Anyone who has spent any time in Japan over the winter months will hopefully sympathise with me here. The Japanese don't blow their bloody noses in public! Now I can't speak for the entire Japanese nation here but from what I've seen in Kanazawa it just doesn't seem to happen.
Go on mate, give it a good ol blow!
This morning (and bear it in mind that this is peak time for sniffly colds) I had to move seats twice in one 20 min journey to avoid having to listen to interminable sniffles and snorting. To be more precise the first guy actually snorted like a pig consistently every 2 mins or so. Surely one short blow of the nose would sort this out and put me out of my misery? Even more frustrating is that he just didn't seem to realise how annoying he was being. They never do!
The second offender I tried to film (see above), you can just about hear it at the end but it still doesn't paint the true picture of sheer annoyance!It doesn't just seem to be men in Japan. One of my 3rd grade teachers is a lovely lady but also has a habit of snorting like a pig which still, after 10 months living here, leaves me shocked and looking around the room to see if anyone else recoils with disgust (and yep no-one does)
So why don't the Japanese blow their noses in public? Well apparently its considered slightly bad manners so the majority of people would prefer to continue sniffing than to cause offense by blowing their nose. Surely there's a cultural middle ground though where if your cold is that bad, a polite turn of the back and quick but quiet blow would suffice?
Who knows but for me, I'm going to invest in a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones for the winter period, a wise investment for anyone with a daily commute on public transport in Japan!
Handkerchief for nose blowing or a hand drier?
Whilst we're on the subject of nose blowing. I may have properly disgusted my Japanese colleagues the other day when I pulled out my hanky as normal to blow my nose. Handkerchiefs, as I was so politely told, are not used for blowing the nose in Japan. They're used for drying hands (public toilets sometimes don't have hand driers) and to pat the excessive sweat off the face and neck during the very humid summers.