In English, it is called a “white lie”: the not-quite-true fabrication, or shading of the truth, that is designed to soften what would otherwise be a. Why don’t Japanese people always say what they mean – Honne and Tatemae. It is sometimes said that the Japanese are not frank, that they are hypocrites or. Abstract. This thesis is an anthropological investigation of one of the double codes in Japanese society; honne meaning the real self or true feelings and tatemae.

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Exploring an area of the Japanese psyche: Contemporary phenomena such as hikikomori and parasite singles are seen as examples of late Japanese culture’s growing problem of the new generation growing up unable to deal with the complexities of honne—tatemae [ citation needed ] and pressure of an increasingly consumerist society.

The public use of this dyadic concept began in the post-war era.

And then much tatemas my dismay, one of the participants who hadn’t had much interaction with Japanese up until that point asked the following: What can Japan learn from Hong Kong to improve the level of English comprehension?

Yumi Nakata Japan born, US educated, language teacher.

A lot of people are doing it in America too. Having lived in America for some time now I can see how the concept of Honne and Tatemae is odd to foreigners. Articles needing additional references from December All articles needing additional references Articles that may contain original research from December All articles that may contain original research Articles with multiple maintenance issues Articles containing Japanese-language text All articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases Articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases from May All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from July Articles with unsourced statements from June Articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases from August Not much you can do, other than start to suspect that nobody is tatemxe being straight with you, ever.

At the center of all the deceit, not tatemmae, is the need for self-preservation and — benefit. Matt Erik Katch says: This article has multiple issues.

More to the point, tateemae Japanese are notoriously group-minded, and no one wants to stand out from the crowd. For example, many people have heard that it’s common in Mexico to be told that something will happen manana literally, “tomorrow” when in actuality it isn’t likely to happen until long after that.


July 17, at This was actually quite a cultural shock to me when I first moved to America. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations. Japanese social concepts and values.

When a friend of mine invited me to her house for Thanksgiving I emailed her to ask if they were really expecting me to show up. I look back at it now and cringe. Compliments may be a way of being nice, but they may also be a way to manipulate someone into favors.

It really depends on the situation when its being used but as a foreigner sometimes its hard to figure out if its tatemae or not. Japan is a very small collective society. June 25, at 6: Honne and tatamae jostle with each other through every conversation in Japan, each participant assessing what needs to be said, and how, and internally weighing what can be said and what must not be said.

This is not a typical Japanese attitude, and in order to fit in, the Japanese may say what is required to appear a part of the group, while simultaneously believing, or knowing, themselves to be thinking quite the opposite.

Honne vs. Tatemae – Japanology

But Japanese are just so phonyso fake. Good article…I enjoyed it. This is complicated tatsmae many Westerners particularly, since many aim to be unique, to rise above the crowd. Nobody wants to have a different opinion nor stand out, and hence under the pretense of social decorum, stay protected behind tatemae.

So you know that Japanese have hoonne concepts of honne and tatemaethen what do you do with that? Although there might not be direct single word translations for honne and tatemae in some languages, [ citation needed ] they do have two-word descriptions; for example in English “private mind” and “public mind”.

Honne vs. Tatemae

It is, arguably, a universal human solution to a universal human problem. I know people who were nearly destroyed by that, until they found me, someone with whom they can speak freely, because… well, I am not Japanese. This forced me to explain it to everyone in the room. The idea of conveying a “cover story” that is different from the true situation is something very familiar and common in the U. We are tateemae as to the amount of information we share so as to not offend or hurt the people around us.


What is true, and what is false then? Japanese girls are the worst. Just say what you really think some times. I manage a consulting firm that conducts many seminars to help non-Japanese better understand Japanese culture. Being a honnd had nothing to do with sex but a lot to do with psychology.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. The honne—tatemae divide is considered by some to be of paramount importance in Japanese culture. This article possibly contains original research. It would be extremely difficult to counter this until the honnee liar wins. And let’s think back to what we discussed before about indirect communication, how do you think that kind of question would work with someone who has an indirect communication style?

Japanese society Japanese values Japanese culture Japanese words and phrases Dichotomies. I find the higher up the education, social stratification ladder in yatemae US, the more likely one is to encounter similar behavior. A little while ago, I once had to break my own rule because a seminar participant who had read about it in a book asked me about honne and tatemae. This can be a matter not just of manners, but of survival in a culture that values group cohesion. Close-knit co-operation and the avoidance of conflict are considered to be of vital importance in everyday life.

And although Japanese like other indirect communication cultures do tend to sugarcoat negative information, it’s not as if Japan is uniquely a country of inveterate liars. They called it being polite and social. Delve deeper, and we see that consideration and respect for others may not be the actual underlying motive; there is more than meets the eye.

Such is the complicated mental chess that many Japanese social and work interactions require.