In my last article about the differences between a Japanese Mansion and a Japanese Apartment I was reminded of my initial lodgings here in Japan. Thinking back to my arrival at Narita Airport, I also remembered one of my first observations. While I was sitting there, waiting for the rest of my training group, I was just looking around and taking it all in. I remember seeing many of the Japanese families bowing to each other to say goodbye. What I didn’t see were the hugs, kisses, and embraces that I had become so accustomed to. It was bad that they were bowing instead, just different.
I think it’s definitely something I’ve noticed here in Japan. People aren’t as big on public displays of affection here, unless maybe you’re walking around in Kabukicho (I’ll save that for another post). Back home if a family is saying goodbye, or two lovers are about to part ways, they hold hands, hug, kiss, etc. I just thought it was a normal thing everywhere, but no two cultures will do things the same way. In Japan I am FAR less touchy, huggy, or feely than I ever was in the United States. I think in Japan (maybe most cultures for that matter), if an six-foot-two, 200+ pound man came rushing at you for a hug, I guess it would be a bit off-putting. I have come to terms with it, though. Japan is just not a super-affectionate society, at least openly, anyway. I’m sure it’s quite a different story when families get together, at weddings, etc., but I don’t know for sure…I’m learning as I go.
Which do you prefer? The open, public displays of affection that are characteristic of the West? Or the more subtle public displays of Japan? (I must admit, I fall into the former group).
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