Bridging Cultures~
What No One Tells You
So you're thinking about living abroad. But how will you acclimate, communicate, and thrive in your new home? Becoming at home in another culture requires a different kind of learning than you find in textbooks. It involves becoming familiar with your surroundings, so that you can find your way around, speak and function appropriately, (take the train, go shopping, use the phone, etc.). It also means learning how to build and sustain relationships.
  Our goal in this tutorial is to present a program of practical learning that will allow you to go through the process of becoming familiar with Japanese culture, even before you get there. The crucial aspect of "becoming familiar" with a culture is that the experience centers on you. Through a process of trial and error you must learn the appropriate things to say and do. But you must also survive the learning process. There is no way to steer you clear of all potential mistakes, but this tutorial can at least help you identify and learn from them.  
The learning process in this tutorial replicates the trial-and-error process of "being there". The tutorial maps a critical minefield in the learning process, the things that no one thinks to tell a newcomer. These are not mentioned, precisely because it is assumed that everyone must already know them. Yet ironically, these are the very things one most needs to know in order to successfully adjust, and they may not be obvious to the newcomer at all. While this minefield exists for all cultures, in Japan it is compounded by cultural expectations of not speaking directly; because others are expected to intuit what one is not saying. It goes without saying that this is difficult for newcomers to manage.  
  The tutorial consists of a series of interactive modules, which allow the learner to be a fly-on-the-wall, and to watch others going through the process of trying to acclimate themselves. The tutorial is set in the context of student homestays, which consists of three parts.  
Part 1 (Modules 1-3) allows you to meet Peter Hauser, and the Sasakis, his host family, and to view the communication in this homestay. The homestay introduces the core idea of the tutorial: How can Peter become aware of what no one thinks to tell him, but which everyone assumes he already knows, before he unknowingly violates their expectations? Although Peter's case is an actual homestay case, it is not meant to represent a "typical homestay". Instead, it is meant to give you a window into the workings of "what no one tells you" in intercultural situations.

Part 2 (Modules 4-6) explains what Peter didn't know, but needed to know in order to succeed in his homestay. It explains behind-the-scenes aspects of Japanese society that are the backdrop to ordinary communication situations .  


Part 3 (Modules 7-10 and the Finale) lets you follow 14 students through the trial-and-error learning process of actual homestays, as presented through their diary-notebooks. By letting the learner in on some of the things "no one thinks to tell you" (in Part 2) and looking over the shoulders of homestay participants (in Part 3), the site encourages you to grasp the very dimensions of the communication failures that eluded Peter and the Sasaki family.

  Using This Tutorial  

1. The Internet tutorial is designed in a series of modules, which you can move through at your own pace.
2. Each section of this site builds on the information presented before it. The last section won’t make sense unless you have already grasped the “basics” presented in parts 1 and 2. It is very important that you move through this site in sequence, although you can retrace your steps back through the site as much as you like.
3. This site is too large to finish in a single sitting. While we estimate that Part 1 takes approximately an hour, Parts 2 and 3 take longer, and they are open-ended because the learning is situated. There are many threads you can draw between the pages and cases of the tutorial, and you are the meaning builder in this site. You can (and should) spend time on this tutorial, so please plan accordingly.


The tutorial can be used either independently by students, or as a part of a classroom teaching curriculum, for a variety of different audiences. Potential Users Include:

Students abroad (or those working abroad) in Japan, before, during, and/or after their stay abroad.
Japanese language teachers, either in Japan or abroad. The tutorial provides students with a lived cultural context for language use.
Teachers of Japanese culture and society (especially at university or high school levels, and including those in study-abroad programs in Japan).

About the Creators:
The tutorial was created by a core group of people with extensive experience in Japan. The members also shared perspectives on cultural learning as interactive.

The producer and content creator is Jane Bachnik, Ph.D., an anthropologist who has lived, worked, and taught in Japan for 15 years, and who began her experience there on a longterm homestay. She also taught for 16 years in U.S. universities, and published books and articles on a variety of subjects including family, self, intercultural communication, and teaching on the Internet. She is a Professor at the National Institute of Multimedia Education in Japan.
The web designer, Thomas O'Connor, is a performer, performance teacher and long-term student of Japanese culture. O'Connor applied his skills in composition, and his experience navigating cultural minefields in Japan, to the design of this site.
The content consultant, Barbara Ito, Ph.D., is an anthropologist who taught at U.S. universities for eight years. Her professional interests include the Japanese family, women entrepreneurs in Japan, and intercultural communication.She has lived, taught, and done research in Japan for 16 years in Shikoku, where she resides permanently with her Japanese husband, son, and Japanese in-laws.

Navigating the tutorial:
A number of aids exist to help you navigate through the site. All of the navigation aids are on the frame illustrated below, which will be available after this page. Now please proceed through the following, which will take you to the start of the tutorial.

1. The menu is your primary means of navigation, and the site map allows you to view and print out the layout for the whole site.

A teaching guide, available inside the "Resources" button, suggests effective ways to use the tutorial for teaching. The teaching guide also gives the intellectual background for its organization.


References and further explanations are identified by the reference icon, which appears at the end of most modules. Clicking on the reference icon will take you to the reference. You can also access all the references under the "Resources" icon.


A list of links is also available which will give you more glimpses of everyday life in Japan, plus information. The links are accessible under the resources icon as well.


If you want to know more about the team that made this site, see "about us".

6. You will need Flash 4 or higher in order to use this site. If your computer doesn’t have this application, please download below. Flash is crucial for this site! You will also need your browser to be Explorer 5 or higher.
7. We'd like your reactions to the tutorial! Click on the feedback button in the frame at any time and let us know how you're finding the site. You can email or use the feedback form.
  Click to Begin Tutorial