Created By: peccantisMarch 1, 2011 Last Edited By: peccantisOctober 27, 2014

UsefulNotes/HonneAndTatemae

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Redirects: Tatemae And Honne Alternative titles: Inner Self Outer Self, Inner Self And Outer Self

Needs help, and examples and tropes maybe. Can we get an image featuring an Inner Sakura moment?


The distinction between a person's inner self, true feelings, and outer self, the way they behave, is a central feature of human culture and humanity. Animals generally cannot hide their motives behind a fašade of conscious behaviour. [[hottip:Explanation :Some birds have been found to deceive members of their own species on purpose.]]

The concept is known worldwide, although the distinction is clearer in East Asia, where the social ideal favours a more separate and norm-fulfilling Outer Self as opposed to the modern West, where great differences in inner beliefs and outer behaviour are considered untruthful and being "true to oneself" is valued more than sacrificing the self for the better of society.

The concepts of the inner and outer self, called honne and tatemae respectively, are crucial to the Japanese culture. The public self fulfils the expectations of the social environment. Think about the Stepford Smiler. That's basically the idea of honne and tatemae exaggerated. The original Stepford Wives had the perfect tatemae (perfect in a Western context that is), but being machines, completely lacked the honne. Yamato Nadeshiko is basically a female character with the perfect Japanese context tatemae.

Honne is an extremely intimate thing, more or less a taboo. The Japanese word ai (love) is rarely used just because it deals with the deep feelings of the honne; using the word is either extreme closeness of souls or audacity. Suki (liking, or, to like) is much more acceptable and not as invasive. Not keeping up the tatemae front up like it should be is the core and the definition of a faux pas in Japanese culture. Saying things that are expected of you but that you don't really believe in is not considered lying - it is behaving in the correct way. Of course, most of the time you will be able to choose your words carefully to avoid straight out betraying your inner self.
Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • March 1, 2011
    dotchan
    IMHO, it's an Oriental thing in general, hence why the Inscrutable Oriental trope: Oriental courtesy puts a priority on politeness, smoothing down conflicts, and presenting a good public image, whereas Westerners tend to value transparency, Be Yourself, and airing grievances.
  • March 1, 2011
    peccantis
    What I've learned about China, the thing does exist there, but is not as big as in Japan when it comes to close family etc. Would suppose Korea is about in the between or higher, but that's just me guessing. Can we get more info on this? I'd love to include cultural notes on other Eastern Asian cultures regarding this, and maybe launch under a more general name.
  • March 1, 2011
    Heatth
    Would Inner Self And Public Self work, if it get expanded to other cultures?

    Also, there should be a note pointing the basic concept exist everywhere, although much more enforced in the East.
  • March 1, 2011
    peccantis
    Well yes. I kicked this one up and going to help explaining things such as the YKKTW Osananajimi versus "just" childhood friendship, but I have no reason to keep it Asian specific.
  • March 1, 2011
    Sligh
    Bump!
  • March 1, 2011
    peccantis
    Inner Sakura to illustrate? Another one.
  • November 13, 2011
    CindehQ
    The magical girl manga Shugo Chara is, at its core, about dealing with Honne vs Tatemae. The main character is often perceived as a cool rebel when in reality she's actually quite shy and unsure of what her "true" self is. All she really knows is that she's tired of having others' perceptions of her shape her identity and actions.

    The first time I read Shugo Chara I didn't quite understand the inner conflict. From a Western perspective the solution seemed as simple as "act how you want to act", but when you consider the importance Honne vs Tatemae, the lead's desire show more of her honne is pretty brave.
  • February 18, 2012
    Catbert
    This is a Useful Notes page therefor doesn't require illustration or examples.

    Peccantis, do you still want to launch this?
  • February 19, 2012
    peccantis
    Well I'd like to see it launched but feel free to grab it.
  • February 20, 2012
    Catbert
    Since you are still around, I'll let you keep working on it. I just wanted to make sure this hadn't been forget about it.
  • November 27, 2012
    TheHandle
    This is at least as important as the Pillars Of Moral Character, and should definitely get a page.
  • July 26, 2014
    TheHandle
    Hello?
  • July 27, 2014
    DAN004
    I remembered a mention in this site that the Japanese (irl, that is) rarely straightly say "no" to an offer/imperative, when they refuse - likely related to this inner/outer concept.
  • July 27, 2014
    Hodor
    Non-Japanese example:

    In Arthur And George (really should make a page on that), Arthur (Arthur Conan Doyle) complains about not knowing which facet of himself if any is the real him, as he struggles between his public image as a Quintessential British Gentleman and famous author and his private self, who struggles between his duty to care for his alying wife and his platonic romance with her caretaker, whose reputation he doesn't want to harm.

    At one point, Arthur is told by his brother-and-law and sister that it would be better for him to have an affair in private while maintaining his public image than to continue his current behavior of not actually committing adultery (in the sexual sense), but being seen in public with another woman.
  • October 27, 2014
    TheHandle
    Why isn't this a page already?
  • October 27, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ cuz nobody bothered to grab it.

    Now since this is an useful note, should we have examples?
  • October 27, 2014
    mauri
    Well it has the whole Honne Giri and Tatemae in the other wiki. Then again it is just a random thought I had. More information here

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