Opinion: the subtle insult

The Japanese will never say it, implications are a different matter

It’s late and I’m just waiting for the train back from work and being slightly lazy, I bought a healthy bento from a convenience store.

I may have had difficulty finding my wallet so I explained in Japanese that’s hidden at the bottom (I was right) and the assistant just chuckled.

She then gave me a fork for a salad, which is normal. I know this was not intended as an insult but it got me thinking.

How do the Japanese show their displeasure at someone? How do they show their displeasure at someone who may not speak Japanese?

One way is the automatic giving of a knife or fork in lieu of chopsticks or giving you water instead of tea when going to a restaurant. These subtle actions are their way to differenciate those accepted or seen to be accepted and those who are not.

There even more subtle gestures, the standing up to get off at the next station extra early when you sit down, the automatic “English no” when you say すみません or excuse me.

There’s an overview of subtle Japanese gestures and there are many more besides.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring

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