Nihongo no Kokoro Part 121

Iwanugahana

言わぬが花

Japan as an island nation is imbued by high-context culture. Rather than words, we have a highly developed form of communication that uses mainly subtle facial expressions and body language that can be deduced based on the situation. Of course, this advanced level of subtlety can also be easily missed or misconstrued.

“Iwanugahana” is a saying that encompasses this aspect of our culture. Silence is beauty. Not revealing one’s emotions and returning with silence is the epitome of refinement. Simply speaking one’s mind is plebian practice.

In this age of social media, it is common even for Japanese people to speak their minds on platforms like Twitter. However, I am willing to bet that if you were to meet any in person, you will find that most are more reserved than their online persona.

I’ve been told that Asian cultures in general are considered to be high-context. So what do you think? Do you agree with the culture and practice of “iwanugahana”?

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