Japanese culture called “空気を読む”


Do you know the Japanese culture called “空気を読む”?

空気を読む(くうきをよむ)/ kuuki wo you / Read the room

*空気(くうき)/ Kuuki / Air

*読む(よむ)/ Yomu / Read

As you all know, Japanese people are quiet and sensitive.

As we continue to live such a quiet life, the Japanese have somehow developed the habit of reading the room.

So what does it mean to 空気を読む?

Reading the room means to instantly perceive the situation and decide what you should or should not do at the moment.

Japanese people really do this a lot.

They do this not only in business situations, but also among friends and with people who are close to them, such as family.

For example,

A: Let’s hang out next Sunday!

B: Sorry, I have to clean the house.

A: It’s fine we can hang out after you finished cleaning.

B: But I’ll be late, so I don’t think I can make it.

A: It’s okay if you’re late! I’ll wait for you.

In this situation, A isn’t noticing that B is casually expressing that she doesn’t want to go out.

In this case, A is not 空気を読んでいる

Another example,

You and your friends have gathered.
Your friend is very sad because his dog died yesterday.
Then your friend C came over and started to talk about his dog.
He is not realizing that you and your friend are not happy with the topic.

In this case, I would say that C is not 空気を読んでいる

Of course, 空気を読む is not a bad thing, but there are people who do this so much that they are unable to express their own opinions at all.

This is a problem in Japan today.

In addition, Japanese people like short cut words and the word “空気を読む” has also been abbreviated by young people.

Kuuki wo Yomu

Is there anyone around you who can’t read the atmosphere?

When you come to Japan someday, please try to remember this.

See you in the next article!