4 Stereotypes of Japan | Japan is not what you think it is

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  • SumoMe

I still remember back in the high school times, when I decided to study abroad in Japan, I got a lot of comments – both criticisms and compliments about Japan.

Some people said,

“Don’t go to Japan! They are crazy! They killed a lot of our people during the WW II.”

While some said to me,

“That’s great! Japanese people are very hardworking and smart. You will learn a lot from the country!”

Of course as you may have already guessed, most guys would say to me,

“Wow! I’m JEALOUS! Sleeping with Japanese AV stars has been my life dream man!”

As you know, Japan culture is probably one of the leading Asia cultures in the world. Many westerners tend to think of Japan when it comes to Asia culture. In fact, in many universities in western world, Japan studies has been a popular major in the higher education.

So when it comes to Japan, Malaysian people always think of Manga, Anime, Game, Fashion, Sushi, Toyota, Honda, Ajinomoto, AV….and etc! I have spent 4 years living in Japan, and every time I went back to Malaysia, I always got questions like

“Shen! Are Japanese really polite that they always take a bow? I heard they are fake.”
“Shen! Is Japan really High-tech that everyone can make robot?”
“Shen! Japan is too expensive man! You are so rich!”

Of course I also got many questions like this,

“Shen! How is the feeling sleeping with a Japanese girl? Your so lucky bro! I guess Japanese girls are horny right?”
(swt…my Malaysian male friends, your watching too much educational tutorials about relationships lol)

Too many stereotypes of Japan. BUT my friends, you are all WRONG! Today, I’m gonna clarify these stereotypes about Japan, as far as I have seen during this 4 years.


4 Stereotypes of Japan

#1 Japan is hell EXPENSIVE. (write from the view of Malaysian)

Japanese living cost

So many people thought I was rich just because I came to Japan for study. But let me tell you, living in Japan can be cheaper than living in any other Asia countries, of course cheaper than western countries.

Of course everything in Japan should be more expensive than other Asia countries. BUT Japan is still cheaper. Why? because you have to consider the salary rate here.

Working part-time job in Japan, you will get ¥900 /hour (US $9) at average rate, as a restaurant waiter.

See what you can do with this ¥900.

Private Japanese restaurant lunch set ¥500-700
(rice + soup + salad + chicken chop)
Franchise restaurant set ¥ 500-700

Ramen ¥ 500-600
Mc Donalds set ¥ 300-700 (There are ¥100 burger menus)
KFC set ¥ 500-700

Coffee (private) ¥ 300-400
Starbucks coffee ¥ 300-500
Cafe fancy drinks ¥ 300-500 (milk shake, juices, Ice blended etc)
Coca-cola 500ml ¥ 100-150

Beer 350ml can ¥ 150-200
pack of cigarette ¥ 440 (I don’t smoke though lol)

So as you can see, with 1 hour part time work, you can afford all these. It’s totally reasonable for living. 2 hours work paid ¥ 1,800 you can enjoy:

Karaoke all night 10pm-5am ¥ 1,500 (including free drinks)

Movie ¥ 1,000 – 2,000

1 hour part time wages can afford you so many things! Not to mention some higher paid part time jobs like private tutor, office work, construction and etc.

Check out the site for more detailed information. Cost of living in Japan.


Let’s take a look at Malaysia living cost. The average paid rate in Malaysia big cities would be RM 5/ hour. (US $ 1.5)

See if you can do the same thing as you do in Japan.

Private Malaysia restaurant lunch set
(maybe places no air-con) RM 4-7
Franchise 1 food (e.x old town) RM 10-13
Mc Donalds set RM 5-7 (No RM1 burger menus)
KFC set RM 8-10

Coffee (private) RM 3-5
Starbucks coffee RM 8-12
Cafe fancy drinks RM 6-10 (milk shake, juices, Ice blended etc)
Coca-cola 500ml RM 2

Beer 350ml can RM 9-12
pack of cigarette RM 10 (again I don’t smoke though lol)

Check out more details. Cost of living in Malaysia.

Wow. Did you see the difference? In Japan, with 1 hour paid ¥ 900, you can purchase all the goods I mentioned above, maybe multiple! But in Malaysia, with 1 hour paid RM 5, you can hardly purchase the goods in the list above.  So you say I’m rich to come to Japan, I would say, “No, I became rich after coming to Japan.”


So living in Japan is HELL expensive?


Yes, it’s true. If you travel as a tourist.


If you live here (with a job), not travel as a tourist, it won’t be expensive. In contrast, It can be cheaper than living in any other Asia countries.

Of course, If you live in Japan and without a job, the life would be tough because everything is expensive. So usually Malaysian students who study in Japan, work part-time job and are tired like  a dog (Malaysian slang lol), just to make ends meet. Again, your friends are not rich (except some celebrities) instead, they work very hard and try to be independent in Japan. Applause! 🙂


And one thing to say to my dear Japanese friends who are reading this article. You are really living in a rich society. Don’t make wrong decisions like committing suicide because of over-work or bewailing your misfortune for low salary. Look at countries around you, many people are living at a worse living condition, struggling for better economic status. Take it easy ya 😉 peace

#2 Japanese people are high-tech. (particularly computer knowledge)

High tech Japan

As we know, Japan is one of the most advanced countries in the world. Many high technology stuffs are all invented by Japanese. So we usually think Japanese people are high-tech.

If you look at the daily life in Japan, you really will be surprised by how advanced technology they are using for every day event. For instance, automatic parking system, vending machines everywhere, food order vending machines at the entrance of restaurants, high tech toilet with many different functions buttons, navigator system in almost every car, and etc.

However, there are many Japanese who don’t even know how to turn on a computer. Except the people who are taking IT major in their education, many Japanese seem to start learning how to use computer from their 1st year in college. For instance, my university, even providing Computer basic course (how to use internet browser, Ms word etc) to educate college freshmen the very basic of computer. Despite the fact that Japan is one of the Top 50 highest internet penetration rate. 

Though, they are all very good users of cellphone/smart phone. Seems like Japan has cell phone culture more than pc culture. They type like lightning when using a cell phone, but when using a computer, they are like a girl who is hesitating to shop – can’t decide to type a long time.


#3 Japanese people are polite, but fake.

Japanese polite bow

Seriously, I had never known the meaning of polite until I came to Japan. They are realllllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyy POLITE.

Their politeness is based on 2 concepts : Humble & Harmony.

So when you compliment a Japanese, they will tell you “No, that’s not true. I’m not that good.” or in a worse case, sometimes they feel sorry to have you compliment them “Ah! Sumimasen (sorry), I’m actually not that good.”

When you open a door for a Japanese, “Ah! sumimasen…” they apologize. The idea is that they feel sorry to have given you trouble to open the door. So they apologize to keep harmony with others. You give them a birthday present, “Ah! sumimasen…” they apologize again. Because it cost you trouble to buy that present.

You think this only happens in movie and drama? NO, It’s real in Japan. everywhere, everybody is that humble and harmonious. This is their culture. So don’t be surprised when they apologize to you. Just take it and smile back to them 😉

So, the question is, are they fake?

Well, at first I used to think that they were fake. Because they are really polite ALL the time. However, Japanese are human being too. They gossip, complain, blame too. So it makes a big gap for you when you found out they actually do these, despite that they are always polite.

But as a human being, who does not release negative emotion?

For the sake of keeping harmony b/w people, It seems better not to say negative things in front of others, right? Therefore, I think Japanese are not fake. Instead, they do try their best to keep the harmony, and why not give them a break to express their negative emotion sometimes?

However, I also understand the disappointment when you found your Japanese friends said something bad behind you. Culture understanding is all about give and take. Let’s try to understand the true intention of your friends.


#4 Japanese girls are all sexy and horny.

Now here comes the main topic of the day for men. lol As we know, (okay don’t pretend that you don’t know) Japanese AV is one of the best in the world. In Malaysia, almost every male, EVERY, probably has been educated by Japanese AV during teenage.

In fact, I admit that Japanese AV maybe the best contribution to sex education in many countries. lol

So here is the stereotype been bothering me for a long time.

“Shen! You are so lucky! Japanese girls are all sexy and horny aren’t they? I guess Japan society is very open for sex.”

The answer is ….. NO!

Well, they maybe really open about sex relationship. But not in public. I used to think the same as you do. However, I found that Japan has a very serious and respectful society. As I mentioned in #3 that Japanese are really polite and harmonious. They respect each other privacy to the max.

What surprised me was that, in Japan, bad words related to sex organ or jokes about sex in front of opposite sex are not encouraged in Japan. I mean seriously it will destroy your image or the atmosphere of a conversation.

When I said something about sex in front of a Japanese guy and a girl, they started to be shy and panic, staring at me, as if they are saying “come on Shen, you shouldn’t say it in front of girls.”

And when I tell them Japan AV industry has a high credit in international arena, both male and female feel shameful about the fact.

So now you know that, Japanese people are not as open about sex as you think. Maybe they accept sex openly but I’m saying here is that, you can’t simply talk about sex topic in Japan upon building a normal social relationship. That can be rude to them.


In conclusion,

There are still many stereotypes of Japan exists in Malaysian mind. Many things that my friends in Malaysia thought I would be experiencing in Japan, it turned out that Japan is not what we thought it was.

I will provide more about Japan from now on in article form, or video form. Hope these will help Malaysian people have a better understanding about Japan.

If you have any other stereotypes of Japan, please let me know in the comment section. I’m happy to help you find out the truth. 🙂

Shen Lim
A Chinese Malaysian, Blogger, Vlogger on YouTube, Tour Guide in Japan. He believes 1 day his videos can bring Japan and Malaysia together. マレーシア華人、ブロガー、YouTubeクリエイター、日本にいるツアーガイドです。いつか自分の動画は日本とマレーシアを繋げる架け橋になると信じています。 Read more ABOUT him.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Hamyo

    Nice fact Shen 😀 it prevailed several stereotype thinking about Japan. Hmmm… but i have one question Shen, beside the politeness of Japanese people is that true there is a bad side of them? i mean… i think that Japanese people is still “racist” and sometimes it ended up to discrimination, did you know about “nisei” race, the second generation of Japanese. Nisei actually residing outside Japan, they are generally imigrate to western country during the period of World War II. The simple definition about nisei is the Japanese people that was born outside Japan and didn’t get the Japanese nationality (since they were born during the imigrate period) They are half Japanese and half american (usually hawaii) Japanese people seems couldn’t really accept nisei people moreover it’s become a discrimination. Let’s have a look to the history about “Wally Yonamine” he is one of the person who have a big impact in the Japanese baseball history, the first Asian who play for american proffesional baseball club, the manager of chunichi dragon, but yeah… there is still “Wally” on his name, there are many nationalist on that time that can’t accept Wally play. But i don’t know how is it going there right now, after all it’s just a history. please explain something about this one Shen, of course i hope it’s just my stereotype thinking Shen, but i’m readdy to accept the fact from you.

    1. Leong Shen Lim

      Hi Hamyo. Thanks again for your comment. You always impress me for you knowledge about Japan! Good Job. The stereotype of racist in Japan is a good topic to talk about. I will do some research and write about it next time 😉 thanks for the suggestion.

      So far as I have seen, the majority ppl in Japan do not have racism problem. By contrast, they admire those who have foreign experience and love to be a half. so if you are half asian and half white, you will be very popular among japanese community. IF you look at their entertainment industry, you will find many artists and models are half. So dont worry too much about the racism problem in Japan. it’s not as serious as rumors. In fact, I still havent seen any case of it.

      However, I ll do some research about it and tell u again next time ya 😉 thanks for your support always! ^^

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