Japanese Culture: Japanese Women
If women weren’t hard enough to understand, women from Japan make the already incomprehensible even more so. How do they accomplish this? Well before we begin let us with the same admonishment used in our Japanese Men article.
This is a snapshot of the stereotypical Japanese woman, with emphasis on stereotypical. As with any culture and people there is a generality however it certainly does not apply to all of its citizenry.
All things Cute
Starting off lightly, we have the topic of cuteness. It is something for which all Japanese girls and women strive for. Keep in mind this ‘cute’ is different from ‘sexy’ or ‘beautiful’. One can be cute without being beautiful, however one would still be ‘attractive’.
The Japanese concept of cute revolves around several points, some of which are:
- eye lash extensions
- pale lip gloss
- pastel colors
- lace, ruffles
- straw hats
- pink cell phones with veritable handfuls of accessories
- White skin, pink blush
- Flat buttocks (Yes its true. A ‘bubble’ but would be considered a negative in Japan)
- Wide eyes (eye surgery is not at all uncommon in Japan, and is in fact the thing to do. Japanese women in general are dissatisfied with their narrow eyes and look to women of the West as the model of how eyes should look
- Eye color contacts (Continuing on eyes, not only are they not happy with the shape of their eyes but are rather displeased with the color. They consider they have black eyes which have no interest or beauty)
- Modest breasts (generally there is no great urge of Japanese women for breast enhancement)
- Light brown hair color (Many Japanese women are bored to death of their dark brown and black hair color. And consider light brown, or blonde to be very cute)
The stereotypical Japanese personality is as follows:
A noticeable inability to stick up for themselves and speak their mind should they perceive something is wrong or disagree, and instead just keep quiet and ‘suffer’ through whatever it may be – this is their way.
This is noticeable in the society in general, when a Japanese is faced with opposition he or she will not seek to get his way and instead yield to the antagonist.
This can translate to a girl noticing that her boyfriend may be cheating on her, but she does not confront him, and instead tries to be a better girlfriend.
Also this can be seen in a social circle where a Japanese woman or girl is subject to bullying or unfair treatment. Her response to said treatment is to look within herself to find out what she is doing that is wrong, and seek to be kinder and a better person even if there was nothing that she did to precipitate the circumstance to begin with!
Their typical response to a bulling would be: “I don’t know what I did wrong to upset you, but I am sorry and I will do my best to be better”. And to repeat as above, they will say this even if they are in no wrong.
Of course there is always a breaking point at which so much injustice has been served to the person that they will fight back. Every person has their different threshold. Those of the West’s are markedly lower.
This propitiation is common but not always the response. Of course there are many ways to respond to conflict or threat, and the Japanese do indeed respond in just as many ways as those of the West, however there is an observable response of propitiation. It is known as the ‘stoic’ characteristic of the Japanese.
Japanese women and girls are tremendously kind, even to a fault. Whether this is the genesis of their propitiative response to conflict is besides the point (it most likely isn’t the source as logically, a positive thing like kindness could not be the source of something negative such as propitiation). Also, it is highly unlikely that they are being kind out of fear, so do not err in that supposition.
Their kindness presents its self in such things as offering to pay for the other party. Bringing treats or snacks to friends, whether male or female. Courteous behavior; smiling, being interested, not saying rude things, friendly demeanor.
One should be warned however that some people are just kind out of social duress and in actuality are displaying a façade. Getting to know the person will confirm this for you.
This leads us into our next point: Façade and Truth, or Tatemae and Hone
Honne & Tatemae (truth and facade)
In order to maintain harmony and prevent conflict the Japanese exercise the telling of social lies. However this is not uniquely Japanese, this is employed anywhere in the world.
For example, a girl got a new dress, and she loves it. She shows it to her friend. Her friend things its rather ugly and she responds “oh, its very nice”, on the contrary.
Or a girl shows a man her photo, he thinks she is not attractive at all, and he responds to her “you are very cute”. Of course he does not actually think so.
These examples are rather banal and harmless. However it can become extreme to the point where a friend secretly holds his other friend in spite, but he never tells him, instead he smiles and keeps being his friend, until one day he can’t take it and cuts him off, leaving his friend completely confused, because as far as he was concerned they had a great relationship. This is all in the effort to prevent confrontation. However the end result is dishonesty, deception and subterfuge.
Another example of the Honne & Tatemae would be room mate A asking the other room mate B how much she needs to pay for the electric bill of the month’s previous rent. B tells her she will check into it and let her know. But she never does get back and let her know. So then A eventually forgets about it, but all the while B never forgets and becomes offended that A never just paid her what she think he owed B. As that is what the responsible thing to do would be. Of course none of this is every communicated.
This could even go so far as room mate A following up and saying: “how much do I owe you?” And would be given the tatemae response: “oh no its ok, forget about it!” All the while room mate B is expecting her to just pay her flat out, not ask her how much she should pay.
This may be traced to the avoidance of telling someone that ‘you owe them X’ of something, and therefore the person just waits for the other person to pay them, without ever asking.
Keep in mind this phenomena is prevalent in both Male and Females, it is however included in this article on women.
As the society of Japan continues to evolve since its relatively recent cessation of the way of the samurai the old values are deteriorating. One of which is the submissive role of women. In modern Japan women are more and more wanting to steer away from motherhood and being a house wife and instead towards having a career.
Interestingly the lack of interest in procreation among Japanese has resulted in a shrinking population, the only country on earth which has less people each year.