One of the fundamental societal protocols in Japan is the timeless nugget ringing so very true, especially here in Japan:
It isn’t what you know, but who you know.
Keeping in mind the deeply rooted Japanese social conventions, and up until relatively recently, being really brilliant in Japan was often more of a hindrance than a help.
One can not easily shirk away the DNA of Japanese heritage or the rigid hierarchy of the Japanese system, and historically standing out from the crowd, especially in intelligence, was taboo.
Unlike Occxie-land, where innovations and inventions are dreamt up by maverick individuals and anointed discoverers, Japanese society could be described as a cohesive beehive where the embedded protocol of Form—Order—Process are adhered to innately as a matter of societal conventions.
Valuable skills to navigate the murky, social waters and unspoken conventions of Japan are not based solely upon IQ, but also in the ability to read the air and a distinct understanding one’s place in the strict hierarchical society of Japan is imperative for a successful life in Japan.
Those who succeed at the highest level of any endeavour in Japan have successfully created a network of trusted individuals, in many cases starting with the original human network often created among one’s primary or junior high school classmates—dōkyūsei, kōhai, and senpai.
One who has created a very powerful extensive network of reciprocal contact is regarded as one who has a wide face—kao ga hiroi.
Traditionally all economic and political activity in Japan has been based on personal relations, having and maintaining strong contacts in all of the pertinent areas of business and government, and this ancient system continues to prevail and will do so until the end of time.
People with kao ga hiroi know, and are known by a large number of people, and are among the most valuable connection one can have whether within a company or an organization.
This also rings true for one’s circle of friends and acquaintances, and it is always wise to have a trusted connection with those who have are “kao ga hiroi”
Generally speaking being described as kao ga hiroi is a major compliment.
Certainly in Japanese, the concept of face embodies significantly deeper implications than conceptually available to Occxies, who only communicate using Latin based languages—particularly those featuring singular and plural and countable and non-countable nouns.
Truly, there are many useful phrases in Japanese embodying the concept of “face”and using handy phrases such as these will allow one to look more skillful and adept in Japanese language proficiency, regardless of actual level.
kao ga kiku
“face is effective”
In other words “face” takes on the meaning of influence. Therefore, the individual concerned is powerful enough to get things done.
kao ga ureteiru
“person’s face sells well”
A companion to kao ga hiro, the figurative meaning is the individual having a wide circle of friends and is popular among them.
kao ga tsubureru
Making someone lose face is one of the most egregious error to make in Japan. Here one can be sure to have made a life long enemy if ever being the catalyst for someone losing face—especially while shaming them in front of a group of peers and colleagues.
kao wo tateru
“save face or honour.”
Here the slighted can recover honour and face. In Old Japan, face was restored by the time honoured tradition universally innate to all homo sapiens—an eye for an eye.
kao wo kikasu
“use one’s influence”
Use the “face” to influence the surroundings and make one’s own community a wonderful place for everyone.
kao wo kashite kudasai
“please lend me your face”
The Japanese are fundamentally insular people, and any foreigners showing up in Japan without some connection, which can be considered “face,” in other words, with no contacts or connections are at a serious disadvantage.
It is always advantageous to associate with those who are in a position to lend their face and to “use influence to help.”
Remember, to get things done properly in Japan, especially those who are coming for the first time and do not have anyone with the power of the kao, it is well advised to take the advice described above and round up someone who has a “face that is effective” (kao ga kiku).
As the importance of kao in Japanese society can not be understated, it is imperative to be aware of the gravity of metaphors attached to one’s very own kao, and the karma of “face” will always remain after any words are spoken.