goo Ranking recently published an interesting survey into arigata meiwaku, unwelcome helpfulness, when other people read your mind wrongly.
My pet niggle is when convenience store staff put a fork in with my salad instead of the usual chopstick without asking me what I actually want.
I posed this question to a Japan expat forum on reddit and got a bunch of rather interesting replies from longer-term foreign residents of Japan. The most voted-for answer was having people jump in to help if you show even the slightest hesitation around railway ticket machines, which I must say I’ve only experienced once. Next is getting people ask you “Can you eat Japanese food?” and otherwise helping out with the “correct” way to fully enjoy the meal; I do get that too and it is very irritating! What have my readers experienced?
Here’s an example of number 6 – some people are saying that there is social pressure to refold the toilet paper back into a triangle after use!
Q: What do you frankly find to be unwelcome helpfulness? (Sample size=2,300)
Rank Votes 1 Being seen out to the door after buying clothes 210 2 Shop staff deciding you don’t need the till receipt 191 3 People reorganising a booze up you excused yourself from 159 4 Your hairdresser being chatty 152 5 People being concerned that you aren’t married, haven’t had children yet 146 6= The end of the toilet paper being folded into a triangle 142 6= Someone getting food for everyone at a buffet 142 8 Your mother-in-law buying children clothes 106 9 New Year greetings card from someone you haven’t interacted with for a while 104 10 Next door neighbours accepting a parcel for you when you’re out 92 11 Continued obligatory exchange of birthday presents 80 12 Convenience store staff checking if you have a point card 70 13= Being introduced by an ex (presumably to a new potential partner) 69 13= Your hopeless at housework husband doing the housework 69 15 Hairdressing staff seeing you out the door 65 16= Getting a present of handmade sweets 64 16= People coming to talk about formal introductions to potential marriage partners 64 18 People dishing out the food from shared plates 60 19= Mobile phone’s word completion prediction feature 51 19= Summer gifts and winter gifts (Ochugen and Oseibo) 51 21 People who often bring me souvenirs 48 22 People who take charge of the hot-pot cooking and serving 46 23 People who share out their home-grown vegetables 44 24 Birthday surprises 41 25 People who take charge of the barbeque grill 32
Between the 21st of December 2015 and the 4th of January 2016 2,300 visitors to the goo Ranking site completed an internet-based questionnaire. No further demographics were provided.