Majority culture and stoicism

By Mao Kadowaki

When I was born, babies who slept in the incubator around me were all Japanese. My relatives are all Japanese. All of my friends from kindergarten to middle school were all Japanese. According to the statistics department of Japan, “97.9% of the population in Japan are Japanese.”

Being non-conformists is not tolerated in a Japanese culture that values uniformity.

In Japan, it’s rude to speak much about “you” to others because they believe everyone to have common bases of personalities, habits, and way of thinking since they’re all Japanese. They don’t talk about personal things to each other because they believe they can know each other without talking and knowing about them. For example, many of the working people don’t have friends in their workplace. “62.8% of the businessmen say they don’t have friends in their work place,” according to Mynavi Corporation. As a result of this, they don’t ask for advice to others because they’re taught that the best way to solve your problems is solving by yourself, not by getting help from others. Even among family members, there is some kind of shyness when they ask for help. This habit causes the serious problem for Japanese people; depression.

Dr. Onda, a Tokyo psychiatrist, had experience a woman patient telling him she would be fired if her company knew she was depressed. Some of the people still believing that if you’re depressed, it’s because all of your fault. Also, many of Japanese don’t like to give help. It’s not because they’re indifferent, but because they have their hands full to control themselves not to collapse.

Also, they have a higher rate of suicide. They’re making their own situation really difficult by themselves.

I was this “majority” for 15 years. I was the frog in the well who knows nothing of the great ocean. People know me as “good girl.” I hid  my suffering well. The girl who everyone says “good girl” was me, but was not me. From the day I came here, I met so many non-Japanese, and I learned I don’t need to be a “good girl,”I can be actual myself. I need to ask for help before the suffering I have become bigger than I can handle.

I was told this by adults from a very young age.

“Don’t judge others, because we are all the same.”

When I become an adult, I’ll be saying this instead to my future child.

“Don’t judge yourself, because we are all different.”


Works Cited

  1. French, Howard W. “Depression Simmers in Japan’s Culture of Stoicism.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 10 Aug. 2002,
  2. Quora. “Why Is Depression So Prevalent in Japan?” The Huffington Post,, 8 Sept. 2017,

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