How UX is different in the Western world and Japan

Wakana Sakai
2 min readJan 21, 2024

I read the article by Bas Wallet which is an interesting topic on how UX is different in the Western world and Japan. I strongly recommend you read this article that helps think about international UX design.

I have experience as a UX designer in both Canada and Japan. Also, I teach UX/UI at the same time, in a Canadian college and a design school in Japan. Sometimes I felt uncomfortable with the Japanese way of thinking, and that was always a challenge for me to think about whenever I got to know more about UX design.

After reading this article, all of my doubts were turned clear, and I’d love to share my thoughts here.

The biggest difference is about context-oriented structure.

For us (Japanse), showing why we need to click the button and what to expect after clicking is more important than the beautiful visual design, which means it’s not a reason to interact if only the visual is good because Japanese people expect context-oriented rich information.

I like the conclusion by the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin that studied Western and Eastern traditional art:

“We identified systematic cultural differences in the amount of information in cultural products and in people’s skill in handling large amounts of information.”

In Japanese, we can recognize characters’ meanings without mentally pronouncing them. That’s why we read much quicker in other languages. It means that even if there is an amount of information, it is not unpleasant and can be read without stress.

How about Western culture…?

If I were to provide information similar to Japanese culture, it would give the impression that there was too much information and an unorganized structure.

I realized that I was explaining unconsciously from a different point of view when teaching UX design to Japanese students in Japanese and when teaching UX design to multicultural students in English. It reminds me that it was difficult for me to explain when evaluating Western sites in Japanese or Japanese sites in English.

I’m happy that I am Japanese, have a deep knowledge of UX design in English, and get more opportunities to understand international UX design.

Information architecture is culturally affected.

Thank you for the interesting study about the Japanese culture of UX, Bas Wallet.

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Wakana Sakai

A UX designer for 4+ years with a background in Web design. As an instructor, I teach UX/UI in a Canadian college and a Japanese design school. 🏠 designwkn.com