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Why are people so quiet in Japan?


Japan is a country with a unique culture and traditions that fascinate people all over the world. One of the most striking aspects of Japanese society is the apparent silence and reserve of its people. Tourists are often surprised by how calm and peaceful Japanese streets are, even in Tokyo, one of the busiest cities in the world. In this article, we will explore various reasons for why people in Japan are so quiet.

Historical context

To understand why people in Japan are so quiet, it is essential to look at the country’s history. Japan has a long tradition of emphasizing harmony and social order over individual expression. During the feudal era, samurai warriors were taught to speak little and act decisively. This cultural value has persisted through modern times, making Japanese people appear reserved and introverted.

Japanese Snack Box

Education system

Another factor that contributes to people’s quietness in Japan is the education system. From a young age, Japanese children are taught to respect authority and follow rules. The emphasis on group work and cooperation in Japanese schools often means that students keep their opinions to themselves, contributing to a culture of silence.

Social hierarchy

Japanese society has a strong sense of hierarchy, with elders and authority figures commanding respect from younger generations. This hierarchical structure extends to workplaces, where subordinates are expected to show deference to their superiors. This can result in people being reluctant to speak up or express their thoughts openly.

Public transportation etiquette

Public transportation is an integral part of Japanese life, and there are unwritten rules for behavior on trains and buses. People are expected to be quiet, not talk on their phones, and avoid eating or drinking on the train. This cultural norm reinforces the idea that silence is golden, contributing to a quieter society overall.

Cultural norms

In Japan, there is a concept called “mottainai,” which means “what a waste.” This idea extends beyond environmental conservation; it also applies to things like food, resources, and energy. In this context, being too loud or expressive can be seen as wasteful or unnecessary.

Personal space

In crowded cities like Tokyo, personal space is at a premium. People are accustomed to living in close quarters with others and have developed an unspoken understanding of how to respect each other’s space. This can manifest as silence on public transportation or avoiding conversation with strangers.

The influence of Zen Buddhism

Zen Buddhism has had a significant impact on Japanese culture since its introduction in the 12th century. Zen emphasizes mindfulness, self-discipline, and detachment from worldly desires. These values can contribute to people being more introspective and less talkative.

Cultural aesthetics

Japanese culture places a high value on aesthetics, including simplicity, elegance, and minimalism. This aesthetic preference can extend to communication styles as well, with an emphasis on understatement and indirectness.

The power of nonverbal communication

Nonverbal communication plays an essential role in Japanese culture. People often use facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice to convey meaning instead of direct verbal communication. This can make conversations seem quieter than they actually are.

The influence of Western culture

While traditional Japanese culture values quietness and restraint, Western culture tends to emphasize self-expression and individualism. The increasing influence of Western media and globalization may be contributing to a shift in Japanese attitudes towards communication.


Overall, there are many factors that contribute to why people in Japan are so quiet. From historical traditions to cultural aesthetics, Japanese society places a high value on harmony, order, and respect for others. While it may seem unusual to outsiders at first, this cultural norm has helped create a unique and peaceful society that is admired around the world.

Are most people in Japan introverts?

In my research on Japan’s exceptional customer service culture, I discovered an unexpected fact – it is considered a paradise for introverts. This is significant because introverts make up a significant portion of the population, ranging from 15% to possibly 30%.

Is Japan made for introverts?

Japan is considered one of the best countries for introverts to live in because of the various aspects of Japanese culture that introverts appreciate. One of these is the concept of not causing inconvenience to others, which is emphasized in Japanese culture. Additionally, strangers are less likely to approach you and it’s uncommon to get stuck in lengthy conversations, even with coworkers.

Is Japan a quiet country?

According to the 2022 Global Peace Index, Japan is ranked as the 10th most peaceful country. Japan has regained its spot in the top 10 list, and has made significant improvements in the Militarisation domain, particularly in the area of nuclear and heavy weapons. This information was announced on June 15, 2022.

What does silence mean in Japanese culture?

Takie Lebra’s 2007 article about the significance of silence in Japanese culture explores four different aspects of silence: honesty, social appropriateness, shame, and resistance.

Are Japanese people talkative?

Japanese people tend to keep to themselves not because they are necessarily shy or “introverted.” If you become friends with someone in Japan you’ll find out that they can be extremely talkative, super fun and extroverted.Jun 24, 2018

Why are most Japanese shy?

In Japan, exhibiting a composed demeanor is valued as a virtuous trait that originated during the Samurai era. As a result, Japanese individuals are not particularly inclined to be overly familiar, especially when interacting with unfamiliar individuals.

Another reason why people in Japan may appear quiet is their sense of politeness. Japanese people are known for their courteous and polite behavior, which often involves avoiding confrontation or causing discomfort to others. This can lead to people being more reserved in their communication style, not wanting to offend or upset those around them.

Additionally, the Japanese language itself may contribute to the perception of quietness. The language has a complex system of honorifics and politeness levels that can make direct communication more challenging. It is common to use indirect language or euphemisms to avoid causing offense or appearing too assertive.

The emphasis on silence in Japanese culture also extends to entertainment and media. Traditional Japanese art forms, such as Noh theater and haiku poetry, prioritize simplicity and understatement over grand gestures or dramatic performances. This cultural preference for subtlety and nuance can influence people’s communication styles as well.

It is worth noting that the perception of Japanese people as quiet and reserved may not hold true for all individuals or situations. Like any culture, there are variations in communication styles based on age, gender, region, and other factors. However, the overarching cultural values of harmony, respect, and politeness are significant factors that contribute to the overall perception of a quieter society.

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