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Intimacy in Japan

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Intimacy in Japan 2010/11/25 22:13
Hi, my husband and I are travelling to Japan for a holiday early next year and I was hoping someone can inform me about the acceptance of public displays of affection; holding hands for example. Would we be offending people if we were affectionate in public places?
by Mel (guest)  

PDA 2010/11/26 09:37
Mel,

Holding hands is fine, and even middle-aged Japanese couples (occasionally) do it these days. Anything more is best done in private, though.

by Dave in Saitama (guest) rate this post as useful

kisses, etc. 2010/11/26 10:14
Nothing against more than just holding hands in Japan. You can kiss in public, slap each other on the butt, and anything else that is not XXX or physically disturbing people around you. You might get a few looks but that's all -- you might get a few looks anyway just being foreigners and not doing anything intimate at all.

by jmarkley rate this post as useful

Hmmm 2010/11/26 10:41
I've never been to the part of Japan jmarkley's referring to but my experience is more along the lines of Dave's in that: holding hands is ok, anything more is just plain weird.

First of all, you will almost never see anybody kissing in public. Second, you may see some teenagers with heavy make-up hugging on a train or in public but it's just plain weird from a Japanese point of view.

I don't think it's a matter of people being offended (as opposed to showing affection in Muslim countries) but you just don't see it.

by Bean (guest) rate this post as useful

hardly any PDA 2010/11/26 13:07
I agree with the above- apart from the occasional drunk university-age couple perhaps kissing, you won't see anything more than hand-holding or maybe an arm around the shoulders in Japan.I have actually heard of older people being irritated and telling people off for anything more, so it does offend some.
by Sira (guest) rate this post as useful

You can act "normal" 2010/11/26 18:51
You know, from time to time we see similar questions, but having traveled/lived in North/Central America, Western Europe and various parts of Asia, I don't really see too much of a difference in public intimacy.

Even in Europe and the Americas, very few people show intimacy in public with the exception of couples in bars having a good time. Sure, some might give each other a light occasional kiss, but the Japanese are cool about that especially if the couple are obviously foreign tourists. Holding hands, of course, is no problem

Of course, from time to time we see couples hugging each other for an overly long period of time, say for several minutes, and some may even kiss frequently in public, but interestingly those type of couples are in fact not that common even in Western countries and therefore do not look good anyway. You can say the same thing here in Japan.

I recently read an article on a Japanese newspaper written by a Japanese correspondent. He was "unfortunate" enough to be seated next to a couple who constantly kept kissing openly and then "moving around" under a blanket thinking that the correspondent was asleep. The correspondent later wrote an email to the foreign airline questioning "how much intimacy should be allowed in an aircraft." The airline responded promptly that the next time it happens he should contact a flight attendant and that they would stop the couple's activity.

by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

Definately less than in the west 2010/11/26 20:42
Although, ofcourse, you can do what you want, and, yes, the difference in PDA is not all that great, there are definately things that are better not done in public, and particularly, in the company of friends. This last part is even more important than randomly kissing in public. My gf is Japanese and lives in Japan. When I visit her and she is somewhere where she thinks she could run into her friends or family, she prefers not to be too intimate. If she happens to run into her friends, she doesn't want to make them feel uncomfortable. However, when we are in places further away from her home, we'll hold hands and sometimes even kiss in public.

One time we went to a birthday party of one of her friends. I there were 2 friends of her who happened to be having a relationship at that time. But all that time at the party I never noticed them doing anything that boy and girlfriends would do. In fact, if nobody had told me I would've never known about it. This is much more the importance of the conservative attitude towards PDA. It's much about not wanting to make your friends feel uncomfortable. And yes, you will get some bad looks if you start making out in public in Japan. But you will also get that in Europe or America.

by Dutchman1 (guest) rate this post as useful

I see a difference 2010/11/26 23:02
Uco san, I have to disagree- I saw quite open displays of affection (including middle-aged couples involved in extended kissing sessions on the side of busy roads!) when I lived in Spain, and I have never seen anything like that in Japan. Of course you know how common it is to kiss friends on the cheek as a greeting in many parts of Europe, and hugs for friends are common in English speaking countries- again things you don't see every day in Japan.

When I was working in a duty free shop when I was a student in NZ my uncle once came into the shop and I kissed him on the cheek as women do to relatives in NZ- this caused quite a lot of interest among my Japanese co-workers who wondered why I had kissed a middle-aged man! I hadn't been to Japan at the time and was surprised to be told that Japanese people don't usually kiss relatives. My husband doesn't kiss his mother or sister hello and I think this is probably the norm in Japan- on the other hand my brothers will always kiss and hug my mother and I when we meet.

So whether it's friends, partners or relatives, my experience at least is that there are far fewer public displays of affection here and in many other Asian countries than there are in the US, Europe etc.

by Sira (guest) rate this post as useful

Some PDA is ok 2010/11/27 01:58
From my experience, looks like simple PDA is acceptable. In tokyo, where he is afraid of bumping into friends, he is more reluctant to hold hands (not explicitly but i can feel). However when we were in kyoto, he is perfectly fine with holding hands everywhere. Actually at the airport, we kissed for awhile and it seemed fine, nobody was really surprised.

However the funny thing is, when he visits my country, he is concerned about kissing at the airport, when it is perfectly fine as we are a less conservative countriy.

Anyway my conclusion is, i think PDA ok if it is just simple gestures. However, deep down inside, most people are not used to it.

by iamange rate this post as useful

... 2010/11/27 14:31
Public kissing among couples in Western Europe is definitely much more common than in Japan. When I return to Europe or when my friends visit me from Europe, I am always slightly shocked by everybody's public intimacy. If you are used to European standards, you better curb down your public intimacy level in Japan a little bit as outlined in this thread.
by Uji rate this post as useful

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