by Ewa Nowogorski
For a society that pretty much forces people to keep their true desires and thoughts hidden from the world in favor of social harmony, there really isn’t a lot available in terms of physical privacy.
In terms of soundproofing, most walls can be exchanged with cardboard. There won’t be a difference in how much sound you block out. Love hotels and music studios are about the only place where you will see properly fortified walls that block out any sound. Because of this, many couples with children struggle to find opportunities to be alone and get intimate, and relationship fires can all but extinguish.
Not only are the walls a big privacy killer, but the packing of houses so that there is only a foot of space between your window and your neighbor’s house’s window is not uncommon either. It is so easy to look into your neighbor’s or another person’s house. And did I mention how the walls are thin? You can often hear a house’s TV when it’s on when you’re outside walking. You can hear babies crying when they’re indoors from a mile away. You can hear laughter, arguments, everything. It is so hard to hide anything from anyone, which is truly ironic considering how reserved Japanese people can be. They are turtles who can never retract into their shell.
Japanese society values conformity over individuality, the group over the individual. With the circumstances as they are, Japanese people are constantly policing each other, making sure that everyone stays peaceful and maintains their faces. People won’t talk to you about their personal opinions for fear of it being offensive, but they sure love to gossip about others when those other people have done something offensive, so watch out!