Why the Japanese don't say their opinion

Why the Japanese Don’t Say Their Opinon

When I speak with a Japanese person, I often get “the stare”. The reason for that isn’t that I like telling them that my favourite Japanese food is the California roll, but rather that I like telling my opinion in a straight way. And the Japanese aren’t used to that. So I soon realised that Japan isn’t the country where you should do that. So in this post I’ll tell you the reason for why the Japanese don’t say their opinon and how to correctly say your opinion in Japan.

The Japanese Don't Say Their Opinion

Why the Japanese don't say their opinion

In the first few months of my exchange year, I thought that Japanese people don’t express opinions at all. Whenever I asked a friend, my host mother or literally anyone about their opinion, the only answer I ever got was “Uhm…”, “Well…”. Which basically means nothing. At least to me.

But when the Japanese hear “Uhm…” they know exactly know what the other person means.

I gotta admit, we in Europe also don’t express our disapproval by saying “I fucking hate that”. Well, we do, but not when we speak to someone we know or at least we try to. You should get my point. People in Europe and America are directer than people in Japan.

To give you an example of what I mean let me talk about a short conversation I had with a Japanese friend of mine. He was drinking something called tapioca. I don’t know how famous it is outside of Japan and what the difference between normal bubble tea and tapioca is but I personally don’t like it. So when my friend who was holding this drink asked me if I liked it, I said “Hell no!”.

My friend then just looked at me and after about ten seconds he just said “Well I like it… It’s quite popular in Japan right now…” I think I must have hurt him with my straightness.

Why the Japanese Don't Tell Their Opinion

Ok, maybe I was a bit direct when I said that I didn’t like his cool drink with black bubbles in it. And maybe the correct thing to say would have been “Uhm… Well…?”. But I was just a stupid Gaijin who didn’t know how to behave.

In Japanese, there are two sayings. 空気を読む (kuuki o yomu) and 一を聞いて十を知る (ichi o kiite juu o shiru). The first one literally means read the air and the second one says hear one understand ten.

If you are as creative of a person as I am and guessed what those could mean you end up with the reason for why the Japanese don’t say their opinion. It’s like “reading between the lines” but now you are reading between the eyes of the person in front of you and also have to somehow think about what you want to say without sounding like an idiot. But unlike me, the Japanese are masters in that.

And the Japanese do tell their opinion. They just express opinions in a different way. Rather than being direct and causing conflict, the Japanese formulate their opinion as indirect as possible. When two Japanese people talk with each other, both of them are spending the whole conversation trying to guesstimate what the other person wants them to say (read more).

And because opinions in Japan are stated indirectly, people there get caught off guard when suddenly a wild Gaijin appears and yells “I fucking hate that!”

How to Say Your Opinion the Japanese Way

If you want to state your opinion in Japan, do it indirectly or simply lie. That’s how they do it.

How to Say Your Opinion the Japanese Way:

  • Instead of “This tastes bad” let’s just lie and say “OMG This tastes AMAAAZING!”
  • When you hear a foreigner speak one word of your language say “Omg your Japanese is sooo good”
  • If you don’t care what the other person says, simple say  “なるほど”  (I see)
  • And if your boss asks you to work overtime everyday, simply say “No problem at all :)”

By following these simple rules, we end up with the most peaceful and happiest society on earth.

Why the Japanese don't say their opinion

What could possibly go wrong?

Tell Me Your Opinion!

Please don’t be as indirect as the Japanese and tell me your thoughts about this post in the comment section down below. You can be as direct as you want 🙂

“Why the Japanese Don’t Say Their Opinion”

why the Japanese don’t tell their opinion

why the Japanese don’t tell their opinion

Related Posts

why the Japanese don’t tell their opinion

Further reading: Why Japanese People Lie

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6 Responses

  1. I enter your website regularly almost every day. You have some great articles. I Love Your Suggestions. Thanks.

  2. Absolutely you’re right, I think so, and it’s giving me some stress and affecting my mental health, and I’m afraid to lose myself in society.
    BTW, I just found out accidentally this blog and articles are interesting, I’ll read regularly. Thanks, keep going.

    1. Thank you! I‘ll try to continue writing interesting articles.
      And don’t let yourself get stressed too much 🙂

    1. Hahaha thanks, finally someone noticed it lol.
      Maybe it would be better to put the link in the very last sentence but yeah.

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