Social Question

erichw1504's avatar

What are some examples of social indicators of respect and disrespect in the Japanese culture?

Asked by erichw1504 (26336 points ) October 13th, 2009

What is respectful and disrespectful when interacting with people in Japan? How is their culture different from ours?

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12 Answers

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

First, you can’t just address someone without a proper greeting.
Always treat elders with respect.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

From what I have studied of their culture, it is a culture where shame goes a long way in keeping order and structure in society – for example, when someone commits a crime, oftentimes, it is enough for them to write a handwritten note of apology to the person that they committed the crime against, because the very act of apology is seen as embarrassing and reason enough to never commit the crime again – police, in Japan, are supposed to be looked to for support, not fought with…in terms of societal relationships, it’s all about hierarchies and your greeting is to indicate your proper social order, elder above young, man above woman, etc. Gift-giving is also an essential part of Japanese culture and there are whole centers set up to make sure you properly gift wrap a present according to your place in society…this is infused into everything…their culture is very interesting, the Japanese are good at taking elements from other cultures and making them ‘their own’...they are also famous for their baseball but play it differently from us…read this book it’s called “You Gotta Have Wa” by Whiting if you want to learn more

http://www.amazon.com/You-Gotta-Have-Robert-Whiting/dp/067972947X

LKidKyle1985's avatar

tottemo omoshiroi Beauvoir-san

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@LKidKyle1985 well I wasn’t trying to be funny (unless that meant something else, I don’t speak Japanese)

the100thmonkey's avatar

omshiroi can mean “funny” or “interesting”

Telling a Japanese person flatly that they are wrong, or that you don’t want to do something is blunt at the very least – Japanese tend to speak more indirectly, and almost never either give negative feedback if it’s not their place to (i.e. if they’re not your boss) nor say “no” directly – you hear Japanese people say “it’s difficult” a lot; this is a good way for them to indicate they don’t want to do something without saying so.

Basically, the Western “action-oriented” approach to interaction is considered vulgar in Japan. They prefer to feel each others’ positions out and communicate in a much more minimal, indirect way than English speakers tend to.

Darwin's avatar

The appropriate bow and greeting is always expected. The depth of the bow depends on the social ranks of both the person bowing and the person being bowed to, and there is a fine art to bowing the right amount (or ever so slightly the wrong amount) to express your true opinion.

the100thmonkey's avatar

@erichw1504: can you clarify further – are you interested in native < > non-native interactions, or native < > native interactions?

erichw1504's avatar

@the100thmonkey I guess mostly native < > native, but either would suffice.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I said very interesting Mr. Beauvoir. I don’t really speak it either any more. just took it for a couple of quarters at my college.

Kayak8's avatar

Your question is really too broad to answer. Is there something in particular you want to know more about? I used to live in Japan (went to high school there) and will take a stab at anything you want to know about specifically, otherwise, my head spins with similarities and differences . . .

I also have a lot of Japanese friends that I can run things past if you are out of my league.

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