At Home in Japan
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Module 8.1
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Being a "Good Guest"

In Japan a guest from abroad is considered a distant outsider, to be treated with special wrapping by the host family, much as they would treat a distant Japanese guest. The initial cocooning of the guest is appropriate for both host and guest, and both actually need for this to happen. Yet, being wrapped is often very uncomfortable for the foreign guest. So the first hurdle faced by the homestay guest is to manage to be a "good guest". This may involve revising one's unspoken assumptions (cultural bubbles) of what guesthood is all about.

1. Compare Molly, Kaarina, and Mark's initial feelings about being a special guest, just after entering their homestays.  
  • What is your prognosis for each of these guests after their first day in the homestay?
  • Which of the three guests above do you think most resembles you? (You can answer, even if you are not in a homestay situation.) From your selection, what kinds of things would you have to work on most to become a good guest?
2. Putting the pieces together . . . Being a good guest requires that you be aware of the following: 

  • the deferential wrapping you are receiving as a guest.
  • your own reactions to your treatment in the guest situation.
  • the ways in which having you as a guest has affected your host family's life.
Main Takeaway:
Rather than being shown into your host family’s everyday life, you have interrupted their lives, and they are creating a special scenario for you. Be careful not to mistake this special scenario for everyday life, and think you have already come into the family. This initial scenario is replicated throughout Japanese society, including the workplace.

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