Outgoing Japanese people

When Belgian people ask me questions about my stay in Japan, they often ask what Japanese people are like. From their questions, I gather that they believe all Japanese people to be quiet and introverted. When I answer that I actually met lots of Japanese people who were outgoing and easy to come into contact with, they react surprised. When I add that, in my experience, Japanese people are a happy people who laugh a lot, they look incredulous. I wrote about these prejudices more elaborately in the article ‘Japanese people are human too‘.

Today, as I was going through the pictures that I took when I was in Japan exactly four years ago, on May 21st 2012, I found a video that perfectly illustrates how outgoing Japanese people can be. I was visiting the indoor market in Kanazawa and noticed some live crabs laying on ice, who were still moving. As I stopped to film this fascinating scene, the vendor asked me what I was doing. I said that I was making a video of the crabs but that they appeared to have stopped moving at the moment. As you can see in the video, the vendor immediately reacted by prodding the crabs and placing some more lively ones on the ice. He even took a crab and held it towards the camera, which produced some screaming and hilarity.

This kind of spontaneous and humorous exchange was by no means an exception during my stay in Japan. It shows that Japanese people, just like people all over the world, can be outgoing and enjoy having a laugh!


13 thoughts on “Outgoing Japanese people

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  1. lol. yes, japanese people are humans too. just because we don’t know them and not familiar with their customs, this should not deter us from believing that they too like us. once a communication is established, especially when you are able to converse in the same language, you’ll find everyone all over the world is pretty much the same. which is why i think everyone should take time to travel, if they have the opportunity. there’s so much about the world we don’t know, but there also so much about the world that prove we all are pretty much the same.

    1. I totally agree. After having lived on three different continents, for one year each, I have also come to the conclusion that deep down people are the same everywhere. If more people had the chance to travel and expand their horizons, there would be less problems in the world I think.

  2. I was extremely shy when I was a boy (and still is, believe me). The openness of Japanese people to strangers seems to be regional: Osaka people are more open than Akita people are in general. Also the threshold for openness to strangers that Japanese people have seems higher than Latin people in general. This is generalization. Individual experiences may differ a lot. This is what I have learned through my experience in living as a Japanese in UK. Recently we moved from Cambridge to Ramsey, where people are much more friendly. This is true and it is also true that I have changed while being here for 20 years. The attitude of Japanese people to foreigners has been changing a lot since when I was a boy.

    1. Yes it is true that in the end, it always depends on the individual. But I find that Belgian people (and probably Westerners in general) hold strong stereotypes about Japanese culture and I like to show through my blog that these stereotypes aren’t always correct.

  3. Having lived in Belgium for 10 years and in Japan for more than 3 (still heavily connected to the country through my Japanese husband) I am surprised the Belgians consider themselves more outgoing than the Japanese. The majority of Japanese people I’ve met are outgoing, friendly, generous, excited to meet and befriend foreigners and especially in Osaka happily crazy. The majority of people I’ve met in Belgium were reserved, quiet and did not let people into their social circles easily.

    1. I totally agree with you. Many Belgians, in my opinion, are not very conscious of their own cultural particularities. I often hear foreigners in Belgium complaining about how hard it is to make friends with Belgian people.

      1. It takes living abroad for a while to become aware of your own cultural tendencies and to understand your guest country’s culture better. Not everyone is lucky enough to experience that :).

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