Differences in dream content and structure between Japanese and Western dreams

  • Christian Roesler (Author)
    Catholic University Freiburg Germany
  • Hisae Konakawa (Author)
    Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
  • Yasuhiro Tanaka (Author)
    Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan

Identifiers (Article)


This qualitative study of patients’ dreams in analytical psychotherapy using the method of Structural Dream Analysis investigated whether culture and culturally shaped mentalities have an influence on the content and structure of dreams. To investigate whether there are systematic differences between Western and Japanese dreams a German sample of 11 cases with 140 dreams was compared with a sample of 13 Japanese cases with 168 dreams. There were statistically significant differences found in the distribution of dream patterns as well as typical motifs characteristic for the two samples. These differences in the dreams reflect the typical differences in the mentalities of Germany (emphasizing individuality, autonomy and a strong ego identity) versus Japan (emphasizing sociality, harmony and cooperation with others). This is interpreted as speaking for an influence of culture and mentalities on the content and structure of dreams, as well as providing additional support for the continuity hypothesis of dreaming and waking life.


cultural differences; mentalities; dreams in psychotherapy; Structural Dream Analysis; continuity hypothesis
How to Cite
Roesler, C., Konakawa, H., & Tanaka, Y. . (2021). Differences in dream content and structure between Japanese and Western dreams. International Journal of Dream Research, 14(2), 195–201. https://doi.org/10.11588/ijodr.2021.2.76966