When my sister and I were growing up, we were both quite academically gifted. My sister eventually ended up going to a school ran by the local college for people who were often too clever to be satisfied in a normal school and I graduated with honors from both high school and college. Because my sister and I were seen as being "book smart", my mother liked nothing more than to frequently tell us that, though we were intelligent, we lacked "common sense" any time we failed to do what she would do in any given situation. Mainly, this applied to daily tasks which we were forced to do and didn't want to think much about or care about the outcome of such as doing laundry, cleaning, or cooking.
The truth was that my sister and I didn't lack "common sense" but we lacked experience. Most of my mother's assertions about how we didn't exercise common logic came when we were younger than age 16 (and a good amount of it when we were younger than 12). It was always my feeling that she savored offering up this particular put-down because it allowed her to feel superior to us in this regard and as a means of keeping our egos in check should our self-esteem become inflated as a result of the academic success we had. It's not that we were ever at risk of such a thing though. Neither my sister nor I grew up with any amount of big-headedness about our intellects because, while teachers reward you for intelligence, society on the whole and your peers do not.
In the U.S., "common sense" is usually used to mean doing what is logical in a given situation. For instance, the fact that you shouldn't wash a red shirt with your white laundry because it'll bleed color onto your whites could be considered an exercise in common sense or that you shouldn't wear muddy shoes and walk across several rooms of your home. By and large, the notion of "common sense" is something which is not specific to your culture. People in Japan have the same ability to exercise logic that people in the west do in similar situations.
In Japan, the word for what is frequently translated as "common sense" is "joshiki" and it's one of many examples where translation fails to convey the essence of a word in a particular culture. While I'm sure that "joshiki" encompasses the same notions as western common sense, it also includes concepts that we would not, concepts that are specific to Japanese culture.
This notion has been brought home to me many times in conversations with Japanese people but never so clearly as in a recent conversation with a student of mine who is studying Criminal Justice at an American junior college. We were discussing how she needs to participate more in classes and I recommended she prepare to describe the Japanese justice system to her American classmates and teacher. Her response to this suggestion was that she didn't know anything about the Japanese system. This was something I knew to be untrue and I said, "you know that trials are conducted with 3 judges, don't you?" She said, "yes, but that's just common sense."
To me, her response perfectly illustrated that, in Japan, "joshiki" encompasses common knowledge as well as common sense. She seemed surprised when I told her that the Americans she studies with would not feel that this was obvious or that it was information that everyone probably already knew because they believed that a jury trial system (which Japan is supposed to adopt next year, incidentally) would be "common sense". In America, we have a similar notion that people in our culture pretty much know certain things (like that there is a president, vice president, Senate, etc. in our government) but we wouldn't call these things "common sense" nor would we expect that people who grew up in other countries would naturally have knowledge of such things.