Trivia: What is the meaning of 空気を読む (kūki wo yomu)?

Jul 06, 2020


What is the meaning of 空気を読む (kūki wo yomu) and why is it important in Japanese culture?


In Japan, 空気を読む (kūki wo yomu) means to “read the air”. It is one of the first unspoken rules people learn when they start building a relationship with Japanese people.

Why? Well, the most important value to Japanese culture is to maintain group harmony; it is important to listen, see, hear, and sense what others are feeling before taking action. By doing so, one can avoid making other people feel uncomfortable, attacked, offended, or ashamed. It’s all about smoothening the conversation, with no trouble.

For example, even if you want to eat Italian food, if everyone else wants to eat Mexican food, you don’t disclose your opinion. Most of the time, it’s not so apparent. If you are being stared on a train with your legs crossed on a crowded train, that means to uncross your legs. It can seem passive-aggressive at times, but it comes from not wanting to be direct and hurt people’s feelings.

How’d you do?

Leave a comment, then hit the share buttons below to test your network!

Free Guide: 25 Resources to Transition You to Living in Tokyo

Get pointed in the right direction to the info and networks you need to live your best life. Drop your details below!

Spam-free zone!

Trivia: When you exchange business card with your client, what shou...

Jul 18, 2022

Trivia: What are many Japanese women told when growing up about how...

Jul 04, 2022

Trivia: Are Taxis in Japan Trustworthy?

Jun 20, 2022