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Is PDA frowned upon in Japan?


Japan has a unique culture that is both fascinating and intriguing. Known for its politeness, discipline, and respect for others, Japan has its own set of social norms and expectations. One of the most interesting topics is public displays of affection (PDA). While PDA is common in many Western countries, it is not universally accepted in Japan. In this article, we will explore whether PDA is frowned upon in Japan, and if so, why.

The Cultural Context of Japan

To understand why PDA may be frowned upon in Japan, it is essential to understand the cultural context of the country. The Japanese culture is known for its emphasis on harmony, respect, and dignity. There is a strong sense of social order, and individuals are expected to conform to societal norms to maintain this order. This context plays a significant role in shaping attitudes towards PDA.

Japanese Snack Box

The Perception of PDA in Japan

In Japan, PDA is often perceived as an invasion of personal space and an act that disrupts social harmony. Japanese people tend to avoid drawing attention to themselves and prefer to maintain a low profile in public. Therefore, any behavior that is perceived as flamboyant or attention-seeking can be seen as disruptive and inappropriate.

Cultural Differences in PDA

Cultural differences in PDA can be attributed to varying levels of acceptance of physical touch and intimacy. In Japan, physical touch between strangers or acquaintances is generally avoided, while physical touch between couples or family members is more acceptable. However, even among couples, the level of physical touch allowed in public differs from what is acceptable in Western cultures.

Expectations of Japanese Society

In Japanese society, there are certain expectations placed on individuals regarding their behavior in public spaces. These expectations include showing respect for others’ personal space, behaving politely and courteously towards others, and avoiding behavior that draws undue attention to oneself. These expectations also extend to couples who are expected to behave appropriately in public settings.

PDA and Social Norms

Social norms play a significant role in shaping attitudes towards PDA in Japan. The Japanese society places a high value on conformity to societal norms and expectations. Any behavior that deviates from these norms can be seen as inappropriate or disrespectful. Therefore, couples who engage in PDA may be viewed negatively by others who adhere strictly to social norms.

Historical Context

The history of Japan also plays a significant role in shaping attitudes towards PDA. In the past, Japan was a conservative society where public displays of affection were not allowed. Even today, remnants of this conservative attitude remain, especially among older generations who view PDA with suspicion.

Changing Attitudes Towards PDA

In recent years, there has been a shift towards more liberal attitudes towards PDA among younger generations in Japan. This shift can be attributed to various factors such as exposure to Western culture through media and globalization.

PDA and Gender Roles

Gender roles also play a role in shaping attitudes towards PDA in Japan. Women are often expected to be demure and reserved when it comes to physical touch and intimacy. Therefore, women who engage in PDA may be viewed negatively by others who believe that such behavior goes against societal expectations.

Public Space Etiquette

Public space etiquette is an integral part of Japanese culture. It dictates how individuals should behave when they are out in public spaces such as parks, restaurants, or train stations. Couples who engage in PDA may violate these etiquette rules and attract unwanted attention from others who believe that such behavior is inappropriate.

The Role of Media

The media plays a significant role in shaping attitudes towards PDA in Japan. In recent years, there has been an increase in the portrayal of romantic relationships on TV shows and movies. However, the portrayal of such relationships tends to be conservative and avoids explicit scenes of physical intimacy.


In conclusion, the question of whether PDA is frowned upon in Japan depends on various factors such as cultural context, societal expectations, historical context, gender roles, and media influence. While there has been a shift towards more liberal attitudes towards PDA among younger generations in recent years, the conservative attitudes towards it still remain prevalent among older generations. Ultimately, it’s up to individuals to decide whether they want to engage in PDA or not while respecting the cultural norms and expectations of the society they are living or visiting.

What countries is PDA frowned upon?

Public displays of affection such as kissing and touching can often result in disapproving glares, unwanted attention, and even harassment. This is especially true in Eastern and Southeast Asian countries like China, Japan, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand.

Why don t Japanese people show affection?

There are two main reasons why Japanese people tend to avoid public displays of affection (PDA). Firstly, privacy is highly valued in Japanese culture and not engaging in PDA can help maintain a sense of personal connection between couples. Secondly, some individuals may fear being seen as lacking in public morality and may not want to make others around them uncomfortable.

Is it OK to hug someone in Japan?

In Japan, physical touching is considered impolite and is generally not practiced even among close friends and family members. Hugging and kissing are typically reserved for romantic partners. Kanako, a Japanese editor, mentioned that she has never hugged any of her family members as an adult, but she does embrace her foreign friends and not her Japanese friends.

Why is kissing such a big deal in Japan?

Different types of kissing exist around the world, but in Japan, only two types are traditional: romantic kissing between couples and kissing babies. Public displays of affection have historically been discouraged and are still not widely accepted, with kissing on the lips being viewed as a significant gesture.

How much PDA is inappropriate?

Anjali Mehra, a therapist specializing in relationships from Mumbai, advises that public displays of affection such as holding hands or a quick kiss are acceptable, but anything beyond that is inappropriate.

Is PDA normal in America?

Public displays of affection, such as hand-holding, hugging, and kissing, are widely accepted in many Western countries, including Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and Latin America.

Another factor that may contribute to the frowning upon of PDA in Japan is the concept of tatemae and honne. Tatemae refers to the social facade or behavior that individuals present to conform to societal norms, while honne refers to an individual’s true feelings or desires. In Japan, it is customary for individuals to keep their honne hidden and maintain their tatemae in public settings. Therefore, engaging in PDA may be viewed as a violation of tatemae and an act that goes against societal expectations.

Additionally, religion plays a role in shaping attitudes towards PDA in Japan. Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan, emphasizes purity and cleanliness. Physical contact between individuals can be seen as compromising this purity, which may lead to negative attitudes towards PDA. Moreover, Buddhism, which is also prevalent in Japan, emphasizes detachment and non-attachment to worldly desires, including physical touch and intimacy.

It is also important to note that attitudes towards PDA may differ depending on the region of Japan. For example, people in Tokyo tend to be more reserved when it comes to physical touch, while those in Osaka are more expressive and demonstrative. Therefore, cultural expectations and norms regarding PDA may vary depending on the region.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that some Japanese couples do engage in PDA but prefer to do so in more private settings. This may include holding hands or a quick kiss when no one is around. Therefore, while PDA may not be widely accepted in public spaces in Japan, it does not mean that couples do not engage in it altogether.

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