Gamesmanship - part 9

Know thine enemy

In previous chapters of this illustrious and indeed illustrated tome for the benefit of the gamesman in Japan, you have learned to deal with the native people and their ways in order to rise above them with the minimum of effort. Today we will examine that most loathsome of braggarts you may come across during your stay on these shores: the fellow countryman.

All your carefully constructed social positioning could come crashing down in the presence of someone of your own kind so every effort must be taken to establish immediate dominance over any and every intruder. Social superiority amongst expatriates in Japan relies on three distinct categories: longevity, employment and knowledge.

The first rule of social standing in Japan revolves around the number of years you have lived here and, more importantly, how many more you have lived here than your opponent. As this is a well-regarded social measuring tool it is not uncommon, upon introduction, to ask how long one has lived in Japan, so it is imperative you pose the question first. Whatever the reply is, you should chuckle knowingly and paternally, as if to fondly remember when you yourself were only here for so many years.
“10 years, you say? Haha, good lord. That’s quite a period, isn’t it? I remember my first decade well.”
Of course in the unfortunate event of being asked the question yourself before being able to gauge your opponent’s answer some wile may be required. To avoid giving a straight answer to which your opponent could unleash a rebuke of his own, you must wave the question aside, as if to indicate its irrelevance; when you have been in Japan as long as you have, of course, such trivial matters are of no consequence anymore.
“Oh my dear boy,” you heartily exclaim, “too long too long. I have stopped counting the years!”
Under no circumstances must you give an exact figure as confusion may arise during later meetings or when another person is introduced to you in front of your opponent.

Employment status too is an important indicator of class. Full-time employment at a Japanese firm is considered the highest honour, as opposed to, for example, part-time at a foreign company or English teacher. When the matter is broached the tactic is fairly simple. If your opponent is in a lower form of employment you must express jealousy.
“Oh, how I wish I was in your line of work. I don’t think the wages, stability and bonuses can ever justify the loss of freedom you must enjoy.”
Alternately, if your opponent finds himself a part of a Japanese firm, the opposite is required:
“Ah, the long hours, the frustration you must feel. I’m glad I have left that all behind me.”
In either case it must be made clear that your current situation is far preferable to your opponents’ and that your employment is a matter of choice rather than circumstance.

As for knowledge, the more intimate your acquaintance with Japan and its more obtuse cultural artifacts the higher you stand on the expatriate ladder. I find Stephen Potter, the originator and undisputed master of our craft, to have the best strategy, which works in Japan as well as it ever did back on the Isle, meaning of course the devastating Canterbury block. The simple phrase “but not in the South” can put a halt to any conversation your opponent might be engrossed in. For example:
“I found that the Kansai people are friendlier and more open than those in Kanto.”
“Ah, yes, but not in the south, of course.”
Or
“I find a well-prepared fugu sashimi to be infinitely more delicious than any toro or hamachi.”
“But not in the south.”
This phrase can be adapted slightly for more in-depth knowledge, as for example:
“I always found Takehiko Inoue’s bold characterizations speak directly to the Japanese consumer making his work incredibly popular.”
“Ah, but not that of his middle period, of course.”

With a few swift strokes and maneuvers the gamesman in Japan can as quickly establish dominance over his tiresome countrymen as he can over the native population. Of course, like the Canterbury block, most original gamesman techniques apply when sparring with a fellow Briton, but caution must be observed when conversing with the wide variety of the lesser couth foreigners that inhabit Japan alongside, or rather, below you. One can hardly expect an Australian or, Heavens forbid, someone from our American colonies to have the wherewithal to effectively receive an Oxford pincer or Wodehouse leg, so always observe the highest caution in your choice of techniques.

8 comments:

  1. Forgive me for being ignorant of british terms, but what is an "Oxford pincer" or a "Wodehouse leg"?

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  2. Of late, posts like this have been few and far between...makes them much more enjoyable, I guess. Thanks JC!

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  3. Just went back and read all the gamesmanship posts...hilarious.

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  4. ガーデニングThursday, April 16, 2009

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