Japan and its Culture

Japan is a remarkable country that has been known to be innovative, creative, forward thinking and simply beautiful. It has a fascinating and multifaceted culture. On the one hand it is indulged steeply in the deepest of traditions that can be dated back to more than around thousands of years, while on the other hand it is a society in a continuous state of change, with rapidly shifting trends and fashions and technological developments that constantly push back the boundaries of the impossible. This is a huge part of what makes it such a fascinating country to visit.

The Japanese people appear at first glance to be one of the most socially and ethnically homogenous groups of people in the world. It is often not possible to distinguish most of them upon looking at them just once. The kimono, which is a long flowing cloth covering the body from the shoulders to the ankles, is the national garment of Japan. Even though now the western attires have influenced a change in the outfits of the citizens, kimonos are still worn at formal events or special functions. Good manners and customs are a major part of many phases of Japanese life. The Japanese people are generally raised to be picking up the subtleties and minimalism of this unique culture as they go through their lives, all while respecting the invisible and different societal rules. One of the most obvious social conventions is the bowing down of the head. Everyone in the country bows when they greet someone by saying hello, goodbye, thank you or sorry. Bowing is a way of showing respect, remorse, gratitude and greeting. It is also customary in Japan to take off the shoes before entering a traditional guesthouse, a home, temple or the occasional restaurant. Traditionally, the Japanese took off their shoes when entering homes since the people of that house would sleep, sit and eat on the tatami-mat floors and footwear worn outside the house would spread dirt across their living area inside the house. In today’s time, people still take off their footwear, mostly to keep the interior parts of the building clean and dirt free, but also as a sign of respect.

Japan’s unofficial national sport is the amazing and sometimes even bewildering spectacle that is Sumo. Having its roots very deep in Japan’s culture, Sumo has a history of over one and a half thousand years. Legend famously states that the survival of the Japanese people had balanced and depended on the outcome of a great sumo match between the gods. Another sport that is famously associated with Japan is the Karate.

Karate was first properly introduced to the mainland Japan in the early twentieth century. It features unarmed combat with an array of trained blows and blocks by using the fists, feet, legs and arms. Even modern sports like football, baseball, hockey and golf have become very popular in the country.

Japanese food has lately become more and more fashionable and popular in the United States, Europe, and many other countries. Dishes such as sushi, tempura, noodles, and teriyaki are some of the ones that are most commonly known. The Japanese diet consists mainly of rice with fresh seafood and pickled or boiled vegetables.

The traditional arts of Japan include activities such as the tea ceremony, calligraphy, ikebana or flower arranging and gardening, as well as architecture, painting, and sculpture. The performing arts are identified by their unique blending of music, dance, and drama, all with their roots in different eras in the past. The prominent traditional theatrical art forms if placed roughly in the chronological order of their appearance are bugaku, which is court dance and music, Noh pronounced as Nō, which is a traditional form of dance the mixing of dance and drama, kyogen, which is a type of comic opera, Bunraku, which is a puppet theatre and Kabuki, which is drama along with singing and dancing. The flower arrangements, the tea ceremony, and calligraphy are very popular arts, especially as aesthetically pleasing pursuits for women. The traditional Japanese paintings, dance and music have sadly lost a lot of their previous popularity, even though the poetic forms of haiku and waka are the only ones that have continued to flourish. Traditional handicrafts include some of Japan’s finest visual arts. There are many different forms of pottery, lacquerwork, bamboo ware, papermaking, silk weaving, and cloth dyeing which are quite noteworthy. Even the extremely popular Manga or Anime comic books and movies are from Japan. Recently, a book called ‘Ikigai-The Japanese Secret to a long and healthy life’ became very popular all over the world, attracting people from everywhere towards the Japanese culture and way of living.

Japan is a very special country that has something for people of all age groups. If you want to walk towards experiencing tranquility, visit Japan.

Arigato gozaimasu!