Bowing, Cleaning, and… Coronavirus?


A country close to China (the place where the virus started in the first place).

A country where people squeeze into the 27% of land which is habitable (the other 73% is mountainous).

A country which contains the world’s largest city, Tokyo: a huge, bustling, sprawling metropolis containing 37 million people out of Japan’s 126 million.

Who would’ve thought that Japan would have such few coronavirus cases? What is the reason?

If you don’t know about how few patients died from the virus in Japan, I’ll start with some stats.

In the whole entire country of Japan, there have only been 907 deaths (June 5th, stats by Now, that is sad, but let’s compare that to the rest of the world. As you probably know, the US has the most coronavirus deaths in the world, with 110,000. Brazil has 34 thousand. Italy has 33 thousand. Going down the ranks, Spain has 27 thousand, Mexico, 12 thousand. Even Russia, the Netherlands, and Peru have more than 5 thousand deaths reported.

So, why the low number of cases in Japan compared to other countries? Let’s break that down.

1.) Japanese People Highly Value Cleanliness

I talked about this in another post as well. Japan is a very clean country. For example, Japanese kids learn to clean their classrooms everyday after school. Elementary kids are seen mopping the floors, wiping the windows, sweeping up the dust, stacking up the chairs. Sorting trash is also heavily valued. Taxis, trains, planes— they are all cleaned unceasingly for the people that ride them.

2.) Japanese People Don’t Shake Hands; They Bow

The virus can spread through touching. People have been called not to shake hands or hug during this time for fear that the coronavirus might spread.

But with Japanese people, they don’t need to be told not to hug or shake hands. They usually don’t from the start! Instead, they bow or wave, as is the custom.

Also, in general, Japanese prefer to have more personal space when talking with others. There is already a natural social distancing in place!

3.) Japanese People are Always Thinking about One Another

Japanese people are very hesitant. Before they say and do things, they first think what people around them will feel, and if that will even slightly change their relationship with another person.

So, a lot of people just stay inside of their houses for fear that they would spread the virus by going out. Going out may result in people losing respect for them, and they would feel great shame.

Japanese are always aware of the people around them, and that might be another reason the virus hasn’t spread as much as in other countries.

Those are my reasons! What do you think?

Also, from today, I am starting to post discussion questions, just so we can talk and get to know each other better!

What’s a fun experience you had last year around this time?

Bye guys! God bless!

4 thoughts on “Bowing, Cleaning, and… Coronavirus?

  1. So, what you are proposing is that Japanese people are more cleanly than those other countries? I have lived in a lot of cultures, Noah, and I would not say that Japanese is necessarily more cleanly than a lot of other countries. I have also lived and worked in different areas of Japan, and I have seen some pretty dirty places in Japan.

    Japanese people are always thinking about one another? Well, as you say, they are afraid of losing other people’s respect. That is how they are thinking about each other, right? It’s not that they are thinking about others in that they want to avoid hurting other people. That’s not how you mean it, is it?

    I haven’t seen people staying inside, though. They go out to the grocery store a lot. They ride trains and buses — though recently people have been allowed to telecommute and have been staggering work hours.

    I can’t figure out why you didn’t say anything about masks.

    Also, have you ever asked yourself why the U.S. and European countries have so many cases when Beijing and Shanghai had very very very little?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not saying that Japan is more clean than those countries, therefore Japan has less coronavirus deaths. I’m saying (and this is my opinion; you can think differently about it) that Japan, combining all those points that I addressed, makes it a safer environment. I know there are dirty places in Japan as well. I mean, every where you go there is! I am just saying Japanese people *value* cleanliness.

      I think yes, Japanese people are afraid of losing other people’s respect. It is their custom. The way you are bringing your argument sounds like everyone in Japan has a selfish heart and only thinks about themselves. Some people do it for the respect of others, some people think about others for others. I’m just using it as a general term.

      The reason people get on buses and trains is because of work. Grocery stores are necessities. Without going to them, people can’t have food. While I think Japanese people could use other means of transportation, like bicycling, but as I mentioned in my point about thoughtfulness, they don’t want other people to think bad of them by them not going to work. People who don’t *need* to go to work, I believe, stay inside as much as they can (but I’m not saying all of them).

      I was trying to keep this post simple. In the category of thoughtfulness, wearing masks, bringing hand sanitizer, etc. is included. Maybe that was confusing?

      This might be a controversial opinion, but I think cities in China are toggling their numbers to some extent. Another reason probably is the communist government. People were forced into their homes, forced to do masks (even killed if they didn’t).

      Hope those answers made sense!


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