I find it very interesting that the best-selling book today in Japan is titled Kirawareru Yuki, which means “the courage to be disliked” if translated literally. Written by a Japanese philosopher Ichiro Kishimi and writer Fumitake Koga, the work is fundamentally a self-help book that teaches people how to live happily by using Alfred Adler’s psychoanalytical theory. If the book had been titled “How to be Liked or Popular” I would not have bothered even thinking about it, because I know the desire to be liked is very strong in Japan. In fact, to be liked by others may be the most important skill a Japanese child has to develop in a highly group-oriented society. On the other hand, it is not difficult to understand why Kirawareru Yuki became so popular in Japan: the book became a best-seller in Japan precisely because most of Japanese tend to be guided by what others would think of them whenever they act in public space, and do not have the courage to depart the social norm thus to be disliked. They know what they do every day should not always be guided by the principles and values of others if they want to be happy about themselves. They want be able to maintain their own core values. They should not violate their core values, the values that make who they are. But, they are much afraid of offending others by showing who they really are, because that would likely result in their being disliked by others. Therefore, they just accept the standard of behavior or thought created by others; they just try to keep up with their colleagues, friends, neighbors, and relatives, sometimes at all costs in order to avoid ostracism. For instance, in Japan people who cannot understand the thoughts or desires of others get shunned or laughed at by others as kuuki yomenai hito, person who does not understand what’s going on in the social environment created by others. Kuuki yomenai hito was in fact labeled as people suffering from Asperger or Autism by some online teaching sites, such as “How can we tell who is kuuki yomenai hito” or “How to diagnose kuuki yomenai hito.” Kuuki yomenai hito is often called or written as KY in casual conversation among the Japanese in their 10s and 20s. In such an oppressive social context, it is at once surprising and understandable that Kirawareru Yuki has been the best-selling book in Japan for months. It also makes a good sense that the book is most appreciated by Japanese men and women in their 30s and 40s (based on Rakuten online store data) who now know that life is not merely to adapt oneself to others and environment, but not necessarily by the Japanese in their 20s, who are still struggling to fit in their society.
Currently Kirawareru Yuki is is still the best-selling book on both Amazon and Rakuten. And the book has also become the best-selling book in South Korea, where the book seems to be most appreciated by women in their 30s.