The Concept of Tomodachi: Japanese Friendship

  • CULTURE
  • SOCIETY
  • The Misconception

    It is often stated that the Japanese are serious, cold or generally unfriendly people.

    But contrary to that, they can actually be really welcoming, hospitable, approachable, helpful, and yes, friendly! Today, I am going to some examples of the Japanese concept of “tomodachi.”

    Foreign Exchanges and Interactions

    Many young Japanese are especially enthusiastic about foreigners. University students, for example, are willing to go out of their way to assist a ryuugakusei or an international student. They offer help in navigating the local areas for instance or even with translations and proofreading of assignments.

    Similarities in Anime

    People coming from outside of Japan will also generally believe that what is depicted on anime is unreal. Yes, there are many aspects of fictional stories which are just invented by writers but what we see on anime is also not entirely and merely based from imagination. It has elements which are based on real life, there are characters which are made to assume human traits after all. Anime which has revolving themes on friendship are especially good examples of this.

    Japanese characters used in anime following themes centered on adventures while being with different and other characters are often shown as very loyal and trustworthy. Their friendships last through time, even after the characters grow up. In real life, there are also very good examples of this kind of relationships.
    A band named “Bump of Chicken” for instance is composed of members who had been classmates from kindergarten to high school!

    Japanese Friendly Relations

    calligraphy

    Author’s photo

    The concept of tomodachi is an important aspect of Japanese life. The Japanese seriousness in their work does not necessarily entail that they are unfriendly people. In fact, if one will just take time to get to know even an old Japanese person then he/she will discover that they are actually very approachable and interested in meeting new people.

    The old people in Japan find avenues to interact with others often, there are some who offer free calligraphy classes to anyone interested in learning this art and there are also old people who volunteer in guiding tourists and foreigners as they arrive in the airports of Japan, like the NPO “Skylets” for instance.

    airport-skylet

    Author’s photo

    These people’s determination to help and to connect with other people from different backgrounds and cultures are astounding in its own despite their age. So hopefully, one day, the conception for the Japanese will be based beyond the general business culture of Japan and rather more on this beautiful word — tomodachi.