Japanese people like it quiet.
The Japanese have a reputation for being taciturn and hard to communicate with. Probably the most difficult part of Japanese communication for people from other countries is the way people here converse wordlessly.
When Japanese people are standing silently at some natural attraction, they’re using their five senses to feel nature and commune with it. So if you notice some quiet Japanese in such a spot, you might try joining them in their silence, taking in everything around you with all your senses: light, wind, sky, clouds, sounds, smells.
Even when nobody is talking, there is plenty of communication going on in Japan.
About the artist: Sachiko Aoki is a manga artist whose Chabashira Club series focuses on the world of tea to delve into human relations. The third volume in particular looks at relations between Japan and Taiwan with tea as the motif.
When Japanese people have fun, they enjoy themselves wholeheartedly. If you possibly can, try to see a matsuri, a Japanese festival, while you’re in Japan. Some of them are big events with great throngs of participants and viewers from Japan and abroad, but there are also many intimate local matsuri at little neighborhood shrines all over the country.
If you go to a matsuri, you can expect to find food stalls offering familiar dishes and perhaps some things you have never seen. So this is another way of sampling Japanese cuisine.
You say you don’t speak Japanese? Don’t let that stop you. You can use an app on your smartphone to interpret for you. And if you can’t rely on your phone, you can probably remember Kon-nichi wa, meaning “Hello!”, and Arigato, meaning “Thank you.” Those two are a good start.
Three magic words will go a long way.
In addition, there are three simple words that will let you share your feelings with Japanese people:
Oishii: This is so delicious.
Tanoshii: I’m having so much fun.
Ureshii: I’m so happy.
Especially if you try some food and like it, say Oishii, and you will surely see a Japanese smile.
And if you want to learn more about Japan, how about taking part in JET, the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme? Come here as a language teacher, helping young Japanese people learn your language while you deepen your knowledge of Japan.