Cultural Differences Between the USA and Japan

There are many similarities and cultural differences between the USA and Japan. Japanese and American culture are different in many ways. So, if you decide to hire reliable moving company for moving to Japan, you have to know what to expect.

Before your international relocation to Japan, you should read and learn more about Japanese people. Especially, if you are going to live and work in the best cities of Japan.  Also, before you move a business to Japan, you should know what are cultural differences between USA and Japan in business.

So, you should read our guide for cultural differences between the USA and Japan.

Japanese people are more formal than Americans

Maybe you already know, Japanese people are more formal than any other nationality. In all Japan, especially, in Tokyo, people are “colder” and reserved than most places in the United States. In Japan ideal customer service is formal, but in America, it is the best to be warm and friendly. 

in Tokyo, people are “colder” and reserved than most places in United States.
Japanese people are more formal than Americans

For example:

When you are speaking with Japanese people, they stand far distance from you.

All people are reserved and more formal than Americans. So, if you want to chat with strangers on the street, in Japan it is not possible. These are Japanese cultural differences in communication.

Also, in Japan, you can’t be too direct. It is considered rude also like body language. In America when you talk with someone you can look directly in his/her eyes, but in Japan, contact eye can be uncomfortable. So, this is one of the main cultural differences between the USA and Japan.

Japan – homogeneous society

The USA is made of people from many countries. But in Japan, you can find just Japanese people. The population of Japan is 98%ethnic. So, Japanese people see their culture as homogeneous. They are expecting that anyone knows the traditions and rules of society.

Japanese people bow

Instead of shaking hands, Japanese people bow in many situations not just in greetings. They are bowing when apologizing and thanking. So, when you decide for Japan relocation, be aware that in your new country you should bow not shake hands. Also, if you are going to Japan for business, you can expect to bow deeply, much more than in casual greetings. The bow is a sign of respect and is common between strangers.  So, now you know that this is the one of the biggest American and Japanese differences.

this is the one of the biggest American and Japanese differences.
Instead of shaking hands, Japanese people bow in many situations not just in greetings.

No tipping in Japan!

Tipping in Japan is rare. It can be even insulting. Unlike America where tipping shows appreciation for good service. Like in many countries in the world, tipping is a necessity. But, forget about it when you move to Japan.

Space in Japan is more precious

Sizes of apartments and houses in Japan are usually smaller than in the USA. Also, yards are really small or even they don’t exist. But, Japanese people know how to use and maximize space.

Gender roles are strict in Japan

Gender roles in Japan are very strict. They are a very small number of women politicians. Also, in the companies, women should quit a job when they decide to have a family. They have to stay home to be mothers. Also, the rules and concept of masculinity can be very strict. In America, rules of gender are not so much strict and all genders have the same possibilities and rights.

Cultural Differences Between the USA and Japan
Gender roles in Japan are very strict.

Social hierarchy is important in Japan

Relationships between junior and senior are very important in Japan. If you are moving to Japan for college you should be aware of hierarchy especially in school clubs. So, senior is the mentor for the junior. These roles don’t exist in America. And roles based on accomplishments are not respected always.

What are the main cultural differences between the USA and Japan?

Individualism in the USA vs. collectivism in Japan

Japan is a collectivist culture. Japanese are focused on groups. Citizen in Japan is pride when he/she found a place in the group. Japanese people want and tend to work with one company for all life. Loyalty is valued, and roles are more serious. In the United States, people are more individualistic. Americans tend to find satisfaction in their own accomplishments. In America, people focus on own careers, and they change companies when they need to. Family ties are not strong like in Japan. Family members in Japan tend to live together in the same house or close by for a long time.

Respect and authority in Japan vs. freedom of speech in the USA

In American culture is important freedom of speech. It is basically right when we are talking about authority.  In Japan, is a lot more hierarchical? Younger respect elders and their wisdom and they are listening to the wiser in the family. Elders are highly valued in Japanese culture. In America is more important that younger people have also freedom of speech like elders.

Elders are highly valued in Japanese culture. Younger respect elders and their wisdom
Respect and authority in Japan vs. freedom of speech in the USA

The role of nationalism in Japan

Japanese people are very nationalistic. But, Americans are more political than Japanese people. USA citizens want to be part of political questions. Japanese maintain a lot of pride in their peaceful, post-imperialist culture.

Discipline and punctuality in Japan

The Japanese work ethic is absolutely remarkable. Citizens of Japan are very hard working and highly punctual. A great example of this is a public transportation in Japan. Train in Japan is never arriving later than it was scheduled.

Like you see, there are many cultural differences between the USA and Japan. If you decide to move to Japan, with Kokusai Express you will learn some more about cultural differences between the USA and Japan. Lifestyles, living spaces, and public transportations are different in these two countries. If you compare the behavior of Japanese citizen with an American you will find many differences. So, learn more about Japan before you move there.

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