Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Honne and Tatemae...

Though I may have been living in Tokyo for more than a year, the place is still one big mystery to me.

I may live here for a hundred years and I still probably wouldn't fully understand the Japanese culture.

Recently, one of the things I'm learning to understand/deal with is honne and tatemae.

Simply put, honne is a person's true feelings and desires (本音, "true sound") and tatemae is the behavior and opinions one displays in public (建前, "built in front", "façade").

It's a concept that I feel a lot of foreigners find difficult to understand.

To the outsider, it seems like being two-faced. To the local, it means being polite.

It's difficult to understand and I'm not starting to see this in the past few failed dates I've had. On more than one occasion, at the end of a date that I thought went well, the other guy would say, "Let's hang out again." "Looking forward to seeing you again."

Now, I know that they don't really mean it. It's just their way of avoiding conflict, or perhaps avoiding to hurt someone's feelings.

What I'm wondering is if they know that either way, they actually hurt another person's feelings. Hehe!

In any case, I feel I have to constantly remind myself of these two concepts. Maybe then I won't be as annoyed with some people. Maybe then I would move one step forward to understanding this beautiful country and its people more.

1 comment:

  1. Now I could understand better the reasons you felt rejected and disappointed. Honestly, I would say that this culture of Honne and Tatemae exists in the Oriental countries like China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea for over a thousand years. Of course, you will see more of this in your area esp where relationships are being tested.