Differences between the Western and Japanese Brain and Thought

Before starting to debate this subject, I have to make it clear that this article was sent by my friend Eduardo Toda, who has a project to bring the Japanese and Brazilians closer together, so much so that he wrote this article in both languages.

He sent me one of several documents that talk about these and other subjects. These documents show why the two cultures are quite different, especially in the way of thinking. While the Japanese first see the rules, Brazilians or other Westerners think they already know everything and are already doing it. This is causing a lot of problems in factories and people don't understand why.

Eduardo Toda's thinking is to select and develop people who are interested in Japanese culture to go to Japan. Its vision is to try to motivate interested parties to specialize in any area of interest in Japan and to get to know the language and culture. I hope you like the text, this could be the first of many.

Differences between Japanese and Western Brain and Thinking

Japanese people suffering prejudice in Brazil

Little is said, but in the year 1945 there was a mass violence movement against Japanese people in Osvaldo Cruz... Throughout the region, groups of Brazilians would invade the houses of Japanese and would drag fathers of families by their hair in front of their wives and children. They would loot the houses...

Some things that led Brazilians to be prejudiced against Japanese:

  • The Japanese didn't use to mix with the Brazilians

Certainly, if the Japanese had been more communicative, they would not have suffered these barbarities. It does not justify a people committing injustice, but the lack of communication can end up generating these prejudices. This is very similar to IJIME in Japan.

Over time, the Japanese won the trust of the Brazilian people. To understand more about this subject, read our article on prejudice in Brazil.

Differences between Japanese and Western Brain and Thinking

Main differences between the two cultures

Let's analyze the text extracted from a comment on the internet:

What is the difference between the Brazilian and Japanese people in a moment of crisis?

The Brazilian seeks to know whose fault it is, and wants to know who will attend to the victims, the Japanese first help, calmly, then they think, if they think, whose fault it is. Brazilians cry, victimize themselves, Japanese nobles, run after the solution, with dignity. The Brazilians, right from the first moment, understand that it is the end, the Japanese, at any moment, understand that it is a new beginning, they believe that everything will be rebuilt, recovered. – Yahoo AnswersThis is a Brazilian view of a Japanese person these days

Brazilian Japanese
need to talk need to observe
Enjoy being the center of attention Like to show what you've done
Speak loudly Conversation interferes with concentration
Make your own rules and don't follow others Follows more the formalistics of the environment
very good at arguments Very good at visual details
Prefers more than narrative texts More like graphics and schematics
Express more feelings in words It's more formal in the words
don't like hierarchy Pay more attention to the one who teaches
It's more individualistic Need opinions from others
Worries about the past and future live more in the moment

Some characteristics that Westerners think of the Japanese:

  • Lack of sincerity (falsehood) due to not showing what you feel;
  • Very detailed;
  • Very clumsy, especially in decisions;
  • are closed. They live in your world;

Some characteristics that a Japanese thinks of the Westerner:

  • There is no organization and everyone does it their own way.
  • Talks too much and doesn't work
  • He only lives at parties and has no commitments;
  • He is not faithful in what he says, that is, he cannot be trusted;

Differences between Japanese and Western Brain and Thinking

The Japanese brain thinks differently from the Brazilian brain

As much as Brazilians find the Japanese language difficult, so do the Japanese find any Western language difficult. The origin and explanation lies in the use of the cerebral hemispheres. A study was carried out that proves that the Japanese brain works differently compared to other Western peoples.

Certainly, this may have influenced the culture of the Japanese people in some way. The biggest difference from one culture to another has to do with the use of KANJI and HIRAGANA / KATAKANA, according to the book “Conhecendo o Cérebro” written by Luciano Mecacci. In this book he talks about the influence that ideograms and phonetics have on the use of the hemispheres of the brain.

Neurosurgeon Raul Marino, a professor emeritus at the USP School of Medicine, presides over the Brazilian Institute of Ethics and Bioethics and is the author of the book “The Japanese Brain”. In this book we can see some differences between the left and right hemispheres of the brains:

Verbal: uses words to name, describe and define; Non-verbal: perception of things with a minimal relationship with words;
Analytical: deciphers things sequentially and piecemeal; Synthetic: uniting things to form wholes;
Uses a symbol that is in place of something else. For example, the + sign represents the sum; List things as they are at that moment;
Abstract: extracts a small portion of information and uses it to represent the totality of the subject; Analog: finds a simile between different orders; understanding of metaphorical relationships;
Temporal: a notion of time is maintained, a sequence of events. Do one thing and then another, etc.; Timeless: no sense of time;
Rational: draws conclusions based on reason and data; Non-rational: does not require a base of information and real facts;
accepts the suspension of judgment;
Digital: uses numbers; Spatial: seeing things related to each other and how the parts come together to form a whole;
Logical: draws conclusions based on logical order. For example: a mathematical theorem or an argument; Intuitive: performs leaps of recognition, in general, from incomplete patterns, intuitions, feelings and visual images;
Linear: thinking in terms linked to ideas, one thought that follows another and that generally converge in a conclusion; Holistic: Perceiving while conceiving general patterns and structures that often lead to divergent conclusions.

“The Japanese are the only people who use both brain hemispheres independently, the left side for language and the right side for abstract thinking.”

The article is still halfway through, but we recommend also reading:

Conclusion of research involving the brains of Japanese and Westerners

What Professor Raul Marinho says is that the Japanese people stimulate both cerebral hemispheres, taking advantage of all their functions. This would lead the individual to be more imaginative and more capable of solving difficult issues of their day to day, making them more resilient, resistant and creative in the face of difficult life issues. Of course, the cultural issue also favors.

So we come to the conclusion that Westerners have tendencies towards logic, strategy, order, ideas, spoken language and written language.

The Japanese have more tendencies towards observation, shapes, pattern, creativity and reasoning. According to the study, the configuration of the Japanese brain is not genetic, but “software”. This configuration affects the way in which the hemispheres of the brain are used, as shown in the following figure:

Differences between Japanese and Western Brain and Thinking

According to the American neuroanatomist and scientist Jill Bolte Taylor, in which she herself had the experience of a stroke in the left side of the brain, says that “the right hemisphere works as a parallel processor, while the left hemisphere works as a serial processor” .

People who use the left hemisphere predominantly: are overly organized, perfectionist, detailed, rational. Likewise, people who use the right hemisphere more are: creative, dreamy, emotional and intuitive (some of whom sometimes lack organization and attention to detail in order to realize their ideals).

Using only the left side of the brain or both sides does not mean that one is better than the other. The two minds (Western and Japanese) each bring advantages and disadvantages. The best thing is to combine the two worlds and make the most of each. Thus, it is important for everyone to know that these cultural differences exist and that the origin of all this is in the “way of writing”.

What can we conclude about the differences between the Japanese and Western brain?

Westerners have individualistic characteristics and are more competitive. They immediately think about having results, working more with logic, that is, paying more attention to “procedures”. Thus, decisions are faster, but there are a greater number of errors due to “decision making”.

The Japanese are more group-like and appreciate beauty more. As he works more with the right side of the brain, he has a tendency to pay more attention to “group rules”, that is, he has a tendency to dominate the whole and then execute. That's why you take more care in decisions, in a way it makes the process slower, but the "decision making" is more accurate.

Therefore, in a way, we have to understand that the process of adapting a Westerner to the Japanese system is quite complex. Starting with writing, as there is a great barrier to be broken to create new habits of reading KANJI.

After all, the same process used to learn other languages, such as English, Spanish and other similar languages, does not fully apply to learning Japanese. You have to develop another area of the brain, and for that, you must have patience and a lot of will.

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