Everyday personal contacts that Japanese people make are given a high importance. The Japanese desire to ‘belong’ and it is certainly true that the izakaya (pub), certain events and sport clubs are playing an important part in many people’s lives.
There, people search contacts with other people who share some of the interests and attitudes or simply try to do networking. For many Japanese these contacts are an important part of their social identity.
The most significant factor is work, which is how most people make their social contacts. Partly as a result of this, some people’s profession or skills is also an important aspect of their sense of identity. However, since Japanese people do not spend their free time out of the house any more than they do in most other countries, these means of self-identification should not be over-emphasised. On the other hand, the widespread use of the Internet means they do not need to.
Japanese women, if they become housewives, often devote their whole life to the family. Occasional meetups with friends who have children are crucial for an exchange of ideas and tips. If they meet incidentally on the street, in the supermarket, etc. and talk for a long time, this is often called ‘ido bata kaigi’ (井戸端会議) and roughly means “gossiping women meeting”.
Japanese men often work overtime. There are different reasons for that: they can not go home before the boss leaves, they have too much work and need to work longer, or they are just staying because they do not feel like going home to their wives, especially if they tend to nag and complain.
Children, on the other hand, have very busy schedules once they enter kindergarten. They often have additional classes after the kindergarten through primary, middle and high school and often even after enrolling into university.
3 Concepts of Japanese Social Etiquette