by Ewa Nowogorski
Whenever someone does something memorable or interesting, they have to tell everyone and their mother about it. Whether it’s the lottery that they won, the amazing cake that they baked, or that they appeared in America’s Got Talent. It’s ok to brag, and it’s not seen as arrogant at all. People will readily give out compliments to people who brag, and braggers will readily suck them up.
In Japan, however, bragging is something you don’t really see. In fact, intensive pronouns don’t even exist. People can’t boast they themselves did something amazing. When teaching English, these kinds of pronouns are difficult to teach and they don’t stick with students because they just can’t bring themselves to boast.
Boasting can be considered a sign of weakness here, and it is definitely a sign of arrogance. It is the sign that a person is too insecure and they don’t feel satisfied from the simple fact that they did something. If they need someone to validate their achievements, they are weak. Boasting also places too much attention on one’s self. In a society that focuses on the group, standing out even in a positive light can be a bad thing.
Rather than verbal bragging, Japanese people brag in a more subtle way. They show, don’t tell. A lot of their bragging is reflected in the clothes they wear and how they present themselves. Image is everything. One is expected to always maintain a neat composure in public, and bragging takes place when one exceeds those expectations, wearing extremely expensive clothes and accessories. Money is one of the most important aspects of society, and there is no better way to flaunt how much money you have than displaying it on your body.