Sunday, July 22, 2007

On nodding

One of these little things I love about Japan is the nodding. Actually, it's more a quick and easy form of bowing for minor incidents of politeness, but its frequency of occurrence makes it worthy of mention. As you may most certainly know, the Japanese are quite big on bowing within almost any semi-formal to formal context (ie any context involving anyone over 20, anyone wanting a job, having a job, wanting to keep his/her job, etc...) as a mark of politeness and respect. However, there are many occasions where you want/need to impart a small mark of respect, but do not have time for a complete bow (or deem there is no need for one), so you give a polite nod. It happens all the time. Crossing the street and a driver stops for you? *nod* (and they tend to nod back). Make way for someone on the sidewalk? *nod* (ditto). Make room in the subway? *nod* Sit down next to someone? *nod* Interact with someone in pretty much any manner that doesn't involve physical violence (or unwarranted contact)? *nodnodnod*. I'm starting to feel like one of those little bobbing-head dolls that were all the rage a few years back (God I hope that fad has faded away into the nothingness from whence it came), but it certainly is nice to feel acknowledged... but not too acknowledged.

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