Friday 3 September 2010

The aisatsu snub

I didn't realise why I had enjoyed August so much, but it was all made clear this morning, as I made my way through the crowds of yochien mums and their uniformed offspring to drop Ash off at kindy, it came to me that August had been aisatsu snub-free and it was great!

Aisatsu (greetings) are very important in Japan, if you fall within the realm of the aisatsu net, you MUST do it, I think if you don't, some device will explode under the spot where you are standing. And you know, I'm down with the aisatsu, I think it's nice for us humans to interact with each other once in a while.
What I don't like, is the intricate web of aisatsu rules and regulations that get confusing when two institutions are close together. Let me explain myself a bit more better like... For example, aisatsu at work are a must, you MUST say good morning to every member within your immediate department. But then how does it go for other floors?? Or people in the elevator?? This is where the aisatsu area gets a bit grey. In my case, seeing as though my workplace consists of yours truly plus a few bugs and whatnot, this isn't a problem anymore. It confused the hell out of me when I worked at a big company though, but I just lived up to my 'cheery Aussie' persona and aisatsu-ed the fuck out of any bastard who walked by.

The pickle of a dilli-o that I have now, is the kindy vs yochien aisatsu battle. EVERY kindy mother, pms-ing or not, will ALWAYS do aisatsu, it's a little annoying actually, especially when I'm standing in the genkan waiting for Ash to get his arse into gear and look at the bugs and stuff, I have to aisatsu about 50 bastard mothers before we actually get in the classroom. But I can deal, the thing I can't deal with is the yochien mothers. I don't actually think that they're all bitches, it's impossible, I think it's just some unwritten code that the kindy mothers and the yochien mothers are not obligated to interact with each other. Problem is, the kindy and the yochien are right next to each other, and when I'm aisatsu-ing a kindy mum, there will be a yochien mum right next to me. Am I seriously just supposed to ignore her because her kid is wearing a uniform and mine isn't?? Madness!

So, after thinking on this I thought, fuck it, I'm just going to share the aisatsu love with everyone within a reasonable distance of the kindy/yochien who is walking with a kid. Sounds reasonable right? Wrong.
I'm upsetting the balance obviously, because about 70% of the yochien mothers will either mumble a good morning back or not respond at all. How fucking rude!
I'm was contemplating going with the sheep and sticking to my own kindy mothers to greet but I figure someone needs to break this ridiculous trend of only greeting a certain group, and why not the gaijin with her crazy international friendliness ideas!?

I think I'll add a special twist for the bitchy mums though, a hearty "OHAYO GOZAIMASU UP-TIGHT FUCKER!!" should suffice, no...?


  1. Wow i'd be interested to see the comments on this one.
    Hilariously enough, the two mothers who dropped their kids off while we were signing up for her hoikuen were both blond Russian hostesses dressed to the 9s for work.

    No aisatsu for us!

  2. Ahhh! What do these words mean? Give us a primer on what a yochien and hoikuen are!

    Obviously in the US we don't have the same kind of social obligation tied to morning greetings, but I do say hello to everyone in my office in the morning. I like it, too! I also greet strangers that I pass on the way to my office if they make eye contact. It bothers me when I get nothing in response but the blank stare.

    I'd greet the yochien mothers if only as a marketing strategy for your new school!

  3. To Lisa - someone correct me if I'm wrong - in Canada we would call hoikuen daycare and youchien preschool. Hoikuen is for mothers who work only and usually goes from early a.m. to evening, whereas youchien ends about 2-2:30.

    Lol, I so understand what you mean about the aisatsu. When my daughter was in youchien she took a bus everyday and I was excellent with the aisatsu with the bus teachers and other mom's at the bus stop ;). But occasionally we would have to pick up after a field trip or something at the school. I think the rule there was aisatsu with any mom's who have or had a kid in the same class as your kid, and any teachers, but no-one else. I knew some of the mom's from the odd conversation here and there, but most of them I had no clue if their kids had been in a class with mine (I had probably seen them once or twice during the year but I am dreadful with faces), and decided to be on the safe side and aisatsu anyone who looked vaguely familiar. When I got it right I could tell, other times I got pity aisatsus, and often unrequited aisatsus left me feeling like a dork. Even worse was when someone I felt sure I had never seen before would say, "M-chan no mama, ohayo gozaimasu!" Just way too much stress attached to greetings here for me :)

    T in Tokyo

  4. Hoikuen = daycare (what Corinne called Kindy)
    Yochien = preschool or kindergarten and it goes for 2, sometimes 3 years.

    That is ridiculous that some of the yochien mum`s do not do ohayo back! I mean you made the effort so they should the stupid bitches.

    I live in an apartment above three shops- a clothes shop, a hardwear shop and a remote control toy shop (!)- the clothes shop and hardwear shop always have people out the front. I always say ohayo to ANYONE I see and the clothes shop people ignore me but the hardwear shop boys are all up for a good ohayo! One guy stops me EVERYDAY to see Noah and say "Wow he is growing" EVERYDAY! It is nice though.

    ps: Someone asked me the other day when I was going to teach Noah to bow so that he could start doing aisatsu when people great him (you know how some babies do that when they want to say "doumo"