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How Japanese People Compliment Others vs. How Americans Do It

by Ewa Nowogorski

Japanese people don’t really compliment each other, and it’s a rather lonely truth. In America, it’s common to compliment strangers spontaneously on their nice shoes or cool nails. You can compliment your neighborhood grandma or someone you don’t know in the subway. But in Japan, people don’t really give out compliments, and when they do it’s definitely not to strangers.

Most people that compliment other people in Japan are school students, and people generally only compliment those of the same gender as themselves. The most commmon compliment that girls give other girls is “You’re cute” and the most common complement guys might give other guys is “You’re interesting/funny.” Compliments about athletic ability and intelligence are usually casually given. Compliments are not given to people of opposite gender because it might be interpretted as a confession. Other compliments that might be given to friends can be about one’s makeup or clothing style.

The reason why Japanese people don’t really give out compliments or even like to receive compliments is because it is generally seen as embarrassing. People don’t know how to give them out casually, and people don’t know how to accept them.

That’s one sad thing that is nice about foreign countries like America but sad about Japan. In America, you can easily make someone’s day (and possibly even a new friend) by throwing out compliments. And it’s just a great way to socialize and spread positivity.

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