By Hendry J.
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Additional resources for An Anthropologist in Japan
Chapter 5 A pilgrims’ trail Some regular activities are arranged for the pursuit of examples of politeness, and wider exploration of the area reveals some ideas for further investigation. During the early weeks of our stay, I set up a series of activities which would bring me into contact with different groups of people on a regular basis, so that I could get a feel for the dynamics of language use over time. The housewives’ group to which Takako belonged was an obvious start, and they had signed up for a weekly tennis class, currently a very popular sport in the town.
The tiny hut was effectively surrounded by an impenetrable natural barrier. I could see the cars of the civilised world passing by, but I could only reach them by returning along the long, winding path. 34 Part I: Settling in and making contacts When I got back to my bicycle, I was greatly relieved. I had ventured out with bare legs, now very scratched, and the experience had been somewhat unnerving. Looking more closely at the notice at the entrance to the path, which included a map of the route, it could be discerned that the course did indeed cover a rather limited area.
What a strange encounter! I felt quite exhausted by it and began to wonder whether my visitor had been a stray patient from the psychiatric department of Takako’s husband, Minoru. Actually, something about our last series of formulaic exchanges had reminded me of the way Japanese people sometimes speak to me. It struck me that these stereotypical greetings are rather useful in a situation of social insecurity. I had felt unsure how to behave, though I had thought myself rather well versed in normal Japanese social interaction.
An Anthropologist in Japan by Hendry J.