Scott asked in TravelAsia PacificJapan · 9 years ago

She said "You are nice like a Japanese." What the heck did she mean by that?

I was hanging out at the English Cafe on campus earlier today when a few new girls came in and I had to talk to them and stuff. After a few minutes, one girl said "You are very nice! You're like a Japanese!" (Japanese: Yasashii ne! Nihonjin-ppoi!") I just took the compliment at the time, but someone else I was talking to later said it seemed like a strange compliment and perhaps slightly backhanded towards most Americans (if "nice" makes you "Japanese"). After all, we wouldn't really say to someone in America "You are very nice! You're like an American!"

What do you think? Was it a backhanded compliment or perfectly okay?


Someone else just told me that her making that compliment is like a black person in the South being told "You're so nice! You're like a white person!" Is that an accurate parallel?

10 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Um.., I think you think too much. Or you just need to generalize how Japanese people are described commonly in the world. --> 1. polite 2. quiet/ modest 3. hardworking 4. neat .... etc.

    Yeah, (sorry, lol) I can imagine you wouldn't really say to someone in America "You are very nice! You're like an American!"

    So, "a black person in the South being told "You're so nice! You're like a white person!"

    is another story. It depends on how people think of the ethnic group "stereotypically".

    As for your story ("You are nice like a Japanese."), you can take it as a compliment, absolutely! If the girl had found you like a "typical American" (e.g. loud/ argumentative), she wouldn't have said that, for sure..

    ---------- or,

    if you were too shy to express yourself, the same phrase would turn to be backhanded....


    My very first impression from your story is YOU kind of BROKE her stereotypical image of Americans, and made the girl say "Yasashii ne! Nihonjin-ppoi!"

    In MY case, when I talked with a male American on business phone a long time ago, I seem to have broke his image of (quiet/ reserved) Japanese women (as I was annoyed by his attitude, I became a bit aggressive) What he said is "you're like an American woman!!" This is the opposite case from yours...

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    That's kind of a bad thing if you're trying to get with the girls. Most Japanese girls that date outside of the Japanese race are looking for a stereotypical rugged White American or some European pretty-boy. They want something new. If they say that, then it could mean that you're being friend-zoned. Don't fret though: White guys can still have friends with benefits in Japan.

    Source(s): Black guy that used to live in Japan. I was told that too, and it meant that any chances of trying to get with her romantically were squelched. Japanese women don't like Black men anyway though.
  • Quinn
    Lv 6
    9 years ago

    It can be taken either way, although I do not think in this case it was a deliberate slight. Each culture has a different idea of what it holds in high regards and therefore the compliments are relative to that perspective. Having manners or being polite is highly regarded in Asian cultures, and in this case the girls may have been referring to your mannerism or sense of etiquette that makes you "like a Japanese".

    Compared to Eastern society, the norm in Western society tends to come off as brusque and rude. While in the west, forthrightness, candor, and directness are view as desirable qualities, it is viewed in most cases as vulgar or boorish from an eastern perspective.

    Another point you should consider and one I have noticed very prevalent in the US, is that if an American of Asian descent should speak English fluently and behave in mannerism like a white person, he is often asked, "Where were you born?", "How long have been in the US?". Or, "Where did you learn to speak English?" That could be taken as a backhanded compliment, too, could it not even if it was not meant to be?

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Everything in Japan is a back-handed compliment. They all use innuendos and implications. Talking like Yoda on crack cocaine.

    What she meant to say was "You are no too bad, for a rude, barbaric, inconsiderate, worthless American."

    It's OK, she probably still wants you.

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  • 9 years ago

    I have to agree with the Rhubarb and Freud on this-"sometimes a cigar is just a cigar". It's a compliment, take it for what's it's worth. I really doubt if the young lady in question meant to throw some heavy sociological/political baggage your way.

  • 9 years ago

    Why see it so negatively?

    Think of that as being two separate thoughts, both meant to be compliments.

    She said that you're nice. Then she said that you're like a Japanese.

    Maybe think of it as being "and" as opposed to "because".

    She's not saying that you're nice BECAUSE you're similar to a Japanese. She's saying that you're nice AND like a Japanese.

  • 9 years ago

    don't think to much, it's just a compliment and a good one i belive. Perhaps the way you speak, your atitude, or how you behave have been like japanesse, and that's the meaning of the compliment. And it's seems a spontaneous one.

  • 9 years ago

    Regardless of the circumstances, Japanese will be very, very polite. Even in the face of someones anger, they will be polite and apologize. For example say a Japanese man is standing in line and someone runs into him and it's clearly the other person's fault, the Japanese man will apologize profusely as if he were the one who bumped into the other person.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    japanese people are considered the nicest human beings in this world. thats why.

    Source(s): common sense
  • 9 years ago

    I think she was just being racist.

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