アナタはどっち? ブックスマート vs ストリートスマート



This is something you see in the English language. As you might imagine, those who are scholastically successful are considered to be book smart. On the other hand, those who are able to think on their feet while out in the real world are considered to be street smart. Let’s find out more of what they mean!


Are you book smart or are you street smart?


These are terms that have been used in America, for many years now, to describe two different types of intelligences that people possess. There are quizzes that test whether you are book or street smart and people often use it to describe how well you are accustomed to the area or how educated you are. Ideally, one would have a good balance between book and street smarts, but this doesn’t always happen. But before we get into that, let’s take a look at the definition for each term.

Book Smart / ブックスマートとは

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ブックスマートは知識豊富な人のことです。この人はルールを守るのが好きで、成績も全部 A で部活などでも優れています。このような人は人生経験やスキルなどは知識で補えると信じています。あるシチュエーションを実際に経験するのではなくて、イメージをしてどう乗り越えるかを考えて、頭の中で吟味します。

Someone who is book smart is someone who is knowledgeable. This is someone who is good at following the rules and get straight A’s in school who excel in extra curricular activities. People who believe that knowledge can makeup for the skills and experiences they have yet to learn about in the real world. Instead of actually living through a situation, they think through it and imagine it, only living it in their heads.

あと、Urban Dictionary 曰く、ブックスマートは学業的に成功しているけど、現実世界ではそうではない(ストリートスマートではないから)という風にも説明されています。

Or, as Urban Dictionary puts it, someone who is able to succeed scholastically, but not necessarily in the real world (because they lack street smarts).

Street Smart / ストリートスマートとは

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Another term for streetwise, to express the experience and knowledge that one needs in order to overcome obstacles that may come your way in life. You have situational wiseness, and understand how the city, or your surrounding environment operates. This usually comes from ones experience in many different situations.

また、Urban Dictionary 曰く、ストリートスマートとは常識をよく知っている人で、世界で何が起こっているのかを理解している人のことです。誰と、どのような人と一緒にいることによってどのような行動を取ればいいのかわかっていて、都会を全体的に扱える人です。正解な判断が出来る人で、話を聞く才能もあり、周りで何が起こっているのかちゃんと頭に入れている人です。

Or, as Urban Dictionary puts it, someone who has a lot of common sense and understands what’s going on in the world. They know how to act around different people and groups, they know how to get around the city, whether this is in the ritzy area or the ghetto. They know how to make the right decisions because they know how to listen and understand what’s going on around them.

Which Is Better? / どっちがいいのか?



You can’t really say that one is better than the other. In fact, they’re both good. Being book smart means that you have a good grasp on factual knowledge. You have a high skill set in scholastic activities, which will garner you a higher education. On the other hand, being street smart will keep you out of danger when in the real world, or traveling through new cities and countries. You are aware of the surroundings that you may not notice if you were just book smart.


And, of course, as we all probably predicted, it is best to have a good balance between the two. Because ultimately, even if you understand how the streets work, without book smarts, you won’t get very far. And without knowing how to survive in the real world, you will easily get lost…in many different ways.


Therefore, by having a good balance of the two, you will be able to get far in life. Or, at least, that’s what I would like to think.

In Japan? / 日本ではどうか?


I do not mean this in a bad way, but I believe that in Japan, there are many people who are more book smart than street smart. This is because as students, one must study a lot in order to get into a good school and prosper as an adult. I can’t really say many people are street smart…basing it off of how many stories I have heard of travelers getting mugged or getting conned abroad.


While this is not to say that the victims are at fault, but going abroad with the same mentality of being in Japan is just asking for it. Every country is different and the safety standards are varying. Japan is known to be one of the safest countries, so one has to be on guard. Yet, I still hear of people getting their bags stolen, or getting swindled out of money. Perhaps this is because of the lack of experiences due to the safe streets of Japan.

How To Be Book Smart / ブックスマートになるには


Read. Study. Learn.
(Don’t drop out of school kids. And pay attention in class!)


‘nuf said.

How To Be Street Smart / ストリートスマートになるには


Go out. Experience the world. Listen and understand how the city works. Walk around town with the mentality that everyone is out to mug you. They might attack you from behind, they might pounce on you in the crowded streets…trust no one. After doing this for about two weeks, you will start understanding how to decipher actions and read the change in atmosphere. You will be able to survive in a city surrounding and think on your feet!

I hope you read my article on sarcasm!


But, for a few pointers, knowing the neighborhood, dressing to blend in, not drawing attention to yourself, acting casually and calm when communicating to another person always helps. Never look away suddenly if you make eye contact with someone, always be polite and brief, listen to your gut, and never look afraid.


In the end though, it is always good to have both smarts. Who doesn’t want to be smart in all areas, anyways?