Haragei (belly talk)

Communication amongst Japanese people tends to proceed much differently than between Westerners. I am sure that this is true also of Chinese and Koreans as well, but it is best I limit myself here.

Communication between people involves many factors. Gesture and body language, tone of voice, the "ma" or space or pause in between phrases and sentences, and words amongst others.

Japanese people do not rely upon or trust in the words being spoken.

The distrust of words among Japanese people is said to date back to the seventh or the eighth century. The concept of the ancient book and poetry is "Kotodama". Koto has two meanings: koto for "words" and koto for "affair, matter".

The close association between the "word" and "affair, matter" referred to indicates something about the Japanese people's view of language.

Language is not an "object" but an "affair", an event. Yet words themselves construct only a portion of social interaction, since they "live" when one speaks from the heart and infuses them with spirit.

Haragei (from hara = belly and gei = sensitivity or subtleness) describes Japanese popular non-verbal communication, a negotiation without the use of direct words.

"Sasshi" ("surmise" or "guess") refers to the Japanese way of communication through understanding the real meaning of a message by feeling it out. It involves relationships, context, and memory. It also involves a tacit level of pattern recognition, such as how to know that another person's body language is to be interpreted as a friendly greeting.

This is why Japanese conversations can be so drawn out, particularly amongst older people, and why the seasons and weather and so on are talked about for such a long time.

The bellies are talking to each other.

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