Personality traits valued in Japan

Moving to Japan is not easy for people from Western countries. The language is just first of many barriers. You need to figure out a lot of things – where to live, where to work, how to make friends, etc. However, figuring out Japanese culture might be one of the toughest jobs you will have when coming here. Their way of life, traditions and personality traits valued in Japan are so different from what you have run into before – it’s smart to be moving to Japan prepared. Lucky for you, you are not alone in this! There are thousands of people visiting Japan every year, and being flabbergasted by what they find. So, the best way to prepare for this is to read up on it. That’s why in this article, we give you some of the most valued personality traits in Japan!

What are the personality traits valued in Japan

One can ask whether the Japanese really are that different than other people. And if the first question is positive, then what exactly makes them that different? Well, the answer can be yes and no. Just like in any country you visit, really, you will notice that people behave differently in some way, and similarly in another. For example, everyone will agree that freedom is important to any person, just like happiness. The same applies to Japan, but there are different ways in which you can see this. But what can be said of Japanese people?

  • Well, politeness and kindness are maybe the most important personality traits valued in Japan;
  • They really value punctuality and hard work;
  • People in Japan might also seem to be shy;
  • They work well in a group.

Being polite and kind is important

Whenever people are moving to Japan from a Western country, they will note just how polite the Japanese are. This does mean you will be moving internationally with ease, but it might be surprising in some situations. For example, even though handshakes are now common in Japan, they will still greet you with a small bow (or a couple of them). The thing is – this does seem polite to you, but it’s a common thing in Japan. However, the Japanese can also seem to be too polite – or distant, even when they are your friends. This is just how their culture works.

Man offering to shake a hand.
Handshakes have only recently become common in Japan.

This politeness they compensate with how kind they are. And no one can deny that kindness is one of the personality traits valued in Japan. For example, when visiting a friend’s home, it is customary to bring a gift of food to them. Thinking of others is close to being polite, but make a difference of it and note it once you move to Japan.

Be punctual when moving to Japan

Everyone knows just how punctual the Japanese are. Their trains, for example, are world-famous as always being on time. They might even issue a slip you can take to your employer if they ever run late even a minute! This is why punctuality is one of the most important personality traits valued in Japan. Remember to always stick to the schedule when living here!

Clock - punctuality is one of the personality traits valued in Japan.
Be punctual in Japan!

A thing that goes along well with the punctuality is working hard – which is quite a common way to describe a Japanese person. Here, sometimes the job you have has priority over your family. This can be one of the biggest difficulties for foreigners in Japan to understand, but that is just how the country works. Sometimes, it might even be rude to leave on schedule! You should stay at least sometime after your shift ends.

Are people in Japan shy?

One of the most common things you will hear about people in Japan is that they are shy, or even cold. This has its own historical explanations, and it is really close to the notions of being kind and polite. You might say that this, however, is true even for the Japanese tourists, because you don’t see them mingling with other people. However, this is because they are afraid their language skills are not up to par with yours, and they might embarrass themselves (or insult you) with something they said wrong. Only recently have the conversation skills become a staple in Japanese schools.

Japanese people love group work

We already said a lot about the Japanese work culture. However, there is a great tip about personality traits valued in Japan that all people coming here to teach English should know. They love to work in groups! This is often frowned upon in Western countries because the work is never divided equally. However, the Japanese don’t like standing out and voicing their opinions alone. This is why, when working alone, they might seem like a fish out of the water.

A group project.
Japanese like working in groups.

Only in groups, they can share their opinions with peers. After that, the whole team can come up with a decision and present it to everyone. So, if you have a reading task, don’t single anyone out. Put them in pairs or small groups and have them read in turns. This will help you get a productive classroom ready to practice.

Cleanliness means goodness

Just like in the United States, being clean is important in Japan. However, it might surprise you to see Japanese tourists picking up someone else’s trash and tossing it out. This is because keeping things clean is amongst the personality traits valued in Japan. For example, they sometimes don’t even have janitors in schools! The students will grab brooms and sweep everything, or go around with trash bags to throw things out! That’s quite a big difference from the gum-ridden streets of big American cities, right?

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