Wherever we live in the world, we all have our own unique cultures and customs. While we might take our own behavioral habits for granted, someone who comes from a different culture might see that same behavior as peculiar or somewhat mysterious. This time around we’ve collected a selection of opinions about foreigners’ views on the behavior of Japanese women. Join us as we reveal all below.
- Shy and bashful?
One foreigner surveyed pointed out that, “When Japanese women laugh, they cover their mouths.” While this is a natural custom in Japan (and in many Asian countries, with its roots in Confucianism) and demonstrates a lady-like demeanor, it can easily be misconstrued by Westerners where people are expected to be more open about their feelings. In this sense, some foreigners see hiding your smile as a sign of insincerity.
- Ladies first
A Japanese woman named Aoi wrote on Twitter about how it is generally considered polite in the West for the man to give precedence to the lady, with a “ladies first attitude” considered chivalrous. In Japan, however, this idea is far less common. Therefore, when a Japanese woman tries to adjust herself to the man, it can have the unforeseen effect of making her very popular amongst foreign men.
- Life is a catwalk
It cannot be said for everyone, but there is the general view among non-Japanese that a lot of Japanese women are concerned about being as fashionable and well-dressed as possible, whatever the occasion. For example, during a visit to a sightseeing spot, like an old castle, many Japanese women dress as if about to go for dinner, or even hike along a dirt trail in high heels purely because the excursion is, technically, a date. While it certainly isn’t practical, no one can blame them for wanting to look good can they?
- No signs of life at home
A man from Canada commented that when he visited Japan, regardless of the time of day, all the curtains were closed:
“Looking around at the houses, all the windows and curtains were closed. Just when I thought someone had opened their curtains to let the sun in, it turned out to be an empty house that was being renovated.”
I’m not quite sure what the man was doing peeking into the windows of so many houses, but this is an interesting observation nonetheless.
- Get to the point
Although it is considered common practice abroad to be direct and open in speech, in Japan, asserting something too strongly is looked upon as unladylike. Therefore many Japanese women avoid being too straightforward, and prefer a vague approach to answering questions. However, one man from Finland commented that, “Although the intention is to be kind, being too vague can give you the wrong idea.”
- Too many “thank you’s”
A man from China said that he was shocked at how frequently the phrase “thank you” was used by Japanese women. Apparently, in China “thank you” is used much less. He commented:
“The amount of times the phrase ‘thank you’ is used really is intolerable. There’s nothing wrong with the phrase itself, it’s just that overusing it makes me feel ill.”
- Smile and nod, smile and nod
One Russian woman commented that she found it strange that Japanese women smile when there’s something they don’t understand, especially when speaking with foreigners.
“I said something in English, however, the Japanese woman I was speaking to just stood and smiled at me even though she clearly didn’t understand what I was saying. It was all kind of confusing.”
Again, this is perhaps connected with the idea of not wanting to be too direct and trying to avoid being unkind. But really, who among us hasn’t pulled a smile-and-nod in the past when they have no idea what their conversation partner is saying to them? It’s better than them frowning and shaking their head at you, isn’t it?
There you have it. The actions of Japanese women from a foreigner’s point of view. What does everyone think? Do you agree with the above comments? Perhaps you’ve had an experience that suggest something different. Either way, let us know in the comments section below!