Different “hugging” concepts
(original content can be found at https://www.quora.com/Do-Japanese-girls-like-being-hugged)
That’s an interesting question. The short answer to that would be the common sense one: “YES” (just as any other human being would). But in reality, their level of hug-liking will have a certain degree of variety, which is much dependent on the ethnicity of the person giving the hug.
This is when culture plays a huge role in actually determining the thought process behind either enjoying, or not, being hugged.
A western girl (or person), for example, will enjoy receiving hugs from people of the same gender as themselves, or from a person of the opposite gender that makes them feel at ease when the hug is performed (i.e.: hug from a family member, from the guy/girl they like/think is charming, from a celebrity/person of influence they follow, etc.)
In Japan, however, a myriad of different factors take place when it comes to actually performing and receiving a hug—these are ethnically and culturally based factors that have their core within a Japanese cultural context.
Two major “hugging” factors
Let’s focus on just 2 factors here so that this answer is to the point.
For instance, Japanese girls will avoid hugging other Japanese people who do not have a personal/somewhat intimate connection with them (i.e.: people who are not part of their inner friendship circle). When I asked the Japanese girls I know about it, the reasons they gave for that were several: “we don’t really like hugging in Japan,” or “we should never hug at work, that would be strange,” and even “in Japan, greeting by bowing is still usually the social norm accepted, others ways, like handshaking and hugging, are kind of American.” All of these opinions are reasonable and logically follow the cultural pattern of the Japanese mindset. It gets tricky though when, all of sudden, just because you are a non-Japanese person, all the girls seem to want to hug you, no matter your gender or background.
I asked the same girls above the following question, “if it’s so hard to hug other Japanese people, why is it that you try to hug me, or other foreign friends of mine, from time to time. Their answer came almost in unison: “that’s because you are not Japanese!” I further joked with them saying that they were being racist by hugging me and my friends just based on ethnicity but, while maintaining the positive mood in the conversation, they retorted “well, we know that by hugging you or other foreigners you won’t judge us, nor think we are weird…so we know we can freely hug you…”
(my friends I will usually hug once enough beers have been consumed, independent of your ethnicity…)
So, in summary, without any evil intent, and without any discriminatory influence, Japanese girls will totally choose the people they hug based on the 2 factors I described above:
1. you are made in Japan (then they avoid hugging you to avoid “misunderstandings”)
2. you are not made in Japan (then they feel empowered to hug you thinking that you won’t misinterpret their hugs as someone made in JP possibly would)
These 2 will define the level of enjoyment Japanese girls will get from your hugs.
As I mentioned above, there are more factors behind this, though. Even something as simple as a hug cannot be defined in these “black & white” terms I presented alone. For now, use these as a guide and try to relax while handling these public displays of affection while in Japan.