in my life, I myself passed by pretending not to see “Ms. Obayashi” next to me.

I remember the story of the Good Samaritan in the Bible. Not troubling others is not love. Thinking of that person is not enough for love. It’s love only when we take action.

 

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