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‘Skinship…’ – Italian Woman Reveals Quirky Observations About Japanese Culture

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do” – it’s an old adage that rings true when you spend enough time in a place. Even foreign residents in Japan can start to feel like they’ve become Japanese after a while.

So, we sat down with an Italian living in Japan to talk about their perceptions of Japanese people and the moment they realized they had started to resemble them.

Japanese people often have a reputation for being diplomatic and good at communicating their feelings, but what does our Italian friend think of them? We also asked about their observations of unique Japanese manners and customs. (Please note that all comments are the personal opinions of the interviewee).

main image: PIXTA

Bit shy but hardworking

Image: PIXTA

“Japanese people have the image of being very shy and hardworking. I don’t think they often express their opinions.”

When I asked an Italian about their image of Japanese people, this was the answer I received. It might be “just as I thought” for Japanese people.

It seems that there is an image of Japanese people being “shy” and “rarely expressing opinions”, which differs from the Italian attitude of clearly expressing their own opinions and the reasons behind them even if they are different from others.

Furthermore, as often heard, Japanese people also have the image of being “hardworking”. Although workstyle reforms are being advanced in Japan, it still seems to be depicted as hardworking from the Italian perspective. Of course, even as workstyles diversify, maintaining a serious attitude of focusing and working hard is something that Japanese people would like to keep as part of their national identity.

There are times when the conversation ball doesn’t continue

Image: PIXTA

“What I think is peculiar to Japanese behavior is the lack of skinship.”

From a Japanese perspective, many might perceive Italians as being close to one another, but it seems that the opposite is also true. In Italy, hugs and kisses on the cheeks may be common as greetings, so compared to these, Japanese people may feel overwhelmingly little skinship.

Additionally, from an Italian viewpoint, there seem to be some unique behaviors in how Japanese people communicate. For instance, “Japanese people may not always reciprocate in conversation. For instance, in a conversation like, ‘Do you like sushi?’ ‘Yes, I do. Do you?’ The Japanese person may simply answer ‘Yes’ without asking the other person their opinion. This seems strange to me.&qu…

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