Why is Japanese Shy? Cultural aspects of the Japanese shyness




What is your impression about Japanese?

Quiet? Polite? Shy? Hard-working?


Today I’m going to discuss Japanese shyness and I want to explain my point of view.




What is being Shy?


Does shy sound good or bad for you?

For me, it’s neutral.

It’s not matter of good or bad, but it is just one of the characteristics.


People might think shy individuals have low self-esteem, less confidence and social anxiety.

Some argue it is due to genetic factors, while others argue it is due to environmental factors.


I personally think it is due to environmental factors.

Because if I were raised in Canada or US, I might be more outgoing.

If a person was born in Canada and raised in Japan, for instance, he or she would probably have Japanese traits more than Canadian traits.


Of course genetic factors affect shyness also, but I think environmental factors are stronger.


Shyness as Beauty




When Canadians say “that person is shy,” I feel as if they say shyness is not a great thing.

Maybe I think too much and it is not true, but I feel that way.


If, for example, people say that I’m shy, I want to say to them that I’m quiet but not really shy.

I don’t talk a lot or I don’t shout.

That’s just my personality and I don’t change it just because I’m in Canada.


In Japanese, there is a word “hajirai” (恥じらい) describing someone being shy and shamed in a good way.

For long time, this has been one of the important concepts for girls.

If people say “that girl doesn’t have hajirai,” it means that she doesn’t feel shy when she is supposed to. And some think that’s not socially acceptable.


I guess Japanese (both women and men) have hajirai mind even when they are in foreign countries, so foreigners might think they are shy.




I can go on and keep discussing but I’ll stop now.

My conclusion is that Japanese are generally quiet and foreigners might think it’s because they are shy.

Yes, some Japanese are shy. So are Canadians.

We are polite, quiet and shy sometimes.

And I believe that this quietness is related to Japanese way of respect.

I’ll try to talk about this later!




 - Culture