Japan: A Culture of Humility & Respect – The Walking Anthropologist

 In General

Japan: A Culture of Humility & Respect –

The Walking Anthropologist


People often speak of cultural diversity and inclusivity. I often wonder if people actually mean these words or not.


To me, these are not just words.

Culture is made up of people.

Human Beings.


For me, the only way to truly understand and relate to people of different cultures is by fully immersing myself into the culture.


Learning the language and the people’s ways is the only way to fully relate and work towards a harmonious world.


This photo below is from a small traditional city in the Japanese Alps, Takayama.

Takayama has maintained the traditional ways of Japan, within a population of about 80 000 people.


Three years in Japan taught me a lot!


Japanese people are naturally humble, and people are often shy to speak to “Gaijin”, aka foreigners.

Generally speaking, the Japanese will not talk to foreigners unless they feel comfortable with you.

If you are willing to learn the language and the ways of the people, they will be very kind to you, BUT you have to make the effort FIRST,  AND you have to be respectful of the Way.


The Japanese people are primarily Buddhist & Shinto (meaning ancestors are very important).

Without our Ancestors, we would not be here.


Teaching in both Japanese corporate environments (Epson Japan) and kindergarten, we all had a beautiful symbiotic relationship where I learned from the people. I taught what I knew, appropriate for the particular environment.


Japanese people are very grateful when a foreigner goes to work there because they know you’ve left your family behind and gone to their country.

Family and community are highly valued there, so leaving your family to work in Japan is highly appreciated; as long as you behave in a respectful manner.

Here is a photo of the entire school population.



These children were wonderful & wouldn’t sit down for a photo until they had me in the centre.
They all wanted to sit around me on my last day.❤

The school president (Yasushi Nakajima) wrote a beautiful reference of which the most important words are,


“She is able to guess what the children want.”


I don’t guess…I feel.


For a Japanese school president to say I was highly respected by all the teachers really means a lot to me.

Respect & humility is of primary importance in Japanese culture.

I’ve had this reference for years, but to sit and read it now, and read;

“Our children totally trust her and are encouraged to try their best.”


Trust and encouragement are exactly what every person needs. ❤

It makes me smile to read, ” We have all been so impressed with her ability for finding exactly what the children need and enjoy. She is good at teaching them as well as letting them have fun.”


Children learn best by playing.


It’s how humans are designed and the actual job of children❤ Play-based learning is highly beneficial for children and how they learn.

Adults learn to become intellectual, disconnected within themselves and switch off feelings, but children are totally connected to themselves and feel their way through the world. ❤


This was a beautiful symbiotic relationship.

I learned to speak and read most of my Japanese language from these children. They would not speak to me in English unless I spoke Japanese first. Repeat after them first, and then they would repeat after me. We had a lot of fun together singing songs and playing, all the while everyone was learning together.


We all grew and developed in our own ways.

Including a little boy on the autism spectrum who refused to speak Japanese.


People thought he couldn’t speak, but once he met me, he chose to start speaking and wanted to speak with me.

He chose to learn the alphabet, colours, animals, etc., and slowly memorised everything and started speaking for the first time.


From English, he slowly bridged into speaking Japanese.


He was on the autism spectrum and had full awareness of his own choices. He just needed to feel comfortable to come out of his shell.

Once a week, he came out of himself and engaged the world around him with me. That little boy still has a place in my own Heart. I’ll never forget a little boy walking around holding my hand all day long. He was glued to me all day long and would cry if anyone tried to take him away from me.


Japan has a beautiful culture of Depth.


I Definitely miss teaching these children.
Kids are Open to Life itself.


Other than the children, I enjoyed working at Epson Hirooka.

The corporate way of Japan is to have an outstanding work ethic and be respectful of how things are done.

Thankfully in my case, I’m very dedicated by nature.


If I get involved with a project, I do my best!

That way, I’m naturally able to build a good rapport with people.


When I left, my students wrote me thank you letters, which I still have.

I am sentimental and keep every letter and thank you card from people.


So… Yukari Nakamura… if you ever read this. I still have your letter.


“You always gives us energy, a power to study, so I am always encouraged for studying.”

“We learned not to be shy to speak.”


Yuki Kasamatsu,  if you ever read this. I still have your letter.

“I really enjoyed talking with you.”

Me too, Yuki, I haven’t forgotten you.


Yumiko Iida, if you ever read this. I still have your letter.


“Your fascinating, energetic, empathetic personality; powerful, kind and funny, enchanted Miu and my family.”


Miu enchanted me just as much. And I will never forget your family.


Every single person I meet along my path of Life has a little place in my Heart with Humility and Respect for Humanity.


In the Here and Now I am still available for Online ESL classes if you would like to work with me. You are welcome to email me or contact me on WhatsApp.


The Walking Anthropologist


P.S People who travel content and Understand the world.

P.P.S The beauty of this pandemic is that it has FORCED PEOPLE TO REALISE just how connected this world really is!



Copyright Colleen Glennis McClure

P.P.P.S  Before you leave;  you might enjoy reading BUSHIDO AND TRADE AGREEMENTS


Looking forward to working with you in Dundas, Ontario or online.


+1 905 902 3106

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