Monday, March 29, 2010

It's the break between school years, which means I'm in the office all day instead of at schools.

Although I'm not teaching English right now, I still want to use my blog to regularly teach about Japan. So for the next couple of weeks, I'm going to try to post every other day -- either a post about an aspect of Japanese culture that I haven't mentioned before OR a short story, such as this one...

Bless you!

One day at Misaki Jr. High school, the social studies teacher sneezed.

Without thinking much about it, I immediately responded with, "Bless you."

"Blesshoe??" asked the teacher.

"Bless you," I explained. "It's what we say in America when someone sneezes."

The other teachers were also interested in this bless you business. They had several questions that they asked me through Nakano Sensei, the English teacher...

Why do you bless someone who sneezes? Are you asking for God's blessing? Is it something only Americans do? Do you always bless someone when they sneeze, even if you don't know the person? How did this get started?

"Ummm. Let me look it up so I can give you accurate answers..."

So I did. And then I did my best to explain the different ideas about the origin of blessing someone who sneezes.

But my point is that I'd never in my life thought that much about my habit of saying "bless you." I've always thought of it as just the normal way of responding to a sneeze.

I've learned that things that I perceive to be normal aren't necessarily normal in Japan, and vice versa. Living in Japan has made me look at America and my own culture/thinking from a different perspective -- from the outside looking in -- which has been interesting.

1 comment:

Lauren said...

This is very interesting because I too say Bless you out of habit and never really knew what it meant! I love reading your blog because I learn something new every time!