J-List side blog: "I'm always interested in Japanese who recognize the limitations of Japan's more structured society and find ways around them. One person I knew had finally gotten into Aoyama University in Tokyo, a prestigious private school, after years of preparation and study. Once in the school, he found...nothing that interested him. It's common for Japanese university students to study very hard to pass a school's entrance exam, then play around for four years while they wait to graduate, and that's what he saw happening. So he dropped out -- how scandalous! -- and restarted his university career in Oregon, enjoying a much broader education in the U.S. and perfecting his English in the process. America is very much an open plain, with little in the way of established social grooves that people feel they must move through, as in Japan, and this suited my friend very well. One of the famous sayings in Japan is deru kui wa utareru, or 'the standing nail will be hammered down,' meaning that people who stick out will usually be brought into line with social norms in the end. If you were to make a list of Japanese who have done really outstanding things over the past century, I'm sure you'd see that most or all of them were very much 'standing nails.' I'm sure my friend will do great things in the future."
21 minutes ago