Thursday, May 17, 2007


Some weeks ago I finished reading a book about Japanese history... It was quite interesting and quite new for me, as I think the history taught in Europe, or concretely in Spain, is too much Europe oriented... We think our history is the only one out there... but chinese or japanese history and culture are even older than ours, especially chinese...

Well, I was thinking about the names Japanese and Chinese gave to each other when they met for the first time... Chinese called Japanese Wajin 和人, which literally means Small People... and when Spanish and Portuguese starting trading with Japan, we were called Nanban 南蛮, which means Southern Barbarians. These Asian people liked making friends abroad! hehe
The term Nanban was initially used for people in South East Asia, but became attached to European (Portuguese and Spanish) when we arrived to Japan in the 16th century. The first sailors arrived at the southern islands in Japan, such as Tanegashima, and their manners were very rude and unsophisticated for traditional Japanese standards.

When I lived in Japan, the first thing Japanese said when I said I was Spanish was: wow, like Xavier!! For them, one of the most famous foreigners coming from Europe was Saint Francisco Javier... They were very surprised when I told everybody I didn't know who that guy was...

Just another cultural difference... I will talk more about cultural differences in a future post.

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