I write often about the concept of 国民性 kokumin-sei, a word which can be translated as “national character,” and one thing I like about the Japanese is their tendency towards 謙遜 ken-son (pronounced with a long second syllable, rhyming with “bone”), meaning “humility.” I’ve been rushing to get through the previous anime season because a new one is starting already, and one show I wanted to finish was Outbreak Company, about the discovery of a doorway that leads from Japan to a fantasy kingdom in another dimension, and the government of Japan’s attempts at winning over the hearts of the people there by introducing them to otaku culture. In one scene, the half-elf maid Myucel, also known as “the main reason to watch Outbreak Company,” says to the main character, “I’m really stupid and have no education or culture…but I know that you are a kind person, Master.” I don’t know about your country, but I haven’t met many in the U.S. who were capable of describing themselves as being stupid or lacking intelligence, despite occasionally strong evidence to the contrary. I have, however, encountered quite a few Japanese (students, friends, etc.) who went out of their way to describe themselves as baka (stupid) and apologize ahead of time for any inconvenience their stupidity and slow-wittedness might cause me. This tendency for the Japanese to be self-effacing and humble is one of the most unique things about living in Japan, though it takes a little getting used to.
The Japanese are very good at humility.