The Japanese are not exactly known for their directness, but even other Japanese people fear the passive aggressiveness of Kyoto residents.

A stereotypical example could be that a neighbour in Kyoto, instead of complaining that your musical instrument practice kept her up all night, she may remark, ‘seems like you’re improving!’ next time she happens to see you in the apartment building’s stairwell.

This leaves the recipient of the comment playing the interaction over and over in their mind. Was she genuinely praising my burgeoning flute skills? Or was it a roundabout way of saying ‘keep it down you inconsiderate a-hole’?

In the end, the wannabe flautist will probably cut it out anyway, just in case. And therein lies the cold effectiveness of the Kyoto style.

But recently many Japanese Twitter users seemed to find hints of this Kyoto passive aggressiveness in an unlikely setting. Noir, a Japanese Londoner, tweeted about a humorous moment she witnessed on a train in the English capital.

Some girl on the train was playing music through her earphones stupidly loud and a British man working on his laptop said to her,

‘Excuse me, would you mind DJing for me please?’

She swiftly turned the music down and at that moment I thought, so this is England…

The story garnered over 52,000 likes. Although the original post made no comparison with Kyoto, it soon attracted many comments in Japanese such as ‘this is so Kyoto’.

Considering there's probably no way the girl thought he actually wanted her to DJ, this comment does seem less cutting than the classic Kyoto approach. One commenter wrote, ‘if it was in Kyoto he would have said "thank you for allowing us to listen to this great music!"’.

Some people say the Japanese don’t understand sarcasm, but those people have never been to Kyoto.

By - Jess.