The Japanese Culture: Facts about their Traditions and Symbols as well as a comparison with American Culture
When talking about culture, it is understood that there are many aspects to consider. This is so because the word culture pertains to so many things. It can pertain to language, cuisine, traditions, beliefs, literature, artwork, clothing, and many other aspects of a specific society. These aspects may even mean or speak of different things depending on whether you are a man or a woman. One cannot simply study at a single aspect of a country’s culture and say that he or she understands that particular culture already. It is more complex than that and if you wish to know how Japan’s culture progressed throughout the years, you will surely enjoy this read.
Looking into the language of the Japanese culture, it is known that Japanese is the official language in Japan. Japanese isn’t like the other languages that use similar-sounding words that usually mean the same thing. With this being the case, it is almost impossible to try to understand Japanese if you have no background in the language.
It is a language that is has a pitch-accent system that is widely thought to be lexically distinct. With regards to writing this traditional Japanese, not everybody knows that it is written using a combination of three scripts. These scripts are known to be the hiragana, katakana, and kanji. The hiragana is from the influence of the Chinese cursive script. The katakana is also from the influence of Chinese characters used in shorthand. The kanji is also a script derived from China that works like logographic Chinese characters.
Writing modern Japanese also makes use of these strokes with the additional usage of things like romaji which is the Latin alphabet. The people that use romaji are usually the companies that make use of it for logos and advertisements. As for the numbers used in the Japanese language, the types that they use are the Hindu-Arabic numerals and the traditional Sino-Japanese numerals.
The literature aspect of the culture of Japan is heavily swayed by the powers that had influence over Japan throughout the centuries. To name some influencers, they are the countries of China and India. You can see the impact of Chinese literature on Japanese literature because you will find several works of Japanese literature that make use of the Classical Chinese style. The impact of Indian literature is obvious because Buddhism was spread throughout Japan due to these works of literature.
Like the Japanese always do though, they were eventually able to identify their own style of literature by developing a separate style from those of their influencers. This struggle for originality is seen and made apparent considering all the works of Japanese writers that focused on Japan as a nation and on the traditions honored here. The reopening of the ports to western trading brought in another influence of literature and this eventually led to the strong relationship between some western and eastern works of literature.
In the field of music, it is a fact that Ongaku or Japanese music is a very rich aspect of their culture. They acknowledge both traditional and modern Japanese music which, again, highlights the Japanese people’s natural tendency to stay true to their traditions while still finding ways to innovate. With their love for both old and new styles of music, Japan has become the second largest music market in the world, coming only second to America. This also means that Japan is the largest music market in Asia and that too, is a pretty big accolade to have.
It is also in the field of music that you will be able to see a big difference between the Japanese culture and western culture. This difference exists because of what each type of music focuses on. In other words, they are significantly different from one another because western music focuses on a mathematical timing or structured rhythms while Japanese music focuses on and considers the intervals of human breathing for the pace of the music they create.
The field of arts in the Japanese culture is unlike the other fields because it seems to be the least influenced by foreign powers. This claim is seen in how the pioneering Japanese painters only had mentors that were Japanese themselves. It can also be seen in the evident uniqueness of the style that the Japanese painters use on their artworks.
This field of art contains many types of Japanese art. You will be able to find artworks like paintings, calligraphy art, ukiyo-e and many others. In each of these types, you will not find a lot of foreign names or influencers mentioned because the progression of art in Japanese culture is really one that was triggered by the Japanese alone.
If you really need to pinpoint one area of the Japanese arts that was greatly influenced by foreigners, it would definitely be the art for sculptures. This is the case because traditional Japanese sculptures are considered to be focused on Buddhist images. With Buddhism being brought in by Indian teachings, one could easily understand how this art is the one that is more influenced by external factors.
The architecture in Japan is also an important aspect of the Japanese culture. It is highly noticeable that the Japanese architecture was initially greatly influenced by the Chinese architecture. As Japan has done with several other things, they evolved their architecture and eventually developed a type of Japanese architecture that was recognized to be uniquely theirs because of how far it has gone from once being so similar to Chinese architecture. This developed a style of Japanese architecture that can be seen in certain structures like temples, Shinto shrines, and castles.
There are much more aspects of the Japanese culture that you can look into. To mention some, there are the landscaping, performing arts, traditional clothing, and sports. The gist behind each aspect is that Japan may have been influenced greatly and frequently but they were always able to make each aspect of their culture their very own with all the developing they accomplished for each aspect of their society and culture.
Information on the Japanese Cultural Center as well as Cultural Traditions
The world today works towards the unification of all the world's people. Japan is a country that supports this goal and shows its support through many avenues. A solid example of such participation with the goal of world unification is the existence of Japanese cultural centers.
There are cultural centers found in Japan but since work towards their goal must be done on a way bigger scale, Japan has provided cultural centers to the countries that have permitted them to do so. The usual assumption with these cultural centers is that they only provide information about whichever culture they are promoting. This is a wrong assumption to make because these centers do way more good than simply advertising their respective cultures.
Looking at a successful cultural center like the JICC or the Japan Information and Culture Center found in Manila, it can easily be seen that, aside from promoting the Japanese culture, the establishment’s primary role is to provide educational services and community programs that will help aid the youth towards a better tomorrow. They provide educational services like Japanese government scholarships as well as youth exchange programs to broaden the knowledge of the youth and make them aim for bigger this for the future.
Now the exchange programs are highly effective in showcasing Japan’s very interesting culture since the people that get to participate in these programs usually get to go to Japan to get the first-hand experience of the culture but moreover, these centers also offer cultural grants that aid a country in preserving their own cultural heritages as well as heritages that are connected to Japan.
Being on the exchange program allows you to study and really soak in the Japanese culture. It is in these programs that you will notice the cultural traditions that are practiced in Japan which are not necessarily discussed in school or in articles or storybooks about the Japanese culture. Examples of such practices are removing shoes before entering a Japanese house and putting on the slippers that are left at the doorway. You should also be leaving your shoes pointing away from the doorway and they follow this because they have beliefs that bad things happen if this particular detail is not practice.
There are many other traditions that may seem weird or unnecessary to do or follow but that is the point of being exposed in that way. You really are left with no choice but to do it and go through it even if the reasons you have to do so may seem unclear or unreasonable. Following these minute details of their practices would surely show the Japanese the sincerity of the respect you have for them and their culture so be sure to be aware and cautious about these things.
Some Cultural Festivals that Kids and Adults will surely enjoy and the Delicious Cultural Food that can be eaten there
Japan is a country that celebrates through festivals almost every month. It also does not isolate where the celebrations are hosted because you can find festivals being held in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and all other districts and cities in Japan. This is understandable considering the variety of things worth celebrating in their culture. To mention some of the festivals they honor here, there are festivals for beliefs, festivals for religion, festivals for harvest, and much more. Each and every festival here highlights the culture of Japan because it is in these festivals that traditions and beliefs that have been passed from generation to generation are commemorated by the both old and young people.
Since there are a lot of festivals to pick from throughout the year, it might be hard to choose one that you and your company will surely enjoy. Luckily, there is a list of famous festivals that both locals and foreigners recommend and on this list is a festival in Kyoto that you surely should not miss.
The festival is called Aoi Matsuri or the Kamo Festival. This festival is commemorated because it is believed to be the festival that ended the epidemics and disastrous rains that ruined Japan’s crops at a very frequent pace. Emperor Kinmei ordered the people to appease the deities with gifts and prayers for a bountiful harvest. It worked and ever since then, this festival was been done with the main goal to give thanks to the deities and to ask for the continuous help of the deities for consistently bountiful harvests.
Since this is a festival that honors the blessings of food, there are a lot of people that mistaken this festival as a place to experience the traditional cuisine of Japan. The traditional cuisine being pertained to here are the sushi and rice dishes, along with other exotic, yet still authentic, types of food. If fish dishes are what you are looking for though, you might be in luck because the food served in these types of festivals are usually the ones you can eat while you or on the go. Fish dishes fit this because they can sometimes be served on a stick.
Overall, the Japanese culture is one that cannot be defined by a single statement because it is so diverse and is still consistently developing. A year or two from now, the Japanese might invent a new dish that may or may not become the next big thing in their cuisine. A year or two from now, the Japanese might invent a new gadget or recreate or restore and ancient ruin in their land that may become a cultural tool or heritage. Regardless of where their grow brings them, the culture of Japan has always been able to set themselves apart from the rest of the world in the best way possible so may their culture be an inspiration to you and your own country.