“Wouldn’t it be great if each visitor took a little bit of omotenashi home with them and spread it around? The ripple effect could sweep the world.”
I came across this article on the BBC website and was intrigued to see another’s view on Japanese politeness.
I’ve found through years of my own research on Japanese culture that people are highly praise-worthy of Japanese politeness, and it was something that I myself experienced when coming here. The thing that often got to me with some other accounts however, is that people either praised Japan in comparison to their own country, highlighting their culture’s flaws, or overly praised Japan with little substance beyond “JAPAN IS AMAZING”. Which is fine – but the first is a little too negative and the second is often unrealistic for me.
This article is actually pretty refreshing – the warm personal opening account of the writer’s experience gently leads us into the cultural aspect they want to share. And then they briefly introduce to us the cultural roots of “omotenashi” as coming from the practices of tea ceremony and martial arts. It’s just enough to teach you the history, but still leaves you curious enough to research more if you wanted to.
Having experienced both of these things myself in Japan, the culture expressed in this article is appreciated in a warm and interesting way. I really enjoyed reading such a realistic account of Japanese politeness and recommend the article!