Japanese National Character Clichés William Kelly, Yale University professor of anthropology and one of the leading scholars on Japanese society, identifies the following “Seven Deadly Clichés” about Japanese national character: 1. “Economic animals” (hard working, self-sacrificing; death by overwork) 2. “Selfless groupies” (self-effacing, group-oriented loyalists) 3. “Deferential subordinates” (hierarchically-inclined, consensus-seeking) 4. “Homogeneous society” (isolated and insular, fear of being different, fear of foreigners) 5. “Zen aesthetes” (reverence for nature, refined sensibilities, accomplished in arts} 6. “Inscrutable characters” (preference for indirect expression & the non-rational and intuitive) 7. “Imitators, not innovators” (always followers and copycats, never pioneers and leaders; imitative skill but not creative genius) Questions for Discussion What is “national character”? What are the fallacies of thinking in terms of “national character”? Do the cliché types above look familiar to you? Has your experience in Japan tended to support or disprove any of these clichés? What is the negative impact of thinking about the Japanese as these “types”?

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