The deference I received in my family was at first startling; the okaasan had a sixth sense for what I wanted and when I wanted it. Then I slowly realized that the okaasan had a sixth sense for what everybody wanted and when they wanted it. At first it seemed to me, as it probably does to most foreigners who don't know much of Japanese culture, that she had a duplicitous nature. She would say "let's have dinner now", but if it appeared that no one else was hungry yet, she would change her mind and say, "oh, let's wait a little while." To a dumb foreigner this seems as if the okaasan doesn't have a mind of her own, or if she does she keeps changing it; almost as if she says yes to things where she really means no. But in reality she does in fact have a mind of her own, and her job is to figure out what is going on in everybody else's mind. It is, in fact, her job, or position in the family, to play "mind-reader".

After living with my family for about three months the okaasan came to me and told me that as a member of the household I would have to start adjusting to their life a little bit more by helping out. This statement utterly appalled me, because I thought I was helping out and was functioning as the other members of the family. In this sense I (as someone supposedly astute to the situation I was in) didn't even realize the extent to which deference was being shown to me. As a soto (outside) person I had been kept in a cocoon. As I had learned, soto people are not let in on the fact that they are being deferred to, nor are they allowed to see the inner workings of the family.
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