If the Japanese are so shy, modest and self-conscious, why are the guys in my gym quite happy to be seen admiring their own naked bodies?

What makes it acceptable is the habit of standing around starkers in the onsen hot spring changing room to let the heat disipate and the moisture not mopped off by the tiny towel dry off. If you are doing it front of the mirror while clenching your stomach muscles, well, same difference…

Why are there plenty of young Japanese kids with fairly light bright brown hair but few older people?

According to a letter in the Japan Times, kids with naturally brown hair are treated like they are as rebellious as those that dye their hair that way, and might even be forced to dye it black to look more natural/standard. That could be a factor, as could hair naturally becoming darker as you become older, in the same way as I started blond and cute and then to my horror turned ginger as a teenager…


Any other theories?

Why do Japanese girls and boys turn out so different, despite having the same upbringing?

“Girls fare better;they tend to like intense one-to-one relationships. But boys crave independence.”

Hence, according to his explanation, maza con [マザコン-mother complex.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why do the Japanese choose such dull coloured cars?

“This phenomenon is a direct result of pigment shortages due to import restrictions imposed by the government more than 20 years ago.”

From this post in the An Englishman in Osaka blog. Read the rest of this entry »

Why is a bit of cleavage still so daring in Japan?

 It’s at least partly the danger of low cut becoming very revealing when you bow

“The nail that sticks out gets hammered down”

This overwhelming favourite Japanese proverb amongst Japan watchers is a MYTH. If you have ever seen a Japanese school teacher or mother at work you can instantly see that there is no hammering going on. The nail that sticks out is indulged until it decides it would rather not stick out after all in case that indulgence disappears.

See the Japanese Myths section for more Nippon stereotype busting.

Why is normal to see cyclists crossing a pedestrian crossing on red, but much rarer to see a pedestrian do the same thing?

My personal theory is that being a pedestrian is being part of a group and so the usual Japanese social pressure to conform exists, whereas the route, speed etc of cycling is totally individual and therefore you are totally free. As a pedestrian in Japan, it is also possible to switch off totally just by following the person in front, so jumping the lights or even looking at them can just seem like a pain.

Why do the Japanese sometimes make noises of major physical exertion when they do something as small as stand up?

or If working hard is such a big part of Japanese culture, why do they make sure every knows how much effort they are making?

“Hard work is its own reward” only makes sense in an individualistic Northern European or American setting. Partly for the same reason, “Don’t worry, I enjoyed it” is not a standard response to “You must be tired after that hard work”

Why are the Japanese so obsessed with their kids being genki (energetic, lively)?

Thailand is quite similar. It could it be an inherent trust in the good nature of kids due to Buddhism having no concept of original sin, or an understanding that lots of energy (more than lots of original ideas) is what they are going to need in their future educational and working careers. Alternatively it could be because rebellion and mental health problems in Japanese tend to come out as being lethargic and withdrawn

More on Japanese families and education on pages on the right