Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Giri & Ninjou at the Japanese University

People often ask me what it's like being the only foreign prof at a J university. Normally, it is like anywhere else.

It's when the chips are down you see the differences.

Recently my uni went back to face to face but I refused due to my wife's health issues and my son's developmental issues. Basically, I haven't the energy to be a double careworker at home and ride the plague trains.

The response has been split along giri (obligation to work) and ninjou (intense humanity and empathy) lines.

When I made the announcement, my usually sunny supervisor called me irresponsible and terrible, and threateningly hinted at problems because the other profs didn't know what was happening. The dean noted I had gotten fat and told me to work more, then relented and told me to take care.

In response, I sent a mass email to everyone explaining exactly the pressures I was under, and got some sympathetic emails telling me they understood and to take care of myself.

Just now, an older prof I ran into shook my hand, hugged me, and wept openly.

So, these are the extremes you get here.

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