The other day we ran into his friend underneath his apartment. It was the first time I was introduced to his friend. Naturally, we both go in to say hi and his friend gives me a kiss on the cheek as a friendly form of greeting, and I return it.
Having grown up in Australia I didn’t even think twice about our interaction, as it was something that occurred on a regular basis. It’s even normal for girls to kiss each other on the cheek as a way of greeting.
I’ve been with my nihonjin almost every day for the past 4 months. He is atypical or a person of his cultural background. Most stereotypes associated with Japanese men, such as timid and conflict adverse do not apply to him whatsoever. If anything I am more of a Japanese man than he is.
So it slipped my mind that kissing (albeit only on cheek) the opposite gender would be taboo for Japanese people. I would not have even considered it a ‘kiss’ but when my nihonjin teased me about I was taken aback that it had bothered him enough to recall the situation.
What I appreciate most about our relationship is that we are both patient towards our cultural differences and are willing to understand and explain. We approach one another to clarify any misunderstandings, instead of reacting emotionally and make assumptions of the other person’s intentions.