Humorous Stereotypes Japanese People Laugh At About Themselves

Japan is a wonderful country with amazing people and a fascinating culture. If you have never visited Japan or had the pleasure of spending an extended amount of time there and getting to know the people or the culture for yourself, it is very easy to believe the various stereotypes that have become attached to Japanese people over the years. 

Most, like many cases of stereotyping, aren’t true to real life, but some beliefs might walk that line between true and false.

Some of these stereotypes range from the ridiculous to the downright hilarious, so keep reading to see what stereotypes Japanese People Laugh at about themselves.

Japanese People Are All In Love with Anime

Japan is world-famous for its creation of Japanese animation, or anime, which is wildly popular around the world, especially in western countries. Because anime is so popular around the world and how many people see Japanese culture, it is very common to associate Japanese people with anime

Contrary to popular belief, many Japanese people, especially adults, don’t watch anime and usually view the shows as children’s entertainment so some Japanese people will laugh if they hear you associate them with being as in love with anime as many in the west are. 

That is not to say that Japan doesn’t have some of the biggest anime fans and some of the best cosplayers in the world.

Tokyo has one of the largest anime conventions that there are and the fans perform in spectacular fashion. However, you shouldn’t expect every Japanese person you meet to know what or who Naruto is. 

Japanese People Eat Sushi and Raw Fish All the Time

When you think sushi, you think Japanese. It is just the way it goes. But the idea that Japanese people eat sushi all the time is laughable to most Japanese people who hear the stereotype. 

Although the sushi in Japan is delicious and there are places, like the Sushi Roll chain, where you can get sushi off a conveyor belt for a dollar per plate, there are Japanese people who don’t like sushi or only eat it on rare occasions. 

Just like in western countries, there is a variety of great food in Japan so people don’t have to eat sushi all the time. Sashimi, or raw fish, can be expensive at upscale restaurants in Japan as it is here, so some people only eat high-level sashimi on special occasions.

Eating sushi or sashimi every day would be really painful for the average budget and most people, as people in the western world, can’t really afford that. 

Japanese People Are Shy and Polite

It is true that Japanese people are very polite as a society. They care about honor and worry about dishonoring themselves or their families so they learn from a young age to treat people with respect.

That is not to say, however, that every single Japanese person you meet will be the staple of politeness. There are impolite people from every country and ethnic group. 

Japanese people are not that shy either. In comfortable social circles, Japanese, as does anyone else, laugh, joke, and play around with their friends like any other people group.

It is possible that people think the Japanese are shy because they are usually reserved in unfamiliar countries with unfamiliar cultures. But, this too is not all Japanese people.

Japanese People Have to Announce A Delicious Meal

If you have watched Japanese cooking or food tasting show on TV, you will see people saying “oishii” with their mouths full of food about how good a dish is.

They yell to the top of their lungs even standing up at the table and looking around to see if anyone else is having the same fantastic experience that they are. 

This reaction to the taste of good food is showcased in anime as well, so my people think that this is normal, everyday Japanese people do when they taste a good meal.

Although people commonly express their appreciation for good food during the meals, as anyone would, these over-the-top expressions of food admiration are usually purely for entertainment. 

You shouldn’t expect to find everyday people screaming “Umai!” or “Oishii!” at the top of their lungs at a normal restaurant and they would probably look at you strangely if you did that. 

Japanese People Get Intoxicated Easier Than Other Ethnic Groups

There is a common misconception that Japanese collectively have a lower alcohol tolerance than other races. This is a stereotype that Japanese people find particularly amusing. 

Although it may seem that Japanese people have a lower alcohol tolerance level because of the rosiness of their cheeks when they drink, this is not an indication of how much they can drink.

Like individuals everywhere, Japanese people all have different alcohol tolerance levels. While some can barely stand after a drink and a half, others can drink you under the table from night until morning. It really just depends on the person. 

Japanese People Love Everything Cute

If there is one thing that Japan is known for, it is the production of extremely adorable, aka “Kawaii,” content. You can see it in anime, movies, TV shows, and even store mascots that attract attention on the street. 

But although the cute theme is very popular in Japanese culture, to say that everyone, especially women, loves cute things is just not accurate.

Like anything else, personal preference comes into play here and some ladies want to be seen as normal women instead of cute young girls. 

Japanese People Are Always Neat and Organize

During middle school and high school, Japanese students usually have to dress in neat uniforms for school. This is depicted a lot in anime where the requirement for perfection and uniformity is exaggerated. 

This may be why people think the Japanese are all neat and organized people.

It is true that a good percentage of Japanese people learn and retain organizational skills during their school days, but it is one of those learned skills that you can easily push to the side if you don’t wish to apply it to your daily life.

Just because you know how to do something, does not mean you put it into practice all the time. 

Japanese People are All Good at Academics 

This may be a stereotype caused by the world-famous academic programs of Japanese middle schools, high schools, and colleges that usually require entrance exams and acceptance into a specific school or program. 

Because kids have to study to get a good enough grade to pass their exams, it seems like that is all they do. This is depicted a lot in anime and on TV shows.

If you are a teacher at a night school in Japan, you will see kids who come directly from day school and then go to night school to study more for their upcoming exams.

Although studying a lot is a large part of being a grade school student, that is not to say that academics come easily to everyone, and that is not to say that everyone even studies.

Like in western countries, there are students that excel in their academic studies, and there are people who, unfortunately, do not. 

Japanese People Can Speak and Read Chinese 

A Japanese person may laugh pretty hard at this stereotype, as it is probably one of the most common mistakes that foreigners make when it comes to the Japanese and Chinese languages. 

The Japanese and Chinese languages are two completely different things and just because you know one, doesn’t mean you automatically know the other.

It is true that some of the characters may be recognizable when it comes to Chinese characters and Japanese Kanji, but the meaning of the same character may be very different from one language to the other. 

Contrary to popular belief, Japanese people like to learn Korean more than Chinese because the grammar structure of Korean is similar to Japanese.  

Japanese People Don’t Like Foreign Food 

This may be one of the funniest stereotypes about Japanese people because one of the staple dishes in Japan, ramen, is actually a Chinese dish in origin.

While it is true, like all cultures, there is nothing better in the world than a good homecooked meal, Japanese people love to taste and experience foreign dishes as well. 

Crapes, which is a French dish, are very popular in Japan and you can get them in restaurants, street food stalls, or crapes shops around shopping streets.

Hamburger chains are some of the most popular foods for the working class during lunch hour and teens after school. Pancakes are actually a popular dessert option in restaurants and the Japanese people love pizza as well.  Not to mention that KFC is Japan’s biggest Christmas dinner option and has been for decades.

The bottom line is that Japanese people, like the rest of the world, have a very diverse palate and can and do enjoy foods from all over the world. 

Interviews With Japanese People About Common Stereotypes

MT Lee
My fascination with Japan began several years back at a roadside bonsai stand while on vacation. I became more interested in the where and why's more than the trees themselves. My love of Bonsai led me to further research my interest in the gardens where they originated from and the places and people that surrounded those little trees. My curiosity was well rewarded upon visiting Saitama where the National Bonsai Museum was located and Omiya Village the bonsai mecca for lovers of this ancient art form. Exploring many towns and villages and even making my way to Japan's furthest southern prefecture of Okinawa. I hope to share my love of this wonderful and exotic place with all those who want to know more about Japan.