Moto: Coming to America

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            Moto is sent to Chicago to hire an American contracting company for his firm in Japan. He meets Mr. Crowell of Allmack to initiate the negotiation between the two companies. He expects Mr. Crowell to accommodate him with all the deference accorded to a valued future client and create for him a good impression of Allmack not only through its performance records but also through Crowell’s hospitality. Upon the first meeting, Moto wants to establish not just a business but also a personal relationship with Crowell. However, all his expectations are quashed as it becomes evident that Crowell is not aware of Japanese norms and mores when it comes to interpersonal communication.

            The “noise” in the communication process between Moto and Crowell begins the moment the Japanese becomes confused as to why Mr. Crowell behaves the way he does and he is left at a loss as to how to respond to the American’s behavior. Moto comes to the office straight from Japan expecting the American thinking that American culture is not way too different from his Japanese culture. He is wrong. The difference between Moto’s expectations and Mr. Crowell’s actual behavior is a “noise” which makes Moto uncomfortable and almost threatens the cordial relationship which he is supposed to cultivate with his visit. On Mr. Crowell’s part, meanwhile, his apparent lack of understanding of Japanese culture makes him unaware of the confusion happening within his foreign guest.

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            Moto’s present of a handmade doll is supposedly his way of creating the personal relationship with Mr. Crowell as the latter’s future client. Member of Japanese corporate organizations are more cohesive than their American counterparts. They treat each other like family in sharp contrast with the American’s polite and impersonal relationships at work especially with first meetings with business prospects. Moto’s dolls are also handmade kokeshi dolls made from special maple near his mountain home in Japan and he is hoping that it would be considered a special gift by Crowell who also comes from the hilly state of Vermont. But the American is not able to get the meaning behind the present.

            Moto is further surprised when Crowell pockets his card without even glancing at it. Instead of commenting on his position at KKD as Moto is expecting, Crowell starts boasting about Allmack, and talks about his beautiful house and wife. To Moto, his credentials as Project Director translate to years of hard work which deserve deference, but Crowell doesn’t understand this. Americans call each other by first names. They are frank and talk about their achievements, in contrast to the Japanese who value humility and who, while they expect to be praised for their achievements, would not volunteer to tell these information to the other. Crowell’s remarks about Allmack threaten a loss of face from Moto’s perspectives because a Japanese company would not promote itself so vulgarly as if it is desperate to make a sale.

            At least Moto learns to understand the differences between his culture and that of the Americans when he meets Kubushevsky, an officer at Allmark whom Crowell assigns to help familiarize Moto with the company’s workings. At first Moto is wary of Kubushevsky because of his strange name and his polite and impersonal attitude. He is also surprised at Kubushevsky because he does not hesitate to tell him that he is planning to leave Allmack and calls Crowell a “dog”. Kubushevsky provides a contrast to the high value that Japanese has on loyalty. Eventually, however, after going out with the American for drinks, Moto realizes that in American culture one’s personal life is distinct to one’s work. Efficiency is more important than the kind of person one is. Once Moto and Kubushevsky become friends instead of simple co-workers, Moto learns to like Kubushevsky the person. When his Japanese superiors from KKD comes to America themselves for the contract signing, they too, experiences the same uneasiness and embarrassment that Moto felt during his first day especially during the instance when Allmack’s female lawyer argues with KKD’s male lawyer (a scene that would be scandalous to the Japanese). But Moto, after spending some time in America, has expanded his ability to understand the differences between the two cultures.

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Moto: Coming to America. (2016, Sep 14). Retrieved from

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