Categorized | Opinions

Cultural Differences: Japan vs. America

By Mavis Brown

Japan is often considered more “Western” in culture than other Asian countries. Compared to the United States, there are definitely a lot of similarities, but Japan and the U.S. do have a large number of cultural differences as well. Though no people can be generalized and culture can vary from region to region, here are some things that might stick out to Americans living in/visiting Japan.

Japanese people tend to be more formal. People stand a relatively far distance apart when speaking, and last names with honorifics are used. An example can be shown in different approaches to customer service. In America, usual customer service is warm and friendly. In Japan, it is formal, waiters don’t usually stop by tables to ask customers how the food is and what their weekend plans are, and strangers won’t often chat while waiting for the bus. Physical touching is also somewhat uncommon in Japan.

Though America is made up of people from many different countries, the population of Japan is about 98% ethnic Japanese. Because most Japanese citizens have an identical ethnic and national identity, seeing people who don’t appear to be of East Asian descent can lead to instant assumptions of being a foreigner, whether tourist or temporary resident. This can affect society in the sense that because Japanese people view their culture as homogeneous, it is expected that everyone understands the traditions and rules of society.

Japanese people will often live with their parents until they get married. There is much less judgement about an unmarried person living with their Mom and Dad after college. It actually isn’t unheard of for newlyweds to live with one partner’s parents until they can find somewhere to live on their own.

Some information in this article may have beenĀ used from the following resources;,


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