The Japanese are convinced that they have come a long way in modernization and westernization since the Meiji Restoration. Compared to other Asian countries, there is a wealth of up-to-date information about the West in Japan.

However, when a Japanese is asked a question posed by a non-Japanese, it is not rare in many instances for a Japanese to cock his or her head and say, "That's something I've never thought about."

For example, when knocking on a door to someone's room, the Japanese, without even stopping to think about something that comes naturally to them, would knock twice using the knuckle of their middle fmger while Westerners would knock three or four times. The Japanese show little interest when asked why only twice and are unable to come up with an answer.

The Japanese do not question why the Chinese also knock three times. In Chinese, "Are you there? is written in three characters, Knocking three times is a form of non-language communication corresponding to the three characters. The Japanese however, are unable to give an answer to the question, "Why two times?"

In a similar vein, the Japanese refer to a green traffic light as blue. Perhaps due to this influence, there are cities where the green looks so much like blue that one is tempted to call it blue. This is perhaps due to the fact that in Japanese, there is no clear distinction between blue and green. These examples depict a subtle complexity in the questions posed by non-Japanese reflecting a cross-cultural gap. There is a great need for the Japanese, who have become modern and western in their outlook, to field questions themselves to clarify these baffling queries.

1 To Puzzling Features of Everyday life and Customs in Japan

2 Puzzling Manners and Behavior of the Japanese

3 Puzzling Tastes of the Japanese

4 The Puzzling Character of the Japanese

5 Puzzling Features of the Company in Japan

6 Puzzling Features of the Japanese School System

7 Puzzling Features of Weddings and Funerals in Japan