Could you tell us about hugging culture in the US?

Q: Could you tell us about hugging culture in the US?  I am not quite sure about who you should or shouldn’t hug, when to hug, or timing. Some Japanese often feel awkward when they meet or see American people. Could you give them some tips?

A: It depends on the person. Some people do not like to hug, and they say “I’m not a hugger”. We should also never try to force someone to hug us if they seem like they do not want a hug.

Usually we hug our friends and family. If it’s a person we see daily, we won’t hug them unless there’s something special that happens. For example, if I am friends with my neighbor and I see her every day, I don’t hug her. BUT, if she gets me a really thoughtful gift, or helps me when I am sick, etc, I would hug her to show my appreciation.

In the same way, we usually hug people who give us a gift. Christmas is coming soon, and we generally hug people we exchange gifts with. The same for birthdays – if a friend or family member gives us a gift, bakes us a cake, or takes us out to dinner, we usually hug them to show our gratitude.

We also hug people to show them that we missed them. If we go on vacation, we might hug someone when we leave, and again when we come back. If someone has been gone for a long time, like to university or for work, we hug when they come home.

There are times when we hug people we have not met before. For example, if you have a penpal or an internet friend – you may have never seen this person face to face before, but you feel close to them because you have been communicating for a long time. In such a case, we already consider this person a friend, so we hug them.

In most cases, we would not hug our boss or coworkers, unless we had become quite close friends with a coworker.


Q: 米国でのハグの習慣について教えて。誰にハグをしてもいいか、いけないか、ハグをするタイミングがよくわからない。アメリカ人に会った時にどうしていいかわからない日本人もいるので、アドバイスをください。

A: 人によるわね。ハグが好きじゃなくて、私はハグはしないって言う人もいるわ。ハグをしたくなさそうな人にはハグを強要すべきでないわね。