Japan’s CultureJapan’s CultureThe Japanese culture dates back to 10,000BC with many fascinating periods and events. They span from the days ofthe samurai and shogun, to 1945 when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Although a bomb would be a devastating blow for any country, rapid industrializationand aid from the United States brought Japan to the forefront of worldaffairs.
In the following moments I will attempt to highlight someof the many unique characteristics that Japan has woven throughout itsnation. This will include the climate, people, religion, customs, and businessprotocol. Anyone seeking further information on topics I was unable tocover may wish to refer to my sources “The Insight Guides to Japan” or”The Berlitz Pocket Guides Japan. “Japan is roughly the size of Californiawith a population of 120million Japanese, 670,000 Koreans and 130,000 ofother nationalities.
The capital of Japan is Tokyo and the government isa parliamentary democracy, made up of elected representatives. The countryis divided into 47 prefectures, each with a governor. The climate in Japanis generally mild although the country does stretch over 1,700 miles, sothere is some variation according to region and season. The rainy seasonlasts from mid June to mid July followed by six weeks of extreme heat andhumidity.
September brings the wind and the rains and often some typhoons. The remainder of the year is mild in the 50’s, 40. s, and 30,s until Marchwhen the temps climb back up eventually to 70,s in mid summer. Japan is a wondrous country filled witha rich cultural heritage and many customs that are different from thosein the western world. The customs in Japan have created many do’s and don’tsthat make travel to Japan very interesting. Many Americans have beenguilty of cultural ignorance when in Japan.
. in Japan the religions of Buddhism,Christianity, Islam, and Shinto exist. The Japanese have incorporated shrinesinto their homes enabling them to worship on their own time and own terms. The Japanese visit ancestral gravesites ritually and have a custom of honoringtheir dead. In fact each year in August the Japanese take time off forpaying homage to there dead.
” People flock to the cemeteries to visitancestral graves, praying and sometimes even asking for guidancein their lives. One of the social customs in Japan is drinking sake duringthe winter. This legendary alcoholic beverage is made from rice. Sake representsthe glory of winter and the traditions of Japan. Another traditional drinkofJapan is hot tea which is customary year around unsweetened and withoutmilk. Anyone visiting a Japanese or Hibachi restaurant will be served teaautomatically, however there is no need to worry about the tip as for hotelsand restaurants already add a 10 ?15 % service charge to the bill.
Other social customs in Japan include seatingfor meals on the floor and enjoying many cultural delights, one being rawfish “sushi”. It is customary to remove your shoes when entering a building,to bow upon greeting, to respect your elders, and to give gifts of moneyon special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and funerals. Valentinesday is an American holiday, however in Japan this day has been marked asan opportunity for women to give chocolates to men that they like, whichemphasizes traditional Japanese culture of inferiors giving gifts to theresuperiors. Traditionally it has been the role of women to serve the men,which is ever so slowly beginning to evolve. In Japan there is alot of emphasis put on respect and honor.
Rather than saying Mr. or Mrs. ,San is put after the name for respect. Those whom do business with the Japanesemust understand that the Japanese business persons have certain customsand practices that include the exchange of business cards, the bow, giftgiving, as well as the types of conduct during business meetings, improperconduct could jeopardize the outcome of any future business with the Japanese.
Japanesestudents are required to clean both their schools and there neighborhoods. One negative characteristic in school isthe lack of individualism and freedom of choice with enormous pressureplaced on youth to excel academically. Students recruited for white-collarjobs while still in the university are hired directly after graduationusually remaining with the same company throughout their career!Most Japanese incorporate a morning exercise session for all employees. Having awareness of the Japanese culture is not only important in Japan,its also important for areas frequently visited by Japanese.
One area inthe United States is Honolulu, Hawaii. Honolulu has a tremendous amountof Japanese tourists and businesspersons there, for they have signs inboth English and Japanese. Although the Japanese have fallen in love withthe Americans game of baseball they have never lost touch with their truelove of sumo . 6 major tournaments lasting 15 days each are held everyyear. Although I was able to touch on several aspects of the Japanese society,perhaps you shall take with you a new insight into the culture, as wellas new or refreshed understanding of such cultural norms as bowinginstead of handshake, taking shoes off when entering a building, and puttingSan after a persons name as a show of respect. The focus of the for mentionedmaterial was provided as to illustrate a brief glimpse into a colorfullculture, filled with the unique characteristics of the Japanese people,there climate, religion, customs, and businessprotocol.