Discovering Japan: Unique Cultural Surprises and Real-Life Examples!
As the world becomes increasingly globalized, people in developed countries no longer perceive major differences in their lifestyles and cultures.
However, each country still has its own distinct lifestyle and culture.
So, what are some of the unique features of the Japanese lifestyle and culture that can be seen in Japan?
What are the characteristics of Japanese lifestyle and culture as seen by foreigners?
What part of the Japanese lifestyle and culture is unique to Japan?
We will also introduce the unique Japanese lifestyle and culture that we have actually experienced overseas!
Japan’s unique lifestyle and culture
Japanese Lifestyle Clothing
The kimono is a traditional Japanese garment, but today there are far more people wearing Western-style clothing than wearing kimonos in their daily lives.
Nevertheless, Japanese people still wear kimonos on special occasions during the year, and there are opportunities to wear kimonos as formal wear at ceremonial occasions such as Shichigosan, coming-of-age ceremonies, weddings, and other ceremonial occasions.
Thus, even if traditional costumes are not part of their daily lives, many Japanese people choose to wear kimonos on important milestones and occasions in their lives.
Isn’t it because we feel that the special spirit of the Japanese people resides in the kimono?
And there are many occasions to consciously enjoy kimono in everyday life, such as summer festivals, tea ceremonies, and Kabuki viewing.
Traditional costumes are said to fade with the times and become a thing of the past, but from an international perspective, the Japanese kimono is much more deeply rooted in modern life than in other countries.
And Japan has always been a focus of attention in the world of today’s latest modes.
The clothes designed by Japanese designers have been a whirlwind in every era with their innovative ideas among the world’s famous collections.
And not only in the world of haute couture, but also in Japanese pop culture, fashion culture has always been a topic of conversation for young people around the world, with a uniquely Japanese sensibility.
Japanese Culture Food
Japanese food culture is one of the most remarkable aspects of Japanese life and culture.
Japanese food culture, which was registered as a UNESCO Intangible World Heritage Site in 2013, is a world-class culinary culture filled with the wisdom of Japan’s climate and history.
Japanese food is considered to have a very positive impact on health, and Japanese ingredients are readily available in organic food stores overseas as well, due to the world’s preference for healthy food.
Japan is also a rare country that is flexible in accepting foreign food culture into its own cuisine, so dishes from various countries can be easily enjoyed at home or in restaurants with a Japanese twist.
And kaiseki cuisine, a uniquely Japanese course meal that has inspired many of the world’s great masters.
The beauty and delicacy of the food also allows us to appreciate the Japanese sense of beauty.
Recommended past articles about Japanese food culture can be found here!
Features of Japanese food culture that are attracting attention from abroad and example sentences in English:
[English Example Sentences] Basic Knowledge for Foreigners to Enjoy Kaiseki Cuisine
Master Guide: Hosting non-Japanese Guests with Kaiseki Cuisin
Japanese Life and Culture Residence
Japanese housing is also a unique part of the Japanese lifestyle and culture.
A unique awareness in Japanese housing is that there is still an entrance for taking off shoes indoors.
That each home has a toilet with an electric bidet and a bath with a tub, and that cutting-edge technology continues to develop innovations to prevent wasting hot water.
Technology is being used in many ways in the average home, including the evolution of high-tech appliances and computerized security systems.
And Japan is also said to be a country of constantly changing landscapes, with cityscapes constantly changing.
Because of its location, Japan has few buildings made of robust materials and used for hundreds of years, as in the West.
In Europe, for example, cityscapes have remained the same for hundreds of years, and there are many challenges that must be overcome in order to build new buildings.
Individuals building houses is also not as universal as in Japan, with most people buying second-hand properties and repeatedly renovating them.
In contrast, new buildings are being constructed every day in Japan, from private homes to condominiums, buildings, parks, and shopping malls.
Therefore, there are more architects and architectural firms than in other countries, and the ancient carpentry skills are said to be among the best in the world.
Japanese carpenters are said to have the world’s highest level of skill, and even today many foreigners come to Japan to study carpentry.
Traditional shrine carpentry techniques and Japanese garden modeling continue to be passed down, and the uniquely Japanese techniques are still being used today.
Ancient Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, and other architectural structures have been restored using ancient temple carpentry techniques and have retained their original appearance to the present day.
As a country prone to earthquakes and natural disasters, safety technology in building science continues to evolve, attracting worldwide attention in architectural science.
Enjoy the Seasons
Another very important element of Japanese life and culture is the Japanese four seasons.
We are a nation that celebrates the changes of the four seasons with festivals and loves the seasons.
And apart from seasonal festivals, there are other elegant traditions to enjoy the Japanese seasons, such as hanami (cherry blossom viewing), hanabi (fireworks) displays, autumn leaf viewing, and snow viewing.
It is interesting that Japan has a way of enjoying the season that is not a religious event, but one that the whole country can get excited about.
There, traditional culture retains its form in a way that is necessary for modern society.
The traditions of Japanese lifestyle and culture, which have been handed down since ancient times amidst the changing seasons, are still alive and thriving in the climate of the region over the passage of time.
Japanese Customs Surprising to Foreign Countries
Devices that make life more convenient
The sheer number of convenience goods for daily life in Japan never ceases to amaze me.
The Japanese are uniquely particular about the small accessories they own.
The Japanese attention to detail in the things of daily life stands out from the rest of the world.
Soy sauce jug with no spillage.
Hooks that do not scratch the wall
A seal on the back of a ballpoint pen
Rice cooker that cooks incredibly well
Earpiece that illuminates the inside of the ear
Japan is filled with countless useful products that we wish we had in our daily lives, such as the following
People all over the world are impressed by the small, particular design and functionality that abounds in these everyday Japanese products.
By continually responding to the “particulars” demanded by the Japanese national character, companies have created convenient, functional, and pleasing designs that have become a part of the Japanese way of life, and are more thorough than can be seen in other countries.
Reference website: https://sakidori.co/article/28901
Japan’s unspoken rules
The awesomeness of packed trains in Japan is so well known overseas that it has become legendary.
Some foreign tourists take the train during rush hour in order to go out of their way to take a packed train in Japan.
Trains run every day with people crammed into trains that have complex routes that move on time.
It is nothing short of a miracle that trains in Japan, which are so tightly scheduled that even the smallest error cannot be tolerated, can operate regularly almost every day.
In addition, there is almost no litter on the streets, and people are less likely to accidentally step on a dog’s lost property than in other countries.
In other countries, due to the Corona Vortex, the government announces detailed rules for wearing masks, such as “From today, you must wear a mask in this zone. In Japan, however, many people wear masks voluntarily at all times.
One possible aspect of these Japanese miracles is that everyone observes the unspoken rules within Japanese society.
There are various unspoken rules in Japanese life, including trains.
And when it comes to denials and refusals, Japanese do not say “no” very clearly.
Of course, we can do it this way, but…” In some cases, the client may softly express their NO with expressions such as, “Of course, we can do it this way, but…”.
What in the world does it mean from a foreigner’s point of view? There are many people who are puzzled by this question.
Consider the situation.
Read the air.
This is a feeling that is unique to Japanese society, and from a foreigner’s point of view, it seems very complicated.
This unspoken rule of Japanese society is not written anywhere and no one will tell you.
Everyone learns, understands, and acquires these skills while living in Japan.
If you don’t say it, they won’t understand. “It’s not required, so you don’t have to follow it.”
Not a sense of being a “good” person,
I’ll try not to get everyone in trouble.”
It makes others feel good about their stay.”
I feel that this is a traditional idea.
Cherry trees are planted throughout Japan.
The beauty of Japan in spring, when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, is unparalleled.
One type of flowering tree blooms throughout the country.
Such culture is also unique to Japan.
The weather forecast airs forecasts that would never be possible in other countries, such as the cherry blossom front and cherry blossom bloom predictions.
This Japanese cherry tree, Somei-Yoshino, which is now found all over Japan, was developed in Japan in the late Edo period (1603-1868) and was planted once again on a large scale throughout the country after World War II.
Cherry blossoms were appreciated even before the World War II, and at various times in history, cherry blossom viewing has been mentioned as an epithet, from the Kokin Wakashu poetry anthology to Emperor Saga’s cherry blossom viewing banquet and Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s cherry blossom viewing at Yoshinoyama.
Since the Heian period (794-1185), cherry blossoms have been cherished as a uniquely Japanese flower.
The sight of countless small, pale flowers blooming in full bloom on dead trees stirs the hearts of Japanese people.
The compassion for the transience of the impermanence of all things falling apart at once also resonates with the Japanese heart.
Japan is the only country in the world where a single type of plant blooms all over the country and the people love it.
Episodes of Japanese lifestyle and culture that actually surprised people overseas
Weaning begins with rice
After 5 months of age, babies begin to wean.
The basic Japanese weaning process begins with 10 times rice porridge.
However, in most countries, weaning begins with vegetables such as carrots and pumpkins.
When the pediatrician asked me how the baby was progressing on baby food at the baby’s five-month checkup in France,
I started giving him rice porridge.” I was truly surprised when I told him.
He also said that rice is bad for digestion and causes constipation, so it should not be fed! He even said, “Rice is bad for your digestion and makes you constipated!
I was very confused because this was my first time raising a baby, but I explained to the doctor what 10x porridge was and told him that it was a traditional Japanese form of baby food.
In turn, they were very interested in Japanese baby food and asked enthusiastically how to proceed with Japanese-style baby food.
The pediatrician then checked and said, “Porridge is fine. Keep feeding him porridge! He said, “Keep feeding him porridge!
Take a bath every day
Overseas, sales talk is rife with deodorant that deodorizes for 72 hours and underwear that does not smell even if not washed for five days without bacteria sprouting, something that would be hard to believe in Japan.
I can’t believe that they don’t bathe for 3 days! I can’t believe that they wear the same underwear for 5 days without washing it! I would think that this is a very popular product.
In Europe and the United States, it is rare for people to take a shower or bath every day.
Of course, the air in Europe is dry and odorless, and the water is hard and too strong for the skin, so it is hard to imagine that bathing is the same as in Japan.
Some people even say that taking a bath every day makes them sick.
It is quite normal to not need it for two or three days, so when I tell people that as Japanese we bathe every day and wash our faces in the morning, they are truly surprised.
It is also surprising that in Japan public bathhouses, hot springs, and other public bathhouses, everyone is naked and enters together with strangers.
This is because onsen in other countries are more like heated swimming pools, and bathing suits are worn to enjoy them.
But as Japanese, no matter what anyone says, getting rid of the day’s grime and soaking in the bathtub is necessary for both body and soul, and is a time to cherish at the end of the day.
VICHY 72-hour deodorant
Children who are free to act
Outside of the home, children are almost never free to move around the city on their own outside of the home in other countries.
Even when visiting nearby parks, children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, and even within the parks, there are fences in the zones where children can play.
Until entering junior high school, students are rarely free to visit their friends’ homes, and parents always accompany their children to and from school and lessons until they graduate from elementary school.
In comparison, Japanese children are very free.
Of course, there are differences among families and regions, but in Japan, children can be seen walking alone to and from school, to their lessons, to their friends’ houses, or to the neighborhood park.
Children go to school in groups, which is fundamental, and in cities, elementary school children can be seen commuting alone to school by train.
Many foreigners cannot hide their surprise when they see such elementary school students on Tokyo trains.
This is a scene that would not be possible in other countries, and it is precisely because Japan is a safe and secure country.
I hope that this good state of security in Japan will be maintained and protected forever, and that this country will continue to protect the independence and freedom of its children.
Characteristics of Japanese cultural life.
From the fact that it is passed down in our lives, including food, clothing, and shelter,
It is among the customs that have been handed down from generation to generation from ancestors on special Hare events such as festivals and traditional events.
In our daily lives, there are unique Japanese lifestyles, thoughts, and traditions that we take for granted, but which are sometimes very precious.
It may be a country where Japan’s unique traditional culture and thought are very strong but natural, and where the present and past can be connected to the future in harmony.