In Japanese there is a phase that goes “kuuki wo yomu” (literally “read the air” and means to sense the mood of the room). This means that each person divines from the remarks or behavior of those around them the message they’re trying to convey and responds accordingly. As the Japanese are mostly racially homogenous and speak the same language, they share similar values. You might say that it is in their nature to derive a sense of security by behaving the same way as others. In addition, they are particularly conscious about not causing others trouble, and this leads to a strong sense of solidarity. It shows, in the way that Japan wins many medals for team events. For instance, the Japanese team got a medal in an Olympics relay in spite of the fact that the total time of the Japanese runners was far behind the time of other teams. On the other hand, however, some people point out that it is difficult to know what the Japanese are thinking as they are not assertive and lack originality. The Japanese were a nation of farmers living on an island with scant natural resources and many natural disasters. It is said that this environment had an influence on creating the Japanese character in that social structures were based on a shared sense of destiny. It’s probable that this consciousness of the need to cooperate with others arose from this situation and thus people speak or conduct themselves in a way that avoids provoking fights. In Japanese there is a phrase that goes “mura hachibu,” and means being ostracized by the people of the village. For the people of that village it was the worst possible punishment and to a certain extent this is still the case to this day. Though “sensing the mood” can also be interpreted in a negative way, it has a deep meaning that those following the Nihongodo should remember.
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