Cool Words

Kennon-Green & Co. Fiduciary Financial Advisor, Wealth Management, Global Value Investing

The Japanese have a concept known as Arigata-meiwaku.  The rough translation is “Unwelcome Kindness” or “Misplaced Kindness”.  

Cool WordsArigata-meiwaku is used to describe a situation in which someone does something for you that you didn’t want them to do, and you tried to avoid it.  Nevertheless, the person went through with the plan, determined to help you or show their support, and despite all of the trouble or irritation it caused, you are expected to express gratitude as a result of social convention.  

An Example of Arigata-meiwaku

Imagine you escape a comet cult such as Heaven’s Gate.  You move to a town 100 miles away and start a new life.  You are free now, but don’t want to deal with the insanity of your family finding you and trying to reconvert you so you go by your middle name.  As a result, you avoid Facebook, Twitter, and the like.  You live your life, raise your kids, and try to help build your community.  

You do such a good job getting people to donate money to help build the new elementary school gymnasium that your neighbors say they are going to have you do a front-page feature in the local newspaper, which will be put online.  You don’t want this to happen.  You know that someone in your family, or in the cult, will find your picture and recognize you.  They will show up and start trying to get you to rejoin in time to be raptured by the coming comet.  It would interrupt the peaceful life you’ve created for yourself, your spouse, and your children.

[mainbodyad]You encourage your neighbors and friends not to do the profile, but never come right out and say the reason or are forceful.  They sneak behind your back, grab a picture of you, and one day you wake up to find a glowing piece about your contribution to the community on the front page, everyone waiting on your front step, smiling, yelling, “Surprise!”.  No matter how badly the situation has now become for you, you are expected to thank them for their well-meaning behavior.

In the Western world, you see Arigata-meiwaku in movies and books as a plot device, often for comedic effect.