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...Gossip!!

 Whether good natured or ruthless, truthful or not, Japanese people love to gossip. 
 Speculating about other people's personal lives is a national past time.  
 Right behind sumo, karaoke and drinking parties, of course.  They don't however, 
 gossip in English.  Gossip Land is vast and unexplored territory to many foreigners.  
 You'll hear over and over how its impossible to tell what a Japanese person thinks 
 of you, but give 'em half a beer and learn just what they think of everyone else.  
 But they'll think twice about anything they say in English, so if you don't understand 
 at least a little Japanese, you'll never get the good dish.

 Maybe you don't like to gossip?  Maybe you find it immature and petty.  
 Well, at least be aware that if they aren't gossiping with you, they are probably 
 gossiping about you.  And if they know you don't understand what they're saying, 
 they may even gossip about you, in front of you.  Its most likely not going to be 
 mean gossip, and really, if you could understand, you'd probably wonder why they
 even care enough to waste their breath.  But they do.  As a resident foreigner, 
 you will unavoidably be the topic of many conversations.  Love lives seem to be of
 particular interest.  Ironically though, the more information you give them, the less 
 likely they are to gossip and speculate.  If, for example, you were to say you didn't
 have a girlfriend, but were subsequently spotted around town with a Japanese girl, 
 everyone and their sister would know about it in a week.  Give an evasive 'its
 none of your business' answer, like, "oh, she's just a friend.", and you've just supplied
 months' worth of gossip fodder.  

On the other hand, if you were to say that she was just some chick you met and went 
 out with once or twice and had a huge boinkfest, you'd probably never hear a peep
 muttered.  Of course the obvious answer to such a dilemma as to what to say is to 
 simply lie.  Making up a convincing answer works as well as the truth.  For some 
 reason though, lying doesn't seem to work as well in English.  
 They are very perceptive.  You have to throw 'em off by using a little 
 unexpected Japanese.

If you do happen to find a little gossip entertaining and fun, then all the more reason 
 to learn Japanese.  You'll see a side of those over-polite teachers and tea ladies that
 you never imagined.  Gossip is the 'in' for Japanese society.  Gossip with someone 
 for 10 minutes in Japanese and they will proclaim you an honorary Japanese person. 
 The standard actually seems pretty low, it would make you believe that all it takes 
 to be a Japanese person is a mediocre to fair ability to talk about someone else in 
 Japanese.  But it can afford you great privilege.  Because if they are gossiping with 
 you about the other foreigners in town, then they aren't gossiping about you.  
 At least, not as much as they could be.

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  Hey! What time is it in Japan?

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