Nowadays, a lot of people share about Japan and Japanese people on YouTube. It’s informative and interesting, but I found most of them are positive things. So, I’m going to let you know the negative side of Japanese people.
This is totally my personal opinion and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of other Japanese people, but you will probably find some of the traits in Japan.
I would say this is the biggest problem. We are so risk-averse and thinking like failure is definitely a bad word, so we end up doing nothing.
Historically, we have had local strong community to manage our life, mainly agriculture. In the community, you are not supposed to do something different from other people. Even nowadays, many of us still have the mentality and attitude.
In fact, you’re gonna find that you can’t talk about something controversial even if you actually want to talk about that. Because it might cause argument and conflict, which we hate that.
On top of that, we are not really open to new ideas. It’s like living inside a closed shell, unwilling to expose ourselves to new opinions even if we know we should do it. We are so afraid of taking a risk.
It’s actually no surprise considering the fact that we have 42,000 years of history on an island nation, and we rarely allow immigrants.
I’m not saying being conservative, playing safe, not taking a risk is always a bad thing. In most cases, however, I would say it’s really really a bad thing.
Maybe you also view risk-taking negatively as a dangerous and even unwise act. Sure, it doesn’t always pay off, but success never comes without taking a risk.
Think about any successful person, such as Soichio Honda, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Harland David Sanders (the KFC guy). Walk Disney, Einstein, Darwin, Newton, etc.
They failed A LOT, right?
Take Henry Ford, for example.
His first businesses all failed horribly, and he was left completely broke five times before seeing any kind of positive result.
Akio Morita, founder of Sony is another example. His first product was a rice cooker. It burned the rice, and sold less than 100 units.
This is one of the common things of successful people. They constantly test out a new idea and willing to take a big risk. None of them is conservative and just sticks to the old idea. They often completely screw up in the beginning, but their strong persistence makes them be successful in the end.
Nobody gets a big success without a risk. And if you are too conservative, you can’t think big.
My worry is that more Japanese people become too conservative and don’t step out of the box, in the result, the country will horribly lack talented individuals just like Steve Jobs.
Most discriminations in Japan happen mainly because of this.
Sorry, I’m actually no position to criticize this, because I also consider myself as a narrow-minded person. (That’s why I sometimes really hate myself so much..) But I think the environment of Japan made me so narrow-minded person.
Don’t get me wrong, narrow-minded people are not necessarily a bitch. They just have a limited experience and sphere of thinking.
In most cases, however, it gives you a bad impression. In fact, some people hate us because of the trait.
If you live in Japan, probably you already know that we tend to generalize everything, and quite judgmental just based on the color or nationality. It’s like seeing a dozen things the same way we found the first one on TV or movie.
That being said, I believe that narrow-mindedness is not a permanent condition. We just need to start working on our thinking habits by interacting with a wide variety of people. As Japan is accepting more immigrants and getting diverse, hopefully, Japanese people (including me) can see the world more widely and openly in the future.
Speaking of diversity,
As you you know, Japan is one of the most homogenous countries in the world, ethnically and culturally. Everyone is Japanese everywhere, except a big city.
I know diversity isn’t always good. It could cause a lot of miscommunication, misunderstanding or even racism. However, I personally do think that the lack of diversity will hurt Japan a lot.
One of the benefits of diversity is that increasing creativity. If you work with people from different backgrounds and experiences, you can see things more widely and come up with more creative ideas and methods of solving problems.
In fact, Harvard Business School professor Roy Y.J. Chua said,
“The more your network includes individuals from different cultural backgrounds, the more you will be creatively stimulated by different ideas and perspectives.“
– from Working Knowledge
To become open-minded and think more creatively, you need to talk with a wide range of racial and ethnic backgrounds, regardless men or women, older or younger, whether the person is gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or anyone.
I believe that diversity can inspire creativity and drive innovation, and eventually allows an organization to offer a broader and more adaptable range of products and services. In another words, it will help Japan be more productive and grow economically.
I know there are pros and cons. Actually, maybe pros are more than cons. It could bring high productivity, efficiency and discipline to the team.
I actually like talking with people and hanging out with my friends, but generally I prefer doing alone especially something important rather than doing as a group, so I didn’t really like a group work or project in the college.
In Japan, it’s not uncommon to see kids always try to hang out with somebody and even go to bathroom together. School teaches in that way. Even adults feel pressure that they have to belong to a certain group in any situation and keep the head down.
As a Japanese proverb say 出る杭は打たれる – “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down”, the society tells you not to do something different from the group member.
The peer pressure is very strong especially in school. That was constantly encouraging me to change the attitude, value, or behavior to get along with the group, looking back on my school days.
We play golf because others play it. We holiday in Hawaii because others do..
I know grouping makes us feel safe. That’s actually a human desire to find safety in numbers. When we belong to a group, we feel warm, safe, and content. When we don’t have a connection with a group, our brain triggers behavior that will compel us to seek new connections until we can get that bliss response again.
Group mentality is definitely a good thing as long as it’s moderate. But, sometimes it causes lack of responsibility and people make less effort to achieve a goal, because it’s so easy to rely on somebody in a group environment.
More importantly, it can prevent creativity and uniqueness.
I believe that you can develop your own identity only when you separate from the group and differentiate yourself from other people. Your identity should not fit the mold of anyone or anything else.
You can be different. Actually, I think you should be different.
This does not mean you have to isolate yourself or act like a jerk, so nobody wants to be around you. Connecting with people and fitting in with a group are completely two different things.
What I mean by that, you should take time to figure out who you really are, what you want, and how you want to live your life. You don’t have to conform to the other people.
Trust me, when you choose to truly be yourself and stick out, you will eventually attract people who are truly like you, much more than when you were trying to align yourself with the opinions of those around.
I believe that you can be “Not Give a Fuck” mode while communicating well and making strong connections with other people. You can be yourself while being respectful and modest at the same time.
You just need to be careful about the delivery.
I hope you take a stand and define who you really are and what you want before sticking to the group.
Having all said that, I really like Japan and am grateful for living here. I would say good things are definitely more than bad things.
I fucking love my country so much.
But I wanted to share the opinion before you come to Japan, because it’s very likely you come across those traits as you make friends in Japan.
At the end of the day, every country has different culture, and the people behave and think differently. You just need to accept different things and adjust yourself accordingly. Let’s stop complaining and try to see the bright side. Trust me, so many awesome people out there!
Thank you so much for taking your time to read this post. If you like it, make sure to share to your social media!