News, Trivia

Japanese Politeness at a Whole New Level

Japanese people are famous the world over for their politeness.  Even bowing, a great way of showing politeness has its levels.  While I have gotten used to their politeness, some news about their politeness still surprise me.  The Japan Times reports of a “polite robber” who tried to rob a convenience store in Osaka.  It was reported that Ryo Miyata, an unemployed destitute entered a Family Mart at around 3:30, brandished a utility knife and politely said to the clerk “Could you give me some money, please?“.

The clerk, probably sensing that the man was not dangerous at all, replied “Why don’t you stop this?“.  The robber replied “OK” then put knife down on the counter.

He was ushered by the clerk to the back room where he patiently waited  for the  police to arrive.  It appears that Mr Miyata did not have an evil bone in his body and simply needed money.  A stark reminder that in this recession, even those with no criminal mind can do bad things…in a polite way of course.

Click here for the original Japan Times article.



16 Comments on “Japanese Politeness at a Whole New Level

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  2. Hey Viva, I’ll try to answer your question. 🙂

    会釈, or the 5 degree bow, is really just meant to acknowledge another person’s presence. You usually use it upon meeting or parting. Some people just sort of nod their head, while others will actually move their body in a quick bow.

    普通礼, or the regular bow, is used as a pretty general purpose bow. Thank yous, acknowledgment of awards, ceremonial requirements to people who are your inferior or subordinates, etc.

    最敬礼, or the deepest bow, is used for extraordinary moments. Meeting a dignitary, a super respected elder of some kind, etc.

    The rules aren’t hard and fast, and if you come to Japan for a bit you’ll likely just pick it up naturally without ever needing to consciously think about it. My advice? Don’t worry about it! Just mirror what other people are doing. That’s good advice in general, though. 🙂

  3. But what about the bow that TV news presenter do on Japanese TV? Does that have a category of its own, or fit into one of the first two? Seemed pretty idiosyncratic to me…..

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