Misunderstanding with Japanese people? Top 2 cases -Let’s figure out!

Oct 23, 2022

Hi. Do you want to avoid misunderstanding with Japanese people? Based on the 3 crucial cultural points from the last article, I’ll introduce the top 2 cases. At the end of the article, you can check your current knowledge on the ‘Can Do List’.


You might feel ‘I could have avoided it if I knew these Japanese ways of thinking…’ So, I hope reading the cases will be helpful for you. Have you encountered one of the cases below?


<Case 1  ケース1>

I received the business card and I asked how to read the kanji of her name. As she said ‘Aoki desu.’I responded ‘Aoki desune.’by repeating what she said.


QWhat is the problem here? 何が問題だと思いますか。

A It is normal to call ‘Name+san’ in Japanese. This is well-known. However, you might forget to say ‘Aoki san’ just because your focus was on the kanji reading.


You can avoid this error if you understand that in Japan their name is as important as the person and ‘san’ is the way to show your respect to their name.


In addition, you can always apologise and say their name with san’ immediately after you realise your error. Japanese people feel better in this way.


This is Japanese ‘courtesy’ and very important in Japan. Everything goes well if you have this courtesy. By the way, sama is used as a more polite expression than ‘san’.


<Case 2 ケース2>

I am working in a team. I had to do a different task. I didn’t inform this change to other team members because it was my own task, everyone is busy and efficiency is important.


QWhat is the problem here? 何が問題だと思いますか。

ATeam focus is much more important than individual success in Japan. And all the team members share all the information as a united team. Individuals do their best as a part of the team. Therefore, you should share any information just in case. It can be sometimes useful for some members.


You can often create good results by sharing any information on the projects. This shows that you are working for the team and you gain more trust as well. As a result people see you as a great member.


Teams can be valued as rather respecting each member than supporting each other in Japan. Also, how to receive information is another key. You will gain respect by listening to other members with full attention, because this attitude shows respect to the speaker.

日本ではチームはお互いに「助け合う」というより お互いを「尊重する」ものなんですね。またチームの人から情報を受け取るときにしっかりと聞くことも大切です。そうすることで相手への「尊重」の気持ちが伝わります。

To summarise, ‘respecting others’ is the foundation of Japanese culture. You will be able to behave like the native speakers once you understand it in various settings.


Japanese people also understand that our culture is not global. But they really appreciate your effort when you try to show your respect to them. In this way, it is also easy to impress Japanese people.


If you want to check your current knowledge, please check the Can Do List.

今、自分がどの程度できているかチェックしたい方はこのCan Do Listをクリックしてチェックしてみてください。

We would keep supporting your further learning for your dreams.



「輝いて」Enrich your life!

Mineko Arai

Managing Director


Mariko Yamamoto

Business Japanese Professional Teacher


Arai Academy of Japanese Studies

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