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In English, it is called a “white lie”: the not-quite-true fabrication, or shading of the truth, that is designed to soften what would otherwise be a. Why don’t Japanese people always say what they mean – Honne and Tatemae. It is sometimes said that the Japanese are not frank, that they are hypocrites or. Abstract. This thesis is an anthropological investigation of one of the double codes in Japanese society; honne meaning the real self or true feelings and tatemae.

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They called it being polite and social.

The Honesty and Facade of Honne and Tatemae

So that’s another problem in my eyes with teaching non-Japanese about honne and tatemae — it’s not really actionable. In addition to the examples I gave above, honne could be referred to as “the actual situation” or “the story behind the story” or “the unvarnished version” and tatemae could be referred to “the line for public consumption”, “a white lie” or “a euphemism.

Do they want me to leave or to stay? Good article, I mostly agree attemae it. This is very much in line with the uniform collective Japanese social mindset that clamps down on sore thumbs.

Honne may be contrary to what is expected by society gonne what is required according to one’s position and circumstances, and they are often kept hidden, except with one’s closest friends. However, there is one thing that I have completely banned from our seminars — teaching the words honne “the truth” or “someone’s real opinion” and tatemae “the party line” or “what someone thinks you want to hear”. I know people who were nearly destroyed by that, until they found me, someone with whom they can speak freely, because… well, I am not Japanese.


It may even come off as insincere or hypocritical, in the unfortunate situation where tatemae are perceived as truth. And let’s think back to what we discussed before about indirect communication, how do you think that kind of question would work with someone who has an indirect communication style?

Honne and tatamae jostle with each other through every conversation in Japan, each participant assessing what needs to be said, and how, and internally weighing what can be said and what must not be said. February 15, at 2: Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Exploring an area of the Japanese psyche: June 12, at 1: But in my own experience, I think tatemae can be both good and extremely bad depending on the situation.

This page was last edited on 31 Decemberat October 8, at 6: In a country as densely populated and thus as concerned with social harmony and group cohesion as Japan, life without such a verbal construct would be difficult indeed.

In Japan, of course, this is not just commonly done, it has been formalized into a pair of opposing concepts that describe this social reality perfectly: What is true, and what is false then? Although there might not be direct single word translations for honne and tatemae in some languages, [ citation needed ] they do have two-word descriptions; for example in English “private mind” and “public mind”.

The ways in which tatemae and honne are played against each other are virtually limitless — especially in Japan.

Honne vs. Tatemae

For example, many people have heard that it’s common in Taremae to be told that something will happen manana literally, “tomorrow” when in actuality it isn’t likely to happen until long after that. What can Japan learn from Hong Kong to improve the level of English comprehension?

A lot of people are doing it in America too. In any case, all cultures have conventions that help to determine appropriate communication and behavior in various social contexts which are implicitly understood without an explicit name for the social gatemae on which the conventions are based.


July 30, at 9: Japanese sometimes have trouble talking with foreigners because if the foreigner can not use Honne and Tatemae properly they may hurt the feelings of the person they are talking to or make the conversation unpleasant by revealing too much.

October 20, at The truth is every culture has some aspect of Honne and Tatemae. As any gaijin can tell you, that could take a lifetime to figure tattemae.

July 16, at Compliments may be a way of being nice, but they may also be a way to manipulate someone into favors.

More to the point, the Japanese are notoriously group-minded, and no one wants to stand out from the crowd. One would have to be very alert, aware and careful to survive in a Japanese society. But Japanese are just so phonyso fake.

The Japanese Art of Indirectness: Honne and Tatemae | Japan Info

Every culture has some honnee of Honne and Tatemae. We are careful as to the amount of information we share so as to not offend or hurt the people around us. The idea of conveying a “cover story” that is different from the true situation is something very familiar and common in the U. The simplicity of it all is shifting the responsibility of deciphering the intention and the decision of what tztemae do next onto the other party.

In others, it may be a way of maintaining position. I spent so much energy and time trying to change the people I worked with to be more Ttatemae.