The following conversation took place at a cafe in Yokohama between myself and a Japanese private student.
Student: how are you?
Me: I’m ok. My back hurts a little, though. How are you?
Student:I have ummm 肩こり.
Me: A shoulder ache?
Student: Yes. Japanese get this kind of pain often. Do Americans get 肩こり too?
Me: … (waiting for a sign she is pulling my leg…none was forthcoming)
Student: you know, a pain in this area… (she shows me her shoulder blades)
Me: Are you serious?
Me: sorry…日本人論 (nihonjinron) still catches me off guard sometimes. Ummm, yes Americans get shoulder aches, too.
Me: yeah…The idea that Japanese are unique humans.
Me: Yeah, (I point to the glass of water on the table) imagine if I said Americans like ice water. Do Japanese like ice water, too? What would you think?