Honne and Tatemae


“Honne” is a true feeling and “tatemae” is a facade. Many say that these concepts represent Japanese culture. It is true. We often abide by “honne” and “tatemae.” so Japanese people tend to not show their true feelings to others. Even if they dislike someone, they normally do not show how they truly feel for that person. Well, I have lived in other countries, but there are ways to still tell when Japanese people don’t like you. They just won’t tell you directly but I grew up in Japan, so I can pick up subtle gestures that show when they don’t like me. But this is still generalized. It all comes down individual, and there are some Japanese people who would let you know if something is bothering them. But generally they tend to not show that. There is another example. When Japanese people say “please visit my house sometimes. we should get together.”, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they really want you to come to their house. They are just being polite and thus it’s part of “tatemae.” If that sort of invitation is appropriate, they might invite you out of courtesy but it doesn’t really mean that they want you to visit. So “honne” is different. By now you might have a much better understanding of “honne” and “tatemae.” But again since this is generalized, some Japanese people will be much more upfront about everything. But I feel that all cultures have this “honne” and “tatemae” to an extent. You can’t really show how you feel toward your boss when you dislike him. So you will act professional and courteous but that’s part of being a professional in the work environment. (thus “tatemae”) It’s everywhere, and it is not necessarily exclusive to Japanese culture.

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