Michael Brett
Academic consultant, 28 (Irish)
Yes and no. Yes, because people go out of their way to be polite in public — for example, not talking on the phone on trains — and they are also polite and hospitable in customer service. But those two seem very superficial. Once you know a Japanese person well, it’s not there so much. It’s like keeping the surface moving smoothly while, on a deeper level, everyone’s just human.

Gordon Hyppolite
Executive producer, 32 (Haitian)
In a sense, I’d disagree, because more so, Japan is built upon image. It’s all about presentation, making sure things look good even by those who need to be polite but don’t care about doing so. My image of politeness and hospitality is that you actually care and do it from the heart. There’s been several instances where you can see a disconnect from the person serving you.

Larisa Amaya-Baron
Stage manager, 29 (American)
My initial reaction was no, it isn’t. I think Japanese society is based on politeness, but it’s actually fake politeness. My opinion on that is that Japanese society works like a well-oiled machine. The politeness is a contribution to the machine, whether they truly feel as if they’re being polite or not.

Keiichiro Teramoto
Chef, 28 (Japanese)
I agree with that. Hospitality is expressed by the motivation of individuals who truly want to be hospitable to others. It’s also an integral part of the Japanese language. For example, “itadakimasu” is a word expressed only in Japanese to show gratefulness for food, including taking the life of an animal for your meal.

Shoko Nakau
Special needs specialist, 31 (Japanese)
I agree and disagree. Politeness is important, but it can be too much at times. For example, train announcements are too frequent for problems that might seem unimportant. Hospitality is also important as greetings are good for communication and connecting people. Japanese are able to greet each other and show respect for others very well.

Daniel Evelyn
Educator, 31 (Barbadian)
I agree to some extent. Looking at language, the degree to which politeness or status are based on word selection is immense. Going to stores and dealing with issues as a customer, I’ve always had a sense of appreciation for that, and a measure of care was always given to my complaints. There is no doubt that Japan has politeness and hospitality ingrained into its culture.

Interested in gathering views in your neighborhood? E-mail community@japantimes.co.jp

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