In a previous post, I briefly wrote about claircognizance, which is an extrasensory, or psychic ability, to be able to intuitively understand or read energy (read about it here). In this post, I want to talk about a very common example of how Japanese people deliberately use this psychic ability everyday.
In Japan, there is a concept called “空気を読む” (Kuuki wo yomu), which is usually translated as “read the air”. This is a concept that describes how Japanese people interact with each other in social settings.
First, let’s break down the word “空気” (Kuuki), which means “air”, or “atmosphere”, so we can get a deeper meaning of this Japanese concept. The first character means “sky”, and the second character means “energy” or “spirit”. So the word “空気” is essentially referring to the energy, or vibes in the ‘air’.
So what “空気を読む” is referring to, is the idea of reading the vibes or energy of other people during a social interaction. This is essentially the same concept as claircognizance, as applied to a social setting. Japanese people are using claircognizance on a daily basis to facilitate their social interactions.
In social situations in Japan, it’s very important to be sensitive to, and to be able to read what other people are trying to communicate. This is because Japanese culture is very indirect, and Japanese people will usually not say things directly, as it may come across as rude, or too straightforward and aggressive. Instead, Japanese people rely on their intuition as they ‘read the air’ of the other person’s vibes, so that they can indirectly infer what is trying to be communicated.
As a common example, there are many times when I’m at the supermarket and I’m looking for something which I can’t find on my own. Sometimes I’ll ask a staff “Do you have ‘x’?”, and if they have what I’m looking for, they will gladly lead me to it. If they don’t have it, this is where things can become kind of amusing to someone who isn’t used to Japanese culture. The staff will usually have an exaggerated apologetic, nervous look on their face while saying something like “Uhhhhh, that’s a little… sorry”.
The point is that Japanese people want to avoid being direct by giving you a straight “no”. This is why the Japanese staff will have a very amusing apologetic look of exaggerated nervousness, especially when talking to a foreigner. They want you to take the hint that they are trying to say “no”, but they are worried about making you uncomfortable from a direct “no”.
This is why foreigners in this country will often notice a look of nervousness or fear in a Japanese person’s eyes, right before an interaction. One thing that Japanese people are afraid of is offending others, being seen as rude, or breaking social harmony. This is why they don’t want to communicate in a direct way. It’s much more comfortable for them if they can be indirect, and they feel at ease if the other person is sensitive enough to pick up or read what they want to communicate.
Japanese people are aware that most Westerners have a very direct form of communication, and this is why Japanese people get nervous about interacting with Westerners. They are not used to the different flow of communication, and may be worried that they won’t be understood, or that they might be seen as rude if they try to communicate directly as well. One thing Japanese people often say about foreigners, is “空気を読めない” (Kuuki wo Yomenai), which means “Can’t read the air”. Westerners are just not accustomed to using claircognizance in social situations on a daily basis.
But to get back to the point of this post, Japanese people are very adept at using claircognizance in social settings. They are able to intuitively infer what other people are trying to say by ‘reading the air’, or reading the other person’s vibes. This is why Japanese people can be so indirect in their communication. In other words, Japanese people communicate in a much more psychic way than Westerners do. Instead of solely using words to communicate and interact, Japanese people read body language and other sub-communication on a daily basis in a very effective and harmonious way.
This is one of the things I actually admire a lot about Japanese culture. They are very sensitive and considerate of other people’s feelings and intentions, in an attempt to keep social interactions harmonious and respectful. This is one of the things that Western cultures could learn more about and improve from.
The thing to note is that whether a culture uses a direct or indirect form of communication, neither one is better than the other. They are two sides of the same pole, and it would be ideal if cultures around the world embraced both forms, and could use either one in the appropriate situations.