Closed door embarassment

Last time I was talking with a friend of mine about why the majority of the japanese people seem to be so protective of their own homes. Or otherwise: Why it’s kinda unlikely to ever be invited to a japanese home.

When it comes to stress-levels, Japan can be deadly, as things such as the horrendous suicide-rate and the rate of people with mental disorders here shows. Most of these mental disorders get untreated, cause it’s a GREAT taboo here to visit a mind-fixing-doctor. It’s a society which largely functions after the don’t ask, don’t tell-principle.
And of course, this doesn’t apply to all japanese – by far not!!

On top of that it’s a consumerist society per excellance. Rooms where you don’t need to consume or are even expected to consume are the clear exception of the rule. So if you don’t have money, you’re basically somehow fucked.

What especially young people without a lot of money do in Europe is to meet up at home. I’m sure most of my western friends have often made home-parties, have invited their friends over or have stayed at their friend’s homes. It’s just a natural thing to „hang out“ with friends at their homes or they come to you. It’s nice to have company, it’s nice to not feel alone and it’s nice to know a lot of places which you can visit and relax.

In Japan, this is unthinkable for the majority of people. Even for the younger generations. While a typical student-apartment in Europe is a mix of all kinds of people who become friends with each other, who cook together, who go out together and have fun together, the japanese equivalent, the so-called „share house“ is nothing like that in most of the cases. Everyone has his/her own room and stays there. Sometimes people don’t even know the names of those who they live with. It’s only seen as a cheap but somehow annoying way to live.

So, most people live alone and/or with their partners or family. Those people, and sometimes really close friends, are basically the only ones who are invited to one’s home.
Lately I asked a friend about why japanese people are doing this? Her answer was that it’s „embarassing“ (恥ずかしい) if other people than the most inner circle see your home.
I asked her why?
And she told me „Because it’s embarassing if someone see’s your home.“
I really had to laugh, cause that’s no answer at all, but in the end it became clear that she actually never thought of this. It was, definitely, one of the biggest (and funniest) instances of culture shock and cultural mistanderstanding I’ve ever encountered since I’ve moved to Japan.

Well, to sum it up very roughly and simplify things to the max:
If you want company in japan you have to go out. If you want to go out must have money. If you want to have money you have to enter the wonderful world of japanese legal slave-work with 14-hour-workdays. A great lot of the japanese suicides come from being overworked. A great lot of japanese feel alone and isolated and thus get mental problems.
Rinse and repeat.
But close your doors and never let anyone inside. Don’t ask, don’t tell.

PS.: Just to be clear: I’ve been invited to a lot of japanese friend’s and acquaitances homes and had a great time there. Still, they are the minority.

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