This is a beginning of an endless series highlighting the Japanese cultures, traditions & laws of different countries around planet earth.
Japan and Japanese Culture
Did you know?
Japan, in Japanese, is also known as “Nippon” or “ Nihon”. While Japan is one country, it actually makes up nearly 6,900 to 7,000 islands. In addition, the most famous and popular islands are Shikoku, Hokkaido, Honshu, and Kyushu. Furthermore, these islands occupy 97% of the country. Also, within these islands, there is a total population of 127 million. In fact, Japan is a Pacific Ocean island nation off the coast of mainland Asia. The country is full of mountains; however, most of the population lives on the coastlines, making it the densest population in the world.
The national language spoken across the country is Japanese. Further, the Old Japanese “ Kanbun” was originated from China, and the earliest Japanese text, the “ Kojiki” was actually written in the early 8Th century, and it was written primarily in ancient Chinese characters. Later on, Modern Japanese was developed during the Edo period, between 1603 and 1868.
Additionally, the Modern Japanese consists of 3 alphabets:
- Kanji ( logographic Chinese characters )
- Hiragana ( Phonetic Japanese alphabet )
- Katakana ( Phonetic alphabet used for foreign words )
The early Japanese culture influences by China. On the other hand, during the Edo Era, Japan had lived in an isolation policy, closing its doors to all relationships with the outside world. Therefore, this isolation technique cultivated a distinctly Japanese culture. Moreover, after the fall of the Edo Era in 1868, Japan adopted cultural practices from all over the world and mixed them with what was established during the Edo Era. In addition, western culture had influenced all aspects of Japanese culture including art, lifestyle, and food.
Religions and spirituality
There are two strong main religions in Japan: Shinto and Buddhism. Shinto is a Japanese religion while Buddhism comes from China during the 6th century. In fact, a recent study found that 39% of the Japanese population is known as Buddhist, 3.9% as Shinto, and 2.3% as Christian.
In Japan, during summer and spring, the “Matsuri” takes place (celebrations for the Gods of the land and sea), these celebrations are widely attended by everyone.
Sports play a significant role in Japanese culture. While Sumo, Judo, and Karate are considered traditional sports, Baseball, Soccer, and Rugby have been adopted from other cultures.
Sumo is known to be only practiced in Japan; therefore it is the national sport of the whole of Japan. Besides, Modern Sumo was formed during the Edo Era. Also, Baseball got the highest number of viewers across the country. On the other hand, Baseball was first introduced to Japan in 1872 and has been always growing in popularity ever since.
The traditional family unit in Japan is called “Kazoku”, it is all about the Mother, the Father, and their children. Traditionally, the children live with their elderly parents. However, more recently, this culture has developed by the influence of more modern arrangements.
Cuisine and main dishes
The Japanese are primarily fish eaters. Therefore Japan is the number one fish importer in the world and consuming around 12% of the world’s caught fish. In addition, the most well-known Japanese dish is probably Sushi (A dish that includes fresh fish, seaweed, and lightly seasoned rice). Also, Beef, Poultry, and Pork have been a part of the Japanese population in their daily diets.
Arts and Creativity
Art is an important part of Japanese life. Particularly, traditional arts and crafts such as the” tea ceremony”, “flower arrangement and dance” are the expressions of the Japanese culture, and they have great value and designate as ‘living national treasures. Besides, Japan’s history’s influence is also by its literature and poetry.
The strangest Japanese laws you may never knew before
- Forbids to damage or throws away money (if you do, you could pay a fine or spend a year in prison) and no more coin pendants for you.
- It’s illegal for married couples to live separately unless there is a “just cause”. With this in mind, the only exception allowed is work or health-related issues. Additionally, the law ensures that married couples work together to bear the costs of living and to prevent the divorce rate from increasing due to prolonged separation.
Famous quotes about Japan
“IN JAPANESE CULTURE, THERE IS A BELIEF THAT GOD IS EVERYWHERE – IN MOUNTAINS, TREES, ROCKS, EVEN IN OUR SYMPATHY FOR ROBOTS OR HELLO KITTY TOYS.” – RYUICHI SAKAMOTO
“THE WHOLE OF JAPAN IS A PURE INVENTION. THERE IS NO SUCH COUNTRY, THERE ARE NO SUCH PEOPLE…. THE JAPANESE PEOPLE ARE… SIMPLY A MODE OF STYLE, AN EXQUISITE FANCY OF ART.” – OSCAR WILDE
Interesting books about Japan
Yokohama Yankee: My Family’s Five Generations as Outsiders in Japan by Leslie Helm
Geisha: The Secret History of a Vanishing World by Lesley Downer
Tokyo on Foot: Travels in the City’s Most Colorful Neighborhoods by Florent Chavouet.