Japan is a fascinating country with a unique culture. But for first time visitors it can be a bit of a daunting experience. Thanks to Bizarre TV shows, some people have the impression that all Japanese are weird.
The truth is that there are lots of things to discover about the country! Let’s break down 7 Common Myths And Misunderstandings About Japan.
1. All Japanese are polite
One of the most noticeable things about Japanese culture is its systemic politeness. From walking on the left side of the path to using chopsticks correctly, politeness is everywhere in Japan.
Similarly, it is common to be early for business meetings because arriving on time shows that you value and respect others’ time. Furthermore, people will wait patiently for their turn in a queue. They will also count their change in front of the cashier to show that they are receiving exactly what they paid for.
In addition, the Japanese are very forgiving of foreigners who don’t know all of their rules and etiquette. This is because they understand that not all people are born with the same social skills. Just like how not all British people drink tea and eat fish & chips or how not all Americans love McDonald’s and doughnuts.
2. All Japanese are rude
As with any country, there are rude people everywhere. But not all Japanese are rude. There are some who are very kind and polite. It’s just that they aren’t as visible because of the stereotypes.
For example, many non-Japanese who visit Japan are shocked when they hear of Japanese people complaining about foreigners and being snobby in public. But these videos are mostly from comedy or humor shows, and are far from reality.
Some of the rude behavior is due to not knowing certain rules and customs. It’s normal for foreigners to not know all the ethics in a new culture, so the Japanese are usually forgiving. But some things are definitely not allowed, like speaking on your phone in public transportation or not using oshibori to wipe your face when you’re eating.
3. All Japanese are weird
Japanese people may have some weird beliefs about tourists from other countries thanks to prejudices and rumors that are spread by the entertainment industry. For example, many Japanese think that Americans are not hardworking. This is probably because they see a lot of people hanging around, playing games and eating cheeseburgers.
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In reality, Americans work very hard to provide for their families. And, contrary to popular belief, most Americans do not live in the same city as their workplace.
Another common misconception is that all foreigners in Japan are promiscuous. This is probably due to the amount of violent content in Hollywood movies compared to conservative forms of media in Japan. Most of the time, this is simply a misconception created by sensationalist news outlets.
4. All Japanese love anime
Anime is a big part of Japanese culture. You can find anime characters on billboards, posters, stuffed animals, food products and more. Anime is popular with both children and adults, and it can teach you a lot about Japanese society and history.
While there are some die-hard anime fans in Japan, to say that all Japanese love anime is a bit of a generalization. It is true that many Japanese people enjoy watching anime, and it can be a great way to relax and unwind. However, it is important to remember that anime is not real Japanese, and it will not help you learn the language. So be sure to stick with your textbooks and practice speaking Japanese! Also, it’s best not to compare yourself to the main character of an anime.
5. All Japanese women are submissive
Japan is often depicted as a very submissive society, where women do everything for their men. However, this perception is a little misleading. While Japanese women are generally very respectful and obedient, they do not give up their own interests or aspirations in order to please their husbands.
A lot of foreigners think that all Japanese women are childish, as the country has a strong culture of “cuteness” and an enduring infatuation with youth. But liking Hello Kitty and giggling does not mean you want to regress to your junior high school years!
Furthermore, people in Japan show their emotions much less publicly than in Western countries. So you may find that it takes some time for your date to open up and share her feelings with you.
6. All Japanese are rich
When you go to Japan, the first thing that strikes you is how rich it is: spick-and-span subway car floors you could eat off; Lexus LS cars on every street; restaurants packed with prosperous customers; kobe beef that sells for $250 a pound.
But the reality is that not all Japanese are rich. Many people work a lot and some even die from overwork.
In fact, it is rare to see a pedestrian crossing in the middle of Shibuya that’s not completely crowded with tourists. The reason is that the country’s HNWIs (households with assets worth more than $5 million) largely conceal their wealth, in line with the quintessential Japanese value of harmony. This keeps society balanced and peaceful, which is good for everyone.
7. All Japanese are beautiful
For people with a deep interest in Japan, learning about Japanese myths and misconceptions can be interesting and even help prevent cultural shock when traveling to the country. Especially given that Japan’s isolation from the outside world is so long and widespread, the local people may still hold some strange ideas about foreigners.
For example, it is commonly believed that all foreigners can be categorized as “gaijin” because they do not speak Japanese. This idea can lead to the assumption that foreigners commit more crimes than native Japanese do.
Another common myth is that the Japanese do not have individuality, because they are all oriented toward the group and strive to be harmonious with everyone. However, there are many aspects of the culture that promote individuation and individuality in addition to the focus on harmony.