How Japanese am I?

Created using Visme.

Japanese culture occupies a great part of my identity. Having immersed in a Japanese linguistic and cultural environment since my childhood, I was often told that I resemble a Japanese more than a Chinese.  Therefore, I decided to visualize the abstract degree of how Japanese-like I am.

Though cultures vary from one another, they share the same four components. These are the communication (languages and symbols), cognitive (beliefs and ideas), material and behavioral aspects. My data visualization was based on the data collection of these four elements underlying the vast majority of cultures.

I first recorded the time I employed Japanese in reading, listening, speaking and writing. On average I used Japanese for 4.78 hours a day in the past week. This was a discernible figure given the premise that I am studying in an English speaking country and my mother tongue is Mandarin.

The objects I own also demonstrated my intimacy with Japan. 30.7% of the objects around me were imported from Japan, surpassing the numbers of the objects from other countries including China, my hometown, and U.S., the place where I live. Hence my physical reality is well penetrated by the materialistic embodiment of Japanese culture.

However, I did not agree with Japanese ideologies as much as I expected I would. Among all the “Japanese ideologies”, I sorted out five of them that I deemed as the most typical (according to my own experience with Japanese people and Japanese society). On average I earned a merely 2.6 out of 5 in the test since I completely disagreed with two of the five socially accepted principles. It appeared that my mental and social pillar is still pretty much entrenched in a Chinese context.

The last component, behaviors, stumbled me as I struggled to come up with a decent way to visualize this facet of culture. Eventually I surveyed 24 people with whom I interacted in the past week, and I asked them whether my gestures and greeting styles made me look like a Japanese. The result again proved me right that I do resemble a Japanese.

From this data visualization, I concluded that Japanese culture has infiltrated my physical life, whereas my mind is still more intimate with my native land China.

Regardless of my effort devoted to this assignment, flaws could be found here and there in my data set. First of all, the data, except for the one regarding the linguistic component, were not collected on a daily basis. Though the data collection for my behavioral aspect took place over time, the data themselves do not reflect the gradual change over a period of time. Secondly, despite my firm belief that the normative statements I sorted out were the best representatives of Japanese ideologies, I could not eliminate the possibility of outliers since individual experience does not always correspond with cultural models. These were the two concerns I had during my data visualization project, and though I did not come up with a satisfying solution to them, this project did enable me to explore the capacity and constraints of different types of data. I employed bar chart, pie chart, ordinal scale and ratio scale in order to visualize my abstract statement in a multi-medium form. Each type of data has its own advantage, so the question was how to utilize them in a way that could best present the result. In spite of the numerous difficulties I encountered, I believed that I fully utilized the functions of the various kinds of data which offered me a clear articulation of how Japanese I am.

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