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Ms Chase
Ms Chase, Life Coach
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 2897
Experience:  Over 20 yrs experience with Relationships, Sexuality, Friendship, and Family Issues
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I have a question regarding Japanese culture, I need an expert!

Customer Question

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Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 9 years ago.

Hello Judi,

What is your question?


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I live with a very sweet 55 year old japanese lady, she has some issues that I need to know are of her culture. She has been very sick this past week, I have taken care of her, but I cannot get her to wash her hands after her bathroom use or cover her face when she coughs, she also won't turn on the bathroom light, day or night when she uses the bathroom! Is this commonplace with Japanese people (women)?
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 9 years ago.

Hello Judi,

When I was in Japan, I was very concerned about the fact that none of the public bathrooms I went in had soap....and I don't mean the dispenser was empty, I mean they had no soap or towels with which to clean your hands. Even when going to peoples homes, there usually wasn't soap available in the bathrooms. (I carried hand sanitizer and wipes). I still wouldn't be so quick to say that it's a cultural thing, since I didn't go into every Japanese home, and I also know many American homes or public restrooms where I didn't see soap as well. I was told that many Japanese carry soap and hand clothes with them.

If you could explain to her about transference of fecal matter, and how germs can go from the hand to the doorknob, counter, faucet and then get on someone else's hands and make them sick, or even make her sick just by being on her hands. Perhaps you can put antibacterial wipes in the bathroom and she can at least wipe her hands when she's done. You can use antibacterial wipes to wipe the counter and faucets before using as well. I noticed a few Japanese that still carry handkerchiefs, so maybe she would cover her mouth with these if she had some?

Perhaps a night light that would stay on in the bathroom whenever it got dark, something bright enough to see by would help? Regardless of culture, it's very hard to change older people's habits. However she has to realize that it's not just her living alone and she has to show respect to you as well by not making you sick. When someone is sick, washing their hands can be the difference between just that person being sick, and everyone is the house being sick.

I hope this helps. I welcome your thoughts, let me know if you want to talk more.


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I have explained all the above to her, told her that I don't feel she respects me, when she does not wash her hands, trying to shame her into doing it, then I feel guilty, that is why I have asked you.
I care about her, she was a friend of my mom's who just past in June. She is very good with my dog & cats and feeds them and does all sorts of nice things. I have even decided to leave my home to her (I am older) because I know that she will always take care of my animals, when I cannot trust anyone else when I pass.

Your suggestions about antibacterial wipes is a great suggestion, I will do that.

If you could ask a Japanese person, especially about the bathroom lights?
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 9 years ago.

Hi Judi,

I have spoken to my Japanese friend Hino as well, he said that the light thing may be a habit from someone who grew up poor and may not have had lights/electricity. His whole family washes their hands after using the bathroom, and before eating. He said it's different with different people, same as in the US.

I don't think that you should feel guilty, when someone lives in your home, they should respect you and that may be the only way to get your point across. It's especially nice when you can find someone that helps you and helps take care of your animals, I know how important that can be. Thats very nice of you to think of leaving your home to her.

Even if you talk about it once or twice, if she doesn't change, then just keep bringing it up. Some people need gentle reminders, and that's ok.


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