A restaurant review by Makaila Puhrmann, KCP Winter 2018 student

Friendship the Japanese Way

People are individuals with different mindsets, cultures, and ideals. Having a multi-faceted set of friends enables us to open our minds and our hearts to see, feel, and experience beyond ourselves.

When travelling to Japan, you may meet people who will become lifelong friends. One way to make friends from another country is to understand their culture and some common traits.

Photos by KCP Summer Short-term 2019 student Yoshi Anderson

Indirect communication

Japanese culture and communication styles exhibit harmony. The Japanese are generally non-confrontational and rarely directly give negative responses such as insults, criticisms, or cause embarrassment to anyone. To present something disagreeable, they will usually do so using indirect communication. It may be quite difficult for some who are unaware of this custom to read between the lines. It is important to be able to discern body language.

KCP Winter 2019 Kamakura Trip

Hanging out with Japanese friends 

How Japanese people build their circle of friends might be different from how you do so in your culture. One thing that foreigners might be surprised about is that Japanese people tend to make their friend circles close and private.

Desmon Hickson KCP Class Trip GundamIn Western cultures, it is common to introduce your friends to other friends beyond friend circles. For example, if you are with your friend and plan to have dinner with another friend from a different friend circle, you might invite the friend to dinner together and introduce your friends to each other. If you plan to have a house party, you might invite all your close friends to one party regardless of which friend circle they are from. In this case, there is a high possibility of meeting friends of your friends and to broaden your friend circle, and everyone is open to this situation.

On the other hand, this is unlikely to happen with your Japanese friends. If your Japanese friend whom you are hanging out with plans to have dinner with another friend from a different friend circle, he or she is likely to say goodbye to you before dinner. This is because spending time with the person or the specific group of friends means showing respect to them and willingness to build or grow a stronger relationship with them.

When planning to meet up with a Japanese friend and you invite someone else from another friend circle, he or she might feel disrespected as the person thinks that you do not cherish the time with him or her. Therefore, it is always better to ask your Japanese friends beforehand if they feel comfortable when you want to invite someone else.