That's what I like to do: Visit with people and give them hugs. I do a lot of that in my life, and I'm happy to say there was a great deal of that last week.
Just hours after graduation, where I received several great hugs from people I'll miss dearly (I'm writing as a Franklin College alumna -- weird!), my friend Ellie and I left for a week-long Christian camp called Cedar Campus. After 10 hours in the car and a few adventures on the way, we made it safely to Cedarville, Mich., which is just south of the Canadian border.
With the exception of three and a half people, I didn't know anyone there. (I'd met the fourth person before, but didn't really know her, so she counts as half.) So I made new friends, which is one of my favorite things to do.
It becomes evident pretty quickly to people around me that physical touch is one of my main love languages.
I met Lauren from Minnesota on the first night, when we were both outside shivering in the cold, and she gladly accepted my offer to be her cuddle buddy. Later in the week, I got two fantastic back massages from Mike, I was inducted into "the nuzzle club" by Amanda from Depauw and I was "gracefully" (as he says) tackled by Adam. And of course I gave numerous hugs all week long.
I have no problem at all hugging someone I've just met. In fact, I prefer hugs instead of handshakes. I think it's because I'm open with people and like to have fun that someone recently called me a "let looser." It's true that I like to "let loose." But as I say, I may let loose and hang loose, however, I'm not loose!
As much as I like it, I realize that not everyone is big on being touched. So I'm usually careful about bursting personal bubbles and will back off if I can tell it's not welcomed. The sad news (to me it's sad news) is that the Japanese culture, on the whole, does not show affection in public. In other words, they are not "let loosers." In addition to what people have told me, here's what I found by doing a little bit of Web research:
"As opposed to Western culture, there is little physical touch involved between people. Whereas you might hug your family or friends in Western culture, this is not done in Japanese culture. Young Japanese women don’t even greet their friends this way (although they might jump up and down and maybe grab hands). Even married couples do not usually kiss, hug, or even hold hands when outside of the home."
This is definitely going to be hard for me! But I don't want to offend anyone in Japan, so I will try to control my urges to wrap people in big embraces. My guess is that I will have to learn to bow instead. I'm pretty sure I've never bowed to a single person in my life. This is yet another (of many!) adjustments that I will have to make.
Or maybe my new Japanese friends will evntually become huggers around me. I can only hope.