How do you feel when someone you are greeting wants to hug you or kiss you on the cheek? When is it appropriate and do you think the custom can be misinterpreted in some cultures, such as Japan, for example?

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    Mark_McCracken

    It depends on who is kissing and hugging me.

    It is appropriate with the person has hugged or kissed me before.

    Yes, it can be misinterpreted.

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    XXXXX

    I'd feel OK w/Latin Americans & Italians (not the French or Spanish so much, I'm not sure why) and definitely not OK with Japanese or N.Americans.

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    mareo2

    In Argentina a kiss in the cheek is a common way of greeting a friend, so I am used to rather effusive demonstrations of affect in public. Keep an open mind with other cultures. In especial show more tolerance when people feel more "friendliness" after some drinks.

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    smartacus

    I'm never comfortable with it. Also, I don't understand the air kisses when people go cheek to cheek. As for Japan, Japanese women who have lived abroad and have lots of foreign friends seem OK with it, but I have never seen a Japanese man hug or kiss anyone in greeting.

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    alladin

    I dont mind the hugging as long it is only a friendly hug. As of the kissing, well, I rather refrain from letting people kiss me who I dont know.

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    Zenny11

    Depends on who does and under what conditons.

    Family and close friends is ok, total strangers is usually a no-no unless it is the standard greeting in a society/place I visit. Same with some of the fancier handshakes some people use.

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    elbudamexicano

    Hey Smartacus, if you could only see my Japanese students after they come back from a year in MEXICO! The first thing they do is give me a big kiss on my cheeks! (the girls) and my guy students give me a huge big hug! Why?? They have learned that in Mexico this is not sexual harassment but just the way we say BUENOS DIAS, hey long time no see etc.. On the other hand I met 1 Japanese man in Mexico who had just landed out of Narita and when he BOWED doing ojigi, the Japanese style everyone in Mexico was so surprised and SCARED!! It looked like this guy was going to bust a table in half like the way karate experts do, you know, with their heads, so he quickly learned to give HUGS AND KISSES in Mexico and to only do OJIGI when he dropped money or looking for something on the floor.

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    Dewaashita

    I agree with elbudamexicano, the automatic hugs and kisses, that cultural aborption, happens quickly. The scenes I have been a witness to have been pretty funny.

    Now when they return to however, the story can be a little sad. Often, no matter how discourged with less expressive cultures, hugs and kisses will reappear in custom/familiar company. Not just Central or South American. There are sections of the US, as well.

    Hugs and kisses are perfectly acceptable, even welcome. Dispise air kisses.

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    mikehuntez

    As long as they smell clean I have no problem with it even though it's not my custom. However if they stink then I'd rather they keep their distance.

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    Disillusioned

    Yeah, well. If one of my mates walked up to me and tried to kiss me I wold probably react with a punch. But, if a sexy young woman did the same I'm sure my reaction would be the opposite. It is a cultural thing and there are many cultures in which this is common practice. You could say the same thing for the native New Zealander culture of rubbing noses, although, if a 170cm-200kg All-Black wants to rub noses with you I recommend you let him.

  • 0

    Mittsu

    DON'T TOUCH ME!

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    miyazawa3

    Yes , most of times it depends on the person and the personality in front, , Sometimes I prefer to Hug and Kiss and alsoo little more... haaaa. but some cases, I feel disgusting to Hug , soo smelly , looks dirty... so I forget the customes and surendering to my true feelings, gomenn na.....

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    asahi_man

    I have no problem with it especially if i know the person well and have often found the japanese girls here initiate it on many occasions, maybe they trying to tell me they find me attractive or something without coming out and saying.

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    bass4funk

    I have no problem with it at all, I don't have a problem with hugging or a gentle kiss to a good friend, also it's a vibe thing, I think you need to assert the situation and have a mutual understanding of ANY individual before hugging or kissing anyone. Everyone is different, some like me have no reaction and others might totally misinterpret the action and intent. I just have a problem with some cultures (talking specifically about men) holding hands. As a man holding another man's hands, doesn't sit well with me at all!

  • 0

    Zenny11

    Actually I am wondering how many people here took a "Global Diversity Course", etc. Was required when I joined EDS, ditto for "Assertivness", etc courses.

    Was interesting as it not only covered exchanges between cultures but also between sexes and made many realise that many of our actions(often unconscious) are actually upsetting people and can even be against the Law(sexual harassement was big here).

    So it is not just a case of "Oh it is standard where I come from", "Staff needs to be aware of different customs and swallow it.", etc.

    To give you an example I had a Japanese boss who liked to push his glasses up looking at a client using his middle finger extended from a clenched fist. He never realised that his hand position can be interpreted as an insult and he had lived overseas for years.

    Told him to use his Index finger instead as I could some overseas clients getting upset.

    There are tons of small gestures, etc like that can can be insulting based on a person culture and background. I as a European got fairly quickly used to during travels to be careful, as a gesture in 1 country can be positive and in the next can be a VERY bad insult(ie like saying your mother is a good lay).

    Hence why I said on another thread that I found the Americans to be the most cultural insensitive people on travels. Like touching childrens heads in Thailand, etc = BIG No-No or pointing at things, food with a finger another BIG No-No.

  • 0

    ReformedBasher

    If it's a pretty girl, no problem at all.

    Everybody else - maintain your distance :-)

  • 0

    ppokkiya

    After saying good night to a penpal of four years during a visit in Korea, he extended his hand at the same time I opened my arms. We looked at each other, asked each other if it was okay, shook hands, then hugged. :) I'm used to hugging friends, and he's used to shaking hands. It was different for both of us, but it was okay. (We both thought our reactions were funny too.)

  • 0

    jj1980

    Even though it's considered a culture thing in some areas. You also have to look at the weird world we live in today.

    On the receiving end you may not want some total stranger opposite sex or not giving you a smootch on the cheek. On the giving end you have to be able to tell if the person you're trying to greet in that fashion will welcome it. Or you will find yourself with a fat lip.

    Where I am from, people are very meticulous on personal space, and more so with strangers, many folk will hardly throw out a handshake much less having someone giving you a kiss out of nowhere. Sexual or not, that can land you with a hospital bill in my side of town.

  • 0

    Junnama

    Personally I think the best thing to do is file charges immediately. Hopefully the perp will spend time in jail and I can completely destroy their life. That would be awesome!!!

  • 0

    minello7

    Obviously no Italians here.More people should do it,come on hug the person next to you.Lets have a national "give everyone hug day" here in Japan ,they have holidays for everthing else,why not.

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    vulcan

    My black friend liked to kiss his friends wives (white friends) to get a reaction from them to see if they are a racist or not.

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    marushka

    Well, if it is really stranger – then it is not appropriate. But in Europe it is normal greeting way between friends, family members and acquaintances. My Japanese friends who have lived abroad do same way when we are meeting.

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    RomeoRamenII

    Not acceptable in Japan. Respect the customs of this country.

    RR

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    Antonios_M

    I don't mind since it is very common in my homecountry, Greece too. I guess its cultural thing, so i would prefer the bowing greeting in Japan. I don't think we will see any Japanese salarymen hugging or kissing on the cheeks for goodbye anytime soon.

  • 0

    moonbeams

    They better get both cheeks.

  • 0

    Junnama

    Which cheeks are we talking about??

  • 0

    whiskeysour

    I think everybody needs to take a step back and think about this for a minute.

    If a celebrity (brad pitt, tom cruise for women / victoria secret model/ or hot single woman for men) you like or admire hugs and kisses you, it's cool. Maybe there is an exception for Japanese people under certain circumstances. But if a total stranger hugs you. It's usually case by case.

    In a Japanese family it is not unusual for a father or mother not to hug/kiss their child after 3-5 years old. That means on an average Japanese parents do not hug or kiss or give a greeting card to their child after 3-6 years old and above. Which means it's pretty normal not to hug their friends or family. When they become an adult signs of affection is mute. Totally freakin nigh !!!!

    Hugs and Kisses from a foreigner: To an average japanese person who doesn't speak a foreign language or no interaction with a foreign person things get misinterpeted and the cycle of lost in translation develops. Why did this fat,old, not my type guy or just kissed me !!!!

    People should ask if they can hug first especially in japan. Or try to respect japanese strict conservative culture. NOOOO HUGS culture, no kissing in public, no signs of affection in public and sometimes "Akshu" ok !!!

    It's case by case - Some people overdo it when they are intoxicated. " Don't touch my lady ! " I've seen fights break out because of this.

    It depends- close friends and family only.

    During New Year strangers hug me, get a bear hug from my male friends and I get a kiss from a drunk girl. It's all good (fine & dandy).

    Ugly fat man or non attractive woman with bad breath/ 62 year old man maybe different point of view

    But if a fat man or not good looking man hugs a (stranger) woman and kisses her on the cheek. She might feel (will be) offended or upset- she might not want a hug from an ugly guy. Maybe the guy is not her type, maybe the guy is not thinking sexual but his thinking could be in a friendly gesture. THE FEELINGS OF BOTH PEOPLE WILL BE HURT.

    62 year old man: Ohh, sh!t !!!! She didn't understand my friendly gesture and she feels that she has been violated !!!!!!

    Japanese lady with non- or no experience with foreign friends male/ female : He invaded my bondaries and touching me, which I don't allow any strange man to do except my boyfriend or my prince charming when ever and where ever he is !!!!!

    which brings a very important point - privacy and personal boundaries

    This man is 62 he should have realized he's in a different country and not everybody excepts a hug and kiss on the cheek or lips whatever he tried to do. It made the woman feel violated which is not good for her because she had no experience like a foreigner kissing and hugging before.

    This Argetina guy should have hugged or try to hug all the staff including the male staff. To me he simply targeted her because she's cute, harmless,defenseless, doesn't look like the type to judo me to the floor type of lady & so I can hug her only.

    This guy didn't hug anyone else so, for me he's an opportunist hugger and kisser. Hahahahaha Weeeeeee !!!! Only hugged what he wanted to hug no hugs to the old woman with 2 teeth.

    I don't discrimnate with hugs but I doooooooo hug more women than men. Yeahhhhh !!!!!! Personally, I do not care if someone hugs or kisses me. Because i try to respect everybody's culture.But I do have my limitations !!!

  • 0

    Farmboy

    It's not particularly my custom, but I interpret greetings as greetings, not as sexual advances, and I imagine most Japanese do as well. Still, if someone looks uncomfortable, it should be avoided. The purpose is to greet, not to cause embarrassment.

  • 0

    Fadamor

    Speaking as one of those "culturally insensitive Americans", I will say that I am aware of the Japanese aversion to touching in public so you're never going to see me hugging or kissing Japanese acquaintences. As such, any greetings I would perform with strangers would be a small bow accompanied by a "Hajimemashite. Fadomoro des. Douzo yoroshiku." Where I KNOW I'm going to get into trouble is body language and gestures during other times that don't involve introductions. One gesture that really seems odd to Americans (well, at least to me) is the "please come over here" gesture that the Japanese use. I've heard it described as "Like a cat pawing at the sand in the kitty litter box." More than likely we would interpret it in the opposite manner... thinking we were being shooed-away.

  • 0

    sojherde

    I am a male German and I would feel angry, if someone who is a stranger would try to kiss or hug me(male or female,pretty or ugly is the same). With people I am acquainted with it is different. When we came to Japan, I learned from a Japanese teacher that she even was scared when a male aquaintance just wanted to be polite and help her in her coat after a dinner in a restaurant.

  • 0

    Sarge

    If someone wants to hug me or kiss me on the cheek, it must be someone who knows me fairly well, so no problem.

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    XXXXX

    I wonder how the reaction would be in China, same question

  • 0

    debittoo

    Well i.m a spanish guy who have lived in japan for more than 2 years. At first time it was so difficult don.t kiss someone when in our first meeting or for greetings but actually i must to admit every time a foreigner kiss me in the cheek i feel weird. It.s not like i hate it but i feel uncomfortable...

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    porter

    I am N American origin but many years in Japan and I have grown to like the bow and not like even hand-shake. Its so annoying when Japanese feel they should shake my hand because they see the gaijin. I move right into the bow and throw out a meishi making a hand shake impossible. You could do similar if somebody tries to hug or kiss you.

    Kissing, hugging and hand shakes are great ways to spread colds.

  • 0

    ebisen

    As a Latin guy I have absolutely no problems with either kisses and hugs. Be careful though, as the flu season has barely begun (some people DO say it's better to catch it early). Japanese girls do seem to love it (but one has to demonstrate it first :)) )

  • 0

    limboinjapan

    I have had some interesting experiences coming form a society that tend to hug and kiss when greeting.

    It is not uncommon to kiss each other on the cheeks when being introduced even for the first time.

    When my parents came to Japan it was hilarious to see the reaction of my Japanese male friends when both my father and mother greeted them with kisses I thought the guys were going to have a coronary after my father did it most of the women didn't seem to have a problem with either of them doing it.

    That said it is usually not done to perfect strangers unless you somehow spent some time with them and they are from a similar culture and when you part ( I guess now no longer strangers ) then it may be OK.

    Here in Japan ( and a few other places including USA) I have been gotten the " Is he (are they) Gay" question or look when greeting my male friends from countries where this sort of greeting is common.

    Having lived in many countries I have noticed that greeting in this fashion is most often frond upon in countries that seem to be more Homophobic ( with the exception of many middle eastern and north African countries where it is common but only between the same sexes and never the opposite sex).

    The most critical countries of this practice are western Anglophone countries that seem to view everything to do with touching as sexual, how my 72 year old father kissing the cheek of a young Japanese (or any other Nationality) woman when they are introduced with my mother standing right there could be viewed as sexual is beyond my comprehension I sometimes wonder if we have taken political correctness way to seriously.

  • 0

    IvanCoughalot

    Very easy rules here. If you're female, in good nick, and look like a bit of a sort, hug me as often as you like and kiss wherever you choose. Make sure the wife's not looking, however.

    Males and rough birds - keep well clear.

    Any bloke who offers me more than a stout handshake on formal occasions is asking for a smack in the mouth.

  • 0

    TimRussert

    Presdent Obama's ridiculous, lurching handshake-bow aside I really don't think this is as frequent or momentous a contretemps as people want to make it out to be.

  • 0

    forinagai

    Porter - so why are people wrong to assume that you shake hands? Bowing (the way Japanese do) is not part of N. American culture, so why is it wrong for people to shake hands with you?

    Hand shakes are not great ways to catch colds! It's basic hygiene. I was always taught to wash my hands before a meal. So regardless of how many hands I shake I know I won't catch anything from them.

  • 0

    bobbafett

    I am Italian. I hug my friends when I see them, I sometimes kiss my close friends. Just a peck. No lips. But if I meet one of my friends ladies or wife who is Japanese, I bow or seldom shake hands. I hate sleazy guys who use the "westerners kiss and hug" thing as an excuse to touch and kiss another guys attractive GF, wife, or attractive single girls when there is no relationship present. Its disrespectful. My GF runs to me for protection when guys try to do that to her. the look on their rejected faces is priceless. None of my male friends kiss or hug others guys wives or girlfriends. It's not appropriate, especially in Japan.

  • 0

    Zenny11

    Agree with Bobbafett, there is a time and place for it.

  • 0

    Monkeyz

    I don't much like it. I don't like physical contact, so it would make me pretty uncomfortable. A couple of hugs per year from a visiting friend, maybe. But if random people were trying to give me hugs or kisses, I would tell them to back up.

  • 0

    Fadamor

    @forinagai,

    Hand shakes are not great ways to catch colds! It's basic hygiene. I was always taught to wash my hands before a meal. So regardless of how many hands I shake I know I won't catch anything from them.

    Imagine how sanitary bowing is, though. You don't even have to worry where the other person has been putting their fingers/hands. :-)

  • 0

    Icewind007

    To each culture their own. Don't be insulted if you are greeted in another culture the way they do. Don't be insulted if they greet you the way they expect you to be greeted.

    If you are uncomfortable which such a small gesture, you've traveled too far out of your "safe zone" in this world.

    And if you worry about sanitation due to simple handshakes, congratulations, you are part of the ignorant masses who think you are clean or safe from germs otherwise. Wash your hands and dont stick them where you are vulnerable. If you are in a crowd, you are snorting up ariborne germs whether you like it or not.

  • 0

    forinagai

    'When in Rome, do as the Romans do.' - true. But if the 'Romans' go out of their way to greet you in the manner you are used to, then you should react positively and return the greeting the way you are used to.

    Too many times have I seen 'westerners' here in Japan do a very poor imitation bow - angle all wrong, timing of bow wrong, how long the bow was held, either too short or too long - it ain't as easy as it looks.

    Anyway, the Japanese are generally very accommodating and don't expect 'westerners' to greet them as Japanese do.

    Perhaps, doing what makes you feel comfortable is the best thing to do when greeting someone. Certainly, don't reject the 'greeting', whether it be a kiss, bow, hug, or whatever - return the greeting in the manner you are used to or are comfortable doing.

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