Q Why are the Japanese quick ask personal questions?

A As is often pointed out, a typical greeting in Japan when meeting someone on the street is, "Where are you going?" And the answer would be a noncommittal, "Just over there," or "Just shopping." It is not anyone ' s business where the other is going, so there is no need for the greeting to be taken at face value. Also, the Japanese have no scruples about asking personal questions such as, "When are you getting married?" or "No children yet?"

The reason stems from Japan's agrarian society where everyone was considered family as well as constraints imposed by a feudalistic family structure where individual freedom was relatively unheard of.

No one considered personal information about a person to be an intrusion on his or her privacy. It was seen as camaraderie, each other out to see if the other could be included in one's circle of acquaintances. This was true in the farming villages and even in cities in the shitamachi area, or the traditional working class neighborhoods. The shitamachi neighbors were on very friendly terms with one another. There are some who prefer this camaraderie of the warrnheattedness of shitamachi.

However, people who respect privacy have increased with the huge concentration of people living in cities and the large number of people who have no contact at all with their neighbors in their apartment buildings. There is a tendency nowadays not to ask prying questions.