At Home in Japan
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Module 7.2

Beyond the Entry Point

After becoming a "good guest", the next hurdle is to somehow get beyond this "good guest" entry phase. This will allow the family to ease up in their tatemae wrapping of the guest; a host family can't maintain this level of deference throughout the entire homestay. Most foreign guests really want to manage this, for it opens up their access to the everyday life of the family. But the shift beyond the entry point must be negotiated with the family, and the guest has no idea how to manage this. Nor can the host family usually explain what the guest needs to do. It doesn't occur to them that someone might not know such basic things—(another cultural bubbles issue).  

Because this hurdle is extremely important if the homestay is to go anywhere (and many guest/hosts don't manage to do this), we have included enough cases for you to see several different ways of getting beyond the entry point.


1. First, let's see how Erika and Kaarina (whom you met in 7.1), deal with the task of shifting beyond the entry role.   Compare their reports below:


  • Erika and Kaarina go about trying to change their initial guest roles in different ways. Think about these differences, in terms of things like cultural bubbles. Do you think both succeeded equally well?

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2. Now compare Sophie, Molly and Mark's experiences below:
    Sophie 2: Cocooned (and Rudely Awakened)
(Sophie 1 is in the Gallery)

  • Sophie and Molly's shifts both appear to have been initiated by the host family. Yet they occur in different ways. Think about these shifts in terms of whether their initiation was spoken or unspoken. Do you think both succeeded equally well?
  • Is Mark negotiating this hurdle? To what extent is he becoming "friends" with his family?  

Click for Comments (2)

3. Putting the pieces together. . . Hints on getting beyond the entry point:
  • "Helping out" in your family means much more than merely doing chores. Cleaning your room, doing your laundry, and helping the family with their general chores all help to make you a part of their everyday life, and this can naturally bring you "inside".
  • However, timing is everything. Trying to help on the day you arrive (Kaarina's mistake) runs counter to being a "good guest". You need to spend some time assessing your family's lifestyle so that you grasp where you may be able to help (and fit in) effectively.
  • Those who were successful in getting beyond the entry hurdle all had some things in common: they had already established a relationship with their host families, and were able to work out (mutually) what kind of help the guest would contribute. For the guest, being able to negotiate the hurdle of the guest "helping out" without any spoken request being made, is the superior way for this kind of hurdle to be negotiated. But even though Sophie's timing was too slow, and she had to be told to give more help, she appears to have made the hurdle too.

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