Here’s an interesting cultural difference: In Japan, when faced with a difficult situation or obstacle, people don’t say “Good luck!” They say “Ganbatte!” which vaguely translates to “Do your best!” I think it’s interesting, because it changes the ownership of the situation. The situation may be difficult, but you can endure, persevere, and most importantly, do your best.
When my students face a big exam, they say “Ganbaro!” You might remember from the other day, but the “ro” ending often implies a forcefulness a long the lines of “I’ll do my darn best, gosh darnit!”
When I had my performance at the Graduation Party a few weeks ago, I was told countless times “FIGHT-O!” During the school Marathon, while cheering on my students, many of them responded with “Do my best!” “Fight-o!” and “Yes, we can!” All of their responses included personal ownership of the situation.
It seems a bit reminiscent of Yoda’s “Do or do not, there is no try.” I think trying is important, but I really appreciate the idea that when faced with an obstacle, you have power over the situation, rather than some vague idea of luck.
Another thing that I love about Japan is of course, animation. Here‘s an awesome collection of various animators who have drawn messages to the people of Japan and posted them on their blogs or Twitter, encouraging them to do their best in these difficult times. がんばって、日本！