The first kanji character of the word can have a meaning of "authentic", while the second means "sound". Clearly, honne is the "real voice" of an individual. It could be translated as the "public facade". In Japan, the group and, by extension, society, take precedence over the individual. It's therefore very important for the Japanese that society "works well", and that everything goes smoothly. They therefore prefer more formal responses or behavior, rather than saying what they really think and risking offence or inconveniencing those around them.
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What they say and what they mean are not always the same. Japanese people face a lot of criticism for the use of Honne and Tatemae. Some people view it as being two-faced or hypocritical but in Japan it is something that is used daily and is not viewed in a negative way. Actually it is considered proper social etiquette to be able to use Honne and Tatemae to keep the harmony of the situation.
The truth is every culture has some aspect 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. For example, when I was a child, I had a few close girlfriends who spend a lot of time at my house.
My mother and their moms got to know each other, and they would invite us to their house. This was actually quite a cultural shock to me when I first moved to America. When a friend of mine invited me to her house for Thanksgiving I emailed her to ask if they were really expecting me to show up. For those who are not familiar with Japanese culture you may think this behavior is very rude, but Japanese people are not acting this way out of malice. On the contrary they are doing this to be polite, especially to the Soto outgroups.
There are various theories, but I think that Japanese people do this to avoid conflict. Japan is a very small collective society. Because of that, Japanese people are more likely to go to a greater extent to avoid conflict with other people, and saving face for your group Uchi is very important to them. Having lived in America for some time now I can see how the concept of Honne and Tatemae is odd to foreigners.
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.
And once you have crossed that delicate line of making a conversation uncomfortable, it is very common that Japanese people will avoid talking to you in the future. To successfully integrate into Japanese society, you have to be culturally aware of the situation you in and when Honne should be hidden and Tatemae used. So is it right to practice Tatemae? I think balance is important and a little bit of Tatemae is necessary wherever we go, but the concept of Honne and Tatemae make us understand why Japanese people behave in certain ways.
Japan born, US educated, language teacher. More articles by Yumi Nakata. She avoids you- the same. You need to learn to have a thicker skin and improve on your communication skills, this may help you with securing affections of someone you are interested in.
So basically in Japane if talk to people who are not immediate family or friends you have to lie , lie ,lie and lie. They called it being polite and social. A lot of people are doing it in America too.
Because its easy. But Japanese are just so phony , so fake. Its too much. Japanese girls are the worst. And than never call. Just say what you really think some times.
Its ok. You are actually helping them. And trust me they already know the truth anyways. Have more honest society. All of the ways of honest communications examples you used are extremely offensive. Here in the Philippines it is the same. Some of this I think is also just difference in what is considered acceptable conversation. Interesting article.
I totally agree with having balance of honne and tatamae behaviours. Good article…I enjoyed it. Good article, I mostly agree with it. But in my own experience, I think tatemae can be both good and extremely bad depending on the situation. Indeed you can find it in other countries, but the main difference is that people on the west will use it only when they think it is truly necessary, from their own judgment which can be bad also of course.
It leads to very artificial and mechanic relationship and in the extreme cases some of them commit suicide because they feel alone…. 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.
I find the higher up the education, social stratification ladder in the US, the more likely one is to encounter similar behavior. See here. I wish i had known this while I lived In japan for 2 years. I convinced myself that everyone was going to get drunk after work so they could relax and come out of their shells. I spent so much energy and time trying to change the people I worked with to be more Honne. I look back at it now and cringe. I still dont agree with it, although I can understand why a level of it is necessary.
I have mixed feelings about tatemae. It really depends on the situation when its being used but as a foreigner sometimes its hard to figure out if its tatemae or not. What can Japan learn from Hong Kong to improve the level of English comprehension? Being a hostess had nothing to do with sex but a lot to do with psychology.
Every culture has some aspect of Honne and Tatemae. Topics: Real Life Story. Yumi Nakata Japan born, US educated, language teacher. Aye says:. July 17, at pm. November 26, at am. DMarin says:. November 24, at pm. Avatar says:. October 20, at am. TokyoMommy says:. July 30, at pm. Shahe Ansar says:. June 25, at am. Alby says:.
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The Honesty and Facade of Honne and Tatemae
I manage a consulting firm that conducts many seminars to help non-Japanese better understand Japanese culture. Because the needs of each group of participants are different, I don't give our firm's facilitators many hard-and-fast rules about what to say in the seminars although of course we have standard materials and training techniques that everybody learns about. 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". Some people might be surprised to hear this, because honne and tatemae tend to be trotted out whenever people are talking about Japanese culture. And it is indeed true that considering honne and tatemae can indeed be very helpful in understanding certain situations involving Japanese. However, the key thing for me is that honne and tatemae are hardly unique to Japanese culture. The only thing that is unique is that the Japanese language has these super-handy terms to refer to them.
Honne and Tatemae
What they say and what they mean are not always the same. Japanese people face a lot of criticism for the use of Honne and Tatemae. Some people view it as being two-faced or hypocritical but in Japan it is something that is used daily and is not viewed in a negative way. Actually it is considered proper social etiquette to be able to use Honne and Tatemae to keep the harmony of the situation. The truth is every culture has some aspect 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.
By basically saying something you think the listener wants to hear, tatemae is, essentially, lying. But what if you disclose your true feelings? Now extrapolate. What becomes of a society that sees lying as a justifiably institutionalized practice? Things break down. If everyone is expected to lie, who or what can you trust? Consider law enforcement.