Secret occupations.

Something I’ve learned from working at an eikaiwa is that many Japanese are reluctant to tell you the names of their employers. Not the people, but the stores or companies that employ them. You have to ask directly, and even then a very small number don’t want to tell you. They’ll sometimes get coy and say something like, “Oh, maybe you’ve heard of it,” only revealing it if you guess right. It struck me as odd, since (1) Americans will generally tell you who they work for unless it’s a really small company (and sometimes even then), and (2) Japanese tend to take pride in their work and their employers. I finally mentioned it to Satoshi, who suggested that it might be because they don’t want people to feel inferior if their fellow interlocutor(s) make less money than they do. He wasn’t sure if that was the reason, but it actually sounded pretty plausible (read: Japanese) to me. It hadn’t occurred to me it might be a simple class issue, though one with emphasis on the other person’s feelings.

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