Differences between the brain and Japanese thought from the West

Before I start debating this issue, 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 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 at the 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. His vision is to try to motivate those interested to specialize in any area of interest in Japan and to know the language and culture. I hope you like the text, this may be the first among many.

Differences between the brain and Japanese and Western thought

Japanese suffering prejudice in Brazil

Little is said, but in 1945 there was a movement of mass violence against Japanese people, in Osvaldo Cruz… Around the region, groups of Brazilians invaded the homes of Japanese people and dragged their parents’ hairs in front of their women and children. They looted the residences ...

Some things that led Brazilians to have prejudices against Japanese:

  • The Japanese didn’t used to mix with the Brazilians

Certainly, if the Japanese had been more communicative, they would not have suffered such barbarism. It does not justify a people committing injustices, 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 the brain and Japanese and Western thought

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 time of crisis?

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

Brazilian Japanese
Need to chat Need to observe
Likes to be the center of attention Likes to show what he did
Speak loudly Conversation hinders concentration
Create your own rules and don't follow others Follow the formalities of the environment
Very good at the arguments Very good in the visual details
Prefer more than narrative texts Likes graphics and layouts better
Expresses more feelings in words It's more formal in words
Doesn't like hierarchy Pay more attention to the one who teaches
It is more individualistic Need opinion from others
Cares about the past and future Live the moment more

Some characteristics that Westerners think of Japanese:

  • Lack of sincerity (falsehood) due to not showing what you feel;
  • Very detailed;
  • Very disturbed, especially in decisions;
  • They 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
  • Talk too much and don't work
  • He only lives in a party and has no commitment;
  • He is not faithful in what he says, that is, he cannot be trusted;

Differences between the brain and Japanese and Western thought

The Japanese brain thinks differently from the Brazilian brain

As much as Brazilians find the Japanese language difficult, so too 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 from that of other Western peoples.

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

Neurosurgeon Raul Marino, a professor emeritus at USP's Faculty 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 minimal relation to words;
Analytical: decipher things sequentially and in parts; Synthetic: joining things together to form totalities;
It uses a symbol that is in place of something else. For example, the + sign represents the sum; List things as they are right now;
Abstract: extracts a small amount of information and uses it to represent the whole subject; Analog: finds a similar between different orders; understanding of metaphorical relationships;
Temporal: a notion of time is maintained, a sequence of facts. Do one thing and then another, etc .; Timeless: no sense of time;
Rational: draw conclusions based on reason and data; Not rational: it does not require a base of information and real facts;
accepts suspension of judgment;
Digital: uses numbers; Spatial: see things related to others and how the parts come together to form a whole;
Logical: draw 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 the other and that generally converge in a conclusion; Holistic: perceiving at the same time, 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.”

Conclusion of Japanese and Western brain research

What Professor Raul Marinho says is that the Japanese people stimulate the two cerebral hemispheres, taking advantage of all functions. This would lead the individual to be more imaginative and better able to resolve difficult issues in their daily lives, making them more resilient, resistant and creative in the face of difficult issues in life. 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, on the other hand, 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 use of the brain's hemispheres, as shown in the following figure:

Differences between the brain and Japanese and Western thought

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

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

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 is the association of the two worlds and getting the best out of each one. Thus, it is important for everyone to know that there are these cultural differences 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 brains?

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

The Japanese have more group characteristics and appreciate beauty more. As he works more with the right brain, he has a tendency to pay more attention to the “group rules”, that is, he has a tendency to dominate the whole and then execute it. That is why you take more care in decisions, in a way it slows down the process, but the “decision making” is more correct.

So, 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 in order to create new habits of reading KANJI.

After all, the same process as learning other languages, such as English, Spanish and other similar languages, does not fully apply to learning Japanese. It is necessary to develop another area of the brain, and for that, one must have patience and a lot of desire.

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