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Japanese culture and human relationships

Updated: Apr 27, 2020


Amongst Japanese clients of mine, human relationships are often times brought up as a problem. As I am from Japan, I know that the culture focuses on human relationships and harmony in the society.

As I heard as a customer service manual in convenience stores in Japan that employees are not supposed to talk to the customers other than greetings in the store.

The reason why the employees shouldn’t talk to the customers is simply those customers would stop coming to the convenience store when employees talk to them other than greetings.

Why? Because once the employee talks to a customer, it begins human relationship and Japanese people feel like obligated to be especially nice to the others.

Up to the personal remark, the customer didn’t have to pay attention to the particular employee though extra care and niceness would be obligated for the customer and pressure him/her when the communications get personal in the store.

In Japan, it is custom that people are extra careful about human communications. There is no way for them to be selfish or not to pay attention to others’ feelings.

In Japan, people are out of self centered, everyone is ultra sensitive and pay attention to others’ feelings a lot.

In a famous movie of Kurosawa, Seven Samurais, the customs were described as farmers’ unique culture.

Japanese farmers were to traditionally stay in one place and farm together with others in the village, unlike western people hunted and moved the locations in their livings in primitive eras.

Basically Japanese people were originally farmers who stayed in same place with the same people so they developed the idea of necessity to get along with others in the village.

Of course reputation, other’s opinions and feelings should be mostly taken so seriously in the kind of culture.

In modern society, we take vacation when we get tired of human relationships and dealing with stress.

In the sense, Japanese people care too much of others who would cover them when they are out of the office for the vacation.

Some people often times feel guilty to take vacation and the guilt would keep them from complete relaxation on their vacation.

When Japanese people get stressed out in human relationships, they start avoiding others in their daily life.

However in Tokyo, I personally feel people’s eyes every where while I feel even easier in Manhattan New York.

It should be very difficult for anyone to find a spot to be alone in public in Tokyo.

When you feel like you want to avoid others and you don’t want to go to work, there is no way for you to take a day off or two. You keep showing up at work everyday while you feel like you don’t want to go at all.

Then your body would try to use a force quit because the stress simply gets too much at some point. That is somatic symptoms.

You may feel like stomachache or headache or even panic attacks when you try to go to work or school.

You mind thinks that you would slow down when you have physical symptoms and you may stop doing something you don’t want to do.

It is in subconscious level that your mind feels too much and try to keep yourself away from the stress at work or school.

When you want to shut off any human relationships, you may have syndrome of “hikikomori” or “Tokokyohi”.

Hikikomori is simply stop coming out from their own room and even not to see the family members in the household. Of course they don’t go to school or work or even outside of their room at all.

Tokokyohi is just stop going to school like a drop out. In Japan, this drop out happens even in elementary schools.

When they get tired of human relationships, there is nothing else for them to do rather than they shut themselves off from the world and as the end result, Japan has the syndromes.

Why are human relationships so troublesome?