Free Hugs

Free Hugs, Nagoya, Japan

One recent weekend I was wandering around taking pictures and enjoying the nice weather (It’s spring here, you know, and that actually means something, unlike back in Canada). In front of Nagoya Station, probably the busiest part of the city, I saw the above-pictured group of people offering free hugs to passers-by. I watched for a while, while literally hundreds of people passed by and barely anyone stopped for a hug. If someone did stop, it was some really extroverted person. I saw others try unsuccessfully to persuade their friends to go get a hug, too. But still, hardly anyone stopped, though many looked and smiled or laughed or looked away like they were embarrassed.

It was an interesting sociological experiment to watch, as I’m sure it would have had different results in another culture. You don’t see a lot of public displays of affection in Japan, especially between people who have just met. Interestingly enough, Zach had a similar experience a while back, all the way up in Tokyo.

I’m not sure who this particular group was (This was one of the many times I’ve wished my Japanese was more developed) but they were nice enough to let me take their picture. I also got hugs from all five of them — which is five more hugs than I’d gotten since coming to Japan 3 months ago. Made my day.


2 thoughts on “Free Hugs

  1. Sarah

    I’d be so into those free hugs. I was always the type of person to ask for the free smile at McDonald’s. Yup, cheesy I know. You know they say that receiving so many hugs a day is supposed to be a healthy thing.

    It would be interesting to see how those signs would work in other cultures just as you had mentioned.


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