Category Archives: 日本語Q&A

Q. Why do Japanese often sleep on trains?

Answer: Until recently, people who slept on trains were mostly businessmen, but the younger people now have also begun to sleep on trains. This is due in large part, especially in the cities, to the grueling and long commute to work and to school. A commuting time of an hour or more one way is […]

Q. Why don’t the Japanese look the other person in the eye when speaking?

Answer: Etiquette prescribes that fixing one’s eyes on the chest of the other when speaking leads to a better impression and instills in the other a desire to hear what one has to say. An expression referring to a person who is older or of a higher rank than oneself is, meue no hito meaning […]

Q. Why are the hands clapped when praying at shrines (Shintoism) and placed together when praying at temples (Buddhism)?

Answer: The reading of the kanji to clap one’s hands is hakushu. This kanji can also be read as kashiwade meaning to clap one’s hands in prayer at a Shinto shrine. It is said that in ancient times, people clapped their hands at ceremonies held at the Imperial Court or when receiving a gift from […]